Archive | November 9th, 2018

Why Cash and Connections Remain Somalia’s Most Popular Currencies

NOVANEWS

In the moral version of human history – expressed in the Quran, Bible, and Torah – corruption is considered the worst reckless impulse that caused men to fall from grace. It was the betrayal of trust and loyalty for purely selfish gains.

From that perspective, the root cause of corruption is individual moral shutdown, derailment or deficiency. On the other hand, modern-day scrutiny of corruption zooms in on institutions and good governance – professional and technocratic excellence and adherence to policies and procedures.

Much of this article will be dealing with the latter perspective, though no lasting solution to corruption can be found without considering the individual aspect. This could be the reason why corruption is scandalously ever-present in every aspect of the Somali government.

Harmonized Contradictions

Ironically, if a “Corruption Hall of Shame” were inaugurated, the majority of the top 10 list would be Muslim rulers representing nations ranking high in natural resources. Somalia would be leading the list as it has the past decade. This is the direct result of a culture of impunity and a lack of anti-corruption teachings.

However, you would not have heard this from the former UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating. In his briefing to the Security Council last month, he said that Somalia has “a government with a compelling reform agenda anchored in strong partnership between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.” He continued by telling the Council members that “its centerpiece is to make the country creditworthy and accountable as a step to gain full sovereignty, reduce dependency and attract both public and private investments. IMF benchmarks are being met … and debt relief is closer.”

Well, of course. Somalia’s politicians are ready for more loans and dodgy deals such as Soma Oil and Gas, whose former Executive Director for Africa is the country’s current prime minister. Never mind the glaring conflict of interests.

Being instituted a few months after Somalia emerged out of its “transitional period” in 2012, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established as a central bank of the donor funds and to facilitate the reconciliation process. However, UNSOM gradually morphed into the carrot-dangler that lures all across the political spectrum, the gatekeeper of the political process, and the legitimizer of any selected new government through corruption as long as it does not challenge certain dubious deals such as Soma Oil and Gas and the massive IMF and World Bank debts.

Incidentally, the United Kingdom is Somalia’s penholder at the Security Council. In other words, the U.K. has the most powerful role in all Somalia related issues. It has the exclusive authority to draft resolutions and frame any debate on the country. All three UNSOM leaders were British (guerilla) diplomats, though the latest has South African citizenship.

If I was not blunt enough in the past, let me try again. The international apparatus that was set up to “fix Somalia” is the main hoax for keeping it perpetually broken. As long as there are corrupt or pitifully credulous Somali politicians who are eager to legitimize the current system for their personal gains the nation will remain at the mercy of international and local predators.

As long as there are corrupt or pitifully credulous Somali politicians who are eager to legitimize the current system for their personal gains, the schizophrenia – journey toward sovereignty – will continue and the nation will remain at the mercy of international and local predators.

On Scale

In a 2013 article titled The Corruption Tango I wrote: “While robust functioning of all governmental institutions and policies of checks and balances are crucial to fighting corruption, the most crucial is the branch that enforces such policies.” Five years later, there is not an iota of improvement towards that end. The courts remain scandalously corrupt. Cash, clan, and connections are still the three most popular currencies in Somalia. Yet the current government audaciously claims it is committed to ending corruption.

Can a government that came to power through a manifestly corrupt process of purchasing votes through dark money “eradicate that sick mentality,” as Prime Minster Khayre said in 2017? Of course not, but it can manage perceptions and put on a good show for public relations.

Selective Enforcement and Co-option

Unlike its predecessor, the current government has a clever plan for distraction. They routinely carry out public prosecutions of petty corruption cases with media fanfare and public trumpet blasts while turning a blind eye to various shady deals that involve top officials within the government.

A few mega “corporations” practically own the entire country. Over the past two decades, these companies, especially those in the telecommunication business who are granted exclusive right to use the official gateway and country code without paying licensing fees or taxes, have been investing in keeping business as usual. It is an open secret how these mega companies co-opt key political actors by bringing them on board as stakeholders or through kickbacks to ensure their silence. Meanwhile, the old lady selling tomatoes under the scorching sun is routinely harassed by the municipality to pay her “public service” dues.

This widely accepted, flagrantly unjust clan-based system, known as the 4.5 system, remains the most potent force that maintains the culture of corruption and impunity in Somalia. Certain clans are guaranteed high ministerial positions. Once inside, these ministers are expected to suck as much as they can for their respective clans, themselves or both. Nepotism continues to be the most common practice in all branches of the government.

Abukar Arman

@Abukar_Arman

4.5 system isn’t z real problem. It’s z Orwellian mindset that “All (clans) are equal, but some (clans) are more equal than others”

See Abukar Arman’s other Tweets

Defusing Scrutiny

Like the previous governments, the current administration facilitates key Members of Parliament and their family members with foreign medical services, scholarships for their children, and armored vehicles for protection.

Certain elements within the international community not only tolerate this corruption but also cultivate the right environment for it. Selected Somalian ministers may be granted easy access to funds for this or that project, or may be invited to some of those never-ending conferences in foreign cities. In return, these key individuals give those in the international community priceless cover, a patronage system, and a code of silence that sustains a two-way system of corruption.

Most of the Somalian ministers are members of the parliament, and the government is aggressively using whatever is in its disposal to co-opt the parliament. Only days after President Farmajo returned from his Qatar state visit in May, his office or the executive branch offered the Somali parliamentarians a deal none of them could refuse: an early vacation or recess and $5,000 cash per MP – so much for checks and balances.

These actions are to neutralize a restless parliament bent on advancing a “no confidence” motion to oust the current prime minister, whose long affiliation with the predatory Soma Oil and Gas and his draconian policies to silence opposition groups reached a breaking point.

You probably got the hunch now as to why a provisional constitution that fails to address key issues such as the national border has been the law of the land since 2012, why “constitutional reform” conferences are being held almost bi-monthly, and why the Constitutional Court and an Independent Reconciliation Commission are not established.

Corruption does not only erode public trust or causes division and malice. It squanders scarce resources and thus creates an existential threat. Impunity opens the gate for a culture of self-destruction (politically, economically, socially, and spiritually). Therefore, institutional tolerance of a culture of corruption is corruption.

Corruption is dangerous as it directly undermines security by making infiltration and intelligence compromise an easy endeavor. Terrorists have been going through checkpoints and security barricades very easily to reach their soft targets.

When it comes to corruption, there is no such thing as “bottom top” reform. There is only “top bottom.” Both the parliament and the executive branch are well aware of where to start if and when they become serious about fighting corruption. But knowing what kind of funky business it is in, the government remains too thin-skinned when it comes to scrutiny or criticism.

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India-Pakistan Relations

NOVANEWS

India-Pakistan Relations: Nuclear Doctrine, Militarization and Security Dynamics of the Indian Ocean Region

According to Cold War notion of strategic stability, deterrence will prevail if both countries have second strike capability due to the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Likewise, deterrence will be fragile if only one state has second strike capability.

The Indian Ocean is a global common and is named after India in geographical sense but New Delhi has lately started self-believing that this Middle Eastern cum Afro-Asian oceanic expanse is India’s backyard. India is the first South Asian littoral State that is introducing nuclear weapons into this Ocean. Like India nuclearized South Asia in 1974, the onus of provoking a response in the Indian Ocean rests with it.

The pursuit and maintenance of nuclear capability has been important for India to project its power, to revise global order and increase its influence and prestige not only in South Asia but also the Indian Ocean rim and beyond. In November 2017, India deployed its second Arihant-class SSBN, the Arighat. Currently, India is also constructing two more Arihant-class submarines. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has also dedicated GSAT-7 satellite which is used by Indian Navy as a multi-band military communications satellite. Aside from India’s second operational nuclear-powered submarine, it has 13 diesel-electric ones, among which about half are in service. Such Indian ambitions, growing economic and industrial and naval capabilities coupled with canisterization and MIRVing of missiles pose serious challenges not only for Pakistan’s maritime, energy and economic security but also for its conventional and strategic capabilities.

India started gaining experience of operating leased Russian nuclear powered submarines in 1980s. A sea-based nuclear strike force is a route to an assured second-strike capability beyond South Asia. New Delhi will be able to project its strategic capability globally. Major Powers which presently, do not take India as a threat might have a plan B if India shifts to its so called non-alignment policy to version 3.0.

In 2003, India revised its 1999 nuclear doctrine. The draft doctrine of 2003 relied on the principals of No First Use (NFU), Massive Retaliation, and Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD). Having officially adopted a posture of no first use and assured retaliation, India considered it essential to acquire a capacity for continuous at-sea nuclear deterrence (CASD) to ensure the survivability of its nuclear second-strike capability. Recently, a debate has evolved on the possibility of shift in Indian nuclear doctrine. As India terms its sea-based leg of the nuclear triad as a critical enabler of doctrine of No-First-Use. The potential change in No-First Use policy and adopting the First Use doctrine does not hold logic in this paradigm.

India portrays that it faces a security trilemma due to two-front challenges in terms of security (One being China, other being Pakistan). Furthermore, by camouflaging behind South Asian Naval Nuclear Trilemma, India has plans to continue to enlarge and modernize its SSBN fleet due to alleged threat from China. Such Indian motivations and perceptions vis-à-vis China do not hold ground as Indian military program started before Chinese nuclear tests which were conducted in 1964. In 1963, Homi Bhabha who is considered the father of Indian Nuclear Program wrote to Prime Minister Nehru stating that the Chinese nuclear test will be of no military significance and Chinese possession of a few bombs will not make any difference to the military situation. Also, even when China possesses only 250 nuclear weapons, India has the capability and capacity to produce approximately 2600 nuclear weapons. This capability, if acquired and goes unchecked by the major powers, does not hold ground vis-à-vis regional ambitions. This shows Indian ambitions to opt for blue water navy and global hegemonic ambitions which may pose a serious security threats in future to the U.S. and Russia alike.

India, China and Pakistan security calculus cannot be seen in isolation from the role of the U.S. in the region. U.S. considers India as a major defence partner, providing it a bigger role in the Asia-Pacific. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between U.S. and India, coupled with Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) which permits both India and the U.S. military forces to use each other’s bases and other infrastructure, can antagonize China and affect the Balance of Power in the region. Therefore, this situation can be termed as India, China Pakistan, U.S. Nuclear Quadrangle.

Like Pakistan reluctantly responded to nuclearization of South Asia in 1974, Islamabad has started taking restrained and minimal measures to ensure deterrence stability in the IOR. Pakistan’s navy at present operates five French diesel-electric submarines: three purchased in the 1990s and two dating from the late 1970s. In May 2012, Pakistan established its Naval Strategic Force Command (NSFC) which is the custodian of Pakistan’s sea-based developing capability to strengthen its CMD and maintain strategic stability in the region. In November 2016, Pakistan established a Very Low Frequency (VLF) communication facility that provides a secure military communication link, hence, enhancing the flexibility and reach of operations including the use of submarines. Pakistan also has developed Babur III SLCM (450 Km range).

The completion of nuclear triad by India and its naval nuclear modernization can persuade it to use non-violent compellence against Pakistan in the future. This strategy can include a naval blockade. Thus, the nuclearization of Indian Ocean by India can give it more offensive edge, prompting possibilities of coercive nuclear escalation between India and Pakistan in case of a conflict.

To stabilize deterrence, both adversaries should have an assured second strike capability. India has an unfair advantage of lead time in developing the capability and also has access to foreign technologies. Therefore, it is logical for Pakistan should also take minimal measures to stabilize deterrence.

To end with, it is imperative to address the security issues between India and Pakistan which will be reverberated due to emerging Indian maritime nuclear capabilities. It is high time to reconcile India-Pakistan nuclear deterrence with arms control.

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Syrian Forces Freed All Hostages Captured by ISIS in Al-Suwayda ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

On November 8, the Syrian Special Forces freed all hostages, who had been captured by ISIS in eastern al-Suwayda and then held in eastern Homs, the Syrian state media reported. According to the report, the operation took place in the area of Hamimah east of Palmyra, where Syrian troops eliminated a group of ISIS terrorists and feed the hostages.

The SANA provided no further details. However, Syrian pro-government activists believe that Russia Special Forces may have played own role in the operation.

ISIS captured civilians in a brutal attack on the government-held area on July 25. Since then, the Damascus government had been struggling to rescue the hostages and even attempted to strike a deal on this issue with the terrorist group in October. However, only 6 civilians were saved this way. The military option appeared to be more effective.

Earlier this week, troops of the Russian Special Operations Forces reportedly arrived to the eastern part of al-Suwayda province in order to support the Syrian Army operation against ISIS in the al-Safa area.

A day earlier, Syrian pro-government sources reported that the elite 4th Division had been redeployed from northwestern Syria to positions around al-Safa. Several heavy rocket launchers were also deployed near the ISIS-held area. A source in the Syrian Army told SouthFront that government troops are preparing to launch a new attack on ISIS in al-Safa in the nearest future.

Since late July, the army has carried out several attempts to eliminate the ISIS pocket in the area, but a part of the pocket has remained in ISIS hands. Now, when the hostages are freed and the Russian military advisers are deployed ISIS is in much more complicated situation.

On November 8, the US-led coalition repelled an ISIS attempt to attack its military garrison near the al-Tanak oil field in the province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The coalition reportedly eliminated over 20 ISIS members and 7 vehicles.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also deployed additional troops to boost  security in the area.

Previously, the SDF recaptured a number of positions which it had lost to ISIS near the Hajin pocket in the Euphrates Valley. However, the situation in the area remains tense because the SDF is conducting no offensive operations against ISIS there now. The reason is Turkish strikes on SDF positions as well as Ankara’s threats to kick off a large-scale military operation against the Kurdish-dominated group in northern Syria.

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UK Government Goes Full Orwellian. DNA, Fingerprint, Face, Voice: Biometric Data for Every Single Citizen in the UK

NOVANEWS

We’ve been warning about this moment since the first day TruePublica went online. We said that the government would eventually take the biometric data of every single citizen living in Britain and use it for nefarious reasons.  DNA, fingerprint, face, and even voice data will be included. But that’s not all.

The excuse to be used, as ever, will be national security or terrorism, despite the huge fall in fatalities from terrorism and terror-related incidents since the 1970s.

Apart from crime-fighting, the Home Office also proposes in its long-awaited report that it will use the centralized database for vetting migrants on the streets and borders of Britain.

Not for the first time, civil rights groups argue that systems such as face recognition is faulty, dubiously legal, and collected without public consent. The outcry over Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and the EU referendum should, if nothing else, confirm that bulk data collection, used without either public debate or a legal basis is emphatically against our civil liberties.

However, the legality of the creation of a centralised biometric database will not stop a government who have been repeatedly caught breaking the law when it comes to privacy and data collection. Police, immigration, and passport agencies already collect DNA, face, and fingerprint data. On the latter, police forces across Britain now have fingerprint scanners on the streets of Britain with officers providing no more than a promise that fingerprint data taken will be erased if the person stopped is innocent of any crime.

The government’s face database already has 12.5 million people – or so it has admitted to. The Home Office, embroiled in all sorts of privacy and surveillance legal cases caused a scandal last April when an official said it would simply be too expensive to remove innocent people from its criminal face databases of mugshots.

Without proper, enforcible regulation that can be fully scrutinised by civil society, there are many opportunities for the misuse of biometric data. It means nothing when the Home Office says its collection of biometric data will be “lawful,” when it is found by the highest courts in both Britain and the EU of breaking basic surveillance and data protection laws. And what laws there are, remain deliberately ambiguous on how they will ethically collect, store, or share biometric data.

Without any obstacles put in its way, the Home Office has essentially granted itself the right to end anonymity of any type to all the people of Britain.

Big Brother Watch recently released a report detailing a staggering 90% false positive rate for its face recognition systems and then went on to describe the Home Office defence of these systems – “misleading, incompetent and authoritarian.”

The fact that on Remembrance Sunday 2017, the Metropolitan Police used automated facial recognition to find so-called ‘fixated individuals’ – people not suspected of any crime, but who might be suffering mental health issues, should be a wake-up call for us all.

TruePublica has just reported on one local authority in Thurrock using databases and algorithms to deliver public services. More particularly it is surveilling its own systems and citizens to pinpoint and target certain families, vulnerable people, the homeless and anti-social behaviour. The system is called a “predictive modelling platform” and was only revealed through a freedom of information request by a local journalist.

Council data from housing, education, social care, benefits and debt all contribute to the creation of a profile that is used to predict whether a person is at risk or what services is provided. The profiles then assign people a score that indicates whether they need attention from social services. That risk score is stored in a centre where identifiable details are replaced with artificial ones, a process known as pseudonymised data.

The warning we gave was that it wouldn’t be that long when all citizens will be given such scores by local councils, local authorities, the police and various other government agencies. The speed of implementation has surprised even us though. One should not forget that there are 78 high profile government agencies and a further 401 public bodies closely associated with them.

To be fair to Thurrock council the system has become so embedded within their social services system that it is responsible for 100 per cent of referrals to the Troubled Family programme, a government-led scheme aimed at early social work intervention. The council also claims it has an 80 per cent success rate in predicting children who are at risk and should enter safeguarding. It does not say how the system failed the other 20 per cent or how it affected them.

However, there is a dark side to this. TruePublica warned two years ago that social scoring systems were on the way. We wrote in 2016 and then again in early 2017 as a result of an in-depth report by Civil Society Futures regarding a new wave of surveillance:

Citizens are increasingly categorised and profiled according to data assemblages, for example through data scores or by social credit scores, as developed in China. The purpose of such scores is to predict future behaviour and allocate resources and eligibility for services (or punishment) accordingly. In other words, rules will be set for citizens to live by through data and algorithms.”

The government is now building, without debate such a system for all of its agencies to access and input. Once complete the next step will be to ‘manage’ population behaviour through social credit scores.

Current common forms of biometric data collection include – fingerprint templates, iris and retina templates, voiceprint, 2D or 3D facial structure map, hand and/or finger geometry map, vein recognition template, gait analysis map, blood DNA profiles, behavioural biometric profiles and others.

These days gathering biometric data generally requires the cooperation (or coercion) of the subject: for your iris to get into a database, you have to let someone take a close-up photograph of your eyeball. That is no longer the case. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in the USA have perfected a camera that can take rapid-fire, database-quality iris scans of every person in a crowd from a distance of 10 meters. Consent is not required otherwise the technology would be worthless if it did.

In the meantime, biometric data will not be secure. It never can be, especially in the hands of the government. That’s because the hacking industry, already costing a mind-blowing $1.6 trillion annually across the world is expected to reach $2.1 trillion in just 3 months time. That’s the sum spent fighting off cyber-crime, not the sum spent of conducting it.

Identity theft directly affected 174,523 individuals in Britain last year – an increase of 125 per cent in little more than ten years. The authorities have simply been unable to stop this inescapable rise. Recent research has found that fraudsters operating on the dark web can buy a person’s entire identity, everything, the lot, for just £820. At that point your bank accounts are emptied, credit cards maxxed out – the horrendous list goes on. £4.6 billion was stolen in cyber-crime from Brits last year.

Would a new form of identity theft develop with biometric data added to the armoury of criminals?

At the very least, the government should restrict the collation of different types of biometric data into a single database. And it should certainly require that all biometric data be stored in the most secure manner possible. Currently, it is not proposing either as the database will be available to thousands of governments workers and hundreds of technology contractors.

And how easy is that theft going to be? Edward Snowden, a third-party contractor for the NSA stole 58,000 files from GCHQ sitting at his desk in Hawaii and then calmly flew off to Moscow for protection against the USA/UK. If GCHQ can have such sensitive information so easily stolen, that they claim is of national security, what guarantees can the government give that your biometric data will be safe? The short answer – is they can’t.

BigBrotherWatch Director Silkie Carlo said:

“The Government’s biometrics strategy is a major disappointment. After five years of waiting, it reads like a late piece of homework with a remarkable lack of any strategy.

While Big Brother Watch and others are doing serious work to analyse the rights impact of the growing use of biometrics, the Home Office appears to lack either the will or competence to take the issues seriously. For a government that is building some of the biggest biometric databases in the world, this is alarming.

Meanwhile, the Met today is surveilling Londoners with facial recognition cameras that they have no legal basis to even use. The situation is disastrously out of control.”

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Ukraine-Russia Tensions Rise in Church Row

NOVANEWS

Ukraine-Russia Tensions Rise in Church Row. The Canonical Authority of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate (MP)

Moscow’s Role in Ukraine Orthodox Church Ended

 

The Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, an authority completely outside Ukraine, on Oct. 11 stripped away the canonical authority of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—Moscow Patriarchate (MP), sparking a crisis with Russia.

The 1030-year old church is headed by Patriarch Kirill in Russia and the Russian church responded by severing ties to the Istanbul patriarch. Tensions have now been raised even further in the crisis between Ukraine and Russia that erupted after the U.S.-backed 2014 coup in Kiev that overthrew an elected president who tilted towards Moscow.

In Washington, the events were reported in The Washington Post as part of Ukraine’s struggle to “withdraw from Moscow’s control.” In Europe, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini made the sober warning in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard that the religious interference in Ukraine could provoke a war.

Bartholomew’s action is seen as a first step to giving full autonomy, known as “autocephaly” in the Orthodox faith, to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate (KP), a heretical split-off that was created only in 1992 just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence.

The KP church is headed by a self-styled leader named Mikhail Denisenko, who goes by the name Patriach Filaret. He is a defrocked former bishop in the Moscow Patriarchate of Ukraine.

The MP’s lineage goes back to the tenth century Christian conversion of all the people of Kievan Rus, the proto-state that was precursor to the nations of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Its authority in Ukraine was established in 1686 by the same Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Bartholomew reversed his seat’s own 332-year-old decision. While the Ecumenical Patriarch is known as “the first among equals,” among Orthodoxy’s 14 autocephalic churches, he has no authority to rule over them. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy has no single church authority that can impose decisions over all the others.

The 14 churches are supposed to be independent of governments. But in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the anti-Russian president installed after the coup, and other government forces, are using the ruling to further erode Russian influence.

Members of the Moscow church in Ukraine have already been the targets of violent assaults by thugstrying to disrupt worship services, and such conflict is being fueled by politicians’ rhetoric.

In October, when Constantinople lifted Denisenko’s ex-communication, Poroshenko called the decision “a victory of good over evil, light over darkness.” He also said that recognition of the renegade Ukraine church would mean severing all links to Orthodox Russia and its “Moscow demons,” reported gazeta.ru.

Bartholomew’s decision didn’t come out of thin air, and the geopolitical implications are clear: breaking Russia’s ties to the Ukrainian people. This was demanded by Poroshenko, and supported by Denisenko, whose church has never been recognized by the 14 other churches.

On Oct. 31, Denisenko made his view clear in a statement to RFE/RL. “We will be striving to have a single Orthodox Church in Ukraine and to make sure that the Russian [Orthodox] Church is not hiding under the Ukrainian name while, in essence, it is Russian,” he said.

Moscow Responds

“Constantinople’s decision is aimed at destroying unity,” Kirill explained, as reported in Russian language media.

“We can’t accept it. That is why our Holy Synod took the decision to stop eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate.” He added that the attack against the Orthodox in Ukraine “was having not only a political, but also a mystical dimension.”

He called for faithfulness to the canonical church, the Moscow Patriarchate, and says he’s “ready to go anywhere and talk to anyone” to prevent the schism among the Orthodox inside Ukraine and remove barriers separating the faithful in the two countries.

The break in eucharistic communication means that the priests of the two patriarchates won’t be able to hold church services together.

While Western media have played the break as an aggressive act by Moscow, the reality is more complex. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest congregation among the approximately 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Kirill went to Istanbul to meet the Ecumenical Patriarch in August to try to avert any actions that would harm the unity.

Metropolitan Hilarion, chief spokesman on questions of schism and unity for the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, explained, “For a church with more than 1000 years of history and ancient monasteries of some 500 to 900 years of age, the perspective of merging with some unrecognized entities, formed 20 years ago, is unacceptable.”

On October 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the action against the Ukrainian church in remarks to the World Congress of Russian Compatriots, an organization uniting people of Russian origin from all over the world.

“Politicking in such a sensitive sphere as religion has always led to grave consequences, first and foremost for the people who got involved in this politicking,” he said. He also referenced a “war” on Russian historical monuments by some forces in Ukraine.

Washington’s Hand

In the past year, discussions were held by U.S. officials with Poroshenko and Denisenko. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell met with Denisenko in September. Then on Oct. 17, a press release in the name of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for religion in Ukraine to be “without outside interference.”

That statement came four days after Bartholomew recognized the breakaway Ukrainian church.

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Yemeni War Deaths Underestimated by Five to One

NOVANEWS

ACLED estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

 

In April, I made new estimates of the death toll in America’s post-2001 wars in a three-part Consortium News report. I estimated that these wars have now killed several million people.  I explained that widely reported but much lower estimates of the numbers of combatants and civilians killed were likely to be only one fifth to one twentieth of the true numbers of people killed in U.S. war zones. Now one of the NGOs responsible for understating war deaths in Yemen has acknowledged that it was underestimating them by at least five to one, as I suggested in my report.

One of the sources I examined for my report was a U.K.-based NGO named ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project), which has compiled counts of war deaths in Libya, Somalia and Yemen.  At that time, ACLED estimated that about 10,000 people had been killed in the war in Yemen, about the same number as the WHO (World Health Organization), whose surveys are regularly cited as estimates of war deaths in Yemen by UN agencies and the world’s media.  Now ACLED estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the indirect causes of the war, such as starvation, malnutrition and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every ten minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then, so the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Another NGO, the Yemen Data Project, revealed in September 2016 that at least a third of Saudi-led air-strikes, many of which are conducted by U.S.-built and U.S.-refueled warplanes using U.S.-made bombs, were hitting hospitals, schools, markets, mosques and other civilian targets. This has left at least half the hospitals and health facilities in Yemen damaged or destroyed, hardly able to treat the casualties of the war or serve their communities, let alone to compile meaningful figures for the WHO’s surveys.

In any case, even comprehensive surveys of fully functioning hospitals would only capture a fraction of the violent deaths in a war-torn country like Yemen, where most of those killed in the war do not die in hospitals. And yet the UN and the world’s media have continued to cite the WHO surveys as reliable estimates of the total number of people killed in Yemen.

The reason I claimed that such estimates of civilian deaths in U.S. war zones were likely to be so dramatically and tragically wrong was because that is what epidemiologists have found whenever they have conducted serious mortality studies based on well-established statistical principles in war zones around the world.

Epidemiologists recently used some of the same techniques to estimate that about 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The results of studies in war-ravaged Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been widely cited by Western political leaders and the Western media with no hint of controversy.

When some of the very same public health experts who had worked in Rwanda and the DRC used the same methods to estimate how many people had been killed as a result of the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in two studies published in the Lancet medical journal in 2004 and 2006, they found that about 600,000 people had been killed in the first three years of war and occupation.

Wide acceptance of these results would have been a geopolitical disaster for the U.S. and U.K. governments, and would have further discredited the Western media who had acted as cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq and were still blaming the Iraqi victims of the illegal invasion of their country for the violence and chaos of the occupation.  So, even though the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific Advisor described the Lancet studies’ design as “robust” and their methods as “close to best practice,” and British officials admitted privately that they were “likely to be right,” the U.S. and U.K. governments launched a concerted campaign to “rubbish” them.

In 2005, as American and British officials and their acolytes in the corporate media “rubbished” his work, Les Roberts of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (now at Columbia), the lead author of the 2004 study, told the U.K. media watchdog Medialens, “It is odd that the logic of epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their armed forces.”

Roberts was right that this was odd, in the sense that there was no legitimate scientific basis for the objections being raised to his work and its results. But it was not so odd that embattled political leaders would use all the tools at their disposal to try to salvage their careers and reputations, and to preserve the U.S. and U.K.’s future freedom of action to destroy countries that stood in their way on the world stage.

By 2005, most Western journalists in Iraq were hunkered down in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, reporting mainly from the CENTCOM briefing room.  If they ventured out, they were embedded with U.S. forces traveling by helicopter or armored convoy between fortified U.S. bases. Dahr Jamail was one of a few incredibly brave “unembedded” American reporters in the real Iraq, Beyond the Green Zone, as he named his book about his time there.  Dahr told me he thought the true number of Iraqis being killed might well be even higher than the Lancet studies’ estimates, and that it was certainly not much lower as the Western propaganda machine insisted.

Unlike Western governments and the Western media over Iraq, and UN agencies and the same Western media over Afghanistan and Yemen, ACLED does not defend its previous misleadingly inadequate estimates of war deaths in Yemen. Instead, it is conducting a thorough review of its sources to come up with a more realistic estimate of how many people have been killed. Working back from the present as far as January 2016, it now estimates that 56,000 people have been killed since then.

Andrea Carboni of ACLED told Patrick Cockburn of the Independent newspaper in the U.K. that he believes ACLED’s estimate of the number killed in 3-1/2 years of war on Yemen will be between 70,000 and 80,000 once it has finished reviewing its sources back to March 2015, when Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and their allies launched this horrific war.

But the true number of people killed in Yemen is inevitably even higher than ACLED’s revised estimate.  As I explained in my Consortium News report, no such effort to count the dead by reviewing media reports, records from hospitals and other “passive” sources, no matter how thoroughly, can ever fully count the dead amid the widespread violence and chaos of a country ravaged by war.

This is why epidemiologists have developed statistical techniques to produce more accurate estimates of how many people have really been killed in war zones around the world.   The world is still waiting for that kind of genuine accounting of the true human cost of the Saudi-U.S. war on Yemen and, indeed, of all America’s post-9/11 wars.

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Millions in Yemen Are Starving and UK, US and France Are ‘Behind This’: Oxfam Representative

NOVANEWS
 

The US, UK, and French governments are behind millions of people starving in Yemen because they are “supporting this war,” an Oxfam representative told RT, urging London to stop beefing up Saudi Arabia’s military.

“We have 14 million people starving,” Richard Stanforth, Oxfam UK’s regional policy officer for the Middle East, said.

British, French, American governments are all behind this, they are all supporting this war.

Stanforth blamed the British government in particular, saying that London should stop its arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is accaused of targeting food supplies and even no-strike locations in Yemen.

“We’ve seen attacks on water infrastructure, on hospitals, warehouses of food. This pattern is continuing. Certainly, it’s the airstrikes that are killing most civilians,” he said.

Stanforth says Riyadh’s bombing is not sparing humanitarian sites either… including that of Oxfam. Saudi Arabia is “aware of many of these locations” and along with the UAE, it is still hitting them, he added.

Western states have been widely criticized by rights groups for their continued arms sales to Riyadh. However, turning the tide on multibillion-dollar deals may not be so easy.

Following the killing of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, US President Donald Trump issued strong words to Riyadh. He was not prepared, however, to cancel a $400 billion arms deal, saying there are other ways to “punish” America’s Middle East ally.

Trump’s position was echoed by the attitude of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who said it is “very difficult” (or… costly, to be precise) to get out of the arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

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Naziyahu Approves Death Penalty Targeting Palestinian Prisoners

NOVANEWS
 

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, approved passing a bill into law that allows execution of Palestinian prisoners, Hebrew-language news sites reported on Monday.Netanyahu reportedly gave the green light, on Sunday, to members of his Likud policitical party to support the law on the execution of Palestinian prisoners, a law introduced in 2017 by the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is headed by the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. 

At the time, Lieberman said that the bill would be a powerful deterrent to Palestinians,

“We must not allow terrorists to know that after a murder they have committed, they will sit in prison, enjoy the conditions and may be released in the future.”

Despite that Israel currently has a law allowing death penalty, it has not been carried out since 1962 when the Jewish state executed Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann.However, the current law allows Israeli military courts to only hand down the death penalty if a panel of three judges impose a unanimous decision.The proposed bill would remove this condition which would allow Israeli civilian and military courts to carry out executions against Palestinians convicted of murder. In addition, it would require military courts to carry out executions by a majority of only two judges instead of full consensus by all judges.

Many Palestinian politicians and human rights activists have already denounced the bill and expressed concern that it will give Israel “legal cover to target Palestinians,” and argued that although it does not define a specific group, it is “intended mainly for the Palestinian people.”The controversial bill had previously passed its preliminary vote in January with 52 votes in favor and 49 opposing.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, currently there are 5,640 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons, of whom 465 are in administrative detention, 53 are female prisoners, 270 are child prisoners, and 50 are under the age of 16.

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How to be a Reliable ‘Mainstream’ Journalist

NOVANEWS
 

There are certain rules you need to follow as a journalist if you are going to demonstrate to your editors, and the media owners who employ you, that you can be trusted.

For example, if you write about US-Iran relations, you need to ensure that your history book starts in 1979. That was the year Iranian students started a 444-day occupation of the US embassy in Tehran. This was the event that ‘led to four decades of mutual hostility’, according to BBC News. On no account should you dwell on the CIA-led coup in 1953 that overthrew the democratically-elected Iranian leader, Mohammad Mossadegh. Even better if you just omit any mention of this.

You should definitely not quote Noam Chomsky who said in 2013 that:

‘the crucial fact about Iran, which we should begin with, is that for the past 60 years, not a day has passed in which the U.S. has not been torturing Iranians.’ (Our emphasis)

As Chomsky notes, the US (with UK support) installed the Shah, a brutal dictator, described by Amnesty International as one of the worst, most extreme torturers in the world, year after year. That ordinary Iranians might harbour some kind of grievance towards Uncle Sam as a result should not be prominent in ‘responsible’ journalism. Nor should you note, as Chomsky does, that:

‘When he [the Shah] was overthrown in 1979, the U.S. almost immediately turned to supporting Saddam Hussein in an assault against Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians, used extensive use of chemical weapons. Of course, at the same time, Saddam attacked his Kurdish population with horrible chemical weapons attacks. The U.S. supported all of that.’

As a ‘good’ journalist, you should refrain from referring to the US as the world’s most dangerous rogue state, or by making any Chomskyan comparison between the US and the Mafia:

‘We’re back to the Mafia principle. In 1979, Iranians carried out an illegitimate act: They overthrew a tyrant that the United States had imposed and supported, and moved on an independent path, not following U.S. orders. That conflicts with the Mafia doctrine, by which the world is pretty much ruled. Credibility must be maintained. The godfather cannot permit independence and successful defiances, in the case of Cuba. So, Iran has to be punished for that.’

As a reliable journalist, there is also no need to dwell on the shooting down of Iran Air flight 655 over the Persian Gulf by the US warship Vincennes on July 3, 1988. All 290 people on board the plane were killed, including 66 children. President Ronald Reagan excused the mass killing as ‘a proper defensive action’. Vice-President George H.W. Bush said: ‘I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are. … I’m not an apologize-for America kind of guy.’

The US has never forgiven Iran for its endless ‘defiance’ in trying to shirk off Washington’s impositions. Harsh and punitive sanctions on Iran, that had been removed under the 2015 nuclear deal, have now been restored by President Donald Trump. Trump has also decided to pull out of the INF, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, with Russia. This is the landmark nuclear arms pact signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

But ‘balanced’ journalism need not focus on the enhanced threat of nuclear war, or the diplomatic options that the US has ignored or trampled upon. Instead, journalism is to be shaped by the narrative framework that it is the US that is behaving responsibly, and that Iran is the gravest threat to world peace. Thus, BBC News reports that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has:

‘warned that the US will exert “relentless” pressure on Iran unless it changes its “revolutionary course”.’

BBC News adds:

‘Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani earlier struck a defiant tone, saying the country will “continue selling oil”.

‘”We will proudly break the sanctions,” he told economic officials.’

Good reporters know that Official Enemies resisting US imperialism must always be described as ‘defiant’. But the term is rarely, if ever, applied to the imperial power implementing oppressive measures.

BBC News dutifully reported Pompeo’s comments:

‘The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, or it can see its economy crumble.’

A good reporter knows not to critically appraise, far less ridicule, the idea that the US is an exemplar of ‘a normal country’, rather than being an outlaw state that outrageously threatens to make another country’s economy ‘crumble’ for refusing to obey US orders.

Don’t Talk About The Israel Lobby

Another rule of corporate journalism is to downplay the influence of the Israel lobby in British politics; or just pretend it doesn’t exist. Moreover, you can boost your credentials by reporting from within the skewed, pro-Israel narrative that Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has succumbed to antisemitism. Even better if you can somehow link him to a horrific event, such as the recent murder of eleven worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a far-right white supremacist. That’s what Christina Patterson, a newspaper columnist, did on Sky News. She said:

‘I have to say in our own country, the Labour party has had a very heavy shadow of antisemitism hanging over it for much of this year… I know that Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues have tried to say that it’s not a problem.’

This was a blatant smear.

If you work for BBC News, it is especially important that stories have an appropriate headline and narrative framework: namely, one that promotes Israel’s perspective and also obscures the agency involved when Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. Thus, a story about three young Palestinians, aged 13 and 14, killed in an Israeli air attack should be titled:

‘Gaza youths “killed planting bomb”‘

And definitely not:

‘Israel kills three Palestinian children’

Otherwise, you – or more likely your superiors – are likely to receive a phone call from the Israeli embassy in London. As a senior BBC News producer once told Professor Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group:

‘We wait in fear for the telephone call from the Israelis’.

This helps keep journalists in line.

It is also important not to watch, far less report, one recent film the Israel lobby doesn’t want the public to see. Titled, ‘The Lobby – USA’, it is a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence in the United States. The film was completed in October 2017. However, it was not shown after Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate that funds Al Jazeera, ‘came under intense Israel lobby pressure not to air the film.’ The Electronic Intifada website has obtained a copy of the film and has now published the episodes.

In Britain, an Al Jazeera undercover sting operation on key members of the Israel lobby last year revealed a £1 million plot by the Israeli government to undermine Corbyn. It’s best to look the other way, however, if you are an aspiring journalist in the ‘mainstream’. In particular, if you work for BBC News or the Guardian, you certainly do not wish to draw attention to a recent report by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) about inaccuracies and distortions in media coverage of antisemitism and the Labour Party. The BBC and the Guardian were among the worst offenders.

Over one month after the damning report was published, Guardian editor Katharine Viner has still said nothing in public about it (as far as we are aware), despite being prompted by us, and many others, more than once. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not a single person at the Guardian has so much as mentioned it; including those columnists, notably Owen Jones and George Monbiot, the public is encouraged to regard as fearless radicals. Justin Schlosberg, the lead author of the report, has now published an open letter to the Guardian readers’ editor on behalf of the MRC. He wrote:

‘Both before and since publishing our research, which raised serious concerns about the Guardian‘s coverage of antisemitism within the Labour Party, we have made strident efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with both editorial and public affairs staff. Unfortunately, these efforts do not appear to have born any fruit to date. There has also been no reporting or commenting on our research, despite the significant public debate and controversy that it sparked. We nevertheless continue to hope and expect that a reflexive and considered response to the evidence will be forthcoming.’

Respected media academics – including Robert McChesney, Greg Philo, James Curran, David Miller and many others – are clear that the MRC report on coverage of antisemitism and Labour is serious and requires addressing:

‘It is imperative that news institutions — especially the BBC and those newspapers who pride themselves on fair and accurate reporting — answer to these findings. It is not enough to simply dismiss the research on the basis of presumed bias without engaging constructively with the research, including the notably cautious approach adopted by the researchers.’

The statement continued:

‘Silence or blanket dismissal will only speak volumes about the widely sensed malaise in our free press and public service media. A functioning democracy depends on a functioning fourth estate.’

The academics’ statement went unheeded by the ‘mainstream’ media; thus highlighting the dearth of a functioning fourth estate, and the grievous lack of a functioning democracy.

Attack Julian Assange

As a ‘mainstream’ journalist, you also need to ensure that you treat WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange with the requisite amount of contempt and ridicule. Thus, ‘impartial’ BBC News featured a story on its website titled, ‘Julian Assange given feline ultimatum by Ecuador’. Assange, the BBC said, had:

‘been given a set of house rules at the Ecuadorean embassy in London that include cleaning his bathroom and taking better care of his cat.’

The original version of the article even included a fake quote, ‘Save water, don’t shower’, from a parody Julian Assange Twitter account; possibly a symptom of an over-eager BBC reporter trying to make Assange look as ridiculous as possible.

In similar vein, The Times ran a piece titled, ‘Clean up after your cat or else, Ecuadorian embassy tells Julian Assange’, followed later by another article with the flippant headline, ‘Ecuadorian Embassy tires of Julian Assange’s kickabouts and skateboarding’. The Express went with ‘Feline fine? Assange’s cat needs Embassy assistance’ (October 17, 2018; article not found online). The Guardian, which benefited from an earlier collaboration with WikiLeaks and Assange, published a flippant piece titled, ‘How to get rid of an unwanted housemate’ which chuckled:

‘The Ecuadorians are fed up with their longtime lodger, Julian Assange. But many of us have had a nightmare flatmate. Here’s how to get them to leave.’

By contrast, Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, doing actual journalism, wrote:

‘While the media focused on Julian Assange’s cat rather than his continuing arbitrary detention, evidence shows that Britain worked hard to force his extradition to Sweden where Assange feared he could then be turned over to the U.S.’

Maurizi pointed out that Sweden dropped its investigation in May 2017, after Swedish prosecutors had questioned Assange in London, as he had always asked. She added:

‘Although the Swedish probe was ultimately terminated, Assange remains confined. No matter that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention established that the WikiLeaks founder has been arbitrarily detained since 2010, and that he should be freed and compensated. The UK, which encourages other states to respect international law, doesn’t care about the decision by this UN body whose opinions are respected by the European Court of Human Rights. After trying to appeal the UN decision and losing the appeal, Britain is simply ignoring it. There is no end in sight to Assange’s arbitrary detention.’

Real journalists would be hugely concerned by the implications of someone publishing details of war crimes and corruption being targeted by a state and threatened with extradition and long-term imprisonment. But, as the Canadian writer Joe Emersberger says, the ‘Assange case shows support for free speech depends on who’s talking’.

Independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone notes that what ’empire loyalists’ in corporate media ‘are really saying when they bash Julian Assange’ is that they can be trusted to protect establishment interests. Of course, it is all the easier to attack Assange knowing that he has essentially been silenced in the Ecuadorean embassy. He is also at serious risk of deteriorating health if he is unable to leave the embassy soon without the risk of being extradited to the US.

At the time of writing, he still apparently has no access to the internet. His mother, Christine Assange, has just issued an urgent and impassioned plea to raise awareness of his plight:

‘This is not a drill. This is an emergency. The life of my son…is in immediate and critical danger.’

She adds that:

‘A new, impossible, inhumane set of rules and protocols was implemented at the embassy to torture him to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave.’

She warns that if her son leaves the embassy, he will be extradited to the US, given a ‘show trial’, face detention ‘in Guantanamo Bay, 45 years in a maximum-security prison, or even the death penalty.’

Meanwhile, as Johnstone adds, the message sent out by would-be careerists smearing and laughing at Assange is:

‘Hey! Look at me! You can count on me to advance whatever narratives get passed down from on high! I’ll cheer on all the wars! I’ll play up the misdeeds of our great nation’s rivals and ignore the misdeeds of our allies! […] I will be a reliable mouthpiece of the ruling class regardless of who is elected in our fake elections to our fake official government. […] I understand what you want me to do without your explicitly telling me to do it. […] Look, I’m even joining in the dog pile against a political prisoner who can’t defend himself.’

Soft-Pedal Fascism

Another rule to abide by as a corporate journalist is to worship the global economy, excusing or even acclaiming the rise of extreme right-wing politicians because that leads to possible gains for big business. As Alan MacLeod, of the Glasgow University Media Group, observed in a recent piece for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, the financial press cheered the election of a fascist president in Brazil:

‘Jair Bolsonaro was an army officer during Brazil’s fascist military dictatorship (1964–85), which he defends, maintaining that its only error was not killing enough people.’

He is set to apply ‘shock therapy’ to Brazil, initiating ‘a fire sale of state assets and an opening up of the country’s vast natural resources for foreign exploitation’, including the Amazon. Moreover, he has threatened to unleash a wave of violence on the working class, minorities and the left.

Bolsonaro stood against the centre-left Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad. International markets, and therefore the financial press, clearly wanted Bolsonaro to win, observes MacLeod. Socialism is never popular with business and financial elites, after all.

MacLeod notes that Bolsonaro was elected with just 55.5 per cent of the vote after former leftist President Lula da Silva, by far the most popular candidate, had been jailed and barred from running on highly questionable charges. After being elected, Bolsonaro brazenly appointed the prosecutor who jailed Lula as Justice Minister in the new Brazilian government.

The Financial Times reported that the markets were ‘cheering’ Bolsonaro’s lead in the presidential race. The FT also noted surging stocks in weapons companies and a boost to the general economy as Bolsonaro’s performance ‘heartened investors.’

MacLeod concluded:

‘When it comes to opportunities for profits, all else is forgotten. After all, fascism is big business.’

Of course, a ‘real’ journalist would never say something like that.

An opinion piece on the business-oriented Bloomberg website proclaimed:

‘Brazil’s Bolsonaro Completes a U.S. Sweep of South America.’

Adding:

‘Other than Venezuela — and only for as long as Maduro holds on — the continent is now U.S.-friendly.’

The piece was written by James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former military commander of NATO.

As journalist Ben Norton summed up via Twitter:

‘I repeat for the umpteenth time: capitalism and imperialism infinitely prefer fascism over socialism. Capitalist imperialism wholeheartedly embraces fascists, while murdering socialists. This ex-commander of U.S. Southern Command is bragging about this.’

‘Responsible’ journalism means providing a regular, amplified outlet for imperial-friendly ‘analysis’. As Jonathan Cook pointed out recently, Bolsonaro is ‘a monster engineered by our media’. In other words, in much the same way that the corporate media facilitated the rise of Donald Trump to become US president.

Bury UK Responsibility for Yemen’s Nightmare

There are always exceptions to the rules. Patrick Cockburn, a long-time foreign correspondent with The Independent, is an example of a journalist who questions established ‘truths’. For almost two years, the corporate media have cited a UN figure of 10,000 Yemenis who have been killed in the US-and UK-backed Saudi war. Recently, Cockburn pointed out that this figure grossly downplays the real, catastrophic death toll which is likely in the range 70,000-80,000.

Cockburn interviewed Andrea Carboni, a researcher with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). This is an independent group formerly associated with the University of Sussex. Carboni is focusing attention on the real casualty level in Yemen. He estimates the number killed between January 2016 and October 2018 to be 56,000 civilians and combatants. When he completes his research, Carboni told Cockburn that he expects to find a total of between 70,000 and 80,000 victims who have died since the start of the Saudi-led assault in the Yemen civil war in March 2015.

Cockburn adds:

‘The number is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. It does not include those dying of malnutrition, or diseases such as cholera.’

In fact, figures from UNICEF and Save the Children show that between January 2016 and November 2017, at least 113,000 Yemeni children died from preventable causes; mostly disease and malnutrition.

In an interview with Ben Norton on The Real News Network, Cockburn points out that, despite the horrendous scale of this suffering, it is being given minimal news coverage:

‘It’s horrific. And you know, it’s not- a point, actually, that the UN was making recently, I don’t think got picked up very much, was, you know, that famines are pretty uncommon. You know, there was a famine in Somalia some years ago. There was another smaller one in South Sudan. But a famine like this, as big as this, this is very uncommon. I mean, it’s entirely manmade. And one could say it’s been taking place in view of the whole world. But actually it isn’t, because the news of it isn’t being reported.’

Cockburn also highlights a study by Professor Martha Mundy, titled ‘Strategies of the Coalition in the Yemen War: Aerial Bombardment and Food War’, concluding that the Saudi-led bombing campaign, which is supported by the US and the UK, deliberately targeted food production and storage facilities. (See also our media alert, ‘Yemen Vote – The Responsibility To Protect Profits’).

As a well-established veteran reporter of impressive credentials, Cockburn can report such uncomfortable truths without suffering career oblivion. But woe betide any young journalist trying to make their way in the ‘mainstream’ who tries to do likewise. Instead, they should follow the example of Patrick Wintour, the Guardian‘s diplomatic editor, who performs contortions to provide a fictitious ‘balance’ in a recent piece on Yemen. Wintour refers to mere ‘claims’ that the UK ‘is siding too much with the Saudis’. The Orwellian language continues with the description of Saudi Arabia as a ‘defence partner’ of Britain.

The sub-heading under the main title of Wintour’s article gives prominence to the perspective of the UK Defence Secretary:

‘Jeremy Hunt says cessation of hostilities could “alleviate suffering” of Yemeni people.’

As the historian and foreign policy analyst Mark Curtis observed via Twitter:

‘This sub-heading is a microcosm of what a joke the Guardian is. After over 3 yrs of UK govt’s total backing of mass murder in Yemen, the paper has the temerity to equate UK policy with easing humanitarian suffering. The state could not ask for more.’

Aspiring journalists should take note of the state-corporate requirement to bury the bloody reality of ‘defence’ and the huge profits that must be protected.

Curtis also recently highlighted an admission by the Ministry of Defence that has seemingly gone under the radar of the corporate media:

‘Oh, so Saudi pilots *are* being trained at RAF Valley in Wales (Anglesey). https://bit.ly/2qiNkrN’

It would also not do for those hoping for a career in journalism to examine the daily contortions and sleight-of-hand pronouncements emanating daily from government departments. Thank goodness, then, for Curtis who regularly highlights the distasteful deceits that are churned out by the UK state.

We tweeted BBC News about the buried truth that the UK is training Saudi pilots, even as Saudi Arabia commits war crimes in Yemen:

‘Hello @BBCNews. Perhaps you could devote a decent amount of coverage to this? Or would you rather keep the public in the dark about the extent of UK government complicity in #Yemen’s nightmare?’

As ever, the BBC did not respond.

In short, being a reliable ‘mainstream’ journalist entails a number of basic rules including: propagating the myth that ‘we’ are the good guys; conforming to the requirements of wealth and power; keeping one’s head down and never challenging authority in any deep or sustained way; and refraining from any public discussion about these rules.

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Canada: Zionist Trudeau Condemns BDS in Apology to Jewish WWII Refugees

NOVANEWS
 

Justin Trudeau used an apology for Canada’s historical rejection of Jewish refugees during World War II to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian human rights.

The Canadian prime minister apologised in the House of Commons on Wednesday for Canada’s decision to turn away a ship carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees in 1939.

More than 250 of the passengers were later killed in Nazi death camps after the MS St Louis was forced to return to Europe, historians have estimated. Canada and other countries in the Western Hemisphere declined to let the refugees in.

“We apologise to the 907 German Jews aboard the St Louis, as well as their families,” Trudeau said. “We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. We are sorry for not apologising sooner.”

The prime minister then pivoted away from the historical episode to condemn anti-Semitism in the world today — and that’s when he linked anti-Jewish racism with the Palestinian-led BDS movement.

Launched by 170 Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, BDS seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, ensure equal rights for Palestinian citizens of the state and allow the return of Palestinian refugees.

“Anti-Semitism is far too present. Jewish students still feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable on some of our colleges and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation,” Trudeau said.

“And out of our entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.”

BDS organisers reject charges of anti-Semitism and argue that Israel’s supporters aim to stifle the debate about Palestinian human rights by conflating legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Jewish hatred.

Strong ties to Israel

Canada has maintained strong ties to Israel for decades, but the countries’ relationship deepened under previous Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

Aside from a few measures, such as pledging funds for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Trudeau’s Liberals have largely stayed in line with their Conservative predecessors.

On 31 October, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, was in Israel, where she met with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“This is a great friendship between Israel and Canada. It’s one that is based on similar values and our commitment to democracy and freedom and liberty and the rule of law and all the good things that I think characterise our two countries,” Netanyahu said during Freeland’s visit.

Justin Trudeau

@JustinTrudeau

The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses. As a @McGillU alum, I’m disappointed.

1,825 people are talking about this

In 2016, the Liberals backed a symbolic parliamentary resolution condemning BDS, “given [that] Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations”.

That motion called on Canada to condemn “any and all attempts by Canadian organisations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement”.

A year earlier, before he was elected prime minister, Trudeau said he was “disappointed” that a BDS motion was passed at his alma mater, Montreal’s McGill University.

“The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses,” he tweeted.

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Posted in CanadaComments Off on Canada: Zionist Trudeau Condemns BDS in Apology to Jewish WWII Refugees


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