Study finds alarming decline in biodiversity worldwide By Philip Guelpa – (WSWS)

A recently released United Nations-supported study presents a grim picture of the accelerating decline in biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal species) across the globe and its dire implications for the not-too-distant future of life on Earth, including humans.

Flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina due to uncontrolled development in wetlands

The study, composed of multiple reports by over 550 researchers, was conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It contends that the increasingly rapid loss of plant and animal species due to habitat degradation, invasive species, and pollution is happening in tandem with climate change. Together, these processes, if not halted, will soon have catastrophic environmental consequences, amounting to a sixth mass global extinction, which will threaten the very survival of humanity.

Biological ecosystems are a complex, dialectical interaction of plant, animal, and microbial life forms with each other and their physical environment, evolving over millennia. These systems are not static. They change over time due to the dynamic of unity and conflict of opposites of their myriad biological and physical constituents. In general, the greater the species diversity (number of different species) within an ecosystem, the more stable it is, barring external perturbations (e.g., the impact that caused the mass extinction, including dinosaurs, about 66 million years ago) and the more slowly change takes place.

By contrast, the lower the species diversity, the greater is the tendency toward instability and the more vulnerable an ecosystem is to catastrophic collapse. High diversity will generally buffer the degree to which changes in any particular constituent of the system will affect the system as a whole. The role of one species, known as its ecological niche, may gradually be filled by one or more other species, leading to gradual change.

With lower diversity, however, ecosystems tend to be more fragile. The loss of any one species will likely have a much greater impact on the system as a whole, creating instability and possible catastrophic collapse. It is less likely that another species will evolve or adapt with sufficient rapidity to fill the “gap” in the system, potentially resulting in a cascading series of disruptions. If the trends documented in the IPBES reports continue, the world’s biological systems are likely to go into this kind of severe crisis within the next few decades.

Humans have had a significant impact on natural ecosystems, especially since the Industrial Revolution. However, in no way are we “decoupled” from the natural environment. Such systems remain a vital part of our survival—affecting weather and climate, food resources, potable water and breathable air.

The authors of the IPBES study provide a range of examples to illustrate both the variety and rapidity of species loss and environmental degradation, which are occurring across the globe.

Among the direct and substantial impacts of species decline and extinction, the study found that exploitable fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region are on track to be exhausted by 2048. This will result in severe economic losses as well as dietary privation for millions.

Habitat destruction by forest clearing in Mexico

In Africa, where more than 60 percent of the human population depends directly on natural resources, the study projects that half of some bird and mammal species could be lost by 2100. Of the continent’s historically recorded species, more than 20 percent are threatened, endangered, or already extinct. The recent effective extinction of the northern white rhinoceros, which received much media attention, is just one iconic example.

In Europe, 42 percent of land species have suffered notable declines during the past decade alone. Half of existing wetlands have been lost since 1970.

The destruction of wetlands and their associated plant and animal communities around the world, both inland and along coastlines, results in accelerated erosion, pollution, and loss of protection against flooding, as seen, for example, during last year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Over the last 500 years, since Europeans began colonizing the Americas, 30 percent of the hemisphere’s biodiversity has been lost. The study projects that over the next decade, if present trends continue, that figure will rise to 40 percent, indicating its rapid acceleration. Nearly one quarter of the existing species that were studied are threatened.

Trees are key to the production of atmospheric oxygen, essential for the survival of humans and other animals. However, since 1990, over 130 million hectares of rainforest have been lost. In northeastern Brazil, part of the Amazon rainforest, which is often referred to as the “Lungs of the Earth,” between 2003 and 2013 alone, the area under cultivation more than doubled to 2.5 million hectares.

The reports’ authors highlight the combined effects of direct human-caused landscape modification and of climate change on the decline in biodiversity. By 2050, climate change may equal or surpass landscape modification as the primary cause of species decline. In either case, the planet is well on its way to becoming a biological wasteland. These findings are not new, only confirming and re-emphasizing the critical urgency of the situation. Previous studies have painted a similar picture (see: “Scientists warn of ‘biological annihilation’ as Earth’s mass extinction accelerates”).

While the IPBES study documents the growing danger posed by the rapid and accelerating global decline in biodiversity, it presents only general notions as to what might be done to halt the process and avert catastrophe, without any mechanisms for implementation aside from the good will of business and political leaders. As with other such studies, the researchers can only lament the complete inadequacy of response to their dire warnings so far. Robert Watson, the chair of the IPBES, stated, “The time for action was yesterday or the day before. Governments recognize we have a problem. Now we need action, but unfortunately the action we have now is not at the level we need.”

Mass extinctions have happened five times previously during the existence of life on earth (see:  “The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert”). In each of those instances the causes were natural. The currently developing sixth mass extinction differs in that it is directly related to human activity. However, contrary to statements in the report and in numerous other pronouncements in the media and elsewhere, the cause is not human moral failure, overpopulation, or the need to eat less red meat.

The poor farmer in Brazil who is forced to clear more land in order to eke out an existence, the factory worker in China or the US whose plant spews out toxic chemicals, etc., are not responsible for the resulting environmental degradation.

The responsibility lies with the anarchic and profit-driven capitalist system that disdainfully ignores the consequences of its actions and prevents the development and implementation of rational, scientifically based solutions to the problems of climate change and environmental degradation. As the world capitalist crisis deepens and inter-imperialist rivalries intensify, environmental concerns will increasingly be swept aside, as is already the case under the Trump administration in the US.

If, on the other hand, the vast resources now horded by the world’s elites or squandered in wars were instead used to eradicate poverty, end pollution, develop and expand clean energy, and generally organize society for the benefit of the many rather than the few, the developing crisis could be halted and reversed. That can only happen under the democratic control of the working class implementing the socialist reorganization of society.

The author also recommends:

Climate change and the struggle against capitalism
[14 July 2017]

 

The author also recommends:

Climate change and the struggle against capitalism
[14 July 2017]

US will face ‘regret like never before’ if it pulls out of Iran nuclear deal – Rouhani – By RT

US will face 'regret like never before' if it pulls out of Iran nuclear deal – Rouhani
The US will be faced with regret if it decides to pull out of the nuclear deal agreed with Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned, adding that his government has “plans to resist” the move.

“If the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday, as quoted by Reuters.

Rouhani went on to state that Tehran has “plans to resist any decision by Trump on the nuclear accord,” and that “orders have been issued to our atomic energy organization… and to the economic sector to confront America’s plots against our country.

“America is making a mistake if it leaves the nuclear accord.”

His remarks come in the lead-up to May 12, a deadline by which US President Donald Trump says America’s European allies must rectify “flaws” in the nuclear agreement. If that isn’t done to Trump’s satisfaction, he says he will refuse to extend US sanctions relief for Iran.

The European allies – Britain, France, and Germany – are committed to sticking to the deal which was signed in 2015, with a recent statement from Downing Street saying they agree it is “the best way of neutralizing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.” 

However, in an effort to keep Washington involved, the three nations are seeking to open talks on Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 – when the key provisions of the deal expire – and its role in Middle East crises including Syria and Yemen.

That notion was slammed by Rouhani on Sunday. “We will not negotiate with anyone about our weapons and defenses, and we will make and store as many weapons, facilities and missiles as we need,” he said, stressing the rejection by Iranian leaders to hold talks on Iran’s missile program, which it claims is purely for defensive purposes.

Just a few hours earlier, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani implied that the president would be nixing Washington’s commitment to the agreement. Trump has called the accord, which was signed under the Obama administration, the “worst deal ever negotiated.”

Trump has also said that he has the power to cancel US participation in the agreement “at any time,” and refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October, despite confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Tehran was in compliance with the deal.

Meanwhile, in a controversial television slideshow at the end of last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Iran lied about its nuclear program, which makes the 2015 deal invalid. While the US says the slideshow proves that Iran had a “robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program,” the presentation was slammed by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as a “coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelation by the boy who cries wolf.”

Analysts told RT that the timing of the seemingly well-rehearsed presentation was indeed crucial. Dr. Maged Botros, the head of the political science department at Helwan University in Egypt, said that Netanyahu’s presentation was “a setup for Trump,” suggesting it could be a solution for the US president to tear up the deal. 

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Press review: What’s the next US game plan for Syria and IS terrorists changing tactics – By TASS

April 27, 13:00 UTC+3

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, April 27

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© EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI

 

Kommersant: US and allies looking for new ways of resolving Syrian conflict

Russia, Turkey and Iran are getting ready for new talks on Syria in Astana scheduled to be held for May 14. As part of these preparations, Moscow will host a meeting of the three countries’ top diplomats on April 28.

Meanwhile, Washington and its European allies are discussing alternative plans for settling the Syrian crisis. The issue topped the agenda during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the United States, where Paris and Washington agreed to push ahead with efforts to counter-balance Iran’s and Russia’s role in resolving the Syrian conflict.

Experts interviewed by the paper did not rule out that some Arab countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (in contrast to Egypt), could take part in the Syrian operation provided that the Americans and their European allies remain there.

 

According to Grigory Kosach, Professor of the Modern East Department of History, Political Science and Law at the Russian State University for the Humanities, attempts are being made to “float trial balloons, mulling various options and difference alliance.” Anyway, an unpleasant trend for Russia is obvious, the expert noted. “Our relations with Saudi Arabia, which have barely emerged, may collapse, the alliance with Turkey on Syria, fragile as it is, will be jeopardized. We can remain alone with Iran,” Kosach stressed.

Kirill Semyonov, an expert with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), told the paper that the issue at hand is setting up “an alternative Syrian project” in the north of that country where the funds allocated by the Gulf states will be used, while there is shortage of money to rebuild the country in other parts of Syria. “This is a matter of concern for Moscow, Tehran and Damascus,” he stressed.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Islamic State changing tactics, notes expert

Spokesman for the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia), Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, has addressed supporters on behalf of the group’s leaders.

The message contained the traditional threats against all those who do not support or are opposed to IS. Along with recognizing the challenges the organization is facing, it described the Washington-declared victory over the Islamic State as illusory, Nikolay Plotnikov, Head of the Center for Scientific and Analytical Information at the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Oriental Studies, wrote in his article published by Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The Islamic State’s chief propagandist in particular called on the citizens of Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq to refrain from going to the polling stations, adding that the group’s supporters should derail the election process.

Last Sunday’s suicide bombings in Kabul and in the city of Pul-e Khomri (in northern Afghanistan) demonstrated that these are not just idle threats, the expert pointed out.

He stressed that IS terrorists stepped up their activities both in Iraq, especially in the provinces bordering Syria, and in Syria itself.

“There are IS militants in Syria’s areas controlled by official Damascus and in those areas where the Syrian government’s control has not yet been restored. While Syrian state forces backed by Russia and Iran continue to consistently and methodically eliminate the remaining IS enclaves, the situation in the areas controlled by US troops is different,” Plotnikov writes.

IS units continue to operate in a vast area in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the US military. There are about 2,000 US troops there.

The expert is certain that fighting Islamic State is just a pretext for grabbing control over Syrian oil. “That means that all statements made by [US President Donald Trump] about the speedy withdrawal from Eastern Syria will remain nothing but words. Besides, the US president can hardly resist the persistent requests from the European Union, specifically, French President Emmanuel Macron, who would like the US to remain in Syria even after the war against the Islamic State is over in order to create ‘a new Syria’, together with its allies,” he stressed.

 

RBC: Armenian protests aim to fight corruption and poor governance, opposition leader asserts

The Armenian parliament is expected to endorse the country’s new prime minister on May 1. The move comes amid mass protests that have swept the country. The opposition insists that leader of the Yelq faction MP Nikol Pashinyan be elected to the post.

Pashinyan stated in an interview with RBC that the most important thing for the Armenian opposition is honest and legitimate elections. “We will guarantee such elections, regardless of whether we win or lose,” he said.

According to the protest leader, the events that occurred in Armenia over the past two weeks have changed a lot in people’s thinking. “Just a month ago, many in Armenia thought they cannot decide anything at all. Now I am sure that people understand the situation and their role in the country’s future, and that changes a lot. These changes are another factor that guarantees free elections.”

Referring to his recent meeting with the Russian ambassador, Pashinyan noted that among the issues discussed at it was “how Russia can contribute to efforts to resolve this situation.”

“This [protest] movement has no geopolitical context whatsoever,” he emphasized. “This is not a movement against Russia or the United States or the European Union or against Iran or against Georgia. This is a movement against corruption, against inefficient governance, and this is a purely internal Armenian movement. I am glad that Russian officials say they have no intention of meddling in Armenia’s internal processes, the more so since there is no geopolitical context here and no anti-Russian sentiment at all.”

 

Izvestia: Victory Day marches to be held in Ukraine despite extremists’ provocations

The Immortal Regiment processions to memorialize those who fought in the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945 will be held on May 9 in many Ukrainian cities. The events to mark Victory Day are expected to bring together at least one million people this year, the organizers informed Izvestia.

“The Immortal Regiment marches are expected to be held in many Ukrainian cities. In addition to Kiev, that’s Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk), Nikolayev and Zaporozhye. Some events will be held in Lvov. Over 600,000 people took part in such processions last year, while this year we expect at least one million people to join them. Not a single event held by the authorities brought together such a large number of participants,” the Immortal Regiment organizers said.

The organizers added that they are ready for any incitement by extremists who, just like in previous years, are gearing up for counteractions with the connivance of the Ukrainian authorities. Searches were earlier conducted at the apartments of the movement’s activists and volunteers in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. In light of that, the march organizers decided to seek support from human rights activists and politicians.

“Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko (2011-2014) said he was willing to help. Televised round-table panels attended by lawyers and activists are planned as well. They will tell people how to behave with law enforcement officers, what they need to know if they are apprehended and what kind of provocations can be expected on May 9,” the movement’s coordinators said.

Difficulties surrounding Victory Day celebrations stem from Kiev’s new policy aimed at glorifying Nazi henchmen, demolishing and vandalizing Soviet-era monuments and other steps aimed at rewriting history.

 

Vedomosti: Russia’s middle class returns to cautious pre-crisis optimism

The sentiment of the urban middle class in Russia improved during the first quarter of 2018 almost reaching the pre-crisis level of mid-2014, Vedomosti writes citing data provided by Sberbank, Russia’s biggest banking and financial conglomerate.

According to Sberbank’s consumer confidence index, the so-called well-being index, that is, the difference between those who believe their incomes have dropped and those sharing opposite views, rose from -18% in the first quarter of 2017 to -12% in early 2018 (compared to -6% in 2014).

A total of 2,300 people in 164 Russian cities with a population of more than 100,000 people were interviewed for this survey.

Just like a year ago, the middle class considers corruption and unemployment the biggest challenges to the country’s economy (the share of unemployed people within this group dropped by 1 percentage point to 9.9%).

The economy has stabilized, there are no more drops in incomes for a sizeable part of the population. All that led to a rise in consumer optimism and confidence in prospects for the future, the paper quotes Natalia Akindinova, Director of the Center of Development at the Higher School of Economics, as saying. However, the sanctions and exchange rate fluctuations can have an adverse effect on the middle class’ consumer expectations, in particular, its willingness to invest in real estate, expensive cars and the desire to travel, she noted. However, if the West does not impose new restrictive measures and Russia does not come up with tit-for-tat steps, which always affect consumers’ welfare, the economic situation is unlikely to deteriorate, and people’s sentiment will hardly change, the expert added.

 

More:
http://tass.com/pressreview/1002052

The Impact of America’s Wars on Freedoms and Democracy at Home – by Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during a visit to the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

While America has gone a century and a half without being “war-torn” in the conventional sense, the damage of war is not limited to that inflicted by guns and bombs.

MINNEAPOLIS – Despite concern that the United States will soon find itself in a major war that could have global consequences, many Americans are uninterested in that eventuality as shown by the minimal attention major geopolitical events, like the recent bombing of Syria or the 17-year-long occupation of Afghanistan, receive compared to the President’s alleged sexcapades and rapper Kanye West’s tweets. Though many theories have been put forth as to why so many Americans are uninterested in their government’s military actions abroad that are committed in their name and with their tax dollars, there is one that stands out from the rest.

The United States has been at war for 93 percent of its history. However, a vast majority of those wars took place abroad and did not drastically alter domestic life for most Americans, except in the case of the Civil War. The suffering of wars in which the U.S. has participated has largely eluded the majority of Americans, save for American servicemen and veterans — who are often forced to internalize their suffering in a country disconnected from the consequences of war.

Compare, for instance, the suffering unleashed upon the people of Korea during the Korean War, the people of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the people of Iraq during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq to the domestic experience of the average American while those wars were taking place. Even the “just” wars of years past, like World War I and World War II, did not cause the type of destruction that those wars wrought upon Europe. In fact, the U.S. government – beyond the loss of life of its soldiers – benefited greatly from these catastrophes and allowed the country to become a world power.

As a result, there is a prevailing, though likely unconscious, perception that U.S. military adventurism abroad, no matter how brutal or criminal, does not significantly impact the day-to-day activities of American life, allowing a substantial portion of the population to ignore the more sordid consequences of U.S. imperial ambition.

Yet, while America has gone a century and a half without being “war-torn” in the conventional sense, the damage of war is not limited to that inflicted by guns and bombs. With yet another war looming, it is worth revisiting the effects past wars have had on American domestic life as well as the dangerous precedents that past actions of the U.S. government taken during war-time have set. Indeed, were the U.S. to get involved in a major war with a country like Russia or Iran, many of the past actions taken by the government, particularly those aimed at curbing dissent, are highly likely to make a comeback to the great detriment of American domestic life and, most of all, American democracy.

 

The Espionage and Sedition Acts: Protecting Americans from themselves

Reaching back a century ago, the memory of World War I is faint. “The Great War,” as it was called at the time, killed millions and arguably changed the face of war forever. While the war did not take place on U.S. soil, it too brought great change to America, with Orwellian consequences that still persist today.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson decided that the country needed to be protected from “the insidious methods of internal hostile activities,” and went to great lengths to restrict freedom of speech and criminalize dissent. One of the results of Wilson’s efforts was the Espionage Act of 1917. Though it was similar to past laws dealing with espionage, the Espionage Act was unique in the sense that it deemed anyone a criminal who published information during times of war that the president declared to be “of such character that it is or might be useful to the enemy” or may “attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of duty [draft dodging].” The act passed with a wide majority in both houses of Congress. For those found guilty, the legislation imposed a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

Another piece of legislation passed a year later went even further in curbing domestic dissent by limiting speech. The Sedition Act, an amendment that extended the Espionage Act, officially forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” that cast the U.S. government, its armed forces, or even the national flag in a negative light or led others to view the U.S. government and its institutions with contempt during times of war — regardless of whether the information expressed was true. It also prohibited speech that interfered with the sale of government bonds designed to fund the war effort.

Though it was repealed in 1920, the Sedition Act ultimately paved the way for similar legislation that would regulate speech during peacetime in the years to come. The acts were also used to entirely dismantle the progressive left in the United States. For instance, Victor Berger, the first socialist elected to Congress, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “hindering” the war effort, and legendary socialist leader Eugene Debs received 10 years in prison for making a single anti-war speech.

Today, a revised version of the Espionage Act of 1917 continues to be used by the U.S. government to prosecute whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, among others, as well as journalists and publishers like Julian Assange.

However, it is worth remembering that, in times of war, the Espionage Act becomes a much more powerful curb on speech and, given that the U.S. uses the law to target whistleblowers in times of peace, the war powers it bestows on the government are sure to be used if and when the U.S. enters into another major war.

 

The chill of civilian spy networks

In addition to legislative efforts and the use of media to manipulate opinion and squash dissent, American citizens were also encouraged to spy on their countrymen, leading to the formation of citizen vigilante groups likes the Knights of Liberty, the American Defense Society and the National Security League, among others.

A 1917 Chicago Tribune article on the The America Protective League.

The most powerful of these groups was the American Protective League (APL), a semi-official organization that worked with the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation and boasted around 250,000 members in some 600 cities across the U.S. Though ostensibly tasked with identifying war saboteurs, draft dodgers and foreign spies, the APL’s members surveilled, harassed, intimidated and “arrested” Americans whose loyalty to the war effort was called into question.

Declining to buy Liberty Bonds, being an immigrant of “questionable” origin, and even having food stores in your home were enough to raise the suspicion of the APL. They raided factories, union halls and private homes with impunity, seeking out any American who opposed the war effort as well as targeting innocent Americans of German descent, whom they tarred and feathered and attacked with horsewhips in full public view. They also worked to suppress American labor unions, calling unions and socialists “pro-German” and “anti-American” and working with the U.S. government to conduct mass raids on the socialist labor union International Workers of the World (IWW).

Despite the clearly illegal tactics of the APL, it had the support of then-Attorney General Thomas Gregory, who assured a skeptical President Wilson that the APL “should be encouraged and…not subject to any real criticism.” During the course of the war, the APL detained some 40,000 people and claimed to have found more than 3 million cases of “disloyalty.”

Though the APL and organizations like it have become relics of wars past, civilian vigilante groups that collaborate with the government have attempted to make a comeback in post 9/11 America. For instance, under the George W. Bush administration, the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), was created and sought to create a domestic intelligence-gathering program that would have U.S. citizens report “suspicious” activity. The measure sought to recruit one out of every 24 Americans for the program, mainly those whose work provided access to private homes or businesses, such as mailmen, utility employees and truck drivers. The program, however, was eventually canceled and replaced with Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” initiative.

 

Propaganda: getting everyone on board for war

In addition to intimidating the public and curbing speech in increasingly fascist attempts to limit dissent, World War I also saw the advent of a new government agency aimed at the mass distribution of propaganda in order to drum up support for the war. The Committee on Public Information (CPI), established by Wilson through an executive order, put journalist George Creel – a fervent supporter of Wilson and the war – in charge of the first state propaganda bureau in the country’s history. In addition to Creel, the members of the committee were the Secretaries of State, War and the Navy.

The idea for the CPI was not Wilson’s, it was Creel’s. Creel had heard many military leaders call for strong censorship of criticism of the war and subsequently sought to convince Wilson that “expression, not suppression” of a controlled press could help the war effort. He urged Wilson to create an agency that would disseminate “not propaganda as the Germans defined it, but propaganda in the true sense of the word, meaning the ‘propagation of faith.’”

The CPI brought powerful businessmen, media personalities, scholars, novelists and artists into its fold, creating a propaganda machine that blended marketing techniques with human psychology. It became the primary conduit for information regarding the war, leading Creel to assert that – in any given week – more than 20,000 newspaper columns across the country were filled with information provided by CPI handouts. Towards the latter half of the war, much of the content produced by the CPI was hateful and xenophobic, adopting slogans like “Stop the Hun!” on posters that showed German soldiers terrorizing women and young children. Its film division produced such titles as The Kaiser: The Beast of Berlin and Wolves of Kultur.

The CPI was also remarkably thorough in its control of dissenting narratives. According to historian Michael Sweeney, “every war story [against the government narrative] had been censored somewhere along the line — at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with ‘voluntary’ rules established by the CPI.” The CPI was also a global operation, with offices in nine countries, and used its propaganda to great effect in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.

The CPI was dissolved soon after the war and the domestic (but not foreign) distribution of propaganda was made illegal by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. However, in 2013, then-President Barack Obama signed the 2013 National Defense and Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which contained a piece of legislation, known as “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012,” that completely lifted the propaganda ban. The act’s co-authors asserted at the time that removing the domestic propaganda ban was necessary in order to combat “al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among populations.”

Five years later, the result of the lifting of the ban can be seen in the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” in which false narratives have become commonplace and largely normalized, as those who publish demonstrably false claims face minimal, if any, accountability. Meanwhile, alternative media sources that provide dissenting narratives are rapidly being silenced and those journalists and citizens who offer different perspectives on key issues are dismissed as “regime apologists” and “Russian bots.” Were war to break out, surely the current efforts under way to control the narrative would only grow.

 

WWII: Wash, rinse, repeat

World War II, in which propaganda likewise flourished, also resurrected the dangerous “protection” practices set during World War I, namely the mass targeting of those suspected of “disloyalty” to the war effort. The most infamous of these was the internment of Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast on the sole basis of their ethnicity.

In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, which put the Secretary of War and his commanders in charge of establishing military zones, or concentration camps, and deciding whom to imprison within their confines. Congress supported the measure, passing Public Law 503, which allowed for the executive order’s implementation. Significantly, the measures did not name a specific ethnic group, but allowed the military to restrict anyone it deemed a “threat.”

Anyone of Japanese ancestry along the U.S. West Coast was considered by the military to present such a threat and, after the laws were passed, many of these individuals were placed under restrictions and curfews before being “evacuated” to internment camps scattered across the country from California to Arkansas. However, it was later shown that the Japanese-Americans were targeted, not out of fear for the national security, but due to the influence of “farmers seeking to eliminate Japanese competition, a public fearing sabotage, politicians hoping to gain by standing against an unpopular group, and military authorities.”

Following evacuation orders, this store was closed.  The owner, a University of California graduate of Japanese descent, placed the "I AM AN AMERICAN" sign on the store front the day after Pearl Harbor.  Oakland, CA, April 1942.  Dorothea Lange.

Around 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, were sent to the camps. More than half of those interned were children. They were not given due process and were incarcerated for up to four years, unable to leave the prison camps. Many of the children imprisoned there came to consider the camps “home.”

Strangely and tellingly, Japanese-Americans, despite being considered a domestic security threat, were able to join the U.S. Armed Forces after filling out a short questionnaire.

Not all Japanese-Americans complied with the government orders, however. The most well-known of those who disobeyed the internment order was Fred Korematsu, who later challenged the internment of Japanese-Americans on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court eventually ruled 6-to-3 that the internment of Japanese-Americans was well within the war powers of the President, arguing that in times of war such actions — even if blatantly racist — are justified when there exists a “military necessity.”

It is important to note, however, the vague nature of the law that led to the internment of Japanese-Americans. It stated that the Secretary of War was authorized to “prescribe military areas” and that “the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.” Thus, the legal war-time precedent that resulted from war hysteria gave the U.S. military the ability to place anyone from any group into concentration camps using “national security” and “military necessity” as justification.

It’s not hard to imagine how this could play out in the United States today if and when war breaks out. Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” and push to make a registry of Muslim immigrants, as well as top U.S. officials calling people of Russian descent “genetically driven” to be untrustworthy, are just a few examples of the xenophobia and related hysteria currently at work in the U.S. As long as those irrational fears are cloaked in the patriotic blanket of “military necessity,” it seems that the internment camps could again make an appearance on American soil.

 

Fascism and racism cloaked in patriotism: an inevitable cycle

Ultimately, what the past shows us is that, in times of war, the United States often embodies the very evils it purports to stand against – fascism and racism chief among them – but does so by wrapping these troubling acts in a veneer of patriotism that falsely seeks to claim that such crimes against the Constitution and American democracy are done out of “necessity” to national security.

Again, the oft-repeated adage that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it” rings true. Trump’s Muslim ban and the anti-Russian hysteria of the “Resistance” have raised concern among Japanese-Americans that another group could again suffer in American internment camps as they once did. Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” program shows that the APL’s brand of patriotic vigilantism still lives on. The U.S. government’s continued use of the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers and journalists further shows that dissenting narratives are unwelcome here, whether during times of war or times of peace.

Top Photo | President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during a visit to the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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An Epic Disaster: Trump’s Manic and Disjointed Fox and Friends Interview Brings New Trouble For His Legal Team When the pressure builds, Trump simply has to vent. And for some reason he has to do it in public. By Heather Digby Parton / Salon ( ALTERNET )

 

 

April 27, 2018, 4:42 AM GMT

42 COMMENTS

 

Donald Trump. Adapted from Creative Commons images on Flickr by Gage Skidmore.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr CC

President Trump started off the week in a beautiful bromance with French President Emmanuel Macron and ended it with his nominee as Veterans Affairs secretary, White House physician Ronny Jackson, forced to withdraw under allegations of illegally dispensing drugs and passing out drunk on the job. In between, the media harangued Trump repeatedly about his growing legal troubles and his Parisian bestie appeared before Congress and declared in so many words that since the U.S. has a buffoon for a president its allies will take up the job of articulating the values of civilized nations. When the pressure builds up like this, Trump simply has to vent. And for some reason he has to do it in public.

This article was originally published at Salon

Since Trump doesn’t give normal press conferences and is refusing to give many interviews, his only outlet in that case was his morning briefing team of Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt of “Fox & Friends,” who happily accepted his call on Thursday morning. He sounded unusually energized, speaking at twice his normal speed, and was obviously extremely agitated. The president doesn’t drink coffee or I might have suspected he’d had a couple of quad espressos before he picked up the phone. Perhaps he downs a six pack of Diet Cokes upon waking. Whatever the case, he was as manic and disjointed as we’ve ever heard him. And that’s saying something.

He started off by saying it was Melania’s birthday, admitting he had only gotten her a card. Then went on about how much France loves him and then something about Iran and small boats circling and “barrels” full of money. Next he launched into a long diatribe about the supposed Democratic obstructionists who are failing to confirm his appointees, followed by a big shout-out to people he called “warriors,” which included the extremists of the Freedom Caucus, his onetime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the pro-Trump performance art duo known as Diamond and Silk. (They happened to be testifying before Congress that morning and it was almost as surreal as Trump’s call.) Then he rambled on about Dr. Jackson and appeared to threaten Sen. Jon Tester, the Democrat who had released damaging allegations about Jackson, warning the senator that his constituents in Montana really love Trump.

Doocy then led Trump into an angry denunciation of James Comey, filled with what are apparently a bunch of Fox News conspiracy theories that only people deeply enmeshed in that cocoon can possibly unravel. Trump didn’t even seem to understand them so he just worked himself up into a frenzy culminating with this:

There’s no collusion with me and the Russians. Nobody’s been tougher to Russia than I am. You can ask President Putin about that. There’s been nobody. Between the military and the oil and all of the other things that I’ve done — the aluminum tax. They send us a lot of aluminum, and I put tariffs on aluminum coming in. The 60 people that we sent out — the 60 so-called diplomats. Nobody’s been tougher. Nobody’s even been close to as tough as me, and we hear this nonsense. So there’s no collusion whatsoever.

You have to love the idea that he says they should ask Putin.

He went on a bit more about Comey and then digressed to some old news about CNN having given debate questions to Hillary Clinton, at which point the “Fox & Friends” hosts started to look a bit green around the gills. He was rapidly melting down.
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They chatted about Kanye West’s ecstatic support for Trump and the president asserted, on no evidence whatever, that African-Americans had voted for him. “People don’t realize, you know, if you go back to the Civil War it was the Republicans that really did the thing,” he said. “Lincoln was a Republican.” This appears to be one of those historical facts Trump learned only recently.

There was more craziness, most of it just vintage incoherent Trump rambling, escalating in tone and manic energy all the way through. But threading through the entire conversation was a lot of discussion about the Justice Department, the FBI, Michael Cohen and Robert Mueller, all of which are obviously very much on his mind. Some of what the president said immediately got him into trouble, and the rest may have far-reaching ramifications.

First, Trump said that Cohen only did “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work but that “Michael would represent me and represent me on some things, he represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” There happened to be a hearing in the Cohen case later in the morning and federal prosecutors used that quote in court to undermine Trump’s claim to attorney-client privilege, since he had said Cohen only did a small fraction of his legal work. They weren’t the only lawyers who jumped on it:

 

Trump also may have stepped in it with his comments maligning the Department of Justice and the FBI. Early in the conversation he said, “I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.” Then he got very wound up and circled back to the topic later:
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You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI. It’s a disgrace. And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t.

Later in the morning the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14–7 to advance legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from an unjustified firing. In an unprecedented move in this Congress, four Republicans joined with the Democrats to vote for it. Even some who didn’t, like Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, suggested that there could be an impeachment if Trump interfered with the investigation. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called that possibility “politically suicidal,” and even Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, generally a loyalist, said it would be “disastrous” if Trump tried to shut down the Mueller probe.

Trump’s greatest mistake, however, may have been tossing Michael Cohen to the wolves by saying, “I have nothing to do with his business.” That’s a little hard to believe, since Cohen was an executive vice president of the Trump Organization for more than a decade. Cohen certainly had to hear it as his old boss casting him aside. It was also cruel of Trump to destroy Cohen’s claim of attorney-client privilege for his own sake. You can bet that prosecutors will remind Cohen of Trump’s words when they ask him if he might have some information he’d like to share with them.

Trump’s lawyers have to hope that his little venting session relieved some of the pressure and that he’ll keep his mouth shut for a while. They should all send a thank you note to the “Fox & Friends” producers (and maybe even Rupert Murdoch himself) for insisting that their hosts pull the plug on the president, something I’ve never seen happen before. Any other news organization would have kept on going as long as he wanted to talk. But Fox is on Trump’s team so they valiantly tried to save him from himself. Unfortunately for him, it was way too late.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism

Adi Shosberger called Israeli soldiers ‘terrorists’ — and Israel has turned on her – By Jonathan Ofir (MONDOWEISS)

Israel/Palestine

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Israeli human rights activists who promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) and speak harshly against Israeli policy are often subject to campaigns of exclusion and sometimes to death threats. While their stories pale in comparison to the stories of Palestinians (who are often shot dead just for protesting their rights), they need to be told and heard once in a while.

Thus I will tell the story of Adi Shosberger, the Israeli activist who called Israeli soldiers “terrorists” who are participating in a “massacre of innocent civilians”, telling them they were brainwashed into joining a “terror army”, as featured in a video which went viral in Israel just over two weeks ago. The incitement against her following the video release resulted in death threats, harassment and intimidation of her children, slashing of tires, garbage on the lawn etc. Adi required protection from fellow activists, as the police have taken her situation very lightly.

The video and its reason

The video drew wide condemnation from across Israeli society. Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned it in a cabinet meeting. He opined that those words were an “outrageous absurdity” and that the soldiers have the full backing of all cabinet ministers, in order to continue “to do their holy work.” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman promoted new legislation, making it a crime punishable by 5 years prison to film soldiers with the purpose of “destabilizing IDF morale and the morale of Israeli citizens”. The penalty becomes 10 years if the intent is to “harm the security of the state”.

But the video coincided with another video which went viral at the same time, wherein Israeli snipers were filming themselves (through a rifle scope) shooting an unarmed, motionless Palestinian protester, and celebrating it. This put into perspective precisely what the activists were trying to bring focus to with their action and video – a “patently illegal” Israeli policy.

Shooting the messenger

Israeli denial of its wrongdoings is a common feature. Even the IDF claimed that the soldiers in the sniper video had acted “appropriately”. And a common mechanism in denial is to shoot the messenger. Thus, Adi Shosberger was to become a main target for incitement and even death threats.

For example, Adi was trashed by two radio hosts, Shai Goldstein and Lea Lev, on the Maariv radio 103FM “Breakfast Club” show. Goldstein said that he “feels like killing that woman”, called her “stupid”, “retarded”, “little bitch”, “filth” and so on – with Lev confirming his views all the way through. And this, mind you, is on centrist Israeli mainstream radio.

The Shadow

The hyper-nationalist Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi, known as “The Shadow,” is notorious for campaigns of incitement mobilizing many of his hundreds of thousands of followers through social media, against those whom he labels as traitors or enemies. Eliasi was the main mobilizer towards the Elor Azarya support-rally in 2016 (also known as the “murder rally” or “death to the Arabs rally”), and it is telling that even for that crowd, which was carrying “kill them all” signs, Eliasi was considered just a touch too extreme, and was thus not given a stage to perform.

Eliasi noticed Shosberger’s action immediately and mobilized against her. This is not the first time – last year it happened too, and despite Shosberger filing a complaint with 22 explicit cases of death threats with documented persons, the case was quickly closed. Eliasi has found a method by which his posts are apparently just below the threshold of what would be considered criminal in Israel, but they serve as a dog whistle for followers who are far more explicit, and who are quick to get the hint and translate it to action.

Here is Eliasi’s Facebook post from just after Shosberger’s video went viral:

“Nerve warning!!

“A very grave clip by a rotten sub-human pathetic anti-Semite which shoves a camera into the face of our fighters and calls them terrorists and murderers. The name of this leftist stench is Adi Shosberger, who by the family name and behavior is obviously an offspring of Judenrat [to mean Nazi collaborator]. I ask all of you to rise and file a complaint against her”.

Protection by activists

Adi has already experienced how lightly the Israeli police take her situation, so while filing a complaint, she did not count on police protection in her situation. This resulted in the mobilizing of fellow activists who were basically taking shifts staying around the house for the past two weeks. In addition to the garbage thrown on her lawn and car tires slashed, epithets have regularly been hurled at her, and even her children at the local school (she has four boys, ages 5-12) were harassed by older high-school students. As a result, the children were kept home for several days.

When I talked to Adi yesterday (by Messenger), precisely at noontime her phone started buzzing with unregistered numbers, people who left hate messages and threats. She responded to it with equanimity – she says that those people inform each other that they need to make a harassment storm at a certain hour, and they call from hidden numbers, and she simply doesn’t pick up.

Feeling safer with the Tamimi’s in Nabi Saleh

It may seem odd for some, that the place in which Adi feels most safe and protected is in Nabi Saleh, a village which is almost daily invaded and raided by Israeli soldiers. But she does, and she feels most welcome staying with Bassem Tamimi, the father of Ahed Tamimi. Now that 17-year old Ahed as well as her mother Nariman are in prison, the house is much more lonely – but the Tamimi’s are always warm and welcoming toward activists who show understanding and solidarity with their struggle, and there is a mutual and reciprocal understanding of each other’s situation there.

A right wing activist, Yossi Levi, likened Adi Shosberger and Ahed Tamimi, and suggested Adi receive the same treatment as Ahed (on Facebook):

“Discrimintion???

Discrimination against Arabs?

Why is Ahed in jail and Adi Shosberger is still roaming free?

Share, share, share, until the law authority wakes up.

Adi Shosberger is a left activist, walks with a camera, harasses soldiers on duty, films them without permission and against their will, distracts their focus, insults and hurts them, calls them murderers and terrorists, and shames them.

Is a mental, psychological and moral hurting not worse than a slap?

Share, share until they arrest her, so that she too would be able to join Ahed Tamimi and all the other Israel-haters in jail.”

Adi herself sent me that post as an example, and said that she completely understands the comparison, and that she is highly aware of this difference of privilege between her and Ahed. This is the privilege that she is also continuously seeking to expose.

Adi’s story is one that is rather unsurprising for those who know the Israeli reality. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has suffered similarly. He has already long been considered to possibly be “the most hated man in Israel” for his coverage of Palestinian suffering. But hell really broke loose when, in the midst of Israel’s 2014 Gaza onslaught, he wrote “Lowest Deeds From Loftiest Heights” about how “Israel’s ‘heroic’ pilots push buttons and joysticks, battling the weakest and most helpless of people.” At the time “Shade”, Yoav Eliasi, organized an incitement campaign against him, and actually hounded him in the street with a group of followers, hurling accusations and epithets against him which they filmed (here’s a video). Following this, Haaretz assigned Levy a bodyguard for some weeks.

It can be somewhat sobering to note, that Adi’s accusation of the soldiers as “terrorists” is a claim that has been indirectly made by none other than the UN fact-finding mission on Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza onslaught. The report, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, concluded that Israel was “terroriz[ing] a civilian population”.

Goldstone, who is notably a Zionist Jew, was also subject to a relentless hate campaign in the wake of the report, both by Israel and by Jews abroad, until he succumbed to the pressure (the full details of which we may never know), and ‘recanted’ in a Washington Post article, alas without any actual new evidence (see Norman Finkelstein, “Goldstone Recants”). Notably, his whole team maintained that they stood by the findings. Of course, the Israelis were jubilant: “Everything that we said proved to be true” (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu); “We always said that the IDF is a moral army that acted according to international law” (Defense Minister Ehud Barak); “We had no doubt that the truth would come out eventually” (Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman).

But when you let Israel off the hook like that for its state-terror, it becomes a license for more terror, and for more massacres. There were those at the time (2009) who believed that it couldn’t get worse. But Israel’s 2014 onslaught was worse. And that’s only part of this paradigm of state terror. It has many shades of black.

So Adi Shosberger and her fellow activists go over to soldiers and tell them that they are terrorists, in order to raise awareness of the paradigm. But why think about it at all? It’s easier to just shoot the messenger.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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Silence of the shams: Western media puts Syrian boy’s witness account on hold – By SPUTNIK

Syrianboy

© Sputnik
Hassan Diab

If it doesn’t fit the narrative, there’s no harm in shelving it. It appears that evidence proving the purported chemical weapons attack in Douma was staged has been largely disregarded by the mainstream newsmakers in the West.

The alleged attack and the subsequent airstrikes by the US, UK and France have been dominating the Western news agenda for several weeks now.

On April 7, several media outlets reported that the Syrian army had used chlorine in Douma, killing up to 70 people and injuring hundreds. Footage showing the aftermath of the “attack” appeared on social media, showing men and women shouting, rushing and hosing down adults and children inside a hospital building.

The video has been acquired and shown by most Western news media under the tagline “Children are treated after a suspected chemical attack in rebel-held Douma, Syria” or similar headlines.

Responding to the video and the allegations, the Syrian Defense Ministry said the claims were based on hearsay and testimonies by jihadist militants, and not backed up by hard facts. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said all proofs by the West were “based on media and social networks.”

However, the footage and the “irrefutable evidence” reportedly in possession of French President Emmanuel Macron were evidence enough for the allies – US, UK and France – to conduct cruise missile strikes on a number of targets in Syria.

In his conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Macron refused to reveal what that “irrefutable evidence” was. Nevertheless, the events around the alleged attack received detailed coverage by British, American and international media as essential developments of the situation in Eastern Ghouta.

Staged Participation

Proof that the Douma hospital video was staged was presented to the international media on April 18, when the Russia 24 TV channel released an exclusive interview with the Syrian boy Hassan Diab, who was originally seen in the Douma video. Hassan said he was rushed to the hospital with his mother, and when they entered the hospital, unknown people grabbed and poured water on him, placing him with other patients after that.

“We were in the basement. Mom told me that today we don’t have anything to eat and that we will eat tomorrow. We heard a cry outside, calling “go to the hospital.” We ran to the hospital and as soon as I entered, they grabbed me and started pouring water on me,” Hassan Diab said.

Hassan’s father also spoke about the incident, saying “there were no chemical weapons” and that the “militants gave them dates, cookies and rice for participating in this film.”

Left Out of the Media Picture

The interview, however, went largely unnoticed by mainstream newsmakers. In the rare cases the interview with Hassan got a mention, it was referred to as line pushed by “Russian state media.”

A precursor to the Sun’s news headline “Russian TV claims Syria chemical attack boy, 11, filmed being doused with water was tricked into taking part in return for biscuits” was the phrase: “Fake Views.”

A Times’ headline attributes the fact that Hassan was paid off with food – to Russian TV, not the boy’s father, who made the statement.

In comparison, the Times didn’t attribute mentions of the alleged Douma attack to information presented by the White Helmets, a foreign-sponsored organization operating in Syria. Moreover, if some of the Times’ headlines featured the phrase “gas attack” in quotations, the effort wears out, as seen in other titles.

Throughout the development of the Douma story, most news channels have made the effort of calling the reported event “an alleged attack” – and some still oblige. But as time passed, headlines omitting the crucial qualifier started popping up online and in television discussions.

Syrian medics ‘subjected to extreme intimidation’ after Douma attack” and “Syria attack: Chemical weapons inspectors retrieve samples from Douma” are just a couple of examples – with the latter actually referring to the fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts haven’t yet established the use of chemical weapons.

The US broadcaster Fox News posted the alleged attack video online under the headline “Disturbing video: Children being treated after chemical attack in Syria” on April 9, which indicated certainty that the attack did happen and that chemical weapons had been used. However, a search for mentions of or statements by Hassan and his father on the Fox News website gives zero results.

CNN’s coverage follows a similar scenario. Even though some of CNN’s headlines on Douma stipulate that it was a “suspected” attack, others simply define it as a “chemical attack in Syria.” There is no information on Hassan and his recollection of events that took place on April 9.

Searches on the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post return no articles telling the story of Hassan and his father.

Due Impartiality

Very little coverage has been dedicated overall to Hassan’s witness statement, in effect disproving the pretext for an international military attack.

As a consequence, international audiences were largely left out of the balanced discussion over a matter so imperative to the public. According to a recent poll, respondents in Britain mostly opposed a missile attack against Syrian military targets.

The principle of section five of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, under which all media operate in Britain, is “to ensure that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.” Disregarding important developments around the Douma “attack” does not appear to be in compliance with not “favoring one side over another.”

Hassan Diab may be brought to testify to the OPCW, Russia’s Permanent Representative to OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, said in a recent interview.

“At a certain point, I told my Western colleagues: we, probably, will have to use another language, since you don’t understand what we are saying. We will bring here, in The Hague, eyewitnesses who will personally tell you it was a choreographed provocation. I will do my best to have this boy speak here,” Mr. Shulgin said.

He added, however, that “everything is possible” and Hassan might not be allowed to give a statement at the OPCW.

Comment: See also:

 

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By Billing Russia ‘Terror Sponsor’ US Wants to Lay Hands on Europe – Think Tank – By Sputnik

The Moon over the Moscow Kremlin's Spasskaya (Savior) Tower

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Republican senator Cory Gardner is championing a legislative initiative to determine whether Russia should be billed a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Radio Sputnik discussed this with Manuel Ochsenreiter, director of the German Center for Eurasian Studies and editor-in-chief of the German news magazine “ZUERST!”

Sputnik: In your view, why was this article published now, when relations between Russia and the US are as tense as they were during the Cold War era?

Manuel Ochsenreiter: We witness right now an escalation of the informational warfare; we have already now, well since the war started in Syria, which was escalating even more since the problems and difficulties in Ukraine, with the Maidan uprising, so we are now at a new escalation period and of course, the consequences for Gardner, for the US, or what they would like to see as consequences is to have a safe hand on Europe, on the European allies by labelling Russia as a “terrorist sponsoring” state.

It is not just about the consequences from the US, but they would pressure their European allies into also going into these consequences. One consequence, for sure, would be that Europe would be even closer to the US than Europe already is right now. This is also already the consequence of the Skripal story, the consequence of the so-called “gas attack” in Syria. So, it is about informational warfare meant for having the European allies more safe on the Washington side.

Sputnik: If Russia was indeed declared a state sponsor of terrorism, what kind of diplomatic moves would we see by the European Union, by the US?

Manuel Ochsenreiter: We would see a variety of diplomatic and economic measures. It would mean that sooner or later, the European countries would have to follow Washington’s judgement about Russia as a “terrorism sponsor.”

That would mean that there would be an enormous political pressure on all companies and businesses, and on all politicians who are advertising good and normal relations with Russia, between Europe and the Russian Federation. For the US, it is absolutely important to keep Europe on their side and to make Europe, let’s say, hostile towards Russia. Russia is a sort of natural partner for European states; Russia is a supplier of resources.

Germany, for example, has excellent high tech products and is also very important for the market of Russia, but the US wants to separate these two markets, or these two political spheres, to bind Europe closer to the US. The US knows [that] if Europe gets lost for the US, they are outside of the game.

READ MORE: Situation in Syria Shows ‘Cold War is Back’ — UN Chief

The consequences would include a diplomatic cooldown, maybe even freezing, maybe even more freezing than we were used to during the escalating periods of the “cold war.”

In economic terms, it would mean that companies, even if they do business with Russia, which would be legal, would suffer from moral and public pressure … if the US succeeds in making Europe also label Russia a “terrorism sponsor.” 

Sputnik: What other countries around the world are currently considered by the US and Europe as states sponsors of terrorism?

Manuel Ochsenreiter: If we take a closer look on these countries – we have for instance Iran labelled as a terrorist sponsor – we know also that they label the Lebanese Hezbollah forces as terrorists, as they are on the official terrorist list.

But if we look at the situation in the Middle East, we can precisely see that those entities and those groups labelled as terrorists or terrorist sponsors by the US are in many cases forces that are standing for stability and fighting against terrorism.

For example, Iran is one of the main forces supporting Syria in fighting the Islamic State*. Russia is the only foreign force, besides Iran, which is in Syria legally, which is there on the invitation of the legal Damascus government.

While the Americans, the British, the French and all other forces are there not legally, they were never invited, never asked by the sovereign state of Syria to support them in fighting terrorism.

We can say that one of the main terrorist-sponsoring states on the globe is the United States itself. There would be no Islamic State group existent today, if the US hadn’t meddled in the Middle East. The Islamic State exists precisely due to the meddling of the United States [in the Middle East.]

*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

The views of the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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THE EVIDENCE IS COMING IN THAT IT WAS HYPOXIA, NOT CW OR CHLORINE; SYRIAN ARMY BLASTING ISIS AND ALQAEDA IN S. DAMASCUS – By Ziad Fadel

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DAMASCUS:  Inspectors from the OPCW, the chemical weapons watchdog, have visited the site of the fake events leading up to the joint Anglo-French-American air assault on Syria and have reportedly taken samples of soil, clothing and other artifacts for examination.  Another grouping of the inspectors is interviewing citizens to get their take on the events of the Saturday before last and collecting blood samples from cadavers.  All samples will be studies at the OPCW laboratory in Rijswijk, a suburb of the Hague.  (Don’t ask me to pronounce that word.)

Of concern to SyrPer is the director of the OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, a former career diplomat with the Turk foreign ministry – a former Turk ambassador to the Zionist Apartheid State (7-28-1999 to 6-30-2002).  He was also, amazingly, Turkey’s former representative to NATO.  Being a Turk with qualifications like this would make anyone suspect that his credibility was fragile to nil.

As an example, recently there were allegations that Turkey used CW (chlorine) in its campaign against the SDF and PKK in ‘Afreen.  Uzumcu claimed to have investigated the matter and found no “credible” evidence to justify a finding that Turkey used chlorine at that location.  Surprise!  He is clearly a compromised source of information and I’m just flummoxed by Russia’s insistence on a OPCW investigation knowing this Turk would have overall authority over the inspectors and their conclusions.  If there were any conceivable questions about his appropriateness for the task at hand, they should have been brought formally so he could, at the very least, distance himself from any scientific conclusions.

At SyrPer we are expecting the inspectors to find nothing but hypoxia as confirmed by several medical doctors in the Ghouta.  Evidently, as the narrative goes, there were citizens huddled inside fruit cellars, and the like, using them as bomb shelters. When bombs started falling, dust and particles were thrown up into the air and, then, descended into the make-shift shelters causing people to gag and show signs of oxygen deprivation (hypoxia).  When the so-called criminals of the White Helmets started shouting “gas!” and “gas attack!”, people were in a panicked state.  The entire event was staged and suspiciously, cameras and terrorist news crews began to appear and film children being hosed down in some crackpot show of emergency medical treatment.  When you see the tapes, you cannot help but laugh as the so-called frauds exposed themselves to possible contamination.

I believe the OPCW will declare it is unable to assess whether or not CW was used at all.  The OPCW is not an prosecutorial organization such that it can assess blame.  It can only determine if CW was used, if at all.  By announcing its inability to make the determination, this character, Uzumcu, will have fulfilled his duties as mole, spy, agent and treacherous Turk.  He will leave Trump, Boris Johnson, Macron and May with a face-saving way out.  Don’t be surprised to hear that the Russians “cleared the area of evidence”.  The West will argue that that is the reason a “staged” sniper incident delayed the entry of the inspectors even though no members of the OPCW team or the Department of Safety and Security made any such allegation to anyone.

This is a strange world of dysfunction.  Look at the Western characters in this dark comedy:  A real estate investor with orange skin, orange hair and a habit of enjoying sexual relations with Playboy models while his model wife is having their first child.  You have a French president married to a woman 30 years his senior.  You have a British Foreign Minister who looks and acts like an English sheepdog.  Top it off with a woman at the helm of England’s highest office but whose mien, temperament and lifelessness can only be matched by John Major.  It is a clownish cast.

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We can confirm the deaths of ISIS’s commanders in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and the Yarmook Camp:  Abu Hishaam Al-Khaaboori (Saudi) and Abu ‘Ali Nafsha.  Both were unceremoniously splattered by well-aimed infantry rocket fire.

The Al-Zayn Quarter located between Yalda and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad has been liberated by the SAA as of yesterday, April 21, 2018.  This has effectively isolated ISIS and Alqaeda separating them from other pockets to their north.  The army is advancing notably in Al-Tadhaamun and Al-Qadam.

A large number of buses have entered the East Qalamoon, specifically at Al-Ruhayba, Jayrood and Al-Naasiriyya.  With the terrorists having turned over all their heavy and medium weapons, their next stop is Jaraablus where they will be recruited by Erdoghan to join the ranks of the rodents fighting the Kurds.  Enjoy.

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NEWS AND COMMENT:
New York Magazine just proved Trump is a war criminal:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/ef47529f-e1e7-38f7-9d15-ed3e58950307/ss_officials-confirm-that-trump.html

Moon of Alabama and its colorful, insightful and rigorous analysis of CW in Douma:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/04/syria-who-holds-up-the-opcw-investigation-in-douma.html

More scholarly article about Trump’s illegal conduct in Syria:

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/Voices/2018/04/20/Syrias-Assad-regime-is-brutal-but-retaliatory-airstrikes-are-illegal/8661524230379/

President Assad is well-liked in his country and enjoys broad support, despite media distortions – By Free West Media (SOTT)

Asmaa al-Assad

First Lady Asmaa al-Assad with a group of Syrian Female Soldiers, Syrian Army

Many anti-war activists, even those who are against bombing Syria, have described President Assad’s rule as a “dictatorship” and his government as a “regime”.

Many are simply aping the mainstream media. The truth is that the president is well-liked by his people.

During the Syrian Presidential election in 2014, Assad won 88.7 percent of the votes with a turnout of 73.42 percent.

“This is a significant amount of voter turnout considering the last time the US had a higher percentage per capita was in 1896. This would suggest that as the war has progressed and the jihadist element became more evident, the people recognised Assad as a source of stability and peace,” Middle Eastern analyst Paul Antonopoulos believes.

“Despite mainstream media efforts to demonise Assad, he has the support of most Syrians. Questions about electoral fraud has arisen, says Antonopoulos, “but this overlooks that the elections were overseen by observers from over 30 countries including from post-colonial states like Brazil, India and Uganda”.

The observers said in a joint statement that “the Syrian people participated in the elections in total freedom, contrary to Western and regional propaganda that tried to fabricate a false narrative”.

A YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates and funded by the Qatar Foundation in January 2012, found that at least 55 percent of Syrians supported Assad.

“It must be noted that this poll was funded and commissioned by Qatar who has been one of the key anti-Assad players, and even their poll, which could be susceptible to bias, found that the majority of Syrians supported Assad.

“It must also be highlighted that the poll has since been deleted from the The Doha Debates but the results of the poll are still cited by The Guardian in an opinion piece by Guardian columnist and author Jonathan Steele. These facts cannot be ignored,” said the analyst.

“Also the US as a Christian nation, why do people not listen to Syria’s Christians, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, at all? They overwhelmingly support the government.” Meanwhile German tabloid Bild used the testimony of a fake eye witness of the alleged chemical attack, Deana Lynn. But in her own words on US NPR she admitted that she had not been near the site at all: “The second day, there was a chemical attack which was not near me, but I heard about it. And when I heard about it from some of the young men – they told me what happened.”

Diana Jamal el-Deen aka Deana Lynn told NPR she sat in a basement far away from the location and heard about it from some “young men”. She was evacuated to northern Syria after the SAA liberated Douma. Idlib, where she now lives, is a stronghold of ISIS in northern Syria, so it appears that she had been told this fake news by ISIS militants.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for ending the demonization of Russia and its people on Sunday. He said that Germany should do more to help de-escalate tensions, because of Germany’s unique history with Russia.

Steinmeier warned that the US-led airstrikes only raised the risk of direct confrontation between US and Russia.

Syrian Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Syrian Parliament, Ammar Assad said on Sunday that the missile attack launched by the United States, the United Kingdom and France had been paid for by the Crown Prince Saudi Mohammed bin Salman.

“US President Donald Trump has already announced on many occasions that Saudi Arabia should fund the coalition’s military operations. The US side has asked for four billion dollars. It is Saudi Arabia that finances all aggressive operations led by the US-led coalition in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Mohammed bin Salman went to France and the United States and paid all the expenses of a military aggression against Syria. The pleasure that Saudi Arabia has taken in this attack supports this assertion,” said Ammar Assad.”

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