Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Readers of this newspaper [The Guardian] should be more aware than most of the campaign to cancel the debts of third world countries; but you still might not know how, or worse, why, those debts came about. I was hazy on the precise details, but after reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man I consider myself rather better informed. And a lot more dismayed.

John Perkins was recruited as a young man by the National Security Agency - somewhat to his surprise, considering that in his interview he had been grilled on his youthful insubordination, friendships with suspicious foreigners, and sexual frustrations. It turns out that it doesn't hurt to be a bit damaged in the NSA's eyes - it makes you more biddable. He was then employed by Chas T Main, a company whose competitors included Bechtel and Halliburton, of which you may have heard. As to what Main's business was, Perkins says that "during my first months there even I could not figure out what we did".

He found out eventually. Ostensibly an economist, his job was to go off to developing countries, offer them enormous loans with which to improve their infrastructures, and provide wildly inflated projections of the economic growth these improvements would bring. Presented to the right people, these bogus figures did the trick, a deliberately underhand assault on a nation's de facto sovereignty. Contractors - US contractors, naturally - would move in and build the pipelines or the drilling platforms or the power stations, the economy would fail to grow anything like as fast as predicted, the country would default on its loan, and so find itself in hock to the US in perpetuity - or until it underwent revolutionary regime change. The textbook case of this is Iran, where Perkins found himself a very short time before the fall of the shah.

Things didn't work out quite as planned there. (Although the seeds of that debacle had been sown, as Perkins reminds us, in 1951, when Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore's grandson, helped to cause the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh by, among other things, stirring up Muslim leaders to instigate revolt. You will also find references, in other chapters, to the money the US gave Osama bin Laden.) But there were plenty of places where the strategy had worked: a few families in the target countries would become immeasurably wealthier, the poor would become poorer, the money lent would often, after the enriching process, do little more than move around various banks within the US, and if anyone at the top grumbled or refused to play ball, they could be assassinated. Few assert, and fewer believe, that the death of Panama's Omar Torrijos in 1981 was accidental. Anyway, it's all here, in toe-curling detail, and after reading it you will find the fictional exploits of the kind of people we imagine to work as undercover agents turn your stomach with their mendacious disconnection from reality.

One question that bothers me is how come Perkins himself has not been assassinated or silenced. It is possible that his old bosses have decided that, as the author of books with titles like Shapeshifting, The World Is As You Dream It and Spirit of the Shuar, he has fallen off into the realm of the incurably flakey and is therefore not worth bothering about. In fact, at one point I even found myself wondering whether Perkins's confessions are concoctions intended to divert us from the truth, whatever that may be.

But Ockham's razor, as well as natural suspicion towards the motives of Bechtel, Halliburton and the US government, compels me to accept this as a plausible and accurate enough account. If the book had been a fiction it might have been somewhat better written (it is not written badly, but it is clear that communication rather than elegance is favoured). There is a scene where he watches a shadow puppet play in Indonesia, during which the puppet master predicts a war between America and Islam; that may be a little pat, considering the scene takes place while Nixon is still in power. (It would make a great scene in any potential film of the book.) But once you've absorbed the book's central message, it makes the news look rather different.


Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Circus Capitol Hill. Who has the most political influence: Russia or (the) Israel (Lobby)?

The Russians interfered in the 2016 elections, no doubt about it; yet the case that they made a difference in the outcome is slender. The Facebook ads they ran were absurd, a drop in a bucket of slop. As for the fabled 70,000 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who gave the election to Trump, they were surely influenced by other factors more than the Russians. For starters, Hillary Clinton’s failure to visit the midwest and her record as a warmonger in war-scarred states leap out as more significant issues.

Then there’s Wikileaks. We all remember Trump’s bluster about it, but tell me one memorable revelation from the Wikileaks disclosures from the Democratic National Committee. All the revelations I recall were about Israel’s role in the Clinton campaign: Clinton’s assurances that she’d fix the relationship with Netanyahu, Netanyahu’s advice to Clinton to attack, attack, attack the boycott campaign, and Clinton’s promises to the organized Jewish community aimed at maintaining Haim Saban’s support. It’s hard to imagine these revelations affected many votes, but they have the merit of being true and important, information voters ought to have. Like the Access Hollywood tape.

Which brings us to Ilhan Omar’s case for foreign influence. In February the first term congresswoman from Minnesota marveled at/deplored such influence: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Omar was plainly referrring to the role of the Israel lobby in US political life. She said nothing about Jews. But she has reaped the whirlwind: denounced for allegedly expressing anti-semitic statements by everyone from the Democratic Party leadership to the New York Times and Jake Tapper, because she dared to criticize the role of the lobby in policymaking.

But who has influence? The House of Representatives just passed by an overwhelming margin a resolution championed by AIPAC that denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel as a bigoted undertaking based on “principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation.”

This is just what Netanyahu told Hillary Clinton the U.S. should do, three years ago, per Wikileaks. when Hillary was promising AIPAC that she would take the US-Israel relationship to the “next level.” Netanyahu told a Clinton aide:

“On BDS, Israel should move from the defense to the offense. It should be attacked on moral grounds. It is ‘unjust’ and ‘cruel.’ Israel must attack its attackers. The best defense is a good offense: ‘attack, attack, attack.’”

Twenty-seven states have passed anti-BDS legislation. And yesterday after the House passed its resolution— which said that US relations with Israel should only get stronger — Netanyahu promptly celebrated the American government’s dedication to his country. Remember this is the leader who once bragged that “America is a thing you can move very easily.” At that time Netanyahu also urged Congress to invade Iraq. Netanyahu assured Congress that Saddam was trying to get nuclear weapons, and great things would come of a war:

If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region

AIPAC also pushed that war.

Of course no one talks about Israel’s influence. That’s verboten. You get labeled an anti-semite for endorsing a theory of international Jewish influence, an “ancient trope” of Jew hatred, as the New York Times says virtually every time it mentions Ilhan Omar.

So we are supposed to ignore the fact that Donald Trump’s biggest contributor, who owns an Israeli newspaper and says he wished he’d been in the Israeli army not the US one, called for the embassy move to Jerusalem, the withdrawal from the Iran deal, and the hiring of John Bolton. Sheldon Adelson has more power than the secretary of state…

Democrats are also desperate to hold on to pro-Israel donors, notably Haim Saban, who was born in Egypt, raised in Israel, and is an ardent Zionist.

“Gosh, imagine the Russians having the power over Congress that the lobby has,” Donald Johnson writes to me. “Imagine a wildly lopsided Congressional vote condemning a grassroots campaign for human rights in Russia. Trump, contrary to liberal fantasies, has done things that Putin doesn’t want, including opposing a pipeline to Germany from Russia. He has given Israel almost everything it wants except an actual US war against Iran.”

Both political parties are anti-Russia. But if you’re anti-Israel it’s political death. That explains the pressure brought to bear on progressive Democrats to support the anti-BDS legislation. Ro Khanna and Ayanna Pressley were surely told that if they opposed the anti-boycott resolution they were playing into the hands of Donald Trump in 2020. Because he is going to continue to say that the Democrats are anti-Israel so as to peel away Zionist supporters.

Khanna and Pressley’s efforts to justify their support for Israel on social media have been flimsy. Pressley cited her “solidarity” with Jewish families:

What I heard resounding in community was that voting yes on this resolution affirmed to my constituents raised in the Jewish faith Israel’s right to exist…

Pressley’s collapse reminded me of what Barney Frank, the former congressman from a neighboring Boston-area district, once told the anti-occupation activist Jeff Halper after a tour of the settlements gobbling up East Jerusalem and destroying any idea of Palestinian sovereignty. Halper says Frank challenged him:

“Bring me the names of 5000 Jews in my district that support you… If you can’t do that…. I’m not going to commit political suicide for the sake of the Palestinians… “
Ayanna Pressley stuck with that pro-Israel Jewish community this week.

The tragedy is that there is still no real force in American politics for Palestinian human rights. Politicians are allowed to say the most racist things about Palestinians, and the media can run endless justifications for massacring unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, and– there are no consequences. No, you only get ahead that way…


Monday, 29 July 2019

The Antisemitism Wars (Book)

With accusations of antisemitism hitting the headlines on a regular basis involving high-profile figures such as Ken Livingstone or Britain’s former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who can be unaware that a passionate battle is being waged? What, though, is the reality behind the headlines?

Karl Sabbagh’s clinical analysis of the facts is perfectly timed. Slurs and accusations against people campaigning for Palestinian rights have, of course, been going on for decades, but the past two years have seen a massive increase in the scope and intensity of the attacks, especially against those on the Left, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. As the possibility of a Labour victory looms ever closer, organisations like the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Labour against Anti-Semitism (LAAS), the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Campaign against Anti-Semitism (CAA) and others have stepped up the campaign. This book is therefore both an account of past activities and a warning of worse to come.

For those unfamiliar with the region’s history, the introductory chapter provides a clear precis, including a step by step refutation of the oft-repeated myths used to justify the original and continuing expulsion and oppression of the indigenous population of Palestine. It follows that, in the face of such incontrovertible evidence, the only recourse open to the pro-Israel lobby is to try to silence the critics.

The diverse methods used emerge from a series of personal accounts. The writer and musician Tom Suarez found that the CAA was not only calling for him to be barred as a public speaker, in Britain as well as the US; but was also campaigning for him to be refused employment anywhere as a musician.

Tony Greenstein, well known as a blogger and activist for Palestinian rights, gives a detailed account of what it is like to be hauled up in front of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, in a long and traumatic pseudo-legal process. Hundreds of party members have been denounced in this way by teams of people trawling the internet, not so much for anti-Jewish statements as criticism of Israel. The resulting numbers enable the lobby to accuse Labour as a party of not being proactive in rooting out antisemitism “endemic” within its membership.

Jeremy Corbyn and others in the leadership of the party come in for criticism for failing to respond swiftly and robustly to the attacks. The policy of placatory gestures and protestations of innocence appear to have simply invigorated the campaign against Labour.

In his chapter focusing on the vigilante groups, Sabbagh demonstrates how they use anything from de-contextualised quotes to total fabrications, including assertions of verbal exchanges which cannot be verified. In fact, the CAA, a registered charity, specialises in discovering (often invented) antisemitic incidents and intimidating campaigning individuals and groups or venues hosting Palestinian events. Its stated aim is to “ensure ruinous consequences, be they criminal, professional, financial or reputational” for the critics of Israel. They have demanded that prosecutions for “hate speech” be instigated by the Crown Prosecution Service and that academics speaking out on Palestinian rights be sacked. As many people on the receiving end can testify, even if accusations are proven to be false, once a smear has been made the damage has been done. Published retractions (rarely made) may not be read, and most people cannot afford to seek legal redress. The message to other truth tellers is clear: speak out on Israel and this can happen to you as well. Examples of the actual criminalisation of criticism of Israel in the United States should serve as a warning to everyone in this country.

The shameful role played by the media is a recurring theme in Sabbagh’s book. The fact that the CAA’s “polls” on Jewish opinion have been exposed as wildly inaccurate, by Jewish leaders and commentators among others, has not stopped many in the mainstream media from citing them as a serious information source.

Unsubstantiated claims that, for example, one third of British Jews are contemplating emigrating are simply quoted as fact. The absurd, near hysterical reaction of Rabbi Sacks to a perfectly anodyne comment by Jeremy Corbyn is a case in point. Not a single mainstream media outlet seriously questioned his extraordinary comparison with Enoch Powell’s notorious “rivers of blood” speech.

Sabbagh’s assessment of the mainstream media in this respect is confirmed by the recent report by the Media Reform Coalition (outlined in the Appendix). It shows that widespread, repeated inaccuracies have tended to promote the notion that the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic.

At the heart of the book is the controversy surrounding the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism since that has emerged as the weapon of choice of the pro-Israel lobby. The definition itself is uncontroversial, but some of the purportedly “helpful” examples relating to Israel – that the lobby has fought tooth and nail to have included – are highly suspect. The openly declared aim is to conflate any criticism of Israel with antisemitism. Sabbagh demonstrates this in some detail and flags up the dangers of its adoption, citing numerous legal opinions, including that of the lawyer who actually formulated the original definition.

Other key documents provided are transcripts of the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which exposes Israeli government interference in British politics. A similar more recent documentary series on the lobby in the US has been blocked from being aired, but was fortunately leaked via the internet. An account of the accusation of antisemitism made against Baroness Jenny Tonge when she chaired a meeting in parliament is also included.

The cumulative effect of all of this carefully researched and clearly presented data is profoundly chilling. The implications for freedom of speech in Britain – the very foundation of our democracy – are inescapable. Unfortunately, almost by definition, the mainstream media are highly unlikely to review a publication that reveals their own biased and slipshod approach to one of the key issues of our times. Let us hope that word-of-mouth recommendation and the power of the social media will attract the readership that this book deserves.

Book review here, buy the book here.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Empire Files: How Palestine Became Colonized

Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, The Empire Files looks at the long history of Zionist colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Empire Files: Israeli Army Vet’s Exposé - “I Was the Terrorist”

In a rare, candid conversation, Abby Martin interviews a former Israeli Army combat soldier who served as an occupier in Palestine’s Hebron City.

Another nail in the coffin of RussiaGate?

Lawsuit outs Ellen Ratner as source for Seth Rich information

Former Fox News news analyst Ellen Ratner relayed information from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Texas businessman Ed Butowsky regarding Seth Rich’s role in transferring emails to Wikileaks, according to an amended lawsuit that I filed this morning on behalf of Mr. Butowsky.

Although Ms. Ratner previously worked for Fox News, she is by no means a Republican or a conservative, and her role in the Seth Rich saga (like that of journalist Sy Hersh) obliterates the Democratic narrative that right-wing zealots fabricated the story about Mr. Rich leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Rich, a DNC employee, was murdered in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016, and the murder remains unsolved. Here’s an excerpt from the amended suit (“RCH” stands for “Russian Collusion Hoax”):

Full details @LawFlog.

Monday, 22 July 2019


John Ware: pro-Israel former Sun journalist and maker of libellous output condemned as Islamophobe and already subject of complaint by Labour over earlier ‘hatchet job’

The journalist behind this week’s Panorama ‘exposé’ of Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints has a history that will raise questions in the minds of neutral observers. Below are details.


The Murdoch Times has run a series of attacks recently on Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints based on emails and data taken from the party by former employees.

Some of those former employees destroyed the same data and more when they quit after the resignation of former general secretary Iain McNicol – thousands of documents – drastically impeding the party’s ability to deal with those complaints and allowing the media to claim Labour had been lax in resolving them.

Now, former Sun and BBC journalist John Ware – who has written for a number of other right-wing publications – has made an episode of the BBC’s Panorama programme, claiming to examine the question, “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”

The programme is expected to be largely a regurgitation of the Times attacks.

Déjà vu – even before Corbyn was leader

In 2015, before Corbyn’s victory in his first Labour leadership contest had even been confirmed, Corbyn’s campaign was forced to complain to the BBC about a ‘hatchet job’ by Ware. Prefiguring the latest attack, the hatchet-job took the form of a Panorama programme.

So extreme and transparent was the attack that it led even some of the mainstream media at the time to report that the usually-respected Panorama was being compared to Murdoch’s right-wing US propaganda outlet Fox News:


Ware has a long history of articles that have outraged and offended Muslims, leading to descriptions of him as a “notorious Islamophobe” “desperate to discredit Muslims“. So profound and widespread were the criticisms that in 2006 commentators were questioning the continued viability of the programme even as it was promoted to a prime viewing slot.

In one Panorama episode, Ware had accused a pro-Palestinian charity of being a front for terrorism. The following year, the BBC was forced to pay undisclosed damages to the charity’s former general manager for libel and to issue a public apology.

“The BBC apologises for any distress caused to him as a result of including his image in the programme. It is happy to confirm that there are no grounds to investigate whether Mr Yacub was a colleague or an associate of Dr Yusuf in relation to the funding and supporting of terrorist activity in breach of the Charity Commission rules.”
The BBC’s public apology for Panorama episode “Faith, Hate and Charity”

Accusations of Islamophobia did not end there. In 2015 – the same year as his first anti-Corbyn programme – he was heavily criticised for a Panorama episode accused of ‘othering’ Muslims as a threat to the UK. The programme led the Islamic Human Rights Commission to nominate Ware for an ‘Islamophobia award’, noting that he:

claims that anti-Semitism is “entirely irrational” however Islamophobia “is reactive.” And therefore also justifiable?

He had already ‘won‘ the award in 2005, after making a film attacking the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) just after the ‘7/7’ London bombings. In 2015, he was nominated for treating Islamophobia as a reaction to something about Islam and Muslims, in contrast to ‘irrational’ antisemitism.

Anti-Palestinian – and anti-Orthodox – polemics

Ware’s libellous attack on pro-Palestinian charity Interpal led the MCB to describe him as “an agenda-driven pro-Israel polemicist“. But that does not mean Ware automatically defends all Jewish people.

In a 2013 film for the BBC, Ware referred often to ‘jihadists’ and ‘Islamists’ as a threat on Israel’s ‘hostile border’, but also found time to look askance at Ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose zionism.

In an article for the Jewish Chronicle, Ware described such Ultra Orthodox Jews – who make up around a quarter of the UK’s Jewish population and are expected to represent more than half within fifteen or so years – as “marooned on Judaism’s farthest fringe“.

The 2013 documentary led to accusations that Ware had downplayed the scale of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and attempted to demonise an Israeli Arab activist.

ten articles targeting Muslim peer Baroness Warsi, including one from last December that accuses her of “beating [a Muslim appointee] with a stick ever since her appointment last January“.

The SKWAWKBOX was unable to reach John Ware for comment.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Blast from the past: The Pentagon’s updated war plan for tactical nukes

The first sign of a 21st Century nuclear war might be command post sensors lighting up and aircraft radios buzzing as pilots notice a strange-looking cloud forming. Heat rises as ground troops a few dozen miles away feel the winds shift.

Satellite communications are out. So are some ground links.

U.S. and allied command posts can’t reach brigades in the field.

Forward deployed troops would see the intelligence finally come streaming in, followed by orders from the Combatant Command — strike back, use our tactical nukes if you must. And by the way, some unlucky troops will need to roll into that area to assess the damage, counterattack and aid any survivors.

The world has not seen a nuclear strike in combat since 1945. But a nuclear attack from an enemy — and potential U.S. counter strike — is a scenario that’s drawing renewed attention from the Defense Department as the military prepares for the grim prospect of full-scale combat operations involving nuclear weapons.

“It’d be horrible,” retired Gen. Hawk Carlisle, former head of Air Combat Command and current head of the National Defense Industrial Association, said of this hypothetical scenario that could happen under new Pentagon doctrine.

“All the complicating factors of a nuclear exchange just accentuates whatever problem you would have in a normal hostile environment, with a level of complexity that is an order of magnitude more difficult,” Carlisle told Military Times in a recent interview.

For the first time in decades, incorporating tactical-level targeting and being able to run maneuver operations in a post-nuclear blast area have returned to the thinking of even the lowest-ranking troops. Something most operational planners have ignored for decades.

Winning a nuclear ground war

The Pentagon’s new plansnew plans were outlined in detail when the Pentagon recently published its new 60-page “Joint ­Publication No. 3-72 Nuclear Operations” online. The ­document, prepared at the request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was briefly available to the public but soon removed and placed in an online catalogue of “for official use only” documents.

The document reveals a fundamental change from the Cold War-era belief that nuclear war would result in an Armageddon-like catastrophe and “mutually assured destruction.”

The new plans reflect the modern battlefield where the number of countries with nuclear capabilities is growing rapidly, where asymmetric warfare is increasingly common and where the U.S. military is losing its technological edge over other near-peer military rivals.

The new plan bluntly states that “nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win.”

And it calls their use “essential” to mission success.

Collectively, it amounts to a new “prevail in conflict” or fight to win doctrine, said Steve Aftergood, a national security analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. The Defense Department’s latest nuclear plan may be a reaction to the Russian strategy of using nuclear weapons in an effort to “escalate to deescalate,” Aftergood said.

Russia’s nuclear policy since 2000 has been to use smaller payloads in a conventional fight — low-yield or tactical — nuclear weapons to win key battles that could quickly end conflict and prevent full-scale nuclear war, according to a 2012 U.S. National Intelligence Council report.

Some experts see the doctrinal change as simply a way of getting back to the way nuclear conflict was viewed before the Berlin Wall fell.

Before the Berlin Wall fell and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, every U.S. artillery unit in Europe was nuclear capable. “Every battalion had nuclear training,” said David E. Johnson, principal researcher at the Rand Corporation and career Army officer with a background in artillery.

That included defending nuclear weapon storage sites, anticipating effects of even howitzer 155 mm nuclear-enabled projectiles and working field exercises in mission oriented protective posture, or MOPP, gear.

“We need to recover that capability,” he said. “There’s just a knowledge gap in the force.”

Post-blast ground operations

The 2019 nuclear doctrine calls for soldiers and Marines trained and prepared to conduct combat operations in a multitheater post-nuclear environment.

“The greatest and least understood challenge ­confronting troops in a nuclear conflict is how to operate in a post-nuclear detonation radiological environment,” the publication states.

And it highlights the special physical and ­physiological hazards, and psychological effects of the nuclear ­battlefield, but notes that training and guidance are ­required for troops to accomplish their mission.

“Commanders should know how nuclear weapon effects can affect personnel, equipment, and the dynamics of ­combat power. They should train for and implement survivability measures and techniques,” according to the doctrine.

The dynamics of a post-nuclear blast environment have changed since the Cold War as the U.S. military — and its adversaries — are increasingly dependent on complex ­communications systems.

A nuclear weapon unleashes an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, that could completely disable electronic equipment, crippling communications and platforms, said Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, former nuclear submariner and previous special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations.

A nuclear blast detonated in the upper atmosphere would take out low-orbit satellites, which bigger U.S. military systems rely on to communicate across regions and theaters, he said. U.S. commanders or enemy forces could carefully calibrate both the yield of the weapon as well as the height of the blast in a way to specifically target communications systems rather than massive military or civilian casualties.

“The EMP effect is not the side effect,” Clark said. “In a lot of cases it’s the primary effect. It gets you massive catastrophic effect on electronics without casualties or infrastructure damage.”

But, Carlisle said, though some capabilities would get knocked out, the services could still operate.

“Would there be degradation? Yes. Would we try to find a way to mitigate it and work around it? Yes. It’s all of those things,” he said.

Targeting options

The plan calls for geographic ­combatant commanders to provide guidance to the president regarding choices of nuclear weapons targets and the resulting mitigation of damage.

The commanders can nominate targets for nuclear options that would support their ongoing operations, according to the publication.

The doctrine calls for field ­commanders below the combatant commanders to make recommendations while intelligence selects targets, they work as a team, the objectives are then given to STRATCOM, which creates a target list of military objectives for the president.

“In other words, commanders in the field would not only execute orders from the national command ­authority, but they would also participate in battle planning. This tends to normalize the possibility of nuclear war fighting,” Aftergood said.

When targeting, the doctrine advises commanders they must consider the yield of the weapon, the height of burst, fallout, what weapon system will deploy the armament and the law of war governing what they can strike and when.

Preparing the force

Air Force, Marine Corps and Army spokespersons told Military Times that the joint doctrine change has not caused any expansion in their nuclear response mission or training.

The smallest branch, the Marines, for example has an estimated

1,634 personnel whose part or all of their job training is specific to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear tasks. The Army Guard and Reserve forces also contain entire units dedicated to CBRN response in the homeland and support theater operations in major combat.

The Nuclear Operations publication update as a “desire to prepare conventional forces to operate in a nuclear environment,” said Ian Williams, deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic And International Studies and a former Army engineer.

“It’s a reaction to the realities that we’re seeing, the kinds of threats and ­adversaries the Pentagon is turning its attention to,” Williams said.

Michaela Dodge, a missile defense and nuclear deterrence expert with the Heritage Foundation said the ­geographic combatant commanders have to be aware that with Russian, Chinese and North Korean doctrine, planning for their use of nukes is a reality.

The document seems to be telling commanders to think about and plan how operations will be impacted should an opponent use nuclear ­weapons, she said.

In an article titled, “U.S. Army Doctrine Dislocated with Nuclear-Armed Adversaries and Limited War” in the January-February issue of the journal Military Review, Army Maj. Zachary L. Morris criticizes the Army’s most recent Field Manual 3-0 Operations, which covers large-scale combat but neglects to address how enemies with nuclear weapons will be handled.

“If the United States seeks a decisive victory, often by altering an adversary’s government, there would be little reason for an adversary to avoid using nuclear weapons,” Morris wrote.

Morris points to Russia ending its 2009 annual exercise with a simulated nuclear strike on Warsaw, Poland. And in October 2016, Russia conducted a massive exercise evacuating government from Moscow after a simulated nuclear attack on the homeland.

He claims conventional strikes on fire and command and control systems in China or North Korea would incentivize those states to use nuclear weapons.

“[T]hese are considered a precursor to disarming a first strike or enabling a decisive victory — increasing a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality in the target state,” he wrote.

The 2019 nuclear doctrine may be the most recent change to joint doctrine, but the Army and Marines also have recently updated operational and tactical training requirements for nuclear protection and operations-related work.

A February Marine Corps Order laid out how chemical, biological, ­radiological and nuclear teams would be assigned for training and missions at the major subordinate commands and down to the battalion and squad level.

A 2017 Army manual, titled “­Combined Arms Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction,” provides guidance on how to plan targeting weapons of mass destruction facilities and teaming ground combat units with CBRN teams to detect such hazards.

Like the Nuclear Operations doctrine, the same manual also advises commanders to have both prioritized and predetermined targets but be ready to work on the fly during major combat operations.

In March 2017, the Marine Corps ­introduced a “CBRN readiness ­calculator” in an administrative message that directs unit commanders to use for assessing their unit’s ability to perform its mission under CBRN conditions.

The message noted that “several inconsistencies have been observed in the reporting of CBRN readiness across the Marine Corps.” The calculator is an attempt to provide a uniform way to gauge readiness.

All of these moves indicate a ­reprioritizing of nuclear preparations — both defensive and offensive.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

When asked for comment, STRATCOM directed Military Times to Commanding General John E. Hyten’s statement before the House Armed Services Committee on May 2019.

New low-yield nuclear weapons and their funding was the centerpiece of STRATCOM’s testimony and cited the likely existence of low-yield weapons already in place in China, Russia and North Korea.

Hyten said he preferred submarines, rather than aircraft, be the delivery system for low-yield weapons. Because while low-yield payloads can be delivered by air, it is more challenging due to the difficulty of aircraft having to fight through a denied environment.

Those strikes could come from a variety of platforms, but the doctrine ­highlights the flexibility of using ­long-range bombers and dual-capable fighter aircraft for their mobility.

Tactical nuclear weapons include ­gravity bombs, short-range missiles, artillery shells, land mines, depth charges and torpedoes which are equipped with nuclear warheads, nuclear armed ground-based or shipborne surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air missiles. Tactical nuclear weapons have specific features meant to enhance their battlefield characteristics, such as variable yield which allow their explosive power to be varied over a wide range for different situations.

Out at sea or in the skies

While ground troops would have the most immediate problems, the sea and air services face a host of their own concerns.

For sailors that means installing special air filters on ships and having replacements for extended ops. Also, they’ll have to button up the surface, which will need to be decontaminated by crews of specially trained sailors in protective suits.

Depending on the level of contamination, some ships might have to be pulled from the fight and even disassembled for cleaning, Clark said.

Flying airplanes and helicopters in a post-nuclear detonation environment — for combat and other missions — means dealing with radioactive fallout, tracking intensity and drift, Carlisle said.

The Air Force took cues from how the Navy protects sailors who work on nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers and built procedures to quarantine aircraft that had flown through radioactive clouds.

The Air Force’s experience helping Japan in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant meltdown could show how it might operate under those conditions, Carlisle said.

As part of Operation ­Tomodachi the Air Force flew a variety of aircraft for weeks, conducting ­search-and-rescue, reconnaissance, and cargo delivery missions in the broader ­tsunami-devastated area.

But when those potentially ­contaminated aircraft returned to ­bases such as Kadena and Yokota, there was a problem.

“You don’t taxi that airplane into a ramp alongside all the other ­airplanes,” Carlisle said. “So, you had to do management of the airfield to figure out where you’re going to put the airplanes that need to be ­decontaminated, and how you go about decontaminating them.”

Bases cordoned off a few areas ­specifically for cleaning and maintenance of those aircraft, he said. Only people with the right training, ­equipment and coverings could go near them and air flow and wind direction had to be monitored.

Air Force “nuclear sniffers,” which search the atmosphere for signs of nuclear explosions — as well as other unmanned aircraft — would likely be crucial to managing a nuclear battlefield, Carlisle said.

While sniffers detect the location and fallout levels, he said, ­weather airmen analyze wind and other ­meteorological patterns to track and predict how the radiation might drift and dissipate.

Despite decades of practice in the past, from ships to planes to individual troops, the Pentagon has to figure out how to fight in one of the most deadly environments ever envisioned.

“We have been working on it for a few years, and we do have more ­information than we probably had in the height of Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom," Carlisle said.

“We don’t have anywhere close to all the answers … and not to the level of detail … we need,” he said. “But we are trying to figure it out.


Thursday, 18 July 2019

The Forward: Never Never Trumpism v. Zionism

Michael J. Koplow (The Forward) is the policy director of the Israel Policy Forum. Caught between Never Never Trumpism and Zionism, Michael knows where his priorities are. With the Zionist hive, of course:

But even if you think that Omar, Tlaib, and company are only getting their just desserts for their past lack of sensitivity in how they speak about Israel and its Jewish supporters in the U.S., there is another angle to Trump’s diatribe that should give pause.

Yup, those who show insufficient respect for plucky little Israel will always suffer the Lobby's wrath.

When Trump specifically links his attack on this group of members of Congress to Israel, in what is a flimsily far-fetched post-hoc defense even by his laughably low standards, he causes enormous damage to Israel in this country. Any fair-minded person, irrespective of their political leanings, can easily see the callous racism in Trump telling American citizens who are minorities – three of whom were born in this country – that they should go back to where they came from.
"enormous damage to Israel in this country." ROFLOL.
Hiding behind the shield of standing up for Israel as a justification for this behavior does not wash the taint of bigotry off Trump, but instead paints Israel with Trump’s racist brush.

You hear that, Trump?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

O-M-G: first Ariel, now James (Jeannine?) Bond!

The alt-right is gonna go ape shit over this:

While Daniel Craig is set to reprise his role as James Bond in the next film, the franchise is set for a shake-up, with reports claiming that black British actor Lashana Lynch has been cast as 007 – taking over Bond’s secret agent number after his character leaves MI6.
The new 007 is a black woman – don't make her a Bond girl
The Mail has quoted from an anonymous “movie insider”, who says that the 25th film opens with Bond (Craig), retired in Jamaica, being called back to action to fight a new villain.
“There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, “Come in 007”, and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman,” the source said. “It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he’s been replaced as 007.”


Same old fake: CNN re-uses debunked report for new ‘explosive’ meddling article

CNN has released, what it claims is, an exclusive report said to prove Wikileaks founder Julian Assange conspired with Russia - and RT- to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election. Among the evidence cited is a previously discredited accusation that RT published new batches of emails before Wikileaks officially released them.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Only the Brits do hypocrisy quite as exquisitely as this

The British Foreign Office has banned Russian outlets RT and Sputnik from attending the upcoming Global Conference on Media Freedom in London, citing their predilection for “disinformation”.

“We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation,” said a Foreign Office spokeswoman.

“It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media; sadly, the world has learned to expect just that from the UK Foreign Office,” RT said in a statement in response.

“It amounts to direct politically motivated discrimination of the Russian channel,” said the Russian embassyin London. “The refusal of accreditation comes on top of the months-long smear campaign against RT by British political figures, governmental bodies, including media regulator Ofcom, and even fellow journalists.”

“Now a leading Russian international TV channel is denied access to the forum, despite being officially registered and working in the UK, on legal grounds,” the embassy added. “What better illustration of the real situation with media freedom in the UK does one need? Yet the organizers of the Conference, as far as we understand, wish to discuss the situation with media freedom anywhere in the world, but not in this country.”

You won’t see any of this ridiculous, jaw-dropping hypocrisy called out by the BBC, nor by any other mainstream outlet in the uniquely spineless and sycophantic British media. Do you know where you will see this hypocrisy being criticized? RT.
The only reason RT and Sputnik exist with any degree of popularity in the west is because, contrary to what the BBC claims, people are unable to hear any voices that are critical of real power from western mainstream media. If the BBC or any other British outlet were to begin platforming actual anti-war, leftist and anti-establishment voices with any degree of regularity, I can guarantee you with 100 percent certainty that RT and Sputnik would immediately lose their UK audiences.

A lot more at GreanVillePost.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Land of the Free: telling Democrats what to say and how to say it (on Israel's Occupation)

YOUNG AMERICAN JEWS from the IfNotNow movement, who want to end their community’s support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, succeeded on Friday in getting two more Democratic presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, to denounce Israel’s military rule over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians.

Activists from the group have been trailing Democratic candidates as they campaign in New Hampshire, and urging them to say, on camera, that they would work to end the occupation, if elected. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren expressed their support for the group’s position at recent events, triggering outrage from far-right Republicans and unease from establishment Democrats who are reluctant to criticize even the increasingly far-right Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Buttigieg was pressed on the issue by Erin Sandler, 29, at a campaign event in Laconia, New Hampshire. “All my life, politicians have talked about a two-state solution for Israel, but don’t address the ongoing military occupation,” Sandler said to Buttigieg. “Yes or no, are you willing to condemn the occupation?”

“The occupation has to end,” Buttigieg replied, to applause.

He went on to note that even Ariel Sharon, a right-wing Israeli prime minister, not only called for an end to the occupation in 2003, but told Israelis bluntly: “It is occupation, you might not like this word, but it’s really an occupation.”

IfNotNow welcomed Buttigieg’s remarks, while noting that it was a departure from more conservative positions he has taken in the past, and said that its members still need to hear how he, and other candidates, “will use American leverage to pressure Israel to end the Occupation.”

Democrats eager to defend Israel from sensing even the slightest uptick in pressure from Washington to respect international law appear to have been alarmed by IfNotNow’s success in raising the issue.

As Daniel Marans reported for the HuffPost, three days before IfNotNow activists confronted Buttigieg and Biden, a group of pro-Israel Democrats, led by the pollster Mark Mellman, sent a memo to all of the Democratic presidential candidates advising them how to respond to the young voters. Under the provocative subject heading: “WARNING on Anti-Israel Campaigners,” Mellman suggested, without evidence, that the American Jews confronting the candidates might not “acknowledge Israel’s right to exist at all,” and aimed to elicit comments that would be “a victory for anti-Israel forces.”

Mellman argued that the question about pressing Israel to end the occupation, “wrongly suggests Israel alone is responsible for the current impasse in negotiations, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused offers for a two-state solution.”

Mellman also described the approach of asking the candidates direct questions about the occupation as somehow unfair. “Senator Warren was a victim of this hit-and-run camping [sic] tactic,” Mellman wrote, referring to the candidate’s pledge to IfNotNow activists on Monday that she would press Israel to end the occupation.

If asked about the occupation, Mellman suggested, candidates should offer this “principled, Democratic, pro-Israel response to this question,” beginning with the words: “I strongly support a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”

IfNotNow takes its name not, as Ivanka Trump might think, from remarks attributed to a Harry Potter actress, but from a famous saying of the first-century Rabbi Hillel the Elder: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?” The group’s sense of impatience with the American government’s longterm reluctance to press Israel to wind down an occupation that has endured for 52 years was evident in its members response to how Biden responded to their questions at two events in New Hampshire, on Friday and Saturday.

Asked first by Elias Newman, 26, if he would be prepared to pressure Israel, the former vice president began with a deflection, saying, as Mellman had suggested, “There’s no answer but a two-state solution.” He then added, in a puzzling choice of words, “I think the settlements are unnecessary,” before pivoting back to the pro-Israel talking points by suggesting that pressure should also be put on Palestinian leaders, who need “to be prepared to stop the hate.”

Pressed to say whether he considers the occupation “a human rights crisis,” Biden replied, “I think occupation is a real problem, a significant problem.” When he was then asked if he would pressure Israel to end the occupation, Biden said that he already had done so, both as a senator and as vice president, and referred Newman to his record.

Newman, who is an IfNotNow fellow, said in a statement later that Biden’s prior record did not include applying effective pressure on Israel. Describing his comments as “the bare minimum we should expect from Democratic hopefuls,” Newman said that “the crisis in Israel/Palestine is due in no small part to the failed policies of the Obama Administration, during which Israel’s decades long military occupation became more permanent than ever.”

More of Biden's weasel words @ TI

Disgrace & insult to Holocaust victims: Noam Chomsky slams anti-Semitism accusations against Labour

Progressive intellectual Noam Chomsky has voiced his opinion over the ongoing barrage of “anti-Semitism” allegations against the Labour party, calling them a “disgrace” and an “insult to the memory” of Holocaust victims.

The left-wing icon rallied in support of the party led by Jeremy Corbyn, and MP Chris Williamson in particular, arguing that the embattled politician did not say anything anti-Semitic in reality.

“The way charges of anti-Semitism are being used in Britain to undermine the Corbyn-led Labour Party is not only a disgrace, but also –to put it simply – an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust,” Chomsky told independent journalist Matt Kennard in an e-mailed statement.

The statements by Williamson are not anti-Semitic by any means, Chomsky argued. The MP got himself under a barrage of criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism this February, when he said that the Labour was being “demonized as a racist, bigoted party,” partly due to its own defensive response to criticism and being “too apologetic.

The politician was ultimately forced to apologize himself and was suspended from the party, briefly readmitted late in June, and suspended again two days later.

The charges against Chris Williamson are a case in point. There is nothing even remotely anti-Semitic in his statement that Labour has ‘given too much ground’ and ‘been too apologetic’ in defending its record of addressing ‘the scourge of anti-Semitism’ beyond that of any other party, as he himself had done, on public platforms and in the streets,” Chomsky pointed out. The Labour party has repeatedly faced accusations of anti-Semitism, and launched an internal procedure to tackle the issue back in April 2018. The self-flagellation that resulted in various sanctions against some 300 members apparently did not help, as the party continues to repeatedly face such accusations – both from within and from the outside.

Earlier this year, such allegations were raised against Corbyn himself, after he wrote a preface for a new edition of the controversial book ‘Imperialism: A Study’ penned by John A. Hobson in the early 20th century. The book explores imperialism as a form of a capitalist oligarchy and indeed contains common anti-Jewish tropes, such as perceived dominance of the European financial market by “men of a single and peculiar race.

Corbyn, however, dismissed all the accusations as “offensive,” while stating that he has been “exposing racism in any form” throughout his whole life.


Saturday, 13 July 2019

Tommy Robinson: 9 month sentence (serving 10 weeks)

Tommy is now considering a career change. Apparently, he's trying to break into into stand-up:

Sir Kim Darroch: Pushed under a bus for telling the truth

What the Ambassador really wrote about the Orange Moron:

Britain's Ambassador to Washington has described Donald Trump as 'inept', 'insecure' and 'incompetent' in a series of explosive memos to Downing Street.

Sir Kim Darroch, one of Britain's top diplomats, used secret cables and briefing notes to impugn Trump's character, warning London that the White House was 'uniquely dysfunctional' and that the President's career could end in 'disgrace'.

His bombshell comments risk angering the notoriously thin-skinned President and undermining the UK's 'special relationship' with America [really? Pfwoar! Bring it on!]

In the memos, seen by The Mail on Sunday following an unprecedented leak, Sir Kim:

  • Describes bitter conflicts within Trump's White House – verified by his own sources – as 'knife fights';
  • Warns that Trump could have been indebted to 'dodgy Russians';
  • Claims the President's economic policies could wreck the world trade system;
  • Says the scandal-hit Presidency could 'crash and burn' and that 'we could be at the beginning of a downward spiral... that leads to disgrace and downfall';
  • Voices fears that Trump could still attack Iran.

    In one of the most sensitive documents, Sir Kim writes: 'We don't really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.'

    He also says that he doesn't think Trump's White House will 'ever look competent'.

    In reference to Trump's ability to shrug off controversies in a life which has been 'mired in scandal', he says that the President may nonetheless 'emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator'.

    Moar words @ Daily Hatemail.

  • Friday, 12 July 2019

    Feel the Bern: Building a Movement, Not just a Campaign

    Bernie Sanders’s Campaign Is Different

    A new video from the Bernie Sanders campaign is proof: Sanders has used his bully pulpit to amplify workers’ struggles around the country, in a way no national politician in the United States has done before now.

    If I miss a paycheck, I’m screwed. I would literally become homeless.”

    With this statement in the latest Bernie Sanders campaign video — premiering at Jacobin — labor activist Kelly Osborne of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, speaks for millions of working-class people. Osborne, a forty-four-year-old cancer survivor who is raising her five-year-old grandson, works at McDonald’s for $8.25 an hour, which she describes as “just not a living wage.”

    Speaking of her grandson, Osborne says, “What I would like to see for him when he gets older and gets a job is union rights, is $15 an hour so he can survive.”

    The video is notable for Osborne’s bravery in describing her situation and demanding union rights in front of a national audience. It is also notable for what it doesn’t say — and because it shows how Bernie Sanders is running a different kind of presidential campaign.

    Specifically, no one in the video encourages viewers to vote for Sanders. When he appears for the first time, three-quarters of the way through the video, we see him at a Fight for 15 rally in Cedar Rapids, beside Osborne.

    Speaking to the crowd of striking fast-food workers through a bullhorn, Sanders says, “A fight at McDonald’s is a fight for millions of working-class people. . . . Today we say . . .  to McDonald’s: pay your workers a living wage and negotiate with a union.” Even the title card at the end of the ad asks us not to support Sanders but to “Join the movement.”

    Cynics would be wrong to write this off as mere rhetoric. Sanders made a similar 2016 ad, “Tenemos Familias,” that centers the struggle of a Mexican immigrant tomato picker, Udelia Chautla, in Immokalee, Florida. Sanders plays a relatively minor part in the ad; much more central is Udelia and the work and organizing efforts of tomato pickers themselves.

    Throughout the 2020 campaign, Sanders has used the bully pulpit to amplify workers’ struggles from Amazon to University of California to Wabtec and many more. And he has gone a step further, using his campaign’s massive organizational infrastructure to encourage supporters to join picket lines in solidarity with striking workers — something no national politician in the United States has done before now.

    From Medicare for All and College for All to his promises to ban anti-union right-to-work laws, cancel student debt, and immediately undo Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, all of his proposals are focused on dramatically improving the lives of working-class people, and doing so in a way that unites them rather than divides them.

    But beyond his policies and his upbringing in a four-room apartment, the son of a poor working-class immigrant, Sanders is the first major presidential candidate in modern times to run a working-class campaign — one that seeks not only to elect a candidate but to deliberately foster a working-class movement.

    As the “Living Wage” video featuring Osborne and others like it show, Sanders’s focus on working-class people extends beyond his policy proposals to the way he conducts his campaign.

    “All the focus on working-class people comes directly from Bernie. It’s not something that’s new to him. He was doing it in the ’80s in Burlington with the public-access show when nobody was doing anything like that,” Josh Miller-Lewis, the campaign’s director of digital communications, says.

    “It’s not good enough to just elect a candidate to office. You have to build a movement if you’re going to accomplish any of the changes we’re fighting for. So all of these videos are meant to show that this campaign is about more than just Bernie Sanders. It is about all of us. It is about building a movement of working-class people to take on the power structures that are intent on maintaining the status quo,” Miller-Lewis says.

    By placing so much emphasis on the struggles of working-class people in their own words, Sanders’s media operation does more than just give workers a platform to speak for themselves about their own concerns — though that is no doubt important.

    The campaign’s worker-focused media is also critical to its method of organizing. Sanders aims to cohere a political base of a new type — one that is prepared not only to vote for him, but to fight both the boss and the state for its own interests.

    Miller-Lewis described how the campaign’s media and organizing interweave, using the community fight to prevent Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia from closing as an example.

    Most campaigns would send out a statement from the candidate and that would be it. We sent out a statement, but that’s only the beginning of this process. So now, our organizing team is mobilized, and we’re sending emails, we’re sending text messages, we’re getting people out to solidarity protests on Thursday. We’re going to go down with the video team and interview people — patients, nurses at the hospital, to talk about it, to raise the profile of this fight. And that doesn’t stop there. Now we’re thinking, what can we do after that protest? How can we continue to put pressure on the owners of that hospital not to close it? It’s really, I think, revolutionary because we’re not just focused around how we [get] more votes for Bernie Sanders. We’re interested in how do we build a working-class movement that is creating change for people right here in their lives, and, of course, longer term, by trying to elect Bernie Sanders president and bring this movement to the White House.

    In his emphasis on organizing and mobilizing working-class people to at least the same degree as winning votes, Sanders is running a campaign fundamentally different from any other, past or present. He not only needs people to vote him into office. He needs them ready to fight once he is elected, too.

    But ultimately no politician, even Sanders, can grant the working class enough power to overcome fierce opposition from the rich to his agenda. Only working-class people — the vast majority of people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds who depend on wages to survive — can do that. For all the resources and effort Sanders puts toward making organizing ourselves easier, fundamentally, it is up to us.

    As Osborne says in her final words in the new video, “We need to make things better for everybody now — not in the future, now.”


    Wednesday, 10 July 2019

    RT, the BBC, Ofcom and Media Bias

    APRIL 18, 2018, The Anti-Jacobin

    Its journalists push a transparent political agenda and editorialise to hide the truth. It’s funded by a nefarious dictatorial state bent on destroying individual rights. It’s obvious bias is ever more trite and intolerable. It’s name? The BBC. But Ofcom is not investigating the BBC. It is, however, investigating Russia Today (RT) for “bias” as our diplomatic tit-for-tat with the Ruskies continues and has now ventured into attacks on the free press.

    There have been seven separate investigations opened into RT, Ofcom announced today. This will take place over concerns about “the due impartiality” of news and current affairs programmes on RT. Ofcom stated on its website:

    On 12 March 2018, following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, Ofcom said that we would consider the implications of these events for the broadcast licences for RT and RT Europe and this document provides an update to that statement including setting out our approach in this case.

    Already, there’s a problem. This paragraph alone undermines the alleged purpose of Ofcom’s investigation which looks into conduct since the events in Salisbury. Here it is reminding everyone, correctly, that Ofcom stated its intention to review RT’s UK licence basically a week after the poisoning thus demonstrating that these investigations are just follow-through on a retaliatory threat. Of course Ofcom glosses over the fact that there is still no proof that Russia is behind the poisoning. As Reuters reminds us, Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to Britain. Sounds like a man who would have a lot of the wrong kind of enemies who would happen to be Russians. That does not necessarily implicate the Russian state. Ofcom continues:

    The main reason for broadcasting to be regulated is to protect audiences from harm. Broadcasters are required to comply with Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, which we set and enforce having regard to all our duties. Parliament has given Ofcom duties which reflect the importance in our democracy of freedom of expression, of a wide range of broadcasting services and a plurality of providers of those services. We set out in some detail in Annex 1, the statutory framework and Ofcom’s statutory duties when considering the fitness and properness of broadcast licensees.

    Wow, this is some next level double-think. Audiences needed to be protected from alternative views on world affairs? That’s patronising. No notion of letting people choose what media they consume. We may only watch what the good for nothing, do nothing paper pushers tell us. And why is Ofcom investigating with a view to banning RT? To defend democracy and freedom of expression as well as to maintain “plurality” of course! The report continues:

    TV Novosti is financed by the Russian Federation. We consider that TV Novosti is therefore ultimately controlled by the Russian Federation.

    How is that different from the BBC? The BBC is state funded by mandatory taxes and licences from anyone who wants to watch live television. By this logic, you can consider the BBC to be ultimately controlled by the British Government. The MSM seems completely blind to the irony of criticising RT for being associated with the Russian State while one of our major sources of news and information in this country is the BBC which is associated with the British State. The FT seems to have picked up on this in its coverage, stating that:

    Most media analysts distinguish the BBC from state broadcasters such as RT, which are funded directly from government budgets and whose editorial content is seen as subject to political control.

    So the only difference is that the BBC is funded indirectly by the state? I’m sure that distinction isn’t as big in reality as it is in the minds of the so-called “media analysts.” What even is a media analyst, anyway? It sounds like a euphemism for someone on the dole. In any event, as well as being funded by the state, albeit indirectly (as if that makes a difference), the FT assumes that the BBC is not subject to political control. The daily stories promoting immigration, multiculturalism as well as attacking traditionalism and British nationhood would beg to differ. The BBC is a profoundly biased institution towards the left and this has been acknowledged across the board, even by its own staff.

    As to the specific allegations, the FT summarises some of these. One involved everyone’s favourite fedora-wearing communist, George Galloway:

    In one of the Sputnik episodes, Mr Galloway interviewed a journalist and an independent researcher, both of whom questioned the UK’s account of the Salisbury attack. Ofcom’s principle [sic] of due impartiality means one side must not be inappropriately favoured in news programmes.It also prevents politicians being used as news interviewers, except in exceptional circumstances.

    Any informed observer will know that the UK’s account of the Salisbury attack does not lack either coverage or favour in the mainstream media. In fact, the UK’s account has become accepted fact despite the complete lack of independent evidence. As to George Galloway not being allowed to act as an interviewer, he stopped being an MP some time ago and is not seeking any kind of public office. Applying this rule to the case doesn’t make sense and is further evidence of how Ofcom is trying to just invent excuses to shut down RT.

    Everyone knows that Russia Today is biased towards Russia. The clue is in the name. Unlike the BBC, RT does not try to retain a veneer of impartiality. It was founded expressly as a way to compete with Western dominated news and to present a different national perspective on world events. If a viewer decides that they don’t like being told how hypocritical and corrupt Western governments are by a Russian channel, then they can change the channel. Nobody is being forced to consume or pay for Russia today which is more than can be said for the BBC.

    If the British Government wants to ban RT in retaliation for Syria or Skripal then it would be preferable for them to just to get on with it rather than having Ofcom use its ridiculously broad remit and general rules to kill RT and media plurality in the UK by a thousand cuts.


    Related current events.

    RT’s ban from media freedom conference shows British irony is alive and well

    Wait. Wut?

    Britain’s Foreign Office can’t keep its diplomatic secrets, but it has managed to keep its sense of irony, and banned RT from attending a conference on media freedom.

    A spokeswoman told British media: “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.”

    The accusation of ‘disinformation’ is the exclusive view of the Foreign Office, because it’s worth remembering that while RT has been censured by OFCOM (like every other broadcaster in Britain), it still operates freely under a license from the broadcasting watchdog, so this claim of disinformation is at best subjective.

    After it was prevented from attending the Global Conference for Media Freedom: London 2019, RT replied:

    "It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media."


    Tuesday, 9 July 2019

    The Gun Club -The Las Vegas Story

    'Walking with the Beast' (and full album)

    'Bad America' (with powerful solos)

    Musings of a Conservative Dissident on US/Israel

    A Secret Meeting to Plot War?

    On June 5, 16 heads of Jewish organizations joined 25 Democratic senators in a private meeting, which, according to the Times of Israel, is an annual event. All of the Jewish organizations but one were openly declared advocates for Israel and are supportive of its policies. Key groups present included the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A number of the groups have lobbied Congress and the White House in support of the use of force against Iran, a position that is basically identical to the demands being made by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The senatorial delegation was headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), currently Senate minority leader who has described himself as the “shomer” or guardian of Israel in the Senate. The 25 senators in attendance constitute one-quarter of the entire deliberative body and more than half of all Democrats serving in it. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who has emphatically linked her campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 to Jewish and Israeli interests, chaired the gathering.

    After the meeting, Jewish Insider provided a complete list of the participants and also a diagram of how they were positioned in the Capitol Hill conference room. The senators were placed on one side of a rectangle with the Jewish leaders in front of them filling the seats on the other three sides. Who exactly provided the agenda that Klobuchar was presumably following is not known, but one suspects that it may have been a joint effort by Schumer and several of the more prominent Jewish organization participants.

    The meeting was by design not a public event, and, to a certain extent, it was a secret. Its time, place, and participants were not announced, and it was only reported at all in the Israeli and Jewish media. According to after-the-fact coverage of the event by Alison Weir of the “If Americans Knew” website, even staffers in the congressional offices were not aware that the meeting was taking place. No statement was issued afterwards, but it is believed that the principal topic under discussion was how to contain and reverse pro- Palestinian sentiment among progressive Democratic voters, who, to the horror of the participants, actually have been embracing the possibility that Palestinians are human beings with plausibly the same rights as Israelis. A particular focus would have been the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become a growing force on college campuses and in progressive circles.

    Other issues raised were mentioned in passing afterwards on the email service “The Tell” by Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) news service. They included supporting Israel and also more federal-level legislation to combat “anti-Semitism.” And, of course, there was the issue of money. Several groups want funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) increased to pay for more security at Jewish facilities. Current legislation is considering allocating $70 million per year and there were demands that it be increased to $90 million. A 2014 article in the Jewish Forward reported that Jewish institutions received 94% of DHS discretionary funding.

    One might reasonably argue that the private meeting with the Democratic senators reflects a singular urgency in that the party base is becoming notably less pro-Israel, suggesting that something had to be done to stop the rot. That may be true enough, but the reality is that the federal government’s pandering to Israel is both bi-partisan and global in its reach. The United States uniquely has a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, and his writ extends to proposing sanctions against countries that are critics of Israel.

    And even as the Democrats were meeting with Jewish leaders, the Republicans were doing much the same thing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with probably some of those very same leaders as the Democrats and expressed concern about the possibility that British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn might become prime minister. Corbyn has been targeted by British Jews because he is the first UK senior politician to speak sympathetically about the plight of the Palestinians.

    Pompeo was asked, if Corbyn “is elected, would you be willing to work with us to take action if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” He replied: “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

    So American Jews want to join with their British counterparts to either bring down or contain a top-level elected politician just because he recognizes the suffering of the Palestinians. The American secretary of state meets with those same activists and agrees with them that something must be done, to include quite possibly taking steps to ensure that he does not become prime minister in the first place. Recall for the moment that Britain is America’s closest ally and is what passes for a democracy these days. Jews obviously occupy a rather special space, politically speaking, in the United States. One might reasonably ask, where are the private meetings with representatives of Italian, German, Irish, or Polish organizations, each of which represents a far greater portion of America’s ethnic mix than do Jews? The obvious answer is that those groups do not operate in a cohesive, tribal fashion and they do not possess the financial resources that the 600 or so Jewish groups that advocate for Israel have. In America, unfortunately, money buys access to power and, if there is enough money on the table, it can also buy politicians.

    Nor are America’s other white ethnic groups as grievance-driven.

    And there is one other significant difference: While other ethnic groups in the United States are protective of their respective cultures and languages, there is no sense that any of them actually seek to advocate policies damaging to the United States to benefit the foreign nations that they identify with. The Jewish advocacy for Israel is something quite different, costing the American taxpayer billions of dollars every year and involving Washington in a sequence of wars of choice driven by Israel itself aided by its powerful domestic lobby.

    Israel also comes with a price tag in terms of the constitutional rights enjoyed by Americans. Before too long, legislation currently working its way through Congress will criminalize any criticism of Israel. No other national or ethnic group in the United States seeks to dismantle the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in quite that fashion. Israel is no friend and never has been. Recent media reports detail how Jewish-American oligarch Paul Singer has been working with the Israeli government to transfer thousands of high-paying American IT jobs to Israel. Is he guilty of dual loyalty? No, he is only really loyal to Israel, as are many of the Jewish leaders who met with Pompeo and the senators. It is a disgrace.

    And it is also a disgrace that Pompeo and 25 Democratic Party senators should be meeting privately with Jewish organizations to do things for Israel and the Jewish community that do not serve the interests of all Americans, up to and including meddling in the politics of a genuine close ally to respond to the paranoia of British Jews.

    Yes, there is a Jewish international conspiracy in place directed by some Jews like those who met with the senators and Pompeo, and it has no off switch. Never before in history has a great power been so dominated by a puny client state and its domestic fifth column, and it is time that the private meetings whereby a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” panders to one group alone should end forever.

    Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.

    Monday, 8 July 2019

    CIA: Mission Accomplished; Americans Believe What We Tell Them

    By Ray McGovern, July 4, 2019

    At his first White House performance with other senior officials of the incoming Reagan administration, freshly appointed (but veteran covert action operative) intelligence chief William Casey told President Reagan and the others assembled:“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

    Hard to believe? Read below what an eye-witness has attested to:

    “I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration. The meeting was in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Cabinet Room. I was present at the meeting as Assistant to the Chief Domestic Policy Adviser to the President.
    As he did to all the other secretaries of their departments and agencies, Reagan asked Casey what he saw as his goal as director for the CIA, to which he replied with this quote, which I recorded in my notes of the meeting as he said it. Shortly thereafter I told Senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, who was a close friend and colleague, who in turn made it public.” Barbara Honegger

    There are hundreds of examples that could be adduced to show that the major corporate-owned media — whether by intimidation, misguided “patriotism,” or self-censorship — have made Casey’s dream come true. Such is the case, of course, with the bogus Russia-gate story, by which the media have succeeded, inter alia, in further tarring the reputation of WikiLeaks founder Julia Assange.

    A glaring Assange-related example has come to light — all right, maybe not to light for those of you who depend on the “mainstream media” for “news.” The following story tells itself. It is worth reading in full — and reflecting upon, as we celebrate this July 4 the freedoms the Founders gave us.

    In a word, absent a free media, there is no freedom. None.

    As UN Special Rapporteur for Torture Nils Melzer ends his “untouchable” op-ed (full text here), he aptly warns:

    For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.
    It is a warning we would do well to heed — and do something about.

    Sunday, 7 July 2019

    "La Raya" y "Chica Mala" (Sin senos sí hay paraíso)

    Both from the beautiful, infuriating, sexy, sexist, romantic, fantastical, endearing, melodramatic, far fetched, kitchy, schmaltzy, never ending etc but never boring "Sin senos sí hay paraíso" Colombian telenovelas (soap). On NetFlix. It's bonkers but I can't stop watching it!

    Saturday, 6 July 2019

    UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer exposes propaganda and censorship in Assange reporting

    Slavoj Žižek supports Julian Assange

    When Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, issued a May 31 statement demanding an immediate end to the “collective persecution” of Julian Assange it made headlines all over the world.

    Assange, Melzer wrote, “has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.”

    “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” he added.

    In the run-up to last Wednesday’s International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Melzer wrote an op-ed titled, “Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange”. He offered the hard-hitting piece to leading publications, including the Guardian, the Times,the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian,the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.

    All of them declined to publish, leaving Melzer, one of the world’s foremost legal experts on torture, to publish his article on the online blogging platform Medium.

    Melzer told RT he had been offered various reasons by newspaper editors for rejecting his op-ed. “Some of them said it wasn’t high enough on their news agenda, some of them said it wasn’t within their core area of interest,” he said.

    Expressing contempt for their excuses, Melzer noted that the same media executives had happily published stories about Assange “when it was about his cat and his skateboard and… allegations that he smeared excrement on the walls… But when you have a serious piece that actually tries to de-mask this public narrative and to actually show the facts below it, then they’re not interested.” The “news worthiness” of Melzer’s piece—written in defence of the most famous political prisoner on the planet—is not in doubt. The rejection notices only confirm the ongoing line-up of corporate and state media outlets against a publisher who exposed what they would not: evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Melzer’s op-ed piece was of exceptional importance in exposing the impact of the media’s character assassination of Assange.

    “Like most of the public,” he wrote, “I had been subconsciously poisoned [against Assange] by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years.”

    But “once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief. Assange was not a “rapist,” or a “hacker” or a “Russian spy.” Not even the “selfish narcissist” he was called by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot as she sentenced him for bail violation.

    “In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by the Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.”

    Melzer concludes that “this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy.” He continues: “For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.”

    To which the editorial staff of some of the world’s major newspapers, including those proclaiming their “liberalism,” responded with a collective shrug as they slammed the door in Melzer’s face.

    Under such circumstances, an official ban on publishing cannot be excluded. In the UK, the World Socialist Web Sitedrew attention to the exposure by independent journalist Matt Kennard of the role played by Guardian Deputy Editor Paul Johnson, who served on the Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice (or D-Notice) Committee, run by the Ministry of Defence. D-Notices are used to veto the publication of news damaging to the national security interests of British imperialism.

    The Guardian’s participation in this filthy censorship operation is far from unique. The present committee is chaired by Dominic Wilson, director general of security policy at the Ministry of Defence, and includes vice chairs John Battle, the Head of Compliance, Independent Television News, and Ian Murray, executive director, Society of Editors.

    Figures on the committee encompass most major TV and newspaper groups. They include David Jordan, BBC director of editorial policy and standards; Sarah Whitehead, Sky News deputy head of news gathering; Michael Jermey, ITV director of news, current affairs and sport; Peter Clifton, editor of the Press Association; Craig Tregurtha, managing editor of the Times and Sunday Times; Robert Winnett, deputy editor of theDaily Telegraph; Jess Brammer, head of news for the Huffington Post; Charles Garside, assistant editor of the Daily Mail; and David Higgerson of Trinity Mirror.

    Doubtless, similar meetings between media executives and the security services, formal or informal, take place across the US, Europe, Australia and throughout the world.

    Anyone who follows the news, or who simply does a Google search, will have noticed the sharp decline in stories on Assange. Since June 14, when Arbuthnot announced that he will face a five-day US extradition hearing in February, the major news outlets have gone into lockdown. They are determined to prevent widespread public knowledge and discussion of the Espionage Act charges against Assange—charges that carry a 175-year prison term and may include the death penalty, and which effectively criminalise journalism and the right to free speech.

    The statement made to Melzer that Assange is no longer “high” on the “news agenda” could be evidence of an official veto to facilitate US plans to silence him forever by erecting a media wall of silence regarding his fate. Or perhaps John Pilger was correct when the told a June 2018 rally demanding freedom for Assange called by the Socialist Equality Party, “The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists—after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.”


    Friday, 5 July 2019

    Love Porton #9: Who needs terrorists?

    ...when you've got a leaking chemical weapons facility?

    Ministers have launched an investigation after top secret files relating to the Porton Down military research facility were discovered in a London bin.
    The highly-sensitive documents detail security arrangements for the world-leading chemical warfare base near Salisbury, Wiltshire.
    The papers, found after a member of the public raised the alarm, reportedly include details of equipment carried by guards at Porton Down, as well as the home addresses of employees and the password to the site’s computer system.

    Daily Mail.