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For Your Information / NATO: the Unexamined Alliance
« Last post by nestopwar on August 02, 2018, 02:25:03 PM »
NATO: the Unexamined Alliance
Conn Hallinan, Counterpunch

July 31, 2018


   The outcome of the July11-12 NATO meeting in Brussels got lost amid the media's obsession with President Donald Trump's bombast, but the "Summit Declaration" makes for sober reading. The media reported that the 28-page document "upgraded military readiness," and was "harshly critical of Russia," but there was not much detail beyond that.

But details matter, because that is where the Devil hides.

One such detail is NATO's "Readiness Initiative" that will beef up naval, air and ground forces in "the eastern portion of the Alliance." NATO is moving to base troops in Latvia, Estonia Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland. Since Georgia and Ukraine have been invited to join the Alliance, some of those forces could end up deployed on Moscow's western and southern borders.

And that should give us pause.

A recent European Leadership's Network's (ELN) study titled "Envisioning a Russia-NATO Conflict" concludes, "The current Russia-NATO deterrence relationship is unstable and dangerously so." The ELN is an independent think tank of military, diplomatic and political leaders that fosters "collaborative" solutions to defense and security issues.

High on the study's list of dangers is "inadvertent conflict," which ELN concludes "may be the most likely scenario for a breakout" of hostilities. "The close proximity of Russian and NATO forces" is a major concern, argues the study, "but also the fact that Russia and NATO have been adapting their military postures towards early reaction, thus making rapid escalation more likely to happen."

With armed forces nose-to-nose, "a passage from crisis to conflict might be sparked by the actions of regional commanders or military commanders at local levels or come as a consequence of an unexpected incident or accident." According to the European Leadership Council, there have been more than 60 such incidents in the last year.

The NATO document is, indeed, hard on Russia, which it blasts for the "illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea," its "provocative military activities, including near NATO borders," and its "significant investments in the modernization of its strategic [nuclear] forces."

Unpacking all that requires a little history, not the media's strong suit.

The story goes back more than three decades to the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventual re-unification of Germany. At the time, the Soviet Union had some 380,000 troops in what was then the German Democratic Republic. Those forces were there as part of the treaty ending World War II, and the Soviets were concerned that removing them could end up threatening the USSR's borders. The Russians have been invaded—at terrible cost—three times in a little more than a century.

So West German Chancellor Helmet Kohl, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev cut a deal. The Soviets agreed to withdraw troops from Eastern Europe as long as NATO did not fill the vacuum, or recruit members of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact. Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move "one inch east."

The agreement was never written down, but it was followed in practice. NATO stayed west of the Oder and Neisse rivers, and Soviet troops returned to Russia. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991.

But President Bill Clinton blew that all up in 1999 when the U.S. and NATO intervened in the civil war between Serbs and Albanians over the Serbian province of Kosovo. Behind the new American doctrine of "responsibility to protect," NATO opened a massive 11-week bombing campaign against Serbia.

From Moscow's point of view the war was unnecessary. The Serbs were willing to withdraw their troops and restore Kosovo's autonomous status. But NATO demanded a large occupation force that would be immune from Serbian law, something the nationalist-minded Serbs would never agree to. It was virtually the same provocative language the Austrian-Hungarian Empire had presented to the Serbs in 1914, language that set off World War I.

In the end, NATO lopped off part of Serbia to create Kosovo and re-drew the post World War II map of Europe, exactly what the Alliance charges that Russia has done with its seizure of the Crimea.

But NATO did not stop there. In 1999 the Alliance recruited former Warsaw Pact members Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, adding Bulgaria and Romania four years later. By the end of 2004, Moscow was confronted with NATO in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to the north, Poland to the west, and Bulgaria and Turkey to the south. Since then, the Alliance has added Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, and Montenegro. It has invited Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply as well.

When the NATO document chastises Russia for "provocative" military activities near the NATO border, it is referring to maneuvers within its own border or one of its few allies, Belarus.

As author and foreign policy analyst Anatol Lieven points out, "Even a child" can look at a 1988 map of Europe and see "which side has advanced in which direction."

NATO also accuses Russia of "continuing a military buildup in Crimea," without a hint that those actions might be in response to what the Alliance document calls its "substantial increase in NATO's presence and maritime activity in the Black Sea." Russia's largest naval port on the Black Sea is Sevastopol in the Crimea.

One does not expect even-handedness in such a document, but there are disconnects in this one that are worrisome.

Yes, the Russians are modernizing their nuclear forces, but the Obama administration was first out of that gate in 2009 with its $1.5 trillion program to upgrade the U.S.'s nuclear weapons systems. Both programs are a bad idea.

Some of the document's language about Russia is aimed at loosening purse strings at home. NATO members agreed to cough up more money, but that decision preceded Trump's Brussels tantrum on spending.

There is some wishful thinking on Afghanistan—"Our Resolute Support Mission is achieving success"—when in fact things have seldom been worse. There are vague references to the Middle East and North Africa, nothing specific, but a reminder that NATO is no longer confining its mission to what it was supposedly set up to do: Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.

The Americans are still in—one should take Trump's threat of withdrawal with a boulder size piece of salt—there is no serious evidence the Russians ever planned to come in, and the Germans have been up since they joined NATO in 1955. Indeed, it was the addition of Germany that sparked the formation of the Warsaw Pact.

While Moscow is depicted as an aggressive adversary, NATO surrounds Russia on three sides, has deployed anti-missile systems in Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the Black Sea, and has a 12 to 1 advantage in military spending. With opposing forces now toe-to-toe, it would not take much to set off a chain reaction that could end in a nuclear exchange.

Yet instead of inviting a dialogue, the document boasts that the Alliance has "suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia."

The solution seems obvious. First, a return to the 1998 military deployment. While it is unlikely that former members of the Warsaw Pact would drop their NATO membership, a withdrawal of non-national troops from NATO members that border Russia would cool things off. Second, the removal of anti-missile systems that should never have been deployed in the first place. In turn, Russia could remove the middle range Iskander missiles NATO is complaining about and agree to talks aimed at reducing nuclear stockpiles.

But long range, it is finally time to re-think alliances. NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there is no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force. It is time NATO went the way of the Warsaw Pact and recognize that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous.
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South Tyneside Stop the War / Re: Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria
« Last post by nestopwar on August 02, 2018, 02:20:15 PM »

   Islamic State Drone Program Study Reveals NATO Ratlines
Ulson Gunnar, New Eastern Outlook

July 29


   Despite attempts by the US and European media to depict the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in cartoon villain terms, it was always clear to serious analysis that the terrorist organization's fighters, weapons, supplies and money were entering Syria and the result of extensive outside support.

A look at any map of the Syrian conflict, regardless of its source over the past 7 years shows IS and other militant groups maintaining territory with corridors leading directly to the borders of Syria's neighbors, particularly NATO-member Turkey and US allies Israel and Jordan.

There have been direct admissions from the US itself that it played a role in IS' creation. A 2013 leaked US Defense Intelligence Agency memo (.pdf) would explicitly note that the US and its allies sought the creation of what it then called a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria, precisely where IS would later establish itself.

There have also been direct admissions that US allies were funneling weapons and cash to IS and other designated foreign terrorist organizations. In a leaked e-mail sent by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lobbyist John Podesta, she would explicitly claim:

we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [IS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.

There have also been more indirect admissions, in which the US and European media have claimed that large amounts of US-provided arms and cash were "accidentally" falling into the hands of IS via supposedly "moderate rebels," including when large numbers of these so-called moderate rebels would defect to IS.

A 2014 article in the Telegraph titled, "‘Moderate' Syrian rebels defecting to ISIS, blaming lack of U.S. support and weapons," would admit:

Western-backed "moderate" rebels fighting jihadists in Syria are refusing to do battle and even defecting for lack of weapons and other promised support, leaders said.

With them, they took US weapons including US-made TOW anti-tank missiles which eventually turned up in large numbers among IS terrorists. An earlier Telegraph article from 2012 would indirectly admit US weapons and cash were falling into Al Qaeda's Al Nusra Front's hands through similar "defections."

Islamic State Drone Program Supplied via Turkey

When IS began employing drones for surveillance, forward observation missions and even to deliver ordnance to targets, questions began being asked just how such a program could be developed by an organization ordinarily depicted by the US and European media as having simply sprung from Syrian and Iraqi sand dunes.

Among those asking these questions, and finding the answers, was the US Army's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. In its 2018 report titled, "The Islamic State and Drones: Supply, Scale, and Future Threats" (.pdf), it would note just how drones and other parts and equipment made it to the terrorist organization in Syria.

The report would note:

In October 2014 and December 2014, months after the Islamic State declared the creation of their caliphate in late June of that same year, Sujan – using the alias Peter Soren – purchased four antennas used for drones from Company 3 and a micro-turbine used in radio-controlled planes from Company 4. At Sujan's request, these two companies shipped these items direct to Sanliurfa, Turkey – a town located an hour's drive from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, which the Islamic State controlled, and around a two-and-half hour drive to the group's headquarters in Raqqa, Syria.

The report would note that tens of thousands of dollars of drone parts were ordered and to be shipped to Sanliurfa, Turkey before being brought over the border into Syria and onward to IS territory.

It was through this process that IS was able to develop its drone program which the CTC report quotes one US general as claiming included up to as many as 70 drones in the air on certain days. The program would lead directly to several dozen deaths by weaponized drones and indirectly led to many more through their use as forward observers in guiding indirect weapon fire and guiding vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) toward targets.

While the report notes that some shipments were intercepted by the Turkish government, clearly many more made it through. While Western security agencies eventually liquidated those involved in the program in Syria and Iraq and overseas, this was done in late 2015, after Russia's military intervention and when America's "Salafist principality" finally faced real exposure and defeat.

The CTC report is another piece in a puzzle revealing who really drives global terrorism and why. That those behind the IS drone program procured components and entire drones through companies and fronts they operated directly at the heart of the Western surveillance state for an entire year before being stopped calls into question either the efficacy of US-European counter-terrorism measures, or the sincerity behind executing them.

Some may be tempted to chalk the creation of IS' drone program up to incompetence on the part of Western security agencies. The fact remains nonetheless that once again US-European states provided procurement opportunities for IS programs while NATO-member Turkey served as a permissive logistical hub to deliver these supplies and weapons to neighboring Syria. Considering the nature of IS' original inception and longevity, particularly in areas the US itself claims to be fighting it, it is difficult not to at least consider conspiracy, if not conclude as much.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".




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South Tyneside Stop the War / Re: Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria
« Last post by nestopwar on August 02, 2018, 02:13:09 PM »
Exclusive Emails Show How The White Helmets Tried To Recruit Roger Waters With Saudi Money
The Gray Zone Project

April 19, 2018


   During a Barcelona concert on April 13, Roger Waters denounced the Syrian White Helmets as "a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists." Warning that the groups' unverified claims about chemical weapons attacks across insurgent-held territory were aimed at triggering Western military intervention, Waters cautioned his audience, "If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions for us as human beings."

In fact, Waters had first hand experience with the powerful pro-war PR operation behind the White Helmets. Back in October 2016, a public relations firm representing the White Helmets called The Syria Campaign attempted to recruit Waters by inviting him to a lavish dinner organized by a Saudi-British billionaire, Hani Farsi. The rock legend and renowned activist was told that by signing on to the organization's mission, he could help "elevate the voices of Syria's peaceful heroes"

Just days before his recent concert in Barcelona, Waters was lobbied again to support the White Helmets, this time by an eccentric French photojournalist affiliated with what he described as a "very powerfull [sic] syrian network." The activist demanded to join Waters on stage and deliver a message for the "children of syria."

Waters did not respond to either request.

These emailed solicitations from White Helmets representatives and activists were provided by Waters to the Grayzone Project, and are published in full at the bottom of this article. The documents demonstrate how the organization's well-funded public relations apparatus has targeted celebrities as the key to the hearts and minds of the broader Western public.

Unlike many other A-listers, however, Waters took time to research the White Helmets and investigate its ulterior agenda.

"I was quite suspicious after I was invited to that [White Helmets] dinner," Waters told the Grayzone Project. "And now my worst suspicions have been confirmed."

The Syria Campaign's initial approach

The October 2016 dinner invite was delivered to Waters by a representative for the Corniche Group, an international holding company belonging to the family of the London-based Saudi billionaire Hani Farsi. Farsi was seeking Waters' presence at a fundraising dinner he had organized on behalf of The Syria Campaign.

The Syria Campaign is a well-funded public relations front established to promote The White Helmets as a group of heroic rescuers who require the protection of Western militaries. Through series of petitions and public demonstrations, The Syria Campaign has unsuccessfully pushed for a No Fly Zone in Syria that would have likely resulted in the kind of Western military intervention that toppled Libyan President Moammar Qaddafi and destabilized Libya.

The slick PR firm has also resorted to astroturfed public stunts like a pro-White Helmets flash mob and orchestral performance at New York City's Grand Central Station where participants were paid up to $600 each.

Farsi's relationship to the The Syria Campaign had been kept private until now. A Syrian-British oil tycoon named Ayman Asfari has taken a much more vocal role with the PR group, providing it with seed money to advance his mission to stimulate US and UK support for regime change in Syria. Waters was informed that Asfari's wife, Sawsan, would be on hand for the 2016 White Helmets fundraising dinner.

Over the past two years, The Syria Campaign has secured endorsements of the White Helmets' work from actors including George Clooney, Aziz Ansari, Ben Affleck, and pop stars like Coldplay and Justin Timberlake. The Syria Campaign also helped orchestrate the production of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary about the White Helmets in 2017. In the email to Waters, a Corniche Group staffer urged the singer to watch that film and provided him with a link to its trailer.

"I would encourage the celebrities who've signed to endorse the White Helmets to stop supporting them because we know what they are," Waters told the Grayzone Project. "I don't blame them for having bought in to it. On the face of it, it felt plausible that the White Helmets were just good people doing good things. But now we know they're trying to encourage the West to drops bombs and missiles illegally in Syria."

Waters said he also concluded that The Syria Campaign — the PR firm behind the White Helmets — was not simply the humanitarian voice it purported to be, but a corporate outfit that represented much more prosaic interests.

The Syria Campaign's top funder, Asfari, was described by the UK Independent as one of the "super rich" Syrian exiles poised to oversee the rebuilding of the country if Assad were removed, and to presumably reap lucrative contracts in the process.

In its invite to Waters, The Syria Campaign presented him with links to articles that read like press releases for the White Helmets: one from Time Magazine and another by The Guardian urging the Nobel Prize committee to honor the organization with its highest award. The Syrian Campaign appeared to be taking credit for generating both pieces. Government funding, violent extremist activity

The reality of the White Helmets is much more disturbing than its hired PR guns have cared to admit. Not only have the White Helmets operated exclusively alongside Islamist extremist insurgents, including the local Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, its members have participated in several documented public executions, and helped extremists dispose of beheaded corpses of those they've killed.

Unable to discount the documented facts about the White Helmets' ties to jihadist insurgents, The Syria Campaign published a lengthy report last year dismissing all critical reporting about the organization as the result of a vast Kremlin-directed conspiracy.

In its email to Waters, The Syria Campaign took credit for having "helped these rescue workers attract more than $15 million in government funding and turned them into household names."

In fact, since the White Helmets were founded in Turkey by a former British MI5 officer named James Le Mesurier, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives — the State Department's de facto regime change arm — and untold millions from the Kingdom of Qatar, which has also backed an assortment of extremist groups in Syria including Al Qaeda.

The White Helmets are routinely relied upon by the governments that fund them as a primary source on alleged chemical attacks, including the most recent incident in Douma. When Defense Secretary James Mattis cited "social media" in place of scientific evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, he was referring to video shot by members of the White Helmets. Similarly, when State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert sought to explain why the US bombed Syria before inspectors from the OPCW could produce a report from the ground, she claimed, "We have our own intelligence." With little else to offer, she was likely referring to social media material published by members of the White Helmets. A final appeal from an eccentric activist

In the days leading up to Waters' April 13 concert in Barcelona, an assistant received an email from a French photojournalist named Pascal Hanrion who described himself as "a militant with the syrian white helmets to denounce crimes against humanity in syria," and part of a "very powerfull [sic] syrian network." Unlike the corporate PR professionals of The Syria Campaign, Hanrion appeared to be a freelance activist.

Back in July, 2016, Hanrion ran a marathon-style race through the Swiss Alps wearing a white helmet presented to him as a gift by rescue workers from the town of Jisr al-Shugour, which is located in the Al Qaeda-controlled Syrian providence of Idlib. According to journalist Jenan Moussa, the homes of original Jisr al-Shugour residents have been handed over by Al Qaeda's local affiliate to Chinese Uighur jihadists and their families.

In his email, Hanrion requested to join Waters on stage so he could send a message to the "children of Syria" reminding them, "you are not forgotten!"

Instead of allowing the eccentric activist on stage, Waters delivered a message of his own, urging his audience to deconstruct the wall of pro-war narratives brick-by-brick.

"What we should do is go and persuade our governments not to go and drop bombs on people," Waters implored the crowd, inspiring gales of applause. "And certainly not until we have done all the research that is necessary so that we would have a clear idea of what is really going on. Because we live in the world where propaganda seems to be more important than the reality."

Waters' speech and the emails to him from The Syria Campaign and Hanrion are below:

White Helmets Emails to Roger Waters by Max Blumenthal on Scribd
4
Are We Set Up to Relieve the Mind-Numbing Chernobyl and Fukushima Experience?
Grete Mautner, New Eastern Outlook

July 28


   There's a visible pattern amid the European media voicing ever increasing concern over malfunctions and all sorts of emergencies occurring lately at nuclear power plants.

A very real possibility of a second Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurring in Europe has recently been reported by Italian news service Gli Occhi Della Guerra. In particular, it reported that the authorities of Germany and the Netherlands made a decision to hand out to the population iodine tablets capable of reducing the effects of radiation poisoning in an the event of a grave nuclear emergency. This panic-provoking move was made by Berlin and Amsterdam reflecting their severe concern over the condition of two nuclear power plants: the Doel Nuclear Power Station and the Tihange Nuclear Power Station, which are technically located on the the territory of Belgium, but are really close the borders of the two above mentioned nations. The last time there was a major malfunction at the third reactor of Belgium's most powerful nuclear power plant, Tihange, it was announced a couple of days ago by Le Soir. However, Doel is no less troublesome, as those two nuclear power stations were built back in the 70s and have been a major headache for nuclear scientists operating them ever since. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the decision to distribute anti-radiation pills in Aachen and The Hague came on the back of a number of scientific publications shedding light on the security conditions at the two of Belgium's nuclear power stations. Basically speaking, both environmental groups and scientists tend to agree that they represent a time bomb ticking right in the heart of Europe.

However, this is hardly the only source of concern for the EU, as analysts from the British magazine Energy Research & Social Science say that Europe is about to face a nuclear incident much more devastating than the Chernobyl disaster, as on top of the poor state of the two Belgian nuclear power stations, there's an 80% probability of a nuclear disaster occurring at one of Ukraine's nuclear power plants before 2020. In the event of such a nuclear disaster, the European Union will be dealing with both the unimaginable environmental damage, but due to the introduction of a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine, a mass exodus from the contaminated region of Ukrainians to Western Europe.

Today, Ukraine has four nuclear power plants: Zaporizhzhya (the largest in Europe, with six reactors and a total electricity generation output of 6,000 MW), Rivne (four reactors with a total electricity generation output of 2,880 MW), Khmelnitskaya (two reactors with a total capacity of 2000 MW) and the South-Ukraine (three reactors and a total electricity generation output of 3000 MW). The fifth one, the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power station with four reactors was sealed off completely back in 2000.

Out of the 15 operational nuclear reactors in Ukraine, a total of 12 were introduced into service before 1990, with all of them sharing a maximum operational service life of 30 years. The fact that a total of 10 of these reactors have already exceeded their lifespans sends cold shivers down one's spine. However, those reactors have been used to produce an ever increasing amount of electricity to meet Ukraine's growing demand caused by a sharp decline in the number of operational thermal power plants that have no access to the coal produced in Donbass. This breakaway region has been on the defense ever since Kiev authorities launched military operations against its Russian-speaking population. Now those Soviet age reactors are being run into the ground so that they fulfill more than 60% of Ukraine's total electricity needs, which leads to nuclear scientists operating them being forced to to the limits of these thoroughly worn-out nuclear facilities.

The situation is aggravated by political pressure applied by Washington on the current Kiev government, demanding them to find a quick substitute to the nuclear fuel produced by the Russian company TVEL. Therefore, time and time again reactors are loaded with fuel produced by the American-Japanese corporation Westinghouse Electric Company. It seems that Kiev and Washington are too willing to ignore the traumatizing experience of the Soviet era Czech Temelín Nuclear Power Station, which signed a deal with Westinghouse on the supply of its fuel as early as 1996. But the use of American fuel led to a series of major failures at the power station eventually resulting in severe structural damaged being inflicted upon its reactors. Nuclear scientists operating the Temelín station failed to address the problem, which led to the decision to break the deal with Westinghouse Electric Company after yet another major incident in 2007. Finally, the Czech Republic refused to purchase any other form of fuel other than fuel produced in Russia, resulting in the Temelín Nuclear Power Station being fueled by Russia once again since 2010.

However, Kiev's authorities have gone so far in their Russophobic that they continue playing with fire, testing all sorts of substitutes to Russian fuel formulas produced in America since 2005. One can remember how a series of malfunctions at the South-Ukraine Nuclear Power Station back in 2013 resulted in a number of Ukrainian inspection organizations introducing a complete ban on the use of any form of American-produced nuclear fuel in Ukraine.

However the American sponsored coup d'etat in Kiev reopened the door for the use of American fuel in Ukraine, which has already resulted in a number of failures and emergency reactor shutdowns at various Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

To be more specific, since the 2014 coup, Zaporizhzhya NPP has already experienced a dozen emergency shutdowns. At South-Ukraine NPP, extensive use of American-produced fuel resulted in a 24 hours shutdown of the whole station back in 2016. As a result, only two out of six reactors at Zaporizhzhya NPP remain fully operational. The total amount of nuclear emergencies across Ukraine has increased by 400% since 2010. The Energy Research & Social Science report has repeatedly stressed that an abnormal level of emergency nuclear situations in Ukraine has been deliberately omitted in official international reports for a number of years, even though local media report them on a regular basis.

However, nobody seems to be concerned in Kiev. Last May, the official website of Ukraine's Energoatom reported that a total of four reactors of the Zaporizhzhya NPP in Ukraine will only be fueled by products of Westinghouse Electric Company, with only two remaining reactors still being operated on Russian fuel. In addition to the use of sub-quality fuel, there's yet another reason for the mounting incidents and risk at Ukrainian power plants and that is chronic under-funding of this sector, since there's been not a single Euro invested in the sector since the collapse of the USSR.

Meanwhile, reactors that have worked longer than the planned 30-year service life must either be decommissioned or be modified for their service life to be extended. Both of these options are rather expensive for debt-ridden Kiev, yet the second option looks more favorable from its point of view. Ideally, these reactors have to undergo a major overhaul and modernization, but the estimated cost of such operations is estimated to reach as much as 150 million euros. But neither the state-run Energoatom nor Kiev itself has the resources to go down that route, so Kiev is arbitrarily prolonging the service life of all operational reactors.

Upon doing this it sends reports to neighboring countries and international organizations operating in the field of environmental protection. However, such actions simultaneously violate a total of two UN Conventions that require its signatories to obtain bilateral and international approvals before service life of a reactor is prolonged, but not the other way around. Those are the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment and the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

As it's been announced by Ukrainian PM Viktoriya Voytsitskaya, as the nuclear industry collapses in Ukraine, nuclear scientists are being laid off or quit work voluntarily to seek employment in other countries. Additionally, the total number of emergency situations at Ukrainian nuclear power plants in 2017 reached a total of 17 cases against 12 cases a year earlier.

All these facts show that Ukraine's remaining nuclear power plants represent a real threat to the security of Europe, but against the backdrop of the current economic situation and political instability in Ukraine, there is no chance to reverse this negative trend. The question of how to address this situation effectively must be a topic of urgent negotiations between Ukraine and the authorities of leading EU states.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."
5
South Tyneside Stop the War / Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria
« Last post by nestopwar on July 30, 2018, 11:33:32 AM »
Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria
Strategic Culture

July 24, 2018

   Western states made a dramatic intervention in the Syrian war earlier this week to extricate hundreds of terrorist militants. The militants are to be fast-tracked for resettlement in Europe and Canada.

But in saving their terror assets, Western governments are risking future public safety as well as sowing seeds for increasing multicultural strife.

In a stunning revelation of the foreign links to the extremists in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military forces to evacuate up to 800 militants belonging to the so-called White Helmets. They are the propaganda merchants for Nusra Front and other al-Qaeda-linked terror organizations.

Netanyahu announced that the blatant intervention to rescue the jihadists in southwest Syria was made at the personal request of US President Donald Trump and the Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, "among others".

Separately, there were reports of four senior jihadist commanders being given safe passage by Israeli forces out of Syria as the Syrian army closed in on the last-remaining militant strongholds around the southwest city of Daraa and Quneitra province.

Nor was it coincidental that the evacuation operations were accompanied by Israeli air strikes on Syrian government facilities in Hama province.

Damascus condemned the extraction of hundreds of jihadists by Israel and its Western allies as a "criminal operation" and further proof of the foreign sponsoring that has fomented the nearly eight-year war.

Of course, Netanyahu, Western governments and news media sought to portray the evacuation of the "White Helmets" as a "humanitarian gesture". This was at the same time that Israeli warplanes and snipers were stepping up the killing medics and civilians in Gaza.

Britain's newly appointed foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt described the Israeli "rescue" of "White Helmets" as "fantastic news", saying that the militants were the "bravest of the brave".

We won't delay too much here on this fraud. The so-called first responders of the "White Helmets" are a CIA, MI6-backed propaganda outfit working hand-in-hand with the terrorist militia. Their fake videos of chemical weapons attacks and air strikes have been a key propaganda device aided and abetted by the Western news media to demonize the Syrian armed forces and its Russian ally.

The fictitious propaganda stunt alleging a chemical weapon attack in Douma on April 7 this year resulted in a barrage of air strikes by the US, Britain and France.

Created in 2013 by a British MI6 agent and former British army officer James Le Mesurier, the so-called White Helmets have been funded with hundreds of millions of dollars by the governments of the US, Britain and other NATO states.

There is abundant video evidence showing members of this fake rescue group participating in gruesome executions by the al Qaeda-aligned militants with whom they associate. One such video shows an execution of a Syrian army soldier in Daraa, the city from where the latest evacuation of jihadists by Israel took place. Daraa is also, by the way, mendaciously referred to in the Western media as the "cradle of the revolution" or the "birthplace of the uprising" against President Assad's government back in March 2011. The only thing that Daraa was a birthplace of was the US-led foreign covert war for regime change in Syria.

Now here's a curious thing about the latest salvaging of terror assets in Syria. The United States and Israel are not taking any of the 800 militants for resettlement. Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who has done much to expose the real macabre nature of the White Helmets and their terror links, says that both the US and Israeli no doubt realize that by taking in such "war refugees" they are inviting terrorists into their own societies.

Which makes you wonder why Britain, Germany and Canada are stepping up to the plate to offer the 800 White Helmets a home?

The case of Germany is particularly odd. Interior minister Horst Seehofer has personally authorized the resettlement of White Helmets spirited out of Syria by Israel. This is the same Seehofer who has mounted such a strong challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open door" policy towards immigrants.

What we are witnessing is a suicidal ignorance by Western governments to take in these cadres of White Helmets. Perhaps Seehofer and other government ministers like Britain's Jeremy Hunt are simply woefully misinformed. But surely the state security agencies of their respective countries know all too well the criminal, psychotic nature of the people whom they are allowing into their societies.

Such a callous disregard for public safety is not unprecedented. In his well-researched book, My Fight For Syrian Freedom, Irish peace activist Dr Declan Hayes details numerous cases of how jihadist assets were knowingly cultivated by British and French state security services for the purpose of waging the covert war for regime change in Syria and Libya. These assets have been allowed to return to Britain and France under the cover of being "refugees", with the security services turning a blind eye to their true identity.

The nefarious relationship has resulted in these terror assets committing atrocities in Europe. For example, as Hayes points out, the Manchester concert bomb attack that killed 22 people in May last year was carried out by operatives belonging to a Libyan jihad cell that MI5 and MI6 had previously overseen for their objective of prosecuting the regime-change war in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi.

Similar murky connections between jihadists "blooded in Syria" and state secret services have been have uncovered in terror attacks in France and Belgium. It is not clear if these terror assets go rogue or whether they are being used by British, French and other military intelligence as a deliberate provocation in order to promote tighter national security laws and greater surveillance powers over their citizens.

Declan Hayes reckons that the problem of Western-sponsored terrorists returning to Britain and other European countries under the cover of claiming to be "war refugees" is much greater than Western governments or their media are admitting.

Hayes says that in his experience of visiting Syria many times during the war, most families loyal to the government were adamantly defiant about staying in the country and defending their communities. He reckons that there is a legitimate concern that many of the refugees fleeing from formerly militant-held cities like Aleppo and Daraa are jihadists and their families.

This view supports the right of some European governments to be wary about taking in large numbers of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries. There is a case for rigorous vetting, but such a case is often emotionally blackmailed by naive media commentary as being "heartless" or "racist".

There is no doubt that Western government agencies have fomented terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere to do their dirty work for destabilizing target governments.

Now that the war in Syria is all but over with the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, rooting out the last jihadist remnants, we are seeing Western states taking in their terror assets. Maybe as a desperate intervention to stop them from revealing the dirty secrets of Western government collusion.

The repatriation of the White Helmets terrorist propagandists to the UK, Germany and Canada is a classic illustration.

Western authorities are playing with fire. Not only are they running the risk of public safety from future terrorist incidents. They are also stoking the flames of xenophobia, racism and culture wars against many innocent refugees who have been given shelter in Western countries.




6
For Your Information / A New World Order: That Possible Dream
« Last post by nestopwar on July 30, 2018, 11:19:23 AM »
A New World Order: That Possible Dream
Christopher Black

July 24


   Well, my friends, I started to write an essay about the Brussels Declaration issued by NATO at the end of the American shakedown meeting with its allies on July 11, that, beneath the platitudes about "democracy" and "shared values" "defensive alliance," respect for international law" and layer upon layer of lies about "Russian aggression," is nothing less than a declaration of war. For that is what that document amounts to. Those interested can go to the NATO website and read it for themselves as paragraph after paragraph of fantasy and distortions are set out in that smug tone the war crowd likes to use to fool the rest of us. But be prepared for your mind to be polluted with every word.

So I stopped writing that piece, tore it up, and I stopped because how often can any reasonable person write about the same thing, the same war propaganda dished out with breakfast, lunch and dinner on every TV channel, every radio channel, every newspaper, time after time, without being numbed by it all.

I started to write another piece about the Skripal affair but then news came that the British police claim to have identified two "suspects" in the original incident, and let it be leaked that, of course, they are Russians, no doubt named Boris and Natasha from the Bullwinkle cartoon, though the British government, to draw more attention to the leak, cautioned that the news may not be confirmed. But you can bet it soon will be, maybe by the time you read this. It's difficult to keep up with the propaganda the forces for war are putting out on a daily basis.

I started to write another about the Trump-Putin meeting but once again, only succeeded in making myself depressed as I watched the US news media, from the so called "left" to the right, accusing Trump of treason for talking to president Putin about peace and cooperation instead of war and destruction. All the mass media of the western world, that tragic array of countries led by charlatans, fools, gangsters and crooks that are the real face of capitalism, joined in with their fake gasps of consternation at the antics of the American president, all calling for the head of Vladimir Putin to be put on a spike next to Donald Trump's.

Not since the days of the assassination of President Kennedy have we witnessed such malice and hatred against an American president. Not since the witch hunts of the McCarthy period when American society turned itself inside out has this level of hysteria been generated by the people that control the media and the government machinery. Turn on the news, read a journal, and what you will see is not news but the ravings of secret service officials, interviewed by criminals with the morality of Julius Streicher, the Nazi propagandist hanged at Nuremberg, telling us they are the voice of truth and the rest of us better just shut up and take it. I even heard one of them make the laughable statement that Putin's gift of a soccer ball to Trump at their joint press conference, a mere souvenir of the World Cup, and a reminder to Trump that the Russians presented the best World Cup experience ever, is proof positive that Putin is "playing Trump". I kid you not, and yes, they are that idiotic and that dangerous.

And yet, this same US president, who claims to want to resolve things with Russia, is the same man who bullied the NATO gang members to cough up more money for war preparations against Russia, who supports the on going Neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine slaughtering the people of the Donbass, who increases the build up of NATO forces on Russia's borders, who supports the coup attempt against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, against Maduro in Venezuela, who has slapped the Palestinians in the face, arranged for the White Helmet terrorists to be rescued from Syrian justice by Israel, and now Canada, who is harassing China with his navy and is intent on beggaring the world with a trade war so "America can be great, again." One has to wonder whether Trump is a willing dupe in the anti-Russian hysteria contrived by the war fanatics and willingly plays the foil so the hysteria can be raised to a crisis point. Trying to make sense of it all is a maddening affair, unless one goes back to basic principles of how the world works.

In his First Address of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association on the Franco-Prussian War Marx wrote:

"If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfil that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the people's blood and treasure? We defined the foreign policy aimed at by the International in these words: vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the relation of private individuals, as the laws paramount of the intercourse of nations."

Yet, where does that exist now? Even president Xi of China recently wrote a letter to Paul Kagame, the mass murderer installed in power in Rwanda by the west, praising him and ignoring the millions of African dead that Kagame, among others, is responsible for. Morality is impaled on expediency and cynical opportunism. The great powers make international agreements and create institutions that temporarily establish how their competition for world plunder will be regulated and the rest of us be damned.

They did it after the First World War. In twenty years that word order resulted in a bigger, more destructive, war. At the end of the Second World War, another world order was established in which the US tried to destroy the socialist movements of the world while the Soviet Union and Red China resisted in war after war after war; until the counter-revolution in the USSR produced the weaker successor state of Russia, China began the slide back towards the rule of capital and the US declared a New World Order in which it planned to dominate and exploit the people of the world. It then attacked Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, Syria and on and on. But their attempt to create this new order has met resistance in every region of the world and as the situation of the people deteriorates, especially in the USA, the reaction becomes more and more irrational and desperate and dangerous to our survival. Even as our industrial civilization brings us all to the edge of extinction, they bang the drums of war.

These successive world orders are continually upset by the very conditions and circumstances they produce as capital searches for ways to increase its exploitation of resources, including human beings who are seen as just another resource to be used and destroyed, for new ways to secure more profit. And so at each new historical phase, a new balance of world forces is established by fresh military conflict, followed by a fresh set of agreements, followed by new conflicts ad infinitum as the dialectic requires in a logic that only a socialist world order can stop.

International relations are a reflection of the contradictions existing in a world economy of competing national state and the class divisions within those states. The economy is global in character and so the struggle for the appropriation of global profit has become acute among the major economic powers with the United States facing a crisis that seems to be so deep that even world war is actively considered as a way out. Capital has problems the world over, proved by the continuous push to squeeze the workers until we are just dry husks the world over. US capital has even bigger problems as its economy and influence weaken. So it is following the logic of war. If the system doesn't favour you and you have the power to change it, change it to your benefit. That's what they are doing, but in the doing they don't care about life, or morality, or us.

Little the war crowd care about the working classes. They are capital. They are the dictatorship. We are the helots who they spit upon with every false word out of their mouths, who steal our money and who steal our lives so they can gorge themselves until they vomit and then gorge themselves the more. So I did not succeed in writing what I intended but you have to forgive me because I'm beyond fed up with that dictatorship, with that system and their gorging while we starve and suffer their wars and decadence. I'm sure you are too. For there is only one world order that I can accept, that can lead us, the working people of the world, out of the cul de sac we find ourselves in, a new world order founded upon morality and justice than can only come with the great emancipation of the working classes of the world, that possible dream, that only struggle can realise.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel "Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."

7
Evan Davis was at it again on Newsnight.

On the Tuesday evening programme on 24th April, Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews was given free rein to vent his concerns over anti-Semitism in the Labour party. It is important to note that the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) never criticises the racist, apartheid Israeli state’s murderous actions and policies against the Palestinians, not even, for example, at the height of Israel’s assaults on Gaza in recent years – indeed, it supports the Israeli state no matter what it does. The BoD is Zionist and attempts (together with the Jewish Chronicle) to police the close-knit Jewish community so that it takes courage and commitment for Jews to speak out against them. Nevertheless, some Jewish groups do so.

The entire piece on the programme was the alleged concern – does anti-Semitism exist in the Labour party? But this is a false premise. Since the Labour party – because of Jeremy Corbyn – now has well over half a million members – it would be surprising if there were not some real anti-Semites within its ranks. Since anti-Semitism, like other forms of racism, does exist in British society, the correct question to ask is whether anti-Semitism within the Labour party is any worse than in the rest of society – or exists at the same level – or is in fact less pervasive.

Those who ask the wrong question – does anti-Semitism exist in the Labour party – do so deliberately. A phony debate can then – and has been – whipped up by those factions who dislike Corbyn and all he stands for.  Thus, a loose assortment of Tories and other right-wingers, Zionists (like Arkush and the BoD, and the Jewish Labour Movement) who realise that Corbyn (rightly) supports the cause of Palestinian human rights, Blairites in the Labour party and Labour Friends of Israel – plus many so-called liberals who, when it comes down to it, are hearty opponents of socialism – can use the false debate as a means of attacking Corbyn’s Labour. (If they had asked the right question, there would have been no debate at all.) They have stirred up things in spades – just prior to the local elections.

Arkush, as a Zionist (and therefore a racist and anti-Semite himself, since the Palestinians are also Semites) deliberately asked the wrong question. And Evan Davis let him do it.

Davis tentatively asked him to comment on the charge of whipped-up accusations of anti-Semitism – Arkush said only that he was there to defend Jews in the Labour party, and commented on the thousands (some say only hundreds) of Jews who demonstrated against anti-Semitism in Labour’s ranks – without mentioning that the major demonstration was by the Jewish Labour Movement – and without mentioning that movement’s very dodgy antecedents (for which see below).

Arkush said that Labour had not done enough to quash the supposed scourge. He specifically mentioned Labour’s rejection of an ombudsman. But very significantly, he made no mention of the range of other actions which the BoD and the Jewish Leadership Council requested of Labour. The most important of these by far was the request that the Labour party formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. This is attached as Appendix A. The points set out in the paragraphs below concern this vitally important definition:

Theresa May announced (at a Conservative Friends of Israel meeting in December 2016) the UK’s  formal adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism agreed on earlier this year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It poses a familiar threat to legitimate criticism of the State of Israel. The points inset below are contained in an article in the Independent of Tuesday 13 December 2016 headed “Theresa May’s new definition of antiSemitism will do more harm than good”:
  • “…The text of the IHRA definition is based on, and very similar to, a draft document first circulated by a European anti-racism agency in 2005, only to be subsequently abandoned as not fit for purpose. That particular definition, drafted with the help of pro-Israel advocacy groups, was the subject of serious critique for its conflation of genuine anti-Semitic bigotry on the one hand, and criticism of or opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel on the other. It is that definition which has now been resuscitated, and endorsed by a Tory government that has already sought to intimidate Palestine solidarity activism and undermine civil society boycotts…”
  • “…In fact, the definition endorsed by May is almost identical to the one at the heart of a free speech furore in the US, pitching pro-Israel senators against groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish Voice for Peace, who oppose efforts they see as intended to stifle pro-Palestine activism…”
  • “…American Jewish commentator Peter Beinart also wrote in December 2016 in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, suggesting that such efforts “to classify anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, punishable by law” are a direct response to the growing number of “progressives” who “question Zionism”…The Israeli government and its friends and allies are desperate to smear and shush – even if it means compromising the fight against genuine anti-Semitism with muddled definitions…”

The Jewish Labour Movement has been one of the main groups on the right wing of the Labour Party whipping up a phony “anti-Semitism crisis” since Corbyn was elected in 2015. A witch hunt was conducted against members who had actually done little more than criticize Israel or defend Palestinian rights. The Jewish Labour Movement has close links to the Israeli embassy, and is constitutionally committed to Zionism. It is involved in the World Zionist Organization, which is strongly involved in the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank by Israeli settlers:
  • The Jewish Labour Movement has strongly promoted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which Israeli lobby groups have pressed legislatures around the world to adopt – see the Appendix for this definition.
  • A previous unadopted Jewish Labour Movement proposal would have allowed the party to discipline members accused of anti-Semitism in cases “where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility” towards Jews. In other words, one politically motivated false accusation of anti-Semitism is all it would have taken for a Labour Party member to be expelled. The Jewish Labour Movement also argued that its original proposal would have rendered it unacceptable “to use Zionism as a term of abuse.”

The Labour Party’s “Race and Faith Manifesto” formally endorses a two-sentence definition of anti-Semitism, contained in the controversial IHRA document, which does not mention Israel: “A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” It adds that, “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”:
  • This part of the IHRA document does not produce any problem. It is the accompanying “examples” provided by IHRA (see the Appendix) that define criticism of Israel and its Zionist state ideology as anti-Semitism. The Labour manifesto is rightly silent on whether the party accepts or rejects those examples as valid instances of anti-Semitism. A careful reading of these examples reveals what can only be regarded as a sinister attempt to expand the boundaries of what may properly be considered as “anti-Semitism” into very contentious areas, and is in fact an attack on free speech itself – its blatant intent is to close down criticism of Israel as far as possible, and try to legally intimidate Israel’s critics. It is a thoroughly reprehensible document.

But surely, in the interests of the BBC’s famed impartiality, Davis entertained some countervailing voice? Someone like Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, for example, a leading member of the Jewish Voice for Labour group, which supports Palestinian rights, and which held a counter-demonstration against the “attack Corbyn” demonstration organised by the Jewish Labour Movement? She may well have excoriated the BoD president about the nature of the Jewish Labour movement, queried the genuineness of the “Labour anti-Semitism” debate, exposed the real motives behind the BoD’s request for the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, and attacked his and the BoD’s Zionism. Davis did nothing of the sort - the unabashed Zionist was allowed, unopposed, to exercise his prejudices and set out his dishonest narrative.

To be fair to Evan Davis and the BBC, he and the corporation were no worse than the rest of the mainstream media (both broadcast and print) as regards the sham respect accorded to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose true views on Israel are never reported. But it is up to the BBC, as a publicly-funded broadcaster not susceptible to commercial and financial pressures, to impartially present issues such as the current anti-Semitism debate (and the related Israel-Palestine conflict), and so hold other broadcast media to a standard they may otherwise wish to avoid. In this it shamefully fails, as in the truths it has omitted to tell surrounding the issues discussed above. Davis is a stooge of the pro-Israel lobby and so is the the disgraceful BBC.

John Tinmouth, member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Tuesday, 1st May 2018











APPENDIX - International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism

Bucharest, 26 May 2016

In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by …antisemitism and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt the following working definition of antisemitism.
On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to:

Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”


To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
•   Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
•   Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
•   Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
•   Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
•   Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
•   Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
•   Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
•   Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
•   Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
•   Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
•   Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).
Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.
Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.
8
Will Morrow, World Socialist Web Site reprinted in Global Research

April 19, 2018

On Monday, the US and British intelligence agencies released a joint report charging Moscow with unspecified "cyber warfare" against the West. The American media was filled with hysterical warnings that Russia may have hacked "millions" of personal devices as well as critical infrastructure.

The tenor of the media coverage was epitomized by the New York Times, which labelled the intelligence agencies' report a "computer-age version of a Cold War air raid drill, but asking citizens to upgrade their password rather than duck and cover."

The coordinated campaign comes amid the unravelling of the official pretext for Friday night's illegal US-British-French bombing of Russia's ally Syria—the claim that the Assad government carried out a chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta on April 7.

On Sunday, the Independent published an on-the-spot report by well-known veteran journalist Robert Fisk, an expert on Middle East policy, who visited Douma, the town in Ghouta where a gas attack supposedly occurred.

Fisk spoke with Dr. Assim Rahaibani, who works at the medical clinic where the widely publicized videos were filmed showing children being hosed down with water, ostensibly to relieve poison gas inhalation. He quotes Rahaibani as follows:

"I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night, but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of [government] shelling and aircraft were always over Douma at night—but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.

"People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet,' shouted ‘Gas!,' and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia, not gas poisoning."

This account is in line with statements by Russian authorities, who have charged that the White Helmets, the anti-Assad "rebel" organization funded by Britain, staged the gas attack under orders from UK intelligence to provide its Western sponsors with a pretext for intervention. Fisk notes that by the time he arrived in Douma, the White Helmets had already left to join fighters of the Islamic fundamentalist group Jaysh-al Islam, who fled Douma for Idlib under an agreement brokered with Russia.

Fisk's report is a devastating exposure of the lies of the governments of France, Britain and the US, which have provided no evidence to substantiate their charges against the Assad regime. The imperialist governments' narrative was immediately disseminated by a corrupt media that functions shamelessly as a propaganda arm of the state.

As the World Socialist Web Site insisted from the outset, the incident was a CIA-organized provocation to provide a pretext for imperialist intervention, continuing the seven-year-long US regime-change operation against Russia's ally Assad, during which time Washington has armed and funded right-wing Islamist proxies.

Fisk's report is at the same time a damning indictment of the corporate media, along with various pseudo-left organizations, such as the International Socialist Organization, which regurgitated all of the governments' lying pretexts and made no effort to investigate them. The media has responded to Fisk's report by burying it. In the 24 hours since its publication, neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times, which in 2005 called Fisk "probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain," has reported on Fisk's on-the-spot story.

The US government responds to each exposure of its lies by concocting new ones. The chemical weapons charge followed directly after the collapse of the unsubstantiated British and US claims that Russia carried out the attempted assassination on British soil of its former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a nerve agent. Both Yulia and Sergei are now on their way to a full recovery despite having supposedly been poisoned with the most fatal military-grade agent in existence.

Yesterday's report by the FBI and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), "Advisory: Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Targeting Network Infrastructure Devices," is no more credible. Like previous charges levelled by the intelligence agencies against Moscow, there is not a single piece of evidence contained in the document to back them up.

Out of its 21 pages, approximately 15 provide generic information about computer network security flaws commonly exploited by what the report refers to as "cyber actors." They give generic advice for users and network administrators to improve digital security. These include not using "the same password across multiple devices," avoiding unencrypted communication protocols, and replacing outdated hardware and security software.

The first six pages include the only references to Russia, but provide no details, much less evidence, of any specific activities. Every one of the charges against Moscow begin with phrases such as: "FBI and NCSC have high confidence that"; "the US and UK governments assess that"; they "have received information from multiple sources that ," etc.

None of this has prevented the media in both the US and UK from dutifully amplifying the latest charges. A front-page article published by the New York Times, "US-UK Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes," cites the comments of Rob Joyce, a special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator for the National Security Council, declaring that Russians are "seeking to exploit the increasing popularity of Internet-connected devices" that "you and I have in our homes."

Revealing more than it intended, the article states that the government document "had been in the works for a long period" and was "not a response to any recent events." In other words, the intelligence agencies were awaiting the opportune moment to publish it. Its release serves several purposes.

First, to create a mood of panic in the population so as to facilitate a major escalation of the confrontation with Russia. Second, to counter the popular distrust in the media and disbelief of what is widely seen as the latest pretext for yet another war against a Middle Eastern nation, and, third, to suppress anti-war sentiment and legitimize the crackdown on democratic rights and censorship of the Internet, under the banner of combating Russian cyber warfare and "fake news."

The connection between the drive to war and Internet censorship was made clear by the statements of Pentagon officials following the attack on Syria. US Defence Secretary James Mattis warned Friday that there would be a rise in Russian "disinformation" in response to the US and allied strikes. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White stated that Russian claims that Syrian air defence missiles had shot down 71 of the 105 missiles fired on Syria were part of a disinformation campaign "that has already begun." She said there had been a "2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls" over 24 hours.

These claims are aimed at identifying any statements that contradict the official narrative of the US government and military as foreign "disinformation" and essentially treasonous.

The FBI report is no doubt also aimed at fuelling the ongoing campaign by the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Party demanding that Trump further escalate the confrontation with Russia. The Times and the other Democratic Party-aligned media denounced the Trump administration's announcement yesterday that the US will not at this time impose further sanctions on Russia, contradicting the statements of Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, over the weekend.

The Times quoted Democrat Eliot Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who said,

"I am outraged that President Trump pulled back sanctions on Russia for its support of the Assad regime."

Times columnist Nikolas Kristof, who has made his career promoting imperialist wars in the name of "human rights," praised the arch-reactionary Haley against Trump in an appearance on MSNBC, declaring that she was "much better regarded than almost any other member of the administration in foreign policy."


9
Syria 'chemical attack' staged to provoke US airstrike, London pushed perpetrators – Russian MoD
RT

The Russian Defense Ministry has presented what it says is proof that the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged. It also accused the British government of pressuring the perpetrators to speed up the “provocation.”


During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.


In the interviews released to the media, the two men reported how footage was shot of people dousing each other with water and treating children, which was claimed to show the aftermath of the April 7 chemical weapons attack. The patients shown in the video suffered from smoke poisoning and the water was poured on them by their relatives after a false claim that chemical weapons were used, the ministry said.

“Please, notice. These people do not hide their names. These are not some faceless claims on the social media by anonymous activists. They took part in taking that footage,” said ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.

“The Russian Defense Ministry also has evidence that Britain had a direct involvement in arranging this provocation in Eastern Ghouta,” the general added, referring to the neighborhood of which Douma is part. “We know for certain that between April 3 and April 6 the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing.”

According to Konashenkov, the group, which was a primary source of photos and footage of the purported chemical attack, was informed of a large-scale artillery attack on Damascus planned by the Islamist group Army of Islam, which controlled Douma at the time. The White Helmets were ordered to arrange the provocation after retaliatory strikes by the Syrian government forces, which the shelling was certain to lead to, he said.

The UK rejected the accusations, with British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce calling them “grotesque,” “a blatant lie” and “the worst piece of fake news we've yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine.”

One of the interviews published by the ministry showed a man who said his name was Halil Ajij, and who said he was a medical student working at Douma’s only operational hospital. This is how he described the origin of the footage:

“On April 8, a bomb hit a building. The upper floors were damaged and a fire broke at the lower floors. Victims of that bombing were brought to us. People from the upper floors had smoke poisoning. We treated them, based on their suffocation."

Ajij said that a man unknown to him came and said there was a chemical attack and panic ensued. “Relatives of the victims started dousing each other with water. Other people, who didn’t seem to have medical training, started administering anti-asthma medicine to children. We didn’t see any patient with symptoms of a chemical weapons poisoning,” he said.


Read more

Douma, the suburb of Damascus recently recaptured from anti-government forces.‘They can go anywhere they want in Douma’: OPCW team arrives in Syria to investigate alleged attack
The first photos claiming to show the aftermath of the alleged chemical attack on April 7 were published online on the same day, and featured the bodies of many people, including children, some with foam around their mouths and noses. Footage from the hospital was released on Sunday, with the sources behind it claiming that it had been shot on Saturday.

Konashenkov said Russia hoped that international monitors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is due to investigate the circumstances of the incident, will help establish the truth. He added Eastern Ghouta is currently trying to return to peaceful life after being liberated from militant groups by Syrian government forces. He called on other nations and international organizations to provide humanitarian aid, which is badly needed in the area. Russia is already supplying food, medicine, building materials and other essential supplies to the neighborhood, he said.

Residents of the neighborhood, who previously fled violence, are returning to their homes now that the area is relatively safe, the Russian official said. The latest reports from the ground say about 63,000 people have returned, which is over half of the displaced residents, he added.

The reported chemical weapons attack escalated tensions over Syria, just as Damascus was about to seize full control of Eastern Ghouta. The US and allies such as the UK and France threatened military action in response to what they claim is an atrocity committed by the Syrian government. Russia insists the incident was staged and said it reserves the right to counter any attack on Syria.

RT spoke about the Russian claims with Lord Alan West, a retired officer of the British Royal Navy. He said he had strong reservations about taking allegations against Damascus at face value, because it didn’t make much military sense.

“It seems to be utterly ludicrous for the military that is in the process of taking over an area to go and do something with chemical weapons, which will draw the wrath of the larger enemy down upon them,” he said. “If I was advising the opponents of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, I would be delighted to kill a few people there. Let’s face it, [the insurgents] don’t care if they kill women and children.”

“I am not willing to accept tweets. We need to see incontrovertible truth about what has happened there and make a decision on that basis,” he added.
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‘Attack on Syria would be attack on entire UN system’ – Bolivia’s UN envoy

The threat by the US to use force in Syria undermines international law and the entire United Nations system, Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Sacha Llorenti, who called a Security Council meeting over the issue, told RT.

By threatening to act against Damascus with or without the UN’s blessing, Washington is putting itself above all other nations, flaunting international law, the UN Charter, and the UN system as a whole, Llorenti said.

“The problem is that the United States believes and it acts as if it’s above any law. They believe they have their own rules and it’s not the case,” the ambassador said.

READ MORE: 'We're exceptional, Russia is not': Pompeo takes hard line in Senate pitch

On Wednesday, Llorenti asked the UN Security Council (UNSC), of which Bolivia is a non-permanent member, to convene on Thursday to discuss the “escalation of rhetoric regarding Syria and these threats of unilateral military action.”

This follows Monday’s threat by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that Washington might go to war in Syria alone if it can’t secure approval in the UN due to what she called “obstructionism” from Russia. “Either way, the United States will respond,” Haley said.

Llorenti argued that while the UNSC faces many problems of its own and is in need of reform, its main priority for now should be “to unite and to create an independent mechanism in order to investigate the alleged chemical attacks.”


Even if countries can’t agree on a mechanism, this does not mean the US is allowed to do whatever it wants in Syria, Llorenti said, and at this point, “there is no conclusive investigation on the chemical attack.”

“So, whatever happens, if the United States takes unilateral action, it will be a violation of international law and the UN system should, of course, not accept that,” Llorenti stressed, noting that a potential military strike “will not be an attack against Syria, but an attack against the whole United Nations System.”

Llorenti echoed an earlier statement by the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, who said that with its threats against Syria, the US is already violating the UN Charter, which prohibits threats to international peace and security. The Russian ambassador also said that the “immediate priority” of the UN should be finding a way to avoid a war.
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