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News Items / Re: Iraqis march in 'millions' to call for expulsion of US troops
« Last post by Roger on January 26, 2020, 12:42:37 PM »

   Associated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions
Moon of Alabama

Jan 24, 2020


   At 10:01 UTC today the Associated Press tweeted that "hundreds" gather in central Baghdad to demand that American troops leave the country.

Thirty eight minutes earlier CNN had already reported that "hundreds of thousands" are protesting in Baghdad against the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

When AP sent the misleading tweet the commander of the Iraqi Federal Police Forces Jaffar al-Batat had already announced that the number of demonstrators exceeds one million.

That number may well be correct. Reports said that the column of protesters was already eight kilometers long even while many were still arriving.

Muqtada al-Sadr, who had called for the protests but is hardly a 'radical', demanded that the U.S. follows the decision of the Iraqi parliament and ends its occupation. All U.S. bases in Iraq must be closed, all security agreements with the U.S. and with U.S. security companies must be ended and a schedule for the exit of all U.S. forces must be announced.

Meanwhile the U.S. is pulling strings and tries to carve a new Sunni state out of western Iraq.

Al-Sadr promised to temporarily halt the resistance against the U.S. occupation if the U.S. commits to leaving orderly.

Otherwise ...
2
News Items / Iraqis march in 'millions' to call for expulsion of US troops
« Last post by Roger on January 26, 2020, 12:39:54 PM »
Iraqis march in 'millions' to call for expulsion of US troops
Press TV

Jan 24, 2020


   Photos: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/24/616968/Iraq-Protest-US

Iraqis have rallied in Baghdad in massive numbers to call for an end to US military presence in the country following high-profile assassinations and airstrikes targeting anti-terror forces.

Sayed Sadiq al-Hashemi, the director of the Iraqi Center for Studies, said more than 2.5 million took part in the demonstrations on Friday.

Since the early hours on Friday, huge crowds of men, women and children of all ages converged on the Jadriyah neighborhood near Baghdad University.

The protesters were seen carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of US forces.

"Get out, get out, occupier!" some shouted, while others chanted, "Yes to sovereignty!"

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all foreign forces after the US assassination of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The massive rally came after influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations".

Sadr issued a statement on Friday calling for US bases to be shut down and Iraqi airspace closed to US warplanes and surveillance aircraft.

He warned that US presence in the country will be dealt with as an occupying force if Washington does not agree with Iraqi demands to withdraw for the country.

In a message delivered through a representative at Friday prayer in the holy city of Karbala, top cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also urged Iraqi political groups to do what is needed to the safeguard the country's sovereignty.

He called on Iraqi groups to stand united, far from any foreign influence in countering the dangers which threaten the country.

On Thursday ahead of the planned rallies, Sadr called on Iraqis to mobilize and defend the country's independence and sovereignty.

"Oh women, men and youth of the country, the time is now upon us to defend the country, its sovereignty and dependence," Sadr said in a tweet.

"Spread the word of an independent future Iraq that will be ruled by the righteous; an Iraq which will not know of corruption nor aggression" he added, calling on Iraqis to expel the "tyrants".

Various Iraqi resistance groups affiliated with the country's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have also backed the anti-American rally.

‘Zero hour in face-off with US'

Speaking to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel, Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the PMU-affiliated Kata'ib Hezbollah resistance group, said "other means" will be used against the Americans if they do not leave Iraq.

The American presence, he said, has led to corruption and instability in the country.

In an interview with Iran's Tasnim news agency, Firas al-Yasser, a member of the political bureau of Iraq's Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, said Friday's rallies marked "a new chapter" in the Arab country's relations with the US.

He said Iraqi resistance groups support the stance of the country's clerical leadership, which does not tolerate Washington's "theory of dependence and humiliation" of Iraq.

"We believe we have reached the zero hour in facing off with the US," he said.

Yasser added that Iran's missile attack on the Ain al-Assad base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar earlier this month was a "prelude" to the expulsion of US forces from the country.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, described Friday's rallies as a "second revolution" a century after the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 against British forces.



3
Putin wants 7 amendments to Constitution for strong, nuclear Russia
Pravda

Jan 15, 2020


   On January 15, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his 16th Address to the Federal Assembly. During this annual speech, the head of state traditionally sets out his assessment of the state of affairs in the country and his vision of main objectives for the future. This year, Putin's speech was broadcast live almost everywhere - on the facades of buildings, in public transport, at clinics, hospitals, airports, libraries, on Mount Elbrus and even on board the International Space Station.

Putin paid first priority attention to such issues as increasing the birth rate in Russia, increasing the income level of citizens, supporting young families, overcoming poverty and economic stagnation.

Economists, experts and many public figures believe there will be no "revolutionary" or "breakthrough" suggestions, because they are simply no such suggestions per se.

Putin started his speech with saying that there is a demand for a change in the Russian society. The pace of change should increase every year, he said, with the active participation of Russian citizens in them. At the same time, he noted, it is extremely important how many people there are in the country. Thus, the problem of demography was the first one that Vladimir Putin spoke about in this speech.

The fate of Russia and its historical prospects depend on demography in the first place, the president said, added that the country needs to escape from the demographic trap and ensure the country's population growth.

Putin noted that it is the generation of the 1990s that builds families today. Russia experienced a significant demographic crisis during the 1990s, which has created a complicated demographic period today.

The total birth rate coefficient in 2019 was 1.5. For comparison, the coefficient was 1.4 during war years.

As Putin said, the point of all measures that he proposes is to create an extensive family support system.The president emphasized that the measures in the field of demographic development that the Russian authorities had taken before have already brought positive results, and there is a large new generation growing in Russia. "They are the boys and girls who go to kindergartens and study at schools now," the president said. "It is very important that they take true family values close to their hearts: that family means love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family means strong connection of several generations, where respect for elderly people and care for children always unite, that family gives a feeling of confidence, security and reliability," Putin said.

If all this becomes a natural moral norm for the younger generation, then the authorities would be able to solve the historical objective to guarantee the development of Russia as a large and successful country.

About 70-80% of low-income families in Russia are families with children. "Very often, even when both parents work, the income of such a family is very modest," Putin said.

If incomes are low, families should receive additional payments for their first and second children, the president said and suggested implementing monthly payments for each child from three to seven years old already from January 2020. Families whose income does not exceed one subsistence rate per person will be eligible to such payments.

"When the child turns three years old, the family stops receiving payments and may find itself in a difficult situation. This is what happens most of the time, and we should not make this happen. In this regard, I propose to provide monthly payments for children aged from 3 to 7 years inclusive, starting from January 1, 2020," Putin said.

"At this age, children "get acquainted" with viruses, they often get sick and do not go to school. So, it is often difficult for mothers to combine work and child care," he added.

Initially, such payments will amount to a half of the cost of living - 5,500 rubles, and in 2021 they will be increased twice to the average amount of 11,000 rubles per month.

The program of the maternity capital in Russia will be extended before 2026, while the capital will be increased.

"Presently, this program embraces the period before December 31, 2021. I know that many people wonder what the state intends to do after December 31, 2021. We will extend this program, at least before December 31, 2026," Putin said.

With the birth of a second child, the maternal capital will be increased by another 150,000 rubles, and then it will be indexed every year.

The total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will make up more than 616,000 rubles. From January 2020, families in Russia will receive maternity capital already with the birth of their first child.

For young families, the preferential mortgage rate will apply to the entire loan. Vladimir Putin called on all banks - not only the state ones - to actively participate in the program of preferential mortgage at 2% for families with children.

Putin proposed that all school children studying in grades from 1 to 4 should have free hot meals at their schools.

"I propose providing free hot meals to all elementary school pupils studying in grades from 1 through 4," the president said.

Putin also pointed out the importance of the role of the class master. The class master is also a mentor. This is a federal function, the president noted, adding that class masters in Russia would receive additional payments while maintaining existing payments. They should not be reduced, because it goes about the specialists who are vital for the country, Putin said.

Starting from September 1, 2020, class masters in Russia will receive a special additional payment of no less than 5,000 rubles.

Putin refuses to change the Constitution.

The potential of the 1993 Constitution has not been exhausted and there is no need to change it, the President of the Russian Federation said.

However, some changes are necessary, the president believes. Vladimir Putin proposed a minimum of 7 amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

1. A citizen applying for the post of president of the Russian Federation must not have a residence permit in another country either at the time of his or her nomination or ever before.

2. The President of the Russian Federation will not be able to hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

3. The Constitution should guarantee that the minimum wage must not be lower than the subsistence level.

4. The role of governors will be enhanced.

5. All factions represented in the State Duma of the Russian Federation believe that the Federal Assembly can play a large role in the formation of the government. Presently, the President of the Russian Federation receives the consent only from the State Duma for the approval of the head of the Russian government. Now it is proposed to give the Federal Assembly an opportunity to elect the head of the cabinet of ministers, while the president will be required to appoint the proposed candidacy as prime minister of the Russian Federation.

6. The President will appoint all heads of law enforcement agencies only after consultations with the Federation Council to make this process transparent to society.

7. The President should be entitled to dismiss the heads of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts if their acts discredit honor and dignity.

According to Putin, it is citizens of the Russian Federation who should have the final say on the adoption of the above-mentioned amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. He proposed an all-Russian referendum for the purpose.

Russia will defend the truth about Victory over fascism In his Address to the Federal Assembly, the Russian president announced the need to defend the historical truth about Victory over fascism.

"This year we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. For Russia, May 9 is the greatest and the holiest of holidays, we are proud of the generation of victors, we honor their feat, and our memory is not only a tribute to the heroic past, it serves our future, it inspires us and strengthens our unity. We must protect the truth about Victory, otherwise what we are going to say to our children if lies spread all over the world like an infection?" said Vladimir Putin.

To protect the "truth about Victory," a complex of archival documents on the history of WWII will be created in Russia. These documents will be available to the whole world.

"Russia will create the largest and most comprehensive complex of archival documents, cinematic and photographic materials related to WWII, and they will be available to both our citizens and to the whole world," Putin said. The creation of such an archive is "our duty of a victorious nation, it is our responsibility to future generation," he added.

Speaking about the social policy further, the president proposed to increase the number of state-funded places at universities annually. Priority should be given to regional educational institutions.

"In the coming years, the number of school graduates will increase. It is important to maintain equal, fair access to free full-time higher education. In this regard, I propose to increase the number of state-funded places at universities annually and give such places to regional universities in the first place," Putin said.

The President of Russia also said that problems with interrupted supplies of vital medicines in Russia should not be repeated in the future.

"Last year, a number of regions experienced interruptions in the supplies of medicines. Procurement was actually thwarted, and some officials spoke about the problem as if it was a matter of purchasing office supplies," Putin said. "People were left without extremely important, sometimes vitally necessary medicines. I draw attention to the fact that such situations should never happen again," the president added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see a breakthrough in Russian science, in the field of artificial intelligence and in other high-tech fields, in particular, in genetics, digital and energy technologies.

"The speed of technological changes in the world has been accelerating, and we must create our own technologies and standards in those areas that determine the future. It primarily goes about artificial intelligence, genetics, new materials, energy sources, digital technologies. I am convinced that we can achieve a breakthrough here, just like in the defense sector," the head of state said during his Address to the Federal Assembly.

In addition, Putin added, our should create conditions to attract young specialists to science. "A chance to work with unique equipment, to take on most ambitious tasks is an incentive for young people to go to science. This is already happening; it is estimated that by the middle of the decade, every second scientist in Russia will be younger than 40 years old," the Russian president said.

At a time when world events, in particular, in the Middle East, are developing unpredictably and uncontrollably, when regional conflicts are rapidly evolving into global threats, one should take real action towards peace, the Russian president said.

"The UN founding countries should set an example. It is the five nuclear powers that bear special responsibility for the preservation and sustainable development of mankind. It is five nations that must be first to take measures to eliminate prerequisites for a global war, develop new approaches to ensuring stability on the planet, which would fully take into account political, economic and military aspects of modern international relations," Putin said.

According to Putin, Russia is no threat to anyone, nor does it impose her will on anyone else, but "our decisions to strengthen national security have been made in a timely and sufficient manner."

"For the first time in the history of nuclear missile weapons, including the Soviet period, and the newest time, we are not catching up with anyone, but on the contrary, it is other leading states of the world that have to create the weapons that Russia already has. The country's defense has been ensured for decades to come, although we can't rest on laurels and relax here - we need to go forward, carefully observing and analyzing what is happening in this area in the world, to develop combat systems and arms systems of future generations, "Putin said.

He noted that the security that Russia's state-of-the-art weapons provide, in turn, "creates the basis for the progressive, peaceful development of Russia, allows to do a lot more to solve most pressing domestic issues and focus on the economic and social growth of all our regions in the interests of the people."




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News Items / NATO Chiefs of Defence assess current adaptation and future requirements
« Last post by Roger on January 16, 2020, 11:57:55 AM »
NATO Chiefs of Defence assess current adaptation and future requirements
NATO News

January 15, 2020


   On 14 and 15 January 2020, the NATO Chiefs of Defence gathered for the 182nd Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session (MCCS), their first meeting of 2020. The two-day discussions focused on NATO's Deterrence and Defence Posture, including the Deterrence and Defence Euro-Atlantic Area Concept, the Enablement of SACEUR's Area of Responsibility as well as NATO's Operations, Missions and Activities. The Chiefs of Defence held a special session with the NATO Partner Georgia.

After meeting with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the 29 Chiefs of Defence reviewed NATO's ongoing operational commitments, force generation and discussed potential future requirements. "Currently, there are approximately 20,000 NATO military personnel engaged in operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean, managing what are often complex ground, air and naval operations. I commend them for their bravery commitment to upholding NATO's role as peace and security provider" underlined Air Chief Marshal Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. The Chiefs of Defence then met, in dedicated sessions, with the Operational Partners from the Resolute Support Mission, the NATO Mission Iraq and the KFOR Mission.

In the afternoon, the Chiefs of Defence focused on the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. "These documents are derived from the NATO Military Strategy but are complimentary as the first one looks at the immediate to short-term and the second has a 20-year approach. They will allow our Alliance to prepare for a more unpredictable world and deal with the consequences of a changed security environment", added the Chairman.

On Wednesday 15 January, the Allied Chiefs of Defence turned their attention to NATO' southern flank with discussions on the Framework for the South and enhancing the cooperation with partner countries in the region and international organisations, including the European Union and the United Nations.

The next session was devoted the different elements related the Enablement of SACEUR's Area of Responsibility, including the Joint Forces Command Norfolk and the Joint Support and Enabling Command.

The Chiefs of Defence concluded their two-day meeting with a final session with Partner Georgia. They received an update on the current security situation, recent developments as well as a progress report on defence reforms. "Georgia is a valued NATO Partner, who is committed to NATO. And NATO is committed to Georgia. The work to refresh the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package will give both Allies and Georgia the chance to reflect recent initiatives and to prioritise these new initiatives for better effectiveness", concluded Air Chief Marshal Peach.

The Allied Chiefs of Defence will meet again at NATO HQ in May 2020.
5
For Your Information / The White Helmets: Terrorism masquerading as civil defence
« Last post by nestopwar on November 13, 2019, 09:14:36 AM »

The White Helmets: Terrorism masquerading as civil defence

Tue Nov 12, 2019 02:22PM [Updated: Tue Nov 12, 2019 02:33PM ]

White Helmets "volunteers" adopted the look and posture of terrorist groups

The suspicious death of the founder of the White Helmets in Syria is an appropriate time to re-examine the foundation and role of this intensely controversial organization.

James Le Mesurier died as he lived, in highly mysterious circumstances. The Independent is reporting he may have fallen from the balcony of his apartment in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, The Times is reporting that Le Mesurier is said to have fallen from the “roof or balcony” of his offices in the Karakoy district of Istanbul.

What is certain is that Le Mesurier did not die of natural causes: he was either murdered or he committed suicide.

Only four days ago Russia’s Foreign Ministry had asked the UK to provide transparency on the true role of Le Mesurier.

“This man [Le Mesurier] has been spotted in many conflicts worldwide, including the Balkans and the Middle East”, Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on November 08.

“He [Le Mesurier] is a former UK intelligence officer, specifically of MI6”, Zakharova added.

What the Russian Foreign Ministry said four days ago was hardly breaking news. Indeed, it has been an open secret for five years (since the foundation of the White Helmets) that Le Mesurier is a former MI6 officer with live connections to British intelligence.

For its part, the UK has never denied Le Mesurier’s alleged links to MI6. Britain only admits that Le Mesurier was a former army intelligence officer.

The British establishment clearly held Le Mesurier in high regard; indeed the Queen awarded him an OBE in June 2016 for “services to Syria Civil Defence and the protection of civilians in Syria”.

Syria Civil Defence is the official name of the White Helmets. The Queen’s recognition of Le Mesurier’s work makes one wonder what British intelligence, specifically MI6, hoped to achieve through the White Helmets in Syria.

One obvious answer is that the UK sought to intensify the conflict in Syria by helping establish a multi-purpose organization, which could act as a bridge between terrorist groups, and ostensibly, civil society actors engaged in “rescue” work.

Whatever the UK’s motivation, no one can deny that the White Helmets was a resounding success for four years, at least in propaganda terms.

They dominated a lot of the news coverage on Syria as they theatrically dashed from one contrived bombing scene to another, ostensibly (and conveniently) rescuing children and the elderly in the process.

Many of the videos purporting to show the White Helmets in action were extremely well-produced; too good, some would argue, to have been filmed in the panic and chaos of real battle scenarios.

The propaganda was sufficiently effective for the White Helmets to be made the subject of a Netflix documentary, which won an Oscar in early 2017. There is widespread speculation that the UK had lobbied hard for the awarding of that Oscar. 

By that point the White Helmets had been fully adopted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which had been funding them even before their official formation in 2014.

An FCO letter dated October 11, 2017, admitted that from June 2013 to March 2016, the UK had allocated £19.7 million to "Syria Civil Defence". The letter was issued in response to a Freedom of Information Request.

The FCO funding is channelled through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, an arm of the British government's official development assistance.   

The White Helmets clearly commanded the attention of the men occupying the higher reaches of the FCO, as demonstrated by the visit of the leader of the White Helmets, Raed al-Saleh, to Britain in early November 2018.

During his visit, Al-Saleh was courted by then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the former FCO Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt.

"Few people have to make the kind of moral choices that faced White Helmet Raed Al Saleh, who I was privileged to meet today", Hunt said effusively.

It is worth noting that this is the same Raed al-Saleh who was denied entry to the United States in April 2016, presumably, on national security grounds.

Britain is clearly determined to paint the White Helmets as whiter than white, even to their dying day. But there has been determined pushback against this self-serving British narrative.

As more and more neutral observers and experts pointed to the growing evidence of a connection between the White Helmets and local terrorist groups, the Western mainstream media had to take notice.

But instead of investigating the many valid allegations against the White Helmets, the mainstream media instead chose to demonise their critics.

The Guardian reported on December 18, 2017, that the White Helmets are “victims” of an “online propaganda machine” masterminded from Moscow.

But this thin line of defence collapsed in July 2018 after hundreds of White Helmets “volunteers” and their families were rescued by Israel from a war zone in south-western Syria.

The White Helmets personnel (and their families) were taken to Jordan, by the Israeli military, via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Israel Defence Forces – the military arm of the Zionist regime – claimed they were acting on a “request” from the US and the UK. 

Not surprisingly, the UK hailed the so-called rescue operation by the Zionist regime and pledged to help with the resettlement of the White Helmets “volunteers”.

The irony inherent in a fake rescue organisation having to be rescued for real by the Israeli army was not lost on anyone.

The Times newspaper captured the reality of the situation brilliantly with an exclusive report titled "the great escape of Syria's White Helmets", on July 29, 2018.

More broadly, the collapse of terrorist groups in Syria has inevitably led to the demise of the White Helmets. With the Syrian government now back in control of nearly all parts of Syria, the space for fake “rescue” work has dramatically diminished.

The mysterious death of alleged MI6 man, Le Mesurier, embodies the demise of the White Helmets. It is also a major setback for UK foreign policy.

Britain hoped to influence the outcome of the war in Syria, and by extension to establish a foothold in the country, through the White Helmets, but in the end it failed. 

 

Rupert Cansell, Investigative Journalist   
6
Newcastle Stop the War / Stop Turkey's mass murder of Kurds say protesters in London
« Last post by nestopwar on October 16, 2019, 01:08:10 PM »
Stop Turkey's mass murder of Kurds say protesters in London

Tens of thousands of protesters demanded an end to the barbaric attacks on the Kurdish people by the Turkish army, reports Shabbir Lakha

An estimated 20,000 people marched through central London on Sunday calling for an end to the Turkish invasion of Syria and the mass murder of Kurdish people.

The rain didn’t dampen the angry and defiant spirit of the protesters. Murad Quereshi from Stop the War, Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP and speakers from Unite, the RMT and the Kurdish community called on the government to end arms sales to the Turkish state.

Since Turkey began its military offensive in Syria a few days ago, dozens of civilians have been killed in indiscriminate airstrikes and brutal violence by ground troops entering northern Syria. On Saturday, Kurdish political leader Hevrin Khalaf was pulled out of her car by Turkish-backed militias and assassinated along with 8 other civilians.

The savage treatment of the Kurds has proven yet again that the West is not interested in human rights or freedom and will never be a progressive force for change. That’s why it would be wrong to once again argue that the West should intervene to protect the Kurds through a no fly zone or anything else.

Instead, as protesters in London today did, we need to be arguing for Britain and the US to stop arming Turkey, for the PKK to be removed from terrorist organisation lists and for a full withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria. We also need to counter Erdogan using Syrian refugees in Turkey as a bargaining chip by demanding that they are allowed into Europe.

Turkey is the second biggest military in NATO and has its backing for its attack on the Kurds. When Trump and Erdogan come to London for the NATO summit in December, we need a big mobilisation and opposing the attack on the Kurdish people must be a central feature.
7
For Your Information / Senior Twitter Executive Joined British Army Troll Brigade
« Last post by nestopwar on October 02, 2019, 01:58:23 PM »

   Senior Twitter Executive Joined British Army Troll Brigade
Moon of Alabama / Ian Cobain

Sept 30, 2019


   Ian Cobain has written about the long history of British involvement in torture. He is now investigating British involvement in media manipulation. Here is a significant find of his:

The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army's psychological warfare unit, Middle East Eye has established.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company's UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 in order to develop "non-lethal" ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to wage what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as "information warfare".

The 77th Brigade is a troll farm:

They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain's information wars. ... From office to office, I found a different part of the Brigade busy at work. One room was focussed on understanding audiences: the makeup, demographics and habits of the people they wanted to reach. Another was more analytical, focussing on creating "attitude and sentiment awareness" from large sets of social media data. Another was full of officers producing video and audio content. Elsewhere, teams of intelligence specialists were closely analysing how messages were being received and discussing how to make them more resonant.

The 77th Brigade's job is to produce dark propaganda in support of British (military) operations:

What do we know about 77th Brigade? Let me quote a written MoD parliamentary answer published in March 2015. The Brigade exists "to provide support, in conjunction with other Government agencies, to efforts to build stability overseas and to wider defence diplomacy and overseas engagement". That's a highly political rather than military remit. The parliamentary answer goes on to say the Brigade is "leading on Special Influence Methods, including providing information on activities, key leader engagement, operations security and media engagement". Note the phrase "special influence methods", which is straight out of Orwell's 1984. And notice the reference to "media engagement". Since when has the British Army had a legitimate role in trying to influence the media?

A really interesting and dangerous aspect of the 77th Brigade is its mixed military-civilian character:

Here we come to a truly insidious aspect of 77th Brigade. It has a complement of around 440 dedicated personnel, according to the parliamentary answer. Under the Army's new organisational doctrine, units combine both fulltime soldiers and territorial reservists. The 77th Brigade recruits its reservists from among UK journalists and professionals in advertising and public relations companies. We are not talking just computer and information technology specialists but media practitioners. The result is that the necessary boundaries between the military and the civilian media have been compromised. This represents a potential threat to democratic norms. That a Twitter executive with editorial responsibility also works for a British military propaganda unit makes clear that 'western' social media are only as neutral or free as the powers that be allow them to be.

The Twitter executive Gordon MacMillan is by now a Captain of the British Army Reserve and at times working in its dark propaganda unit. On September 20 Twitter deleted a large number of accounts, including in MacMillan's area of responsibility. How many of those were designated by the British state?

In December 2018 we wrote about another British government run media manipulation organization - the Integrity Initiative:

The British government financed Integrity Initiative is tasked with spreading anti-Russian propaganda and thereby with influencing the public, military and governments of a number of countries. What follows is an contextual analysis of the third batch of the Initiative's internal papers which were dumped by an anonymous yesterday.

Christopher Nigel Donnelly (CND) is the co-director of The Institute for Statecraft and founder of its offshoot Integrity Initiative. The Initiative claims to "Defend Democracy Against Disinformation".

The Integrity Initiative does this by planting disinformation about alleged Russian influence through journalists 'clusters' throughout Europe and the United States.

Both, the Institute as well as the Initiative, claim to be independent Non-Government Organizations. Both are financed by the British government, NATO and other state donors.

Among the documents lifted by some anonymous person from the servers of the Institute we find several papers about Donnelly as well as some memos written by him. They show a russophobe mind with a lack of realistic strategic thought.

Donnelly's co-director at the Institute for Statecraft is Daniel Lafayeed. One of the papers published by the anonymous account were his Speaking notes for meetings in Israel - June 2018 (pdf). They mention the 77th brigade:

Much of our work to improve the effectiveness of our armed forces for all forms of modern warfare is, of course, very sensitive as we feed it into the highest levels of MOD and the armed forces. What we seek to do is to help the Forces become more competent to fight modern war with all kinds of weapons, and to do so on the budget the state provides.

To that end we have supported the creation of special Army reserve units (e.g. 77 Bde and SGMI –Specialist Group Military Intelligence) with which we now have a close, informal relationship. These bring in, as reservists with a special status, individuals who are very senior civilian experts in some relevant area, such as Hedge Fund managers, senior bankers, Heads of PA companies, etc. I.e. people whom the Army could never afford to hire, but who donate their time and expertise as patriots.

With these colleagues, we run seminars and prepare studies to help the forces find new ways to fight today's war.

These papers describe our understanding of modern warfare; how we need to prepare for it, and; how the Russians will fight it beyond the stages of info war into classic kinetic warfare. I also include a concept paper looking at an alternative way to structure our navies for modern war at low cost. You might find this of particular interest.

The Integrity Initiate and the Institute for Statecraft took strong anti Corbyn positions. Some of Twitter executive MacMillon's tweets are also strongly anti Corbyn.

One should not think of the 77th Brigade as a one way street on which the state provides the messages that civilians help to spread. When hedge fund managers, senior bankers, heads of public relations companies are invited into its operations they will have a significant interest in getting their own messages spread and their own enemies defeated. The Twitter executive as a member of the propaganda brigade will also use it to spread his companies messages and wishes.

This is a marriage of the powers of large companies' and the government for manipulating the opinion of the public. It is dangerous.

Added: Kit Klarenberg just published his bits on the issue: Our Man on the Inside: Senior Twitter Executive Exposed as British Army Information Warrior
8
Now is not the time to defend Britain's democracy – we need a democratic revolution
Laurie Macfarlane, openDemocracy

28 August 2019


   The ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date. Only a radical shake-up can resolve the crisis.

"Defend democracy – resist the parliament shutdown". This is the rallying call of protestors gathering today to oppose Boris Johnson's proroguing of parliament.

To be clear: I think the protests are well intentioned. Boris Johnson's cynical attempt to force through a no deal Brexit is reckless and should be opposed, including on the streets if necessary.

But there is something unsettling about taking to the streets to "defend" our democracy, when it is precisely our broken democratic structures that are to blame for the mess we are in.

Of course Boris Johnson's actions are undemocratic, but so is our entire system. As my colleague Adam Ramsay has argued at length, the ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date.

Our unelected House of Lords contains the only hereditary legislators in the world, and the only automatic seats for clerics outside Iran. We have a head of state that is appointed not on the basis of merit, but by bloodline. We have an "uncodified" constitution, which is to say that we don't really have one. We have an electoral system which encourages millions to believe that voting can never make a difference. And we have an absurd concentration of power which ensures that citizens in most parts of the country have no say over the decisions that affect them.

Combined with an economic model that has left many on the wrong side of our finance-led economy, is it really any wonder that people jumped at the chance to "take back control"?

Painful as it has been, the Brexit vote provided a much needed wake up call. But while the EU is far from perfect, the real source of our problems can be found much closer to home.

So despite the good intentions, now is not the time to be defending Britain's broken democracy. Instead, we should be demanding a democratic revolution.

Abolish the House of Lords? Why not. Establish a written constitution like most normal countries? A no-brainer. Decentralise power across the nations and regions? It would be crazy not to. Allow referendums on self-determination for any nation that wants one? That's democracy.

With Queen Elizabeth nearing the end of her reign, it is also right that we have a national debate about the future of the Monarchy.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Boris Johnson – a man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph – has successfully positioned himself as a "man of the people" whose noble attempts to uphold democracy are being thwarted by an out of touch elite. In this context, taking to the streets with a message of defending the status quo is potentially fatal. It is precisely what Johnson and his band of disaster capitalists want.

The only way to defeat them is to seize the agenda by offering a radical shake-up of Britain's democratic structures. Together with a bold economic programme that makes a decisive break with neoliberalism, there is an opportunity to change the terms of the debate on what it means to "take back control".

Britain's constitutional crisis has been a long time coming. It's not pretty, and it might not be on the terms of our choosing. But we can't afford to let the crisis go to waste.



9
Significance of the Non-Aggression Pact Signed by the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany
Workers' Daily News
http://www.johnbucklecentre.org.uk/opensite/wdnews/news.php?xnewsaction=fullnews&newsarch=092019&newsid=1
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and on September 3, Britain declared war on Germany. This began the period known in Britain as the "phoney war", since Britain, under Neville Chamberlain, along with other Western powers, had refused the appeals of the Soviet Union for Collective Security, and now were loath to commit forces to fight Germany, hoping that Hitler would turn East and attack the Soviet Union.

But on August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union had signed what is now known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact with Germany. The agreement stipulated that Germany would not attack the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union would not attack Germany. Future events proved the farsightedness of Stalin in signing the pact which was the best of all available alternatives. It provided the Soviet Union with 22 months of peace so as to prepare herself to withstand the inevitable German invasion which Hitler had foreshadowed in his 1925 book, Mein Kampf, when he openly declared that Germany needed to "turn our gaze to the lands in the east". The pact also put an end to the Anglo-American and French policy of egging Hitler toward the East so that an isolated Soviet Union would end up facing massive German forces.

The Nazis did eventually invade the Soviet Union as expected but not until June 22, 1941. It was the largest German military operation of the war. The heroic and protracted Soviet resistance against the Nazi hordes for almost two years culminated in the great Soviet victory at Stalingrad on February 2, 1943, that concluded with the encirclement and surrender of a German army of 300,000 troops. That was the turning point of the entire war. Stalingrad was followed by another decisive Soviet victory in a tank battle at Kursk. These triumphs began a powerful counteroffensive that drove the German Hitlerites steadily backward until the final demise of the Third Reich in Berlin. On May 9, 1945, the anti-fascist allied forces of the world, with the Soviet Union and communists of all lands at the head of the Resistance Movement, declared victory over the Hitlerite Nazis. Fascist Germany acknowledged defeat and declared unconditional surrender.

Completely ignoring these undisputed facts, the reactionaries of today use the anniversary of the non-aggression pact to promote self-serving disinformation which presents Russia as their enemy and seeks to invite the peoples of what are called the Western democracies to once again engage in a campaign to isolate Russia, as well as China. They present themselves as the architects of the great victory of the world's people over Nazi Germany. Again and again, they slander the great deeds of the Soviet Union by making the same claims that Goebbels made in 1939. One of the main ways this is done is by ignoring what the British and French, supported by the US industrialists, did at Munich and instead declaring: "On August 25, 1939 the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which led to the Second World War, the killing of millions of people and the Holocaust." This big lie that blames the Soviet Union for the war is aimed at concealing the real facts, which are that the two main factors leading to the world war were the huge US investments in the German economy, beginning with the 1924 U.S. Dawes Plan, which financed the rebuilding of their industries, especially their war industries, and the policy of appeasement of Germany by renouncing collective security that was consummated in Munich on September 29, 1938.

The big lies about the so-called Soviet-German alliance began in January 1948 with the US publication of material from the diaries of Hitlerite officials, in collaboration with the British and French foreign offices, which left out any mention of what happened in Munich! This began a fresh wave of slander and lies in connection with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact. The German documents were all written from the standpoint of the Hitler government without the documents seized by the Soviets or the Soviet documents. They were published as a deliberate Cold War campaign against the Soviet Union on the part of the Anglo-American imperialists. The Soviet Information Bureau immediately published a very important document titled "Falsificators of History" to refute them.[1]

One specific falsification is the suggestion that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not a non-aggression pact but a "military alliance". This deliberately tries to convey the lie that the pact included an agreement that under certain conditions the communist Soviet Union and the anti-communist Nazi Germany could take joint military action against some third country. But the pact contained no such agreement. As previously stated, the agreement was only that the two countries would not attack each other. Even hard-core reactionaries are now forced to admit that "the Soviet Union eventually played a major role in helping defeat the Nazis". Nonetheless, they still allege that prior to joining the war on the Allied side, Stalin was "helping Hitler". This is said to divert attention from the fact that the British and French were "helping Hitler" when they signed such pacts a year earlier and refused to sign a collective security pact with the Soviet Union. It is also significant that these same official circles never once mention how US corporations, such as General Motors, Ford, and Standard Oil, supplied the Nazi war machine with essential materials that enabled their invasion of Europe.

As for the lie that Stalin's signing of the non-aggression pact with Germany was the cause of the Second World War, it should be noted that Britain and France had already issued a joint declaration of non-aggression with Germany in 1938, not to mention signed a "Pact of Accord and Co-operation" in 1933 when Hitler came to power. Poland signed a non-aggression pact with the Nazis in 1934, five years before the Soviet Union did. Of all the non-aggressive Great Powers in Europe, the Soviet Union was forced into a pact with the Germans as a result of the rejection of collective security by Britain and France.

"The history of events in 1938, both before and after Hitler's occupation of Austria in March show that the Soviet Union, as it had done in earlier years, made many efforts to persuade Britain and France to maintain collective mutual assistance and in particular to carry out their undertaking to defend Czechoslovakia against aggression.... The Soviet Union was not only willing to join forces with France to defend Czechoslovakia, if France would keep her word, but was prepared to defend Czechoslovakia on her own, even if France refused."[2]

All the efforts by the Soviet Union to build collective security failed. The British and French refused to sign any collective mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union. Instead, they signed the September 29, 1938, Munich Pact with Germany and Italy which permitted Germany to incorporate the Sudeten, ordered the Czechs not to resist Nazi aggression, and gave the Nazis the green light to launch their attacks across Europe. Of course, the reactionaries never want to discuss the Munich Pact because it was such a blatant betrayal of the world's people that even Winston Churchill accused British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the British Parliament: "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war."

It is indisputable that faced with the British and French betrayal, the Soviet Union had no choice but to take whatever measures it could to defend itself and the cause of peace.

Just to give one example of the policy of appeasement of Hitler, Memo #8604, which was sent to Moscow by Russian intelligence from Prague several days before the signing of the Munich Agreement, reads: "On September 19, British Ambassador Newton and French Ambassador De Lacroix conveyed to Milan Hodza (Czechoslovak prime minister in 1935-1938) the following on behalf of Chamberlain and Daladier, respectfully: 'Guided by the lofty principles of preserving peace in Europe, they consider it necessary for Germany to incorporate the Sudeten region. A system of mutual aid pacts with other countries should be cancelled.'"[3] They claimed that this betrayal of the Czech people which led to German occupation was "guided by the lofty principles of peace." Yet, within a year of marching into Czechoslovakia, Germany had invaded Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Britain.

Another oft-repeated lie is that in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agreed to "divide Poland", again falsely implying that the pact included a commitment to joint military action against a third country. While it is true that the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, committing one of the worst war crimes the world has ever seen by killing about 6 million people including most of the Polish intelligentsia and sending its workers who were not killed into slave labour camps, the role of the Soviet Union was entirely different. The Soviet Army marched into the territory of Poland on September 17 after the Polish state had collapsed, the Polish army had disintegrated, the government had ceased to function and its aristocratic leaders had fled. Further, also to protect itself and the people of these countries the Soviet Union marched into the territories of the Ukraine and Byelorussia that Poland had forcibly annexed from the Soviet Union during the Polish-Russian War of 1919-20, when Poland was one of the 14 invading imperialist countries that attempted but failed to strangle the newborn Soviet socialist republic. Only about eight per cent of the people in the Ukraine and Byelorussia were of Polish origin.

What was the result of the Soviet Army marching into Poland?

"As a result of the Soviet Union's timely entry into what had been territories of the Polish state, Hitler was forced to accept a line of demarcation between his troops and the Red Army, a long way west of the then Polish-Russian frontier."[4] The Red Army saved millions of people inhabiting the Ukraine and Byelorussia from the fate which Hitler reserved for the Polish people. Even Winston Churchill publicly justified the Soviet march into eastern Poland as necessary not only for the safety of the people of Poland and the Soviet Union but also of the people of the Baltic states and Ukraine.

On October 1, 1939, Churchill said in a public radio broadcast: "That the Russian armies should stand on this line (Curzon) was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any rate, the line is there, and an Eastern Front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr von Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic states and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop."

The nefarious actions of the Anglo-Americans and the French behind the back of the Soviet Union destroyed the existing elements of the collective resistance system against Nazi Germany. It was the Munich Pact signed by Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy which was the final cowardly act that triggered the Second World War, the killing of millions of people, and the European Holocaust. The judgment of history points to the truth about the Anglo-American and French betrayal of the world's people and to the truth about the heroic role of the Soviet Union and J V Stalin in defeating the Nazis. No falsifiers of history can change those facts.

"In the end, the resistance of the Soviet peoples led by Stalin and the Communist Party broke the back of the Nazi aggressors. Some 50 million people died and another 35 million were seriously wounded during the Anti-Fascist War, with the peoples of the Soviet Union bearing the brunt of the casualties."[5]

Notes
1. Soviet Information Bureau, Falsificators of History (Moscow,1948).

2. Stalin "planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed to the pact": Stalin was "prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler's aggression just before the Second World War," Nick Holdsworth, Telegraph,October18,2008.

3. Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Declassifies Munich Agreement Papers, Valery Harmolenko, RIA Novosti, September29, 2008.

4. Bains, Hardial, Causes and Lessons of the Second World War(Toronto: MELS, 1990).

5. "The overthrow of the imperialist system is the only guarantee for peace," The Marxist-Leninist Daily, May 11, 2010.

Article 14 - 100th Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles: Self-Serving Inter-Imperialist Treaty for Redivision of the World.
10
For Your Information / Coverage of Hong Kong protests shrouded in hypocrisy
« Last post by nestopwar on August 21, 2019, 08:52:00 AM »
   Coverage of Hong Kong protests shrouded in hypocrisy
George Galloway RT reported in Canadian Dimension

August 15, 2019


   Where to start? For nearly 40 weeks hundreds of thousands of French people have been on the streets in anti-government demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron's rule.

Some have lost eyes and hands in the police response. The public has begun to view the smell of tear gas as a normal part of a weekend in Paris. France is 29 miles from the coast of England. Siri just told me that "Hong Kong is about 5,992 miles from London as the crow flies."

So complete has been the British media blackout on the Yellow Vests that many believe, wrongly, that there is some British government order banning on any mention of "les événements en France." The truth is that there is no need for one.

Like a homing pigeon in reverse the entire UK media has flown like a bat out of hell away from France all the way to Hong Kong (as they had earlier flown to Caracas until the big protests turned into the wrong kind of protests).

There is nothing, except the shoe-sizes, of the demonstrators in Hong Kong that I don't know thanks to the veritable blizzard of in-depth analysis of the protestors there and their each and every demand. Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can be executed, but we will never be told their names.

And the hypocrisy of the media is just for starters.

If a group of British protesters broke into the British Parliament and hung, for argument's sake, a Russian flag over the Speaker's chair it is "highly likely" that a commando force would quickly and violently overwhelm and arrest them accompanied by volleys of accusations about Russian interference.

If a crowd of British protestors occupied Heathrow Airport in such numbers and so disruptively that British Airways had to stop flights in and out of the airport, causing massive financial loss, dislocation, and personal inconvenience, I promise you that their protest would have been cleared out by the above mentioned commandos on the very first day of their protests.

If protesters in London were hoisting Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem then, well, I'm sure you get my point.

The struggle between the government of China and its citizens is no more the business of the British than it is of the Slovakians. It's true that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years but the least said about the shame and disgrace of how that came to be, the better, I promise you.

Suffice to say that to acquire territory by force, followed by unequal treaty at gunboat-point to punish the actual owners of the land for resisting the British opium trade, is, even by British Imperial standards, extraordinary. So shameful is it you'd think the British would want to draw a veil over it. But not so.

The British tell us that Hong Kong want democracy but nobody ever says that across a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong the people there were allowed no democracy of any kind.

They tell us about the justice system without ever mentioning that even today the ‘draconian' courts of Hong Kong are still stuffed by white English judges.

They tell us about NGOs and "civil society" without telling us whose pounds and dollars the "NGOs" are stuffed with.

In fact, these foreign-funded and guided organisations are carefully stabled Trojan Horses chomping their British and American supplied hay until the time came for them to be told to gallop, and gallop they now are.

This is all plain hypocrisy! No other country in the world would have shown such forbearance in the face of foreign-sponsored rioting destruction and sabotage of the national economy as China has. If in the days to come China's patience runs out, it will not be before time so far as the great majority of Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong citizens, are concerned.

China signed up to the one country, two systems in the territory. It did not agree to two countries, two systems. Not one inch of Hong Kong belongs to anyone but China. The days when foreign countries could impose their will on China are long gone.

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.

This article originally appeared on RT.com.
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