Archive | Europe

Brexiting Hard: Boris Johnson Goes to War

NOVANEWS
  

The Times was none too pleased, riled and concerned. Contributors to The Spectator were wondering whether an imminent implosion was about to take place.  Who would profit from this act of suicide, this ritual of Tory party cannibalism? The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, naturally. The Tories, Britain’s drivers of Brexit, have gone from trouble to potential disaster.

It all came down the antics of Buffoonish Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary who rendered himself a talismanic figure during the Brexit referendum campaign, the figure whom Prime Minister Theresa May felt best secure from in sending him to far-flung places. Over time, the talisman has become an un-improvised explosion device, poorly assembled but nonetheless devastating. At any moment, he might just blow up, leaving a crippling residue.    

Rumours had begun circulating this week that Johnson was set for the cabinet chop. In a lengthy note in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson was returning to soil long tilled over by the Leave debate. Even grounds now considered inaccurate if not plainly misleading by those who participated in the campaign to leave the EU, were revisited with unremitting enthusiasm.

It was this very meditation that had peeved establishment Tories.

“I don’t know where this is coming from, honestly. It feels to me like an attempt to keep the great snoreathon story about my article running.”[1]

Tory grandee Ken Clarke was in little doubt what the foreign secretary was up to: soiling the prime minister’s stable.

“Sounding off personally in this way is totally unhelpful and he shouldn’t exploit the fact that [Theresa May] hasn’t got a majority in parliament.”

Had May received a stonking majority in what turned out to be a withering election, he would have been surely sacked for such conduct.

Interest centred on Johnson’s cavalier approach to the claim, made before and most recently in the Daily Telegraph, that £350 million a week was being paid in dues to the European Union, and that it was an amount that would be duly clawed back once Britannia had made her brave, disentangling escape. 

“Once we have settled out accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m a week.” 

It was a figure he has defended with iconoclastic conviction and a degree of enthusiasm verging on mania. Never mind the inconsistencies and the balanced losses, the EU subsidies and services supplied in return for dues. Britain, bold, hamstrung Britain, had to out, to fight this imposition.

Once freed from these clutches, Britain would be able to relocate the funding to, for instance, the National Health Service (NHS), the very system Tories was sworn to eliminate at various stages since its inception. (The NHS already suffers at the hands of the privatisation ideologues.)

“It would be fine thing,” suggested Johnson, “as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make most of the new technology.”

The core of his argument was his own pitch for a Hard Brexit. Rather than fearing the behaviour of EU apparatchiks, it was important for Britain not to pay anything to the EU for access post-Brexit. To remain within, even if only financially, would constitute a betrayal. As would a transitional period after 2019 that would involve the government softening its exit with ongoing EU payments for market benefits. Prime Minister May had been warned.

Statistics Chief Sir David Norgrove deemed Johnson’s play with figures a “clear misuse of official statistics”.[2]  It was a classic statement of British understatement.

“I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the £350m per week, in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union.” 

It conveyed a fundamental confusion, refusing to admit to the difference between gross contributions and net.  Johnson’s response was to accuse Norgrove, in turn, of a “willful distortion of the text of my article”.

This has been an ongoing problem of Johnson and his Leave comrades, a certain injudicious use of statistics. In April 2016, Norgrove’s predecessor as chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Andrew Dilnot, noted that the figure cited by those in the Leave campaign appeared “to relate to the UK’s gross contributions to the EU, before the applications of the UK’s rebate.”[3] As he concluded in a letter to Norman Lamb, MP,

“Without further explanation I consider these statements to be potentially misleading.”

As, indeed, it proved to be.

That was not all – Johnson was keen to insist that the aggrieved young, those who felt that Britain had profited from being involved in the union, were suffering a case of split loyalties. The zealous Europeanist Guy Verhofstadt could be counted on picking up on this criticism.

“Some British politicians – not to name Boris Johnson – criticise their countrymen and women for wanting to keep their European identity.” This sort of approach smacked of the archaic, claimed Verhofstadt, a case of “binary, old-fashioned and reductionist understanding”.[4]

For Johnson, these points hardly matter.  After being kept on the cooler, and isolated as a dangerous, rebarbative maverick, he has signaled his wish to be counted again, to make the case that will resonate with those who voted to leave in 2016. Time, it seems, to either turn or spurn the prime minister.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMITUniversity, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes

Posted in UK0 Comments

Syria – Russia Accusing U.S. of Attacks, Abduction Attempts, Team-play with Al-Qaeda

NOVANEWS

The situation in Syria is reaching another critical point. There is an increased possibility of a large scale clash between U.S. and Russian forces. We had warned of such a clash over control of the rich fields east of Deir Ezzor. At least three incidents over the last days point to more significant escalations.

  • On the 17th the U.S. accused Russia of a light air attack on its proxy forces north of Deir Ezzor. Russia denied that it had attacked those forces.
  • On the 18th and 19th large contingents of Russian and Syrian troops crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. The U.S. Kurdish/Arab proxy force in the area actively tried to hinder that movement.
  • In parallel a large al-Qaeda attack was launched in west-Syria. The Russian forces accuse U.S. intelligence services of having initiated that campaign. (The Syrian-Russian forces defeated the attack.)
  • Today the Russian military accused the U.S. Kurdish proxies near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery on its forces. It threatened massive retaliation.

The most dramatic incident was the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb.

Al-Qaeda in Syria, renamed to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, currently controls Idleb governate and Idleb city in north-west Syria. On September 19 it launched a large scale attack on Syrian government positions in north Hama, south of Idleb provinces. The al-Qaeda forces gained significant grounds before being stopped and forced to retreat. Nearly all the heavy weapons, tanks and artillery, that al-Qaeda had in the area were used and in the attack.

The spokesperson of the Russian military said (vid with English subtitles) that, according to Russian intelligence reports, al-Qaeda’s attack was made on behalf of the U.S. to slow down the Syrian-Russian campaign in the eastern province Deir Ezzor. A subtask for the terrorists was to capture a platoon of Russian soldiers. This is, to my knowledge, the first time that Russia made such a direct and extremely grave accusation against the U.S. forces and intelligence services in Syria.

From the Russian military statement:

For 24 hours, insurgents managed to dent the government troops’ defence line for up to 12 kilometers in depth and up to 20 kilometers in front.According to the received data, this offensive was initiated by the US special agencies in order to stop successful advance of the Syrian Arab Army to the east from Deir ez-Zor.

Seizing of a unit of the Russian Military Police was one of the main aims of insurgents. The Russian MP unit was operating in an observation post deployed as de-escalation observation forces.

As a result, the MP platoon (29 persons) was blocked by insurgents.

The encirclement has been breached. Units of the Russian Armed Forces have reached locations of SAA without losses.

After the al-Qaeda attack was launched the Russian air force in Syria initiated a massive counter campaign over Idleb province.

For the last 24 hours, aviation and artillery units have eliminated 187 objects, 850 terrorists, 11 tanks, 4 IFVs, 46 pickups, 5 mortars, 20 trucks, and 38 ammunition storages.Units of the 5th Airborne Assault Corpse launched a counter-attack and almost took [all] lost positions.

Pictures from the area showed several destroyed tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. This was a very costly campaign for al-Qaeda with no significant gain. It seems that Syrian and Russian intelligence were aware that an attack was coming but not of the details. For a while the situation was extremely critical. Then the large aerial counter campaign caught al-Qaeda by surprise and destroyed the attacking forces.

At the same time as the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb started U.S. proxy forces in east-Syria (yellow) took measures to hinder the fight of Syrian forces (red) against the Islamic State (black).

Source: Weekend Warrior

The Syrian government forces are cleared nearly all of Deir Ezzor city of ISIS forces. At stake now is the control of the oil fields east of Deir Ezzor and north of the Euphrates river.

Soon after crossing the Euphrates Syrian troops came under fire from U.S. proxy positions:

“According to the reports that the Syrian commanders have been sending from the frontline, most serious counter-attacks and mass shelling on the Syrian troops come from the north,” he said. “It is the area where units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as the US special operations units, are deployed, who, according to CNN, are providing medical aid to these militants instead of participating in the operation to liberate Raqqa,” [Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor] Konashenkov said.

The U.S. proxies also use their control of the Tabqa dam to hinder the river crossing:

Water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed opposition hamper the advance of Syrian government troops near Deir ez-Zor, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.”Thus, the water situation on the Euphrates has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours. As soon as the Syrian government troops began to cross the river, water level in the Euphrates rose within hours and the current velocity nearly doubled to two meters per second,” he said.

Today the Russian Defense Ministry accused the U.S. proxy forces of directly shelling its Syrian allies and the Russian forces accompanying them:

Russia warned a representative of the US command in Al Udeid, Qatar, that “any attempts of shelling from the areas where the militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces are based will be immediately curbed.””Firing points in these areas will be immediately suppressed by all means of destruction,” the general said.

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces approaching Deir ez-Zor from the north are easily joining IS terrorists, and Russian drones and reconnaissance recorded no clash between the IS with a “third force,” namely the SDF over the past week, he explained.

However, massive fire from mortars and rocket artillery was opened twice on the Syrian troops from the areas on the eastern shore of Euphrates where the SDF fighters and servicemen of US special forces are based, Konashenkov said.

The U.S. paid “Syrian Democratic Forces” that pushed into northern Deir Ezzor without meeting any resistance are mostly local tribes who were aligned with the Islamic State until the U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk hired them to fight on the U.S. side. They are led by Kurdish commanders and “advised” by U.S. special forces.

The U.S. wants to keep Syrian government forces away from the oil fields north of the Euphrates. It has plans to build and control a Kurdish proto-state in north-east Syria and control over the eastern Deir Ezzor oil would give such a state the necessary economic base.

But the U.S. has too few proxy forces available to actually take the oil area away from the Islamic State. Only the Syrian army has enough resources in the area. The U.S. is now cheating, attacking Syrian-Russian forces, and rushing to get an advantage. According to the Russians the U.S. Kurdish proxies have even stopped the fight against ISIS in Raqqa and moved forces from that area to take the oil in the east. I doubt that Syria and Russia will allow that to happen without taking measures to counter it.

With the al-Qaeda diversion attack in north-west Syria defeated and more reserves available the Syrian alliance should think about a fast air-assault on the oil fields. As soon as the oil wells are under Syrian government control and the ISIS presence eliminated the U.S. has no more excuse to continue the current deadly game.

Posted in USA, Russia, Syria0 Comments

Zionist Chief Stooge at Westminster Shames Us Again

NOVANEWS
Israel’s Chief Stooge at Westminster Shames Us Again

PM Theresa May holds a reception at Downing Street to celebrate the upcoming Jewish New Year. Image credit: Number 10/ flickr
By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune 

“As Prime Minister, I am proud to say that I support Israel. And it is absolutely right that we should mark the vital role that Britain played a century ago in helping to create a homeland for the Jewish people.”

Thus spoke Theresa May the other day as she welcomed members of the Jewish community to 10 Downing Street. But by focusing on creating a homeland for the Jewish people she’s also celebrating the hell that Balfour’s Declaration created for the gentle Palestinians and for the rest of the region. “Born of that letter, the pen of Balfour, and of the efforts of so many people, is a remarkable country,” said May, apparently blind to the reality.

Right now we’re on the run-up to the centenary of what is arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder in British history: the Balfour Declaration. In 1917 Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary, bowed to Zionist demands for a homeland for the Jews in Palestine and gave an undertaking that set the world on course for long-term turmoil and, for the native Palestinians, unspeakable misery, dispossession and displacement. It was a criminal conspiracy. And Balfour was an A-list idiot who bragged that he wasn’t even going to consult the local Arab population about this theft of their homes and lands.

Yet he remains a hero of the Conservative Party which, led by Theresa May, plans to celebrate this hundred-year “running sore” — as Lord Sydenham called it — in great style, inviting Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu to the festivities. That’s if the mad-dog warmonger isn’t under arrest by then on imminent charges of corruption back home.

“I will always do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe,” May added. “Through our new definition of anti-Semitism we will call out anyone guilty of any language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews. We will actively encourage the use of this definition by the police, the legal profession, universities and other public bodies.”

She was referring to the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

BDS “unsucessful”? Really?

One of May’s Cabinet minsiters, Sajid Javid, told the World Jewish Congress that the UK would celebrate the upcoming anniversary with pride. “Someone said we should apologise for the Declaration, to say it was an error of judgment. Of course that’s not going to happen.” To apologise, he said, would be to apologise for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist.

Instead, he emphasised the UK government’s intolerance towards any kind of boycott of Israel. “I’ll be 100 per cent clear. I do not support calls for a boycott, my party does not support calls for a boycott. For all its bluster, the BDS campaign is most notable I think, for its lack of success….  As long as I’m in government, as long as I’m in politics, I will do everything in my power to fight back against those who seek to undermine Israel.” The UK, he said, has maintained close diplomatic, trade and security ties with Israel since its inception, and is counted upon by Israel to vote in its favour at the UN and other international institutions.

As Noam Chomsky has aptly observed: “People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”

Israel lobby stooges like May and Javid continue trying to ram their pro-Zionist nonsense down our throats despite the fact that last time they attacked the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”, they came spectacularly unstuck. 200 legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe put May in her place by pointing out that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. Her efforts to repress it amounted to support for Israel’s violations of international law and failure to honour the solemn pledge by States to ‘strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations’.

May needs a crash course in human rights

Top legal experts were recently asked for their views by Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Their verdict was that those in public life cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

What’s more, there is an obligation to allow all concerned in public debate “to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”. Article 10 says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says the same sort of thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.

Eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC has sharply criticised the anti-Semitism definition touted by May. Firstly, it isn’t a legally binding definition so doesn’t have the force of a statutory one. And it cannot be considered a legal definition as it lacks clarity. Therefore any conduct contrary to the IHRA definition couldn’t necessarily be ruled illegal.

He says it was “most unsatisfactory for the Government to adopt a definition which lacks clarity and comprehensiveness” and suggests the Government’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition was simply a freestanding statement of policy — a mere suggestion as to a definition of anti-Semitism that public bodies might wish to use. But no public body was under an obligation to adopt or use it, or should be criticised for refusing to. He warned that if a public authority did decide to adopt the definition then it must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights mentioned above.

A further obligation put on public authorities is “to create a favourable environment for participation in public debates for all concerned, allowing them to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”.

According to Tomlinson, then, the IHRA definition doesn’t mean that calling Israel an apartheid state that practises settler colonialism, or urging BDS against Israel, can properly be characterized as anti-Semitic. Furthermore, a public authority seeking to apply the IHRA definition in order to prohibit or punish such activities “would be acting unlawfully.”

Retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, has weighed in bycriticising the IHRA definition for lack of legal force. “It is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.” He added that the right of free expression, now part of our domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, “places both negative and positive obligations on the state which may be put at risk if the IHRA definition is unthinkingly followed”. Moreover the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions “which cannot be cut back by governmental policies”.

Sedley felt the IHRA definition was open to manipulation. “What is needed now is a principled retreat on the part of government from a stance which it has naively adopted.”

As for Javid’s crack about not having to apologise for Israel’s existence, he must have forgotten that in the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which granted the Jews territory within defined borders, they declared statehood in 1948 without borders, grabbing as much extra land as they could by armed terror and ethnic cleansing.  The new state of Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditional upon honouring the UN Charter and implementing UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 and 194. It has failed to do so and to this day repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the Charter.

When the UK Conservative Government makes pronouncements on foreign affairs it pays to consider that 80 percent of its MPs are claimed to be signed-up members of Friends of Israel and this is a stepping-stone to higher office. Conservative Friends of Israel, according to their website, are active at every level of the party.

It is sad that so many of our politicians are so spineless and so insecure that they feel the need to herd together under the flag of what the UN has called a racist state.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UK0 Comments

“The More You Watch, The Less You Know”. Preferred Conclusions – The BBC, Syria and Venezuela

NOVANEWS
 

As the late media activist Danny Schechter wrote, when it comes to the corporate broadcast media: ‘The more you watch, the less you know.’

Schechter’s observation only fails in one key respect: ‘mainstream’ output does tell us a lot about which foreign governments are being lined up for regime change.

In 2013, it was remarkable to see the BBC reporting claims from Syria on a daily basis in a way that almost always blamed the Syrian government, and President Assad personally, for horrendous war crimes. But as the New York Times reported last month, the picture was rather less black and white. The US was embroiled in a dirty war that was ‘one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A’, running to ‘more than $1 billion over the life of the program’. Its aim was to support a vast ‘rebel’ army created and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to overthrow the Syrian government.

The BBC’s relentless headline stories were mostly supplied by ‘activists’ and ‘rebels’ who, in fact, were militants attempting to overthrow Assad, and whose claims could not be verified. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn described the problem afflicting virtually all ‘mainstream’ reporting on Syria:

‘All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War… The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side.’

There was a simple reason why ‘rebel’ claims were uncontested: they originated from ‘areas controlled by people so dangerous no foreign journalist dare set foot among them’. The additional point being that ‘it has never been plausible that unaffiliated local citizens would be allowed to report freely’.

This was obvious to everyone, doubtless including the BBC, which nevertheless produced a tsunami of ‘rebel’-sourced propaganda. Crucially, these stories were not balanced attempts to explore the various claims; they sought to establish a version of events justifying regime change: ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ were ‘good’, Assad was ‘bad’ and had to go. Journalist Robert Parry explains:

‘The job of the media is not to provide as much meaningful information as possible to the people so they can exercise their free judgment; it is to package certain information in a way to guide the people to a preferred conclusion.’

The BBC campaign was clearly inspired – whether consciously or otherwise – by a high-level decision to engineer regime change in Syria.

The key moment arrived in August 2013 when the US came very close to launching a major attack against Syrian government forces, supposedly in response to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Damascus. Only the UK parliament’s rejection of the case for war and warnings from US generals on doubts about the claims, and likely fallout from regime change, prevented Obama from attacking.

Source: New Eastern Outlook

Particularly disturbing was the fact that, as the possibility of a direct US regime change effort faded, so too did the steady flow of BBC atrocity claims. It was as if, with the goal temporarily unattainable, the propaganda tap was simply closed. It was later re-opened ahead of an anticipated, pro-war Clinton presidency, and then as part of an attempt to push president-elect Trump to intensify the Syrian war.

‘Well, Shock, Shock, It’s The Oil!’

This year, we have witnessed a comparable BBC propaganda blitz on Venezuela centred around opposition claims that President Maduro has ‘eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy’.

The BBC campaign has again been characterised by daily reports from Venezuela presenting a black and white picture of the crisis: Maduro ‘bad’, opposition ‘good’. The BBC has again promoted the sense of an escalating crisis that will inevitably and justifiably result in regime change. It is no surprise, then, to learn from the Independent:

‘The head of the CIA has suggested the agency is working to change the elected government of Venezuela and is collaborating with two countries in the region to do so.’

CIA director Mike Pompeo said he was ‘hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there’.

No eyebrows were raised in a US political culture obsessed with unproven claims of Russian interference in last year’s US presidential elections. Last month, Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, commented on Venezuela:

‘We don’t talk about it but a military option, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue.’

Pompeo’s and Trump’s statements indicate a continuation of US policy that supported a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew (then) President Chavez and which ‘was closely tied to senior officials in the US government’.

Political analyst Ricardo Vaz notes the ironic fact that ‘many of the opposition leaders’ denouncing Maduro’s alleged attacks on democracy, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, ‘were directly involved in the 2002 coup attempt’.

US interest in Venezuela was explained with admirable candour in a classified US government document from December 12, 1978:

‘OUR FUNDAMENTAL INTERESTS IN VENEZUELA ARE:1. THAT VENEZUELA CONTINUE TO SUPPLY A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF OUR PETROLEUM IMPORTS AND CONTINUE TO FOLLOW A MODERATE AND RESPONSIBLE OIL PRICE POSITION IN OPEC…’

According to the respected BP ‘Statistical review of world energy’ (June 28, 2015), proven oil reserves in Venezuela are the largest in the world, totalling 297 billion barrels.

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, naturally shares Trump’s and Pompeo’s view of the country, commenting:

‘We are evaluating all of our policy options as to what can we do to create a change of conditions where either Maduro decides he doesn’t have a future and wants to leave of his own accord or we can return the government processes back to their constitution.’ (Our emphasis)

The fact that Tillerson was chairman and chief executive officer of the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, from 2006-2016, having joined the company in 1975, might give cause for pause in considering the ‘change of conditions’ he has in mind. In 2007, the Evening Standard reported:

‘BP and the other majors are taking a hard line with Chavez, demanding conditions and compensation for [Venezuelan policy changes]… Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson said that unless the negotiations produce a profitable proposal, “we won’t be staying”.’ (‘Oil giants face reserves blow in Venezuela grab,’ Evening Standard, April 30, 2007)

And of course Trump has left us in no doubt about who is the rightful owner of the world’s oil:

‘I wasn’t a fan of Iraq, I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you – when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said, in addition to that: “Keep the oil!”… So we shoulda kept the oil. But okay, maybe we’ll have another chance… But the fact is: we shoulda kept the oil.’

Our search of the Lexis database (August 30, 2017) for UK national press articles mentioning ‘Tillerson’, ‘Exxon’ and ‘Venezuela’ over the seven months since Tillerson was made Secretary of State generated precisely three hits. None of these discussed oil as a possible motive driving US policy – a taboo subject.

Investigative journalist Greg Palast describes why and when Venezuela became an Official Enemy of the West:

‘Well, shock, shock, it’s the oil! Chavez, back in 2000, 2001, decided that he wasn’t going to give it away anymore… Big US oil companies were paying a royalty for Venezuela’s super-heavy oil of about 1 per cent – 1 per cent! – okay. And for the regular oil, the heavy oil, it was 16 per cent. So the oil companies were keeping 84 per cent, and Chavez said: “You’re going to have to pay 30 per cent, you can only keep 70 per cent of our oil… You gotta split off a bit for the people of Venezuela.” And, of course, that made him enemy number one – not to Americans, but to America’s landlords, the oil companies.’

Regional specialist Mark Weisbrot commented recently on the Venezuelan opposition’s US allies:

‘These right-wing U.S. politicians – with much cooperation from all of the U.S. administrations of the past 15 years – have consistently fought to overthrow the Venezuelan government. This is all they can think about, regardless of the consequences of escalating violence, increased suffering, or even civil war.’

Weisbrot’s overly-optimistic conclusion:

‘The U.S. strategy of “regime change” has contributed to the death of hundreds of thousands of people — mostly civilians — in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. It has also had a hideous history in the Americas. Hopefully something has been learned from these crimes and tragedies.’

The BBC’s Propaganda Blitz

In numerous ‘reports’, the BBC has presented damning criticism of the Venezuelan government, often with no or nominal balance. We will sample below from a large number of similar offerings with a few related examples from other corporate media.

On May 6, the BBC published a piece titled: ‘Venezuela protests: Women march against Maduro’. The article reported:

‘The US has also expressed concern about what UN ambassador Nikki Haley called a “violent crackdown”.’At least 36 people have died and hundreds have been injured in weeks of protests.’

This gave the impression that a government ‘crackdown’ was responsible for the deaths. But the truth was more mixed. In July, Venezuela Analysis reported that since violent anti-government protests began on April 4, there had been 14 deaths caused by the authorities and 23 direct victims of opposition political violence, with 61 deaths disputed or unaccounted for.

Like so many BBC articles, this one focused on claims that Venezuela is a ‘dictatorship’:

‘”The dictatorship is living its last days and Maduro knows it,” former MP Maria Corina Machado told AFP news agency at the women’s march.’

The BBC even included a comment presumably intended to remind readers of the infamous toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad (in fact orchestrated by US forces):

‘Meanwhile video posted on social media purportedly showed the pulling down of a small statue of Hugo Chavez in the western town of Rosario de Perija.’

In similar vein, a May 9 BBC piece included the comment:

‘The secretary general of the Organisation of American States (OAS) likened the country to a dictatorship.’

While recognising that the Maduro government certainly merits criticism for mishandling the current situation, ‘both economically and politically’, political analyst Greg Wilpert noted that

‘none of the arguments against the democratic legitimacy of the Maduro government hold much water’. Moreover, ‘polls repeatedly indicate that even though Maduro is fairly unpopular, a majority of Venezuelans want him to finish his term in office, which expires in January 2019’.

Western media devoted intense coverage to Maduro’s decision to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly in July. In response, the Trump administration extended sanctions. Mark Weisbrot commented:

‘The pretext for the sanctions is that the new Constitutional Assembly will essentially carry out a coup d’etat, abolishing the National Assembly – which the opposition won by a wide margin in December 2015 – and allowing President Nicolas Maduro to cancel presidential elections, which are due next year.’

But as Weisbrot noted, such a cancellation ‘will not happen automatically’ as a result of the Constituent Assembly election, and so ‘it does not make sense that the sanctions should be triggered by the election itself’.

On May 11, the BBC published ‘Inside Venezuela’s anti-government protests’. The first comment relayed by the BBC:

‘There’s no freedom of expression here in Venezuela. There’s no freedom of any kind.’

Media analyst Joe Emersberger describes the reality:

‘The biggest lie told over the past fifteen years about Venezuela is that its media is cowed by the government and that it has rendered the opposition voiceless.’

He adds:

‘In fact the protests and the leading opposition leaders’ take on the protests are being extensively covered on the largest private networks: Venevision, Televen, Globovision. If people abroad sampled Venezuela’s TV media directly, as opposed to judging it by what is said about it by the international media and some big NGOs, they’d be shocked to find the opposition constantly denouncing the government and even making very thinly veiled appeals to the military to oust Maduro.’

The BBC’s second quoted opinion:

‘We’re here to put an end to the dictatorship in Venezuela, so that our children can grow up in a free Venezuela.’

There was no balance and there have been no similar compilations looking ‘inside’ Venezuela’s pro-government protests. One would hardly guess that Maduro was elected president on April 14, 2013 in a democratic election.

In a May 12 report, ‘Venezuela protests: a week in pictures’, the BBC included two successive photo captions, which read:

‘People angry with the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been taking to the streets almost daily since the beginning of April.’

And:

‘Many have been injured, and there have been close to 40 protest-related deaths.’

 

This again suggested that people ‘angry with the government’ had been killed. Opposition violence has included bomb attacks on police, grenades thrown at the supreme court building from a helicopter, a government supporter burned alive, shootings, attempted lynchings, and so on. This violence was not mentioned by Paul Mason when he condemned ‘Maduro’s crackdown’ in the Guardian. A New York Times op-ed under the title, ‘Venezuela Needs International Intervention. Now.,’ commented in similar vein:

‘President Nicolás Maduro has responded with an iron fist. More than 50 people have been killed, 1,000 injured, and 2,700 arrested…’

The bomb attack on Venezuelan National Guard soldiers shown in this video, severely injuring several of the soldiers and cheered by people watching, would of course have been described by all US-UK media as a ‘terror attack’, if it had happened in the West.

The Guardian published a similar photo gallery of anti-government protestors, but not of pro-government protestors. The compilation came with remarkable captions of this kind:

‘Drawing inspiration from Ukraine’s 2013-14 revolt, young protesters in Venezuela carry Viking-like shields as they battle government security forces during protests against President Nicolás Maduro’

One photo caption read:

‘”Miraflores on fire” is written on the front of this shield. Miraflores Palace is the president’s official workplace’

Another:

‘The opposition says President Maduro has created a dictatorship. The last parliamentary vote held in 2015 gave the opposition a majority but the government has repeatedly blocked any attempts to oust Maduro’

The BBC’s May 16 piece was titled, ‘Venezuela: Teenager killed as mass protests rage’. A May 18 BBC piece maintained the sense of developing crisis: ‘Venezuela: Soldiers sent to quell looting amid protests’. On May 22, a BBC report opened with these words:

‘”Venezuela is now a dictatorship,” says Luis Ugalde, a Spanish-born Jesuit priest who during his 60 years living in Venezuela has become one of the South American nation’s most well-known political scientists.’

The BBC later offered another ‘inside’ look at anti-government protestors: ‘Apathy to activism: Venezuelan students on why they protest.’ Mario Bonucci, rector of the University of the Andes, was quoted:

‘This is an institution where you can speak your mind freely without fear of repercussion and that’s uncomfortable for this government.’

A remark that again ignored the fact that widespread criticism of Maduro’s government is published and broadcast by many Venezuelan media. The BBC offered no balancing comment.

The 2002 Coup – Telling Omissions

On July 9, the BBC wrote of opposition leader Leopoldo López:

‘Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has praised the decision to release from prison one of the country’s main opposition leaders, Leopoldo López…’Mr López was serving a 14-year sentence for inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014, a charge he has always denied. The Supreme Court said he was released on health grounds.’

Leopoldo López

There is rather more to be said about Lopez. Venezuela Analysis commented:

‘Lopez is also well known in Venezuela for his active participation in the April 2002 coup against the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez. During the coup, using his authority as Mayor of Chacao, he led the illegal arrest of Minister of Justice Ramón Rodríguez Chacín.’

The report continued:

‘In a joint appeal with Maria Corina Machado, López called on citizens to join his “La Salida” campaign (“The Way Out”), described the government as a “dictatorship” and called on Venezuelans to “rise up” emulating the example of January 23, 1958 (when a popular uprising overthrew the Perez Jimenez dictatorship). The message was clear: Venezuela was a dictatorship, the government had to be overthrown by force.’

The Guardian also reported on Lopez:

‘Security agents have since seized two opposition leaders from their homes after they called for protests against the vote.’

Joe Emersberger pointed out some telling omissions:

‘Umm no. Leopoldo Lopez – while already under house arrest – made a video in which he called for a military coup. Don’t try this while under house arrest in the UK, where you can get put away for Facebook posts advocating a riot (even if you are not under house arrest at the time).’

Writing for OffGuardian, Ricardo Vaz asked of corporate media performance:

‘Why is there never a mention that the opposition leadership is full of protagonists from that US-backed military coup that ultimately failed? Quite simply because it would undermine the entire “democracy vs. dictatorship” propaganda narrative.’

Numerous journalists have attempted to use the Venezuelan crisis to also attack Jeremy Corbyn as part of the relentless smear campaign against him. In The Times, David Aaronovitch wrote of the Venezuelan revolution:

‘I believe we need to know why you [Jeremy Corbyn] think it’s failed.’

This from the columnist who has tirelessly backed wars of ‘liberation’ generating mass death and utter disaster in IraqLibya and Syria.

Conclusion – Enforcing ‘The Truth’

The goal of a mass media propaganda campaign is to create the impression that ‘everybody knows’ that Saddam is a ‘threat’, Gaddafi is ‘about to commit mass murder’, Assad ‘has to go’, Corbyn is ‘destroying the Labour party’, and so on. The picture of the world presented must be clear-cut. The public must be made to feel certain that the ‘good guys’ are basically benevolent, and the ‘bad guys’ are absolutely appalling and must be removed.

This is achieved by relentless repetition of the theme over days, weeks, months and even years. Numerous individuals and organisations are used to give the impression of an informed consensus – there is no doubt! Once this ‘truth’ has been established, anyone contradicting or even questioning it is typically portrayed as a shameful ‘apologist’ in order to deter further dissent and enforce conformity.

A key to countering this propaganda is to ask some simple questions: Why are US-UK governments and corporate media much more concerned about suffering in Venezuela than the far worse horrors afflicting war-torn, famine-stricken Yemen? Why do UK MPs rail against Maduro while rejecting a parliamentary motion to suspend UK arms supplies to their Saudi Arabian allies attacking Yemen? Why is the imperfect state of democracy in Venezuela a source of far greater outrage than outright tyranny in Saudi Arabia? The answers could hardly be more obvious.

Posted in USA, Media, Syria, UK, Venezuela0 Comments

“The Muslim Problem” and Racism in UK Media

NOVANEWS

“The Muslim Problem” and Racism in UK Media: Thousands Call on Press Regulator to Hold Inquiry

Almost five thousand people have emailed IPSO, the press regulator calling for an inquiry into racism in the UK media, in the wake of a column in the Sun which referred to ‘The Muslim Problem.’

The demand for an inquiry was originally made by the National Union of Journalists with Chris Frost, the NUJ ethics council chair saying that,

“IPSO should launch an immediate investigation into the prevalence of Islamophobia, racism and hatred espoused in the press. IPSO claim to be set apart from their predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission, because they can run investigations and do monitoring – now is the time to prove it.”

Campaign group Global Justice Now has encouraged people to email IPSO , saying that

“We support the National Union of Journalists in their call for Ipso to launch an immediate investigation into the prevalence of Islamophobia, racism and hatred espoused in the press.”

The email also calls for the Sun journalist Trevor Kavanagh who wrote the controversial column to stand down from the board of the press regulator, as it seems inappropriate that the subject of so many complaints should play an integral role in the regulatory body.

Kahra Wayland-Larty, a campaigner at Global Justice Now said:

“There seems to be a real sense of impunity in certain sections of the UK press, that they can print the most horrendous slurs and dehumanising stories about Muslims, migrants and refugees and get away with it. This serves to normalise racism, and put hate-filled content right into the mainstream, which is fuelling the hostile environment on the streets of the UK and subsequently resulting in the spike of often violent hate crimes we’re seeing against these communities. The press regulator can’t just sit idly by while much of the media descends into a frenzy of racist and Islamophobic  hatemongering against whole sections of UK society.”

Jewish and Muslim groups in the UK also came together to issue a formal complaint to IPSO about the Sun column, which they likened to Nazi Propaganda.

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Germany: Trial of Neo-Nazi Terror Group Whitewashes Role of Intelligence Services

Featured image: Beate Zschäpe (Source: Tagesspiegel)

After more than four years of proceedings, the German federal prosecutor’s office ended its summation on Tuesday and demanded a lifelong sentence and subsequent preventive detention for Beate Zschäpe. Zschäpe is the surviving member of the trio of neo-Nazi terrorists known as the National Socialist Underground (NSU). The federal prosecutor, Herbert Diemer, also called for long prison sentences for other defendants on trial in Munich.

Over the course of seven days, the prosecution laid out in detail the case against the accused. Excluded from the trial and from prosecution from the very beginning were state agencies, in particular the German domestic intelligence agency, the Office for Constitutional Protection, which is heavily implicated in the crimes of the NSU.

As a member of the NSU, Zschäpe was involved in 10 murders and over 30 attempted murders, three bomb attacks, and 15 robberies. The state prosecutor claimed she bore especial guilt, even though she may never have shot any of the victims herself. If the court follows the recommendation of the prosecution, Zschäpe will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Diemer also demanded long prison sentences for four other defendants. He requested 12 years’ imprisonment for the former neo-fascist NPD (German National Democratic Party) functionary Ralf Wohlleben, as an accessory to murder in nine cases. Wohlleben had, amongst other services to the NSU, supplied the “Ceska” pistol used by the group to murder nine immigrants.

André Eminger is to be sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. He was found guilty of being an accessory to attempted murder. Eminger rented the camper used by NSU members Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos in June 2004 to drive to Cologne, where they planted a bomb in the city’s Keupstraße. The court followed the request of the federal prosecutor to detain Eminger in court. Until now he had remained free.

Holger Gerlach helped Zschäpe and her companions, Mundlos and Böhnhardt, to live undetected by providing them with identity papers. Gerlach has been charged with supporting a terrorist organization and the prosecutor has demanded he serve a five-year prison sentence.

The prosecutor also requested a youth penalty of three years for Carsten S., who procured the weapon on behalf of Wohlleben. The prosecutor adjudged that S. deserved a mitigated sentence after making a full confession.

The role of the domestic intelligence agency was never considered by the court. Diemer had already given the intelligence services a clean bill of health at the start of the trial. Its agents had made a decisive contribution to the investigation, Diemer claimed. There were no persons pulling the strings to be uncovered. Any other interpretations were “senseless rumours” and a “will-o’-the-wisp.”

As the WSWS wrote at the start of the trial, the entire NSU proceedings were structured to cover up the involvement of the state in the crimes of the NSU. At an early stage the prosecutor’s office concluded that the NSU consisted of just three people, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who died under mysterious circumstances before their arrest, and Beate Zschäpe. Any investigation into other NSU members was thereby excluded from the start.

Several parliamentary investigation committees have concluded that the NSU must have consisted of more than three members. Members of the neo-Nazi organization “Blood and Honour,” which has since been banned, supported the trio when they went underground. They collected money for the gang at neo-Nazi concerts and applauded their crimes in their publications.

Lawyers, who represent the relatives of victims in the case, have repeatedly maintained that the NSU must have consisted of a larger group of neo-Nazis.

Lawyer Stephan Kuhn, who represents a victim of the bomb attack in the Cologne Keupstraße, told Spiegel Online earlier this week that explosives and 20 various firearms had been found in the last apartment to be occupied by Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe. The origins of 17 of these weapons had not been ascertained. “This is a clear indicator of other supporters that the prosecutor has not investigated.” There are also further indications that others around the NSU had not been identified.

Lawyers for the victims have repeatedly raised these claims in court together with evidence pointing to the involvement of state agencies. For their part, intelligence officers and their undercover agents who were summoned as witnesses refused to provide statements, declared they could not remember, or simply lied.

It is now known that about 40 undercover agents and informers were in contact with the three NSU terrorists. The neo-Nazi group Thuringian Homeland Security, in which the trio initially became radicalised, was the creation of undercover agent Tino Brandt, who built up the organisation with money provided by the secret service. After the trio went “underground” in 1998, they were covered up by the secret services for the following 13 years.

The exact extent of the collaboration between the secret services and NSU remains unclear. It is documented that the Hessian secret service agent Andreas Temme was actually at the scene of the murder of one of the victims, Halit Yozgat, in Kassel in 2006. Temme has alleged absurdly he knew nothing of the murder and has been backed by his superior officers. Other agents have received similar cover from higher-ups.

The Thuringian investigative committee notes in its final report that the search for the NSU terrorists was so amateurish as to lead to the “suspicion of deliberate sabotage.”

In his interview with Spiegel Online, Kuhn also reported that the prosecutor’s office had suppressed evidence that could have demonstrated collusion between the intelligence agencies and the NSU. According to Kuhn, the prosecutor’s office “structured the investigations in such a way that it could decide which results of the investigation should be submitted to the court and which should not.”

There were a total of nine other investigations against potential supporters, which were to be pursued separately, plus a broader investigation (structural procedure) of unknown supporters, in particular suppliers of weapons. In these proceedings, the lawyers of the sub-defendants would not have the right to inspect files.

“If the prosecutor’s office did not wish the parties to the proceedings to be aware of an interrogation, he ensured that the interrogation of the witness took place in the structural procedure. This provided the legal leeway to prevent the presentation of an interrogation in court,” Kuhn said.

The prosecutor also requested on a number of occasions that the court reject applications by the lawyers of the civil case claimants for the interrogation of witnesses. Kuhn said,

“The federal prosecutor’s office thus used its position in a manner that indicated it feared certain investigations could reach the public domain.”

As one example, he cited the application by a subsidiary lawyer to invite to the stand a former official of the secret service, with the cover name Lothar Lingen. Lingen had admitted to the federal prosecutor’s office he had intentionally destroyed files related to the NSU to prevent their content being revealed.

“He said that based on the number of undercover agents in Thuringia nobody would have believed that the federal constitutional protection did not know about the NSU.”

The prosecutor’s office claimed in the trial, against its better knowledge, that this was speculation and that Lingen would not be recalled as a witness.

It is evident that, despite the attention to detail in the case of the five accused, the aim of the NSU trial was to conceal the role played by secret services. This has taken place as more information emerges about the activities of the far-right in the security agencies and German army (Bundeswehr).

The German army officer Franco A., who had registered as a Syrian refugee and planned the assassination of politicians, received cover from superiors and was part of a larger network involving the far-right Identity movement. A. also had connections to a terror cell in Rostock, which planned political assassinations. The cell included a policeman and a lawyer.

Last week, the federal administrative court in Leipzig ended its long-standing trial of Joachim Freiherr von Sinner, the former head of the foreign secret service BND in the city of Mainz. Von Sinner had taken down two photographs of Christian Wulff, then the German president, because he opposed Wulff’s statement that Islam belonged to Germany. The court decided against any punishment for von Sinner based on his right-wing extremist views on politicians and Islamism.

“Here the threshold for punishment has not yet been exceeded,” declared judge Ulf Domgörgen.

According to the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, von Sinner had planned “exercises of a paramilitary nature” with fellow thinkers from the police, the Bundeswehr and the BND. The aim of such exercises was to make the “resistance” against Muslims as effective as possible. All proceedings against von Sinner have been terminated.

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Bomb Attack on London Underground Sets Stage for Further State Repression

NOVANEWS
 

The explosion of a suspected homemade bomb on a packed Underground commuter train in southwest London Friday morning has become the occasion for a massive police and intelligence operation.

Before anything about the origins of the attack aboard a train at Parsons Green station had officially been made public, the government called a meeting of its COBRA emergency committee. The meeting was convened in the afternoon amid speculation that the UK’s terrorism threat level could be raised from “severe” to “critical”—the highest level. Late Friday evening, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May announced in a televised statement that the threat level was being raised to critical for an undefined period.

She stated,

“For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites that are not accessible to the public,” adding, “The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets…”

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said this would free up 1,000 armed police officers for use on the streets.

Earlier, May seized the opportunity to push for more surveillance powers, declaring,

“[W]e are looking very carefully at the powers that our police and security service have to make sure they have the powers they need,” while “working with the Internet companies.”

She also announced a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron “to talk about what more we can be doing to ensure that we deal with the terrorist propaganda, with the extremist propaganda, with the hatred that is put out across the Internet.”

During the evening, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency.

The rush hour attack appears to have been deliberate and indiscriminate. Passengers close by reported hearing a loud bang and seeing a “wall of flame” coming down the train. A number of people suffered burns, while others were injured in the panicked rush that followed the explosion, as commuters scrambled to exit the station.

The London Ambulance Service reported that 29 people were taken to hospital, mostly with flash burns. As of early Friday evening, 21 were still receiving treatment at Imperial, Chelsea and Westminster, and St George’s hospitals.

One passenger spoke of a seeing a burning “white builder’s bucket” in a supermarket bag, with “a lot of wires hanging out of it.” Images and videos circulating on social media appeared to confirm this.

The Daily Mail and other sources said the wires appeared to be fairy lights, which have been used in homemade explosive devices in the past. It appears that the “bucket bomb” device did not explode as intended. Later reports stated the device had a timer of some sort, and a circuit board was recovered from the scene.

Another eyewitness heard a “large bang on the other side of the tube train,” then a “really hot, intense fireball” flew above his head, singeing his hair. He saw people with facial burns.

Another told the Guardian:

“Suddenly there was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming.” He continued, “I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets. Some people got pushed over and trampled on.”

A woman, Emma Stevie, who was on the train when the explosion happened, described being caught in a “human stampede” as people tried to escape from the train.

“I wedged myself in next to a railing, I put myself in the fetal position. There was a pregnant woman underneath me, and I was trying really hard not to crush her. I saw a poor little boy with a smashed-in head and other injuries. It was horrible.”

Transport services were badly disrupted. Train service on the District Line, which crosses the entire width of London, was suspended between Wimbledon and Edgware Road stations. The entire line was subsequently shut down. Roads around Parsons Green station were closed, and bus routes terminated.

Police immediately launched a major operation with a huge manhunt. The incident, initially handled by the British Transport Police, was handed over to the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 anti-terror unit and declared to be terrorist-related. Police, including heavily armed and protected Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers, were deployed on the streets, a cordon was thrown up around the area, and houses and flats near the station were evacuated by the police. Helicopters circled overhead.

Shortly before midday, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced that “hundreds of detectives” were “involved looking at CCTV, forensics work and speaking to witnesses.” Rowley reported that the security service MI5 and the GCHQ spy network were “bringing their intelligence expertise to bear on the case.”

The Guardian reported Friday evening that the police have obtained CCTV images that capture the bomber as he boarded the train with the bomb.

As with all such outrages, there is no reason to assume that the attack comes as a surprise to the British intelligence agencies.

An indication that the security services know more about whoever carried out the attack than they are letting on came in the form of a tweet put out by US President Donald Trump, who called the perpetrators “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

Asked about Trump’s tweet, Prime Minister May rebuked the US president, saying,

“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

The Metropolitan Police described Trump’s comment as “pure speculation.”

The truth is that over the past decade, most terror attacks in Britain and Europe have been carried out by individuals, often radicalised Islamists, who were known to the state, had been monitored for years, and whose associations were of direct use to the major powers in their neo-colonial wars in Africa and the Middle East.

Similar statements were made by May and the British police after the May 22 Manchester Arena suicide bombing attack in which 22 people died. This was in response to US intelligences sources revealing, within hours, the identity of the bomber, Salman Abedi, and the fact that he was well known to British intelligence.

It is now established fact that that Abedi did not act alone, but was part of wider network that had been monitored and allowed to operate by British intelligence for years.

Similarly, the June 3 attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, which killed eight people and injured 48, was perpetrated by three individuals all of whom were well known to the intelligence services and police.

This is the fourth time that the threat level has been placed at “critical” in the past 11 years. The last occasion was following Manchester attack, amid official warnings that another assault was “imminent.” Nearly 1,000 armed troops were mobilised and put onto the streets, mainly in London, to reinforce counterterrorism officers.

The June deployment was in line with Operation Temperer, a covert plan devised by David Cameron’s Conservative government, when May was home secretary.

Temperer followed a series of terror attacks in France by known intelligence assets and informers in 2015. These were seized on by the French state to implement Operation Sentinelle, which deployed 10,000 troops and imposed emergency powers allowing indiscriminate searches and arrests without judicial consent and increased surveillance. Presented as anti-terror measures, the emergency powers are still in effect two years later, to be used against social opposition in the working class.

Temperer was “accidentally” made public when minutes associated with it were uploaded to the National Police Chiefs’ Council website earlier this year. The minutes revealed plans for up to 5,100 troops to be placed on the streets to “augment armed police officers engaged in protective security duties.”

The Daily Mail noted that Temperer could be triggered by the COBRA committee following terrorist attacks, and that the military top brass recognised that the “Army played an important part in national resilience and supported the work going forward.”

“National resilience” could mean almost anything, and makes clear that Temperer is in place to back up the police with the army as and when required. Temperer was kept secret at the time because, according to the Daily Telegraph, then-Prime Minister David Cameron was concerned that comparisons would be made with British Army operations in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles,” the decades-long dirty war against Irish republicans.

Featured image is from India TV.

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Update on Greek Debt Crises – Why Syriza Continues to Lose

NOVANEWS

This past August marked the second anniversary of the Greek debt crisis and the third major piling on of debt on Greece in August 2015 by the Eurozone ‘Troika’ of European Commission, European Central Bank, and the IMF. That 2015 third debt deal added $86 billion to the previous $230 billion imposed on Greece—all to be paid by various austerity measures squeezing Greek workers, taxpayers, retirees, and small businesses demanded by the Troika and their northern Euro bankers sitting behind it.

Studies by German academic institutions showed that more than 95% of the debt repayments by Greece to the Troika have ended up in Euro bankers’ hands.

But the third debt deal of August 2015, which extends another year to August 2018, was not the end. Every time a major multi-billion dollar interest payment from Greece was due to the Troika and their bankers, still more austerity was piled on the $83 billion August 2015 deal. The Troika forced Greece to introduce even more austerity in the summer of 2016, and again still more this past summer 2017, to pay for the deal.

Last month, August 2017, Syriza and its ‘rump’ leadership—-most of its militant elements were purged by Syriza’s leader, Alex Tsipras, following the August 2015 debt deal—-hailed as some kind of significant achievement that the private banks and markets were now willing to directly lend money to Greece once again. Instead of borrowing still more from the Troika—-i.e. the bankers representatives—-Greece now was able once again to borrow and owe still more to the private bankers instead. In other words, to pile on more private debt instead of Troika debt. To impose even more austerity in order to directly pay bankers, instead of indirectly pay their Troika friends. What an achievement!

Greece’s 2012 second debt deal borrowed $154 billion from the Troika, which Greece then had to pay, according to the debt terms, to the private bankers, hedge funds and speculators’ which had accumulated over preceding years and the first debt crisis of 2010. So the Troika simply fronted for the bankers and speculators in the 2nd and 3rd debt deals. Greece paid the Troika and it paid the bankers. But now, as of 2017, Syriza and Greece can indebt themselves once again directly to the bankers by borrowing from them in public markets. As the French say, everything changes but nothing changes!

What the Greek debt deals of 2010-2015, and the never-ending austerity, show is that supra-state institutions like the Troika function as debt collectors for the bankers and shadow bankers when the latter cannot successfully collect their debt payments on their own. This is the essence of the new, 21st century form of financial imperialism. New, emerging Supra-State institutions prefer weaker national governments to indebt themselves directly to the banks and squeeze their own populace with Austerity whenever they can to make the payments. The Supra-State may not be involved. But it will step in if necessary to play debt collector if and when popular governments get control of their governments and balk at onerous debt repayments. And in free trade currency zones and banking unions, like the Eurozone, that Supra-State role is becoming increasingly institutionalized and regularized. And as it does, forms of democracy in the associated weaker nation states become increasingly atrophied and eventually disappear.

Syriza came to power in January 2015 as one of those popularly elected governments intent on adjusting the terms of debt repayment. But after a tragic, comedy of errors negotiation effort, capitulated totally to the Troika’s negotiators after only seven months.

The capitulation by Syriza’s leader, Alex Tsipras, in July 2015 was doubly tragic in that he had just put to a vote to the Greek people a week beforehand whether to reject the Troika’s deal and its deeper austerity demands. And the Greek popular vote called for a rejection of the Troika’s terms and demands. But Tsipras and Syriza rejected their own supporters, not the Troika, and capitulated totally to the Troika’s terms.

The August 2015 3rd debt deal quickly thereafter signed by Syriza-Tsipras was so onerous—-and the Tsipras-Syriza treachery so odious—-that it left opposition and popular resistance temporarily immobilized. That of course was the Troika’s strategic objective. Together with Tsipras they then pushed through their $83 billion deal, while Tsipras simultaneously purged his own Syriza party to rid it of elements refusing to accept the deal. Polls showed at that time, in August-September 2015, that 70% of the Greek people opposed the deal and considered it even worse than the former two debt agreements of 2010 and 2012. Other polls showed 79% rejected Tsipras himself.

To remain in power, Tsipras immediately called new Parliamentary elections, blocking with the pro-Troika parties and against former Syriza dissidents, in order to push through the Troika’s $83 billion deal. This week, September 20, 2017 also marks the two year anniversary of that purge and election that solidified Troika and Euro banker control over the Syriza party—-a party that once dared to challenge it and the Eurozone’s neoliberal Supra-State regime.

The meteoric rise, capitulation, collapse, and aftermath ‘right-shift’ of Syriza raises fundamental questions and lessons still today. It raises questions about strategies of governments that make a social-democratic turn in response to popular uprisings, and then attempt to confront more powerful neoliberal capitalist regimes that retain control of their currencies, their banking systems, and their budgets–such as in the case of Greece. Even in the advanced capitalist economies, the message is smaller states beware of the integration within the larger capitalist states and economies–whether by free trade, central banking integration, budget consolidations, or common currencies. Democracy will soon become the victim in turn.

The following is an excerpt from the concluding chapter of this writer’s October 2016 book, ‘Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges’, Clarity Press, which questioned strategies that attempted to resurrect 20th century forms of social-democracy in the 21st century world of supra-State neoliberal regimes. It summarizes Syriza’s ‘fundamental error’—a naïve belief that elements of European social democracy would rally around it and together they—i.e. resurgent social democracy and Syriza Greece—would successfully outmaneuver the German-banker-Troika dominated Euro neoliberal regime that solidified its power with the 1999 Euro currency reforms.

Syriza and Tsipras continue to employ the same error, it appears, hoping to be rescued by other Euro regime leaders instead of relying on the Greek people. Tsipras-Syriza recently invited the new banker-president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who this past month visited Athens. Their meeting suggests Tsipras and the rump Syriza still don’t understand why they were so thoroughly defeated by the Troika in 2015, and have been consistently pushed even further into austerity and retreat over the past two years.

But perhaps it no longer matters. Polls show Tsipras and the rump Syriza trailing their political opponents by more than two to one in elections set to occur in 2018.

EXCERPT from ‘Looting Greece’, Chapter 10, ‘Why the Troika Prevailed’.

Syriza’s Fundamental Error

To have succeeded in negotiations with the Troika, Syriza would have had to achieve one or more of the following— expand the space for fiscal spending on its domestic economy, end the dominance and control of the ECB by the German coalition, restore Greece’s central bank independence from the ECB, or end the control of its own Greek private banking system from northern Europe core banks. None of these objectives could have been achieved by Syriza alone. Syriza’s grand error, however, was to think that it could rally the remnants of European social democracy to its side and support and together have achieved these goals—especially the expanding of space for domestic fiscal investment. It was Syriza’s fundamental strategic miscalculation to think it could rally this support and thereby create an effective counter to the German coalition’s dominant influence within the Troika.

Syriza went into the fight with the Troika with a Greek central bank that was the appendage, even agent, of the ECB in Greece, and with a private banking system in Greece that was primarily an extension of Euro banks outside Greece. Syriza struggled to create some space for fiscal stimulus within the Troika imposed debt deal, but it was thoroughly rebuffed by the Troika in that effort. It sought to launch a new policy throughout the Eurozone targeting fiscal investment, from which it might benefit as well. But just as the ECB was thwarted by German-core northern Euro alliance countries, the German coalition also successfully prevented efforts to promote fiscal stimulus by the EC as well. The Troika-German coalition had been, and continues to be, successful in preventing even much stronger members states in France and Italy from exceeding Eurozone fiscal stimulus rules. The dominant Troika German faction was not about to let Greece prevail and restore fiscal stimulus, therefore, when France and Italy were not. Greece was not only blocked from launching a Euro-wide fiscal investment spending policy; it was forced to introduce ‘reverse fiscal spending’ in the form of austerity.

Syriza’s insistence on remaining in the Euro system meant Grexit was never an option. That in turn meant Greece would not have an independent central bank providing liquidity when needed to its banking system. With ECB control over the currency and therefore liquidity, the ECB could reduce or turn on or off the money flow to Greece’s central bank and thus its entire private banking system at will—which it did repeatedly at key moments during the 2015 debt crisis to influence negotiations.

As one member of the Syriza party’s central committee reflected on the weeks leading up to the July 5 capitulation,

“The European Central Bank had already begun to carry out its threats, closing down the country’s banking system”.

The ECB had actually begun turning the economic screws on Syriza well before the final weeks preceding the referendum: It refused to release interest on Greek bonds it owed under the old debt agreement to Greece from the outset of negotiations. It refused to accept Greek government bonds as collateral necessary for Greek central bank support of Greece’s private banks. It doled out Emergency Lending Assistance, ELA, funds in amounts just enough to keep Greek banks from imploding from March to June and constantly threatened to withhold those same ELA funds when Troika negotiators periodically demanded more austerity concessions from Greece. And it pressured Greece not to impose meaningful controls on bank withdrawals and capital flight during negotiations, even as those withdrawals and money flowing out of the country was creating a slow motion train wreck of the banking system itself. The ECB, in other words, was engineering a staged collapse of Greece’s banking system, and yet Syriza refused to implement any possible policy or strategy for preventing or impeding it.

Posted in Greece0 Comments

Double Standards? Europe’s Five “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”

NOVANEWS

Double Standards? Europe’s Five “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”. Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey

Are Turkey, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy Nuclear Powers?

Author’s Note

This article was originally published by Global Research  in February 2010 under the title:Europe’s Five “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”

The media, politicians and scientists have remained silent. The focus was persistently on Iran’s non-existant nuclear weapons. And now the focus is on North Korea.

Double Standards?  All eyes on North Korea

Amply documented, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey are in possession of nuclear weapons which are deployed under national command against Russia, Iran and the Middle East.

Following the failed July 2016 military coup in Turkey, the media reported on Turkey’s nuclear weapons stored and deployed at the Incirlik airbase. 

The US National Resources Defense Council in a February 2005 report confirmed Turkey’s deployment of 90 so-called tactical B61 nuclear weapons, some of which were subsequently decommissioned    

The stockpiling and deployment of tactical B61 in these five “non-nuclear states” are intended for targets in the Middle East. Moreover, in accordance with  “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs (stockpiled by the “non-nuclear States”) could be launched  “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” ( quoted in National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005, emphasis added) 

In 2016, press reports including Deutsche Welle confirmed the deployment of Turkey’s 50 B61 nuclear weapons out it Incirlik air force base.  But this has been known for years. It took the media ten years to acknowledge that Turkey (a non-nuclear State) possesses a sizeable nuclear arsenal. 

There was however some confusion in the media reports as to the nature of the nuclear bombs stored and deployed at Incirlik. They are B61 gravity bombs [of the bunker buster type] with nuclear warheads,  with an explosive capacity of up to 170 kilotons (up to 12 times a Hiroshima bomb).

The accuracy of the numbers of bombs quoted in the media reports remains to be acertained. Some of the bombs were decommissioned. Some of them may have been replaced with a more recent version  including the B61-11. 

originalIt should be emphasized that in the last few years, the Pentagon has developed a more advanced version of the B61, namely the B61-12, which is slated to replace the older versions currently stored and deployed in Western Europe including Turkey.

Nuclear weapons are on the table: A trillion dollar nuclear weapons is now being contemplated by the Pentagon. 

click image to order Michel Chossudovsky’s book, which outlines the Dangers of Nuclear War

The notion of deterrence has been scrapped  These so-called mini-nukes are intended to be used.

Under The Pentagon’s so-called Life Extension Program, the the B61 nuclear weapons are  intended to “remain operational until at least 2025.” 

Are these five countries undeclared nuclear powers?

Should we be concerned?

The number of nuclear bombs deployed is far greater than those of the DPRK, which is object of  economic sanctions and war threats. 

Turkey,  Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy possess B61 nuclear bombs, deployed under national command and targeted at Russia, Iran and the Middle East

Michel Chossudovsky, July 30,  2016, minor revisions, September 17, 2017

*      *     *

“Far from making Europe safer, and far from producing a less nuclear dependent Europe, [the policy] may well end up bringing more nuclear weapons into the European continent, and frustrating some of the attempts that are being made to get multilateral nuclear disarmament,” (Former NATO Secretary-General George Robertson quoted in Global Security, February 10, 2010)

“‘Is Italy capable of delivering a thermonuclear strike?… Could the Belgians and the Dutch drop hydrogen bombs on enemy targets?… Germany’s air force couldn’t possibly be training to deliver bombs 13 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, could it?… Nuclear bombs are stored on air-force bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands — and planes from each of those countries are capable of delivering them.” (“What to Do About Europe’s Secret Nukes.”Time Magazine, December 2, 2009)

The “Official” Nuclear Weapons States

Five countries, the US, UK, France, China and Russia are considered to be “nuclear weapons states” (NWS), “an internationally recognized status conferred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. Three other “Non NPT countries” (i.e. non-signatory states of the NPT) including India, Pakistan and North Korea, have recognized possessing nuclear weapons.

Israel: “Undeclared Nuclear State”

Israel is identified as an “undeclared nuclear state”. It produces and deploys nuclear warheads directed against military and civilian targets in the Middle East including Tehran. Iran There has been much hype, supported by scanty evidence, that Iran might at some future date become a nuclear weapons state. And, therefore, a pre-emptive defensive nuclear attack on Iran to annihilate its non-existent nuclear weapons program should be seriously contemplated “to make the World a safer place”. The mainstream media abounds with makeshift opinion on the Iran nuclear threat. But what about the five European “undeclared nuclear states” including Belgium, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands and Italy. Do they constitute a threat?

Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey: “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”

While Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities are unconfirmed, the nuclear weapons capabilities of these five countries including delivery procedures are formally acknowledged. The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five so-called “non-nuclear states”, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Casually disregarded by the Vienna based UN Nuclear Watchdog (IAEA), the US has actively contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe. As part of this European stockpiling, Turkey, which is a partner of the US-led coalition against Iran along with Israel, possesses some 90 thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs at the Incirlik nuclear air base. (National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005) By the recognised definition, these five countries are “undeclared nuclear weapons states”.

The stockpiling and deployment of tactical B61 in these five “non-nuclear states” are intended for targets in the Middle East. Moreover, in accordance with  “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs (stockpiled by the “non-nuclear States”) could be launched  “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” ( quoted in National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe, February 2005)

Does this mean that Iran or Russia, which are potential targets of a nuclear attack originating from one or other of these five so-called non-nuclear states should contemplate defensive preemptive nuclear attacks against Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey? The answer is no, by any stretch  of the imagination.

While these “undeclared nuclear states” casually accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, without documentary evidence, they themselves have capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads, which are targeted at Iran.  To say that this is a clear case of “double standards” by the IAEA and the “international community” is a understatement.

Click to See Details and Map of Nuclear Facilities located in 5 European “Non-Nuclear States”

The stockpiled weapons are B61 thermonuclear bombs.  All the weapons are gravity bombs of the B61-3, -4, and -10 types.2 . Those estimates were based on private and public statements by a number of government sources and assumptions about the weapon storage capacity at each base .(National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

Germany: Nuclear Weapons Producer

Among the five “undeclared nuclear states”, “Germany remains the most heavily nuclearized country with three nuclear bases (two of which are fully operational) and may store as many as 150 [B61 bunker buster ] bombs” (Ibid). In accordance with “NATO strike plans” (mentioned above) these tactical nuclear weapons are also targeted at the Middle East. While Germany is not categorized officially as a nuclear power, it produces nuclear warheads for the French Navy. It stockpiles nuclear warheads (made in America) and it has the capabilities of delivering nuclear weapons.

Moreover,  The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company – EADS , a Franco-German-Spanish  joint venture, controlled by Deutsche Aerospace and the powerful Daimler Group is Europe’s second largest military producer, supplying .France’s M51 nuclear missile. Germany imports and deploys nuclear weapons from the US. It also produces nuclear warheads which are exported to France. Yet it is classified as a non-nuclear state.

Posted in USA, Europe0 Comments

The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

NOVANEWS

The New York Times’ descent into yellow journalism over Russia recalls the sensationalism of Hearst and Pulitzer leading to the Spanish-American War, but the risks to humanity are much greater now, writes Robert Parry.

 

Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the “Two Minutes Hate” as envisioned in George Orwell’s 1984, except applied to America’s new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.

In the snide and alarmist style that the Times now always applies to Russia, reporter Andrew Higgins wrote – referring to a fictitious war-game “enemy” –

“The country does not exist, so it has neither an army nor any real citizens, though it has acquired a feisty following of would-be patriots online. Starting on Thursday, however, the fictional state, Veishnoriya, a distillation of the Kremlin’s darkest fears about the West, becomes the target of the combined military might of Russia and its ally Belarus.”

This snarky front-page story in Thursday’s print editions also played into the Times’ larger narrative about Russia as a disseminator of “fake news.” You see the Russkies are even inventing “fictional” enemies to bully. Hah-hah-hah! The article was entitled, “Russia’s War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm.”

Of course, the U.S. and its allies also conduct war games against fictitious enemies, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the Times. For instance, U.S. war games in 2015 substituted five made-up states – Ariana, Atropia, Donovia, Gorgas and Limaria – for nations near the Caucasus mountains along the borders of Russia and Iran.

In earlier war games, the U.S. used both fictitious names and colors in place of actual countries. For instance, in 1981, the Reagan administration conducted “Ocean Venture” with that war-game scenario focused on a group of islands called “Amber and the Amberdines,” obvious stand-ins for Grenada and the Grenadines, with “Orange” used to represent Cuba.

In those cases, the maneuvers by the powerful U.S. military were clearly intended to intimidate far weaker countries. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media did not treat those war rehearsals for what they were, implicit aggression, but rather mocked protests from the obvious targets as paranoia since we all know the U.S. would never violate international law and invade some weak country! (As it turned out, Ocean Venture ’81 was a dress rehearsal for the actual U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.)

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there’s one standard for “us” and another for Russia and other countries that “we” don’t like.

Yellow Journalism

But the Times’ behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The “newspaper of record” has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America’s global empire.

Illustration by Chesley Bonestell of nuclear bombs detonating over New York City, entitled “Hiroshima U.S.A.” Colliers, Aug. 5, 1950.

Except in today’s instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putinso much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America’s Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you’ll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.

At this stage, the Times doesn’t even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.” The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media.

Even as neo-Nazi and ultranationalist protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, Yanukovych signaled a willingness to compromise and ordered his police to avoid worsening violence. But compromise wasn’t good enough for U.S. neocons – such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria NulandSen. John McCain; and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman. They had invested too much in moving Ukraine away from Russia.

Nuland put the U.S. spending at $5 billion and was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should be in the new government and how to “glue” or “midwife this thing”; McCain appeared on stage urging on far-right militants; and Gershman was overseeing scores of NED projects inside Ukraine, which he had deemed the “biggest prize” and an important step in achieving an even bigger regime change in Russia, or as he put it: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The Putsch

So, on Feb. 20, 2014, instead of seeking peace, a sniper firing from a building controlled by anti-Yanukovych forces killed both police and protesters, touching off a day of carnage. Immediately, the Western media blamed Yanukovych.

Shaken by the violence, Yanukovych again tried to pacify matters by reaching a compromise — guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland — to relinquish some of his powers and move up an election so he could be voted out of office peacefully. He also pulled back the police.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

At that juncture, the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists spearheaded a violent putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Ignoring the agreement guaranteed by the three European nations, Nuland and the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the coup regime “legitimate.”

However, ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which represented Yanukovych’s electoral base, resisted the coup and turned to Russia for protection. Contrary to the Times’ narrative, there was no “Russian invasion” of Crimea because Russian troops were already there as part of an agreement for its Sevastopol naval base. That’s why you’ve never seen photos of Russian troops crashing across Ukraine’s borders in tanks or splashing ashore in Crimea with an amphibious landing or descending by parachute. They were already inside Crimea.

The Crimean autonomous government also voted to undertake a referendum on whether to leave the failed Ukrainian state and to rejoin Russia, which had governed Crimea since the Eighteenth Century. In that referendum, Crimean citizens voted by some 96 percent to exit Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia, a democratic and voluntary process that the Times always calls “annexation.”

The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a “Kremlin stooge” in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq’s WMD in 2002-03 were called “Saddam apologists.”

But what is particularly remarkable about the endless Russia-bashing is that – because it started under President Obama – it sucked in many American liberals and even some progressives. That process grew even worse when the contempt for Russia merged with the Left’s revulsion over Donald Trump’s election.

Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate.

The Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire U.S. news media joined the “resistance” to Trump’s presidency and embraced the neocon “regime change” goal for Putin’s Russia. Very few people care about the enormous risks that this “strategy” entails.

For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn’t seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

Posted in USA, Russia0 Comments

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