Maurice Pappworth: The doctor who exposed the UK’s horrible and useless medical experiments on patients – By Fred Pearce (New Scientist) (SOTT)

hospitals of the 1950s and 60s

© Heritage Images/Getty
In hospitals of the 1950s and 60s, doctors had enormous power. Maurice Pappworth wanted to stop them abusing it

In the 1960s, British medics took sometimes fatal liberties with unsuspecting patients in the name of science. Maurice Pappworth wasn’t having any of it

Maurice Pappworth was a “pestilential nuisance”, according to his obituary. It was meant as a compliment. A whistle-blower before the modern meaning of the term was invented, he exposed how many of his fellow doctors in the 1960s, often at British teaching hospitals, were treating their patients with as much respect as lab rats, and sometimes killing them in the process.

In his explosive 1967 book, Human Guinea Pigs, he revealed how unsuspecting patients were being “subject to mental and physical distress which is in no way necessitated by, and has no connection with, the treatment of their disease”. They were being sacrificed to science by “wolves in white coats”, said one reviewer of his book. And not just in hospitals: in prisons, orphanages and psychiatric centres, too.

The book created headlines around the world, and Pappworth pulled no punches, likening the situation to the foul work of doctors in Nazi concentration camps. With the war so recent, this comparison inevitably whipped up outrage among his peers.

This was an era in which British doctors could seemingly do no wrong, and a TV series that featured real operations – Your Life in Their Hands – was top of the ratings. Yet Pappworth noted that many doctors had near contempt for both their patients and the notion of consent. As one researcher put it to him, it was “useless to explain to a charwoman what was going to be done, because she couldn’t possibly understand”.

In the wake of the trials of Nazi physicians at Nuremberg, judges proposed that doctors follow a Nuremberg Code, part of which was to elicit informed consent before people were used in experiments. British doctors had long resisted ethical codes in general and the Nuremberg Code in particular, so Pappworth took no prisoners: his book named names, accusing dozens of doctors of abusing their positions to carry out risky and sometimes lethal experiments. And he paid a price.

Pappworth had a backstory that was used to denigrate his motives, and paint him as bitter. He had been frustrated in his ambition to be a top consultant physician in London, and he was repeatedly blackballed from the routine award of a fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians in the years after passing his medical exams.

Maurice Pappworth

© Pappworth family
Maurice Pappworth was a “pestilential nuisance” according to his obituary

Why? Possibly because he was a Jewish Liverpudlian, born to Eastern European migrants, and had an “awkward personality” – as his late daughter Joanna Seldon noted in a recent biography, The Whistle-Blower. In the nepotistic world of 1950s medicine, he could barely have been more of an outsider. And anti-Semitism was widespread: he was told at one interview for a consultancy post that “no Jew could ever be a gentleman”.

Thwarted by the establishment, Pappworth set up a practice in London’s Harley Street, and took up sidelines such as teaching medical students and junior doctors. That’s when he learned from his tutees how they were coerced into finding “volunteers” for their bosses’ research projects, and that such patients often believed the research was part of their treatment and were rarely told what it involved.

Pappworth delved into medical journals and found that abuses were happening on a shocking scale, involving thousands of victims.

He wrote letters of protest to journal editors, but few were published. Easy to see why: some of the experiments were being carried out by those very editors. So he wrote Human Guinea Pigs, in which he catalogued more than 200 examples of abusive research published in the UK and US. Much of it was stomach-churning and defied any notion of consent or fulfilling the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm”.

In one study, doctors reported boring holes into the skulls of 18 people who were in hospital for conditions unrelated to the research. They then inserted tubes to measure the effect on the brain of squeezing the veins in the subjects’ necks, had them breathe carbon dioxide, subjected them to painful stimuli and injected acid into their bodies.

Sick babies were popular guinea pigs. In one study, 13 “mentally deficient” babies had catheters inserted into their hearts without sedation and were then fitted with face masks to deprive them of oxygen, simply to see how their bodies would respond. The paper reported them “crying strenuously”.

Doctors injected unsuspecting people with malaria parasites, meningitis bacteria, live polio virus and live cancer cells. More than 40 people with diabetes, including children, had their insulin withheld so that they became comatose, after which samples of their liver and kidney were taken for analysis.

Human Guinea Pigs related all this in simple, brutal language, detailing the size of needles, for instance. He footnoted all the research, and helpfully listed the researchers in alphabetical order in the index.

Nuremberg trial

© DPA/PA Images
Of the 23 Nazi doctors and scientists tried at Nuremberg, seven were executed in 1948

Could these experiments be defended as being in the name of science? Pappworth doubted it. “Almost all detrimental experiments,” he wrote, were “performed time and again by different research workers”, doing more to further careers than science.

Many publishers baulked at publishing his book. Correspondence at the Wellcome Trust Library in London includes a letter from lawyer Michael Rubinstein warning that “there is hardly any reference to a reported medical case [in the book] which would not constitute a grave libel upon the named doctors and hospitals”. Only once did Pappworth back off. He noted that when eight people with peptic ulcers had large needles inserted into their abdominal aortas, thinking it was a treatment, three died as a direct result. Rubinstein said naming the experimenters could result in prosecutions for manslaughter. This story was, Pappworth wrote later, “the only one in which I did not name names”. Among those he did name, no doctor or hospital ever sued him.

Perhaps worst of all, Pappworth knew he was only revealing the tip of the iceberg: he had reviewed just a few dozen of hundreds of medical journals. And in any case, he noted darkly, “the worst experiments go unrecorded”.

Nor, when he was writing, had it emerged that for decades the US government’s health services had followed a large group of African-Americans with syphilis, preventing them getting the standard penicillin treatment so as to further the study. Or that US hospitals were carrying out experiments for the Los Alamos nuclear lab, injecting plutonium into people with cancer to find what was a “safe” dose of radiation for those working on nuclear bombs.

Pappworth wasn’t entirely on his own. He had collaborators and confidantes, including Harvard Medical School anaesthetist Henry Beecher, who published similar claims in the US, in more temperate language and without naming names. Beecher’s work is better known today, especially in the US, but at the time his criticisms were shrugged off.

It was Pappworth’s dredging that stirred up debate on both sides of the Atlantic. And in the end he largely won the argument. After much harrumphing about the curtailment of medical freedom, research hospitals in the UK and many elsewhere set up ethics committees to oversee their work. “It is hard to imagine that the current system of rigorous ethical review of research would be in place without Pappworth,” according to Allan Gaw of the UK’s National Institute for Health Research.

Comment: So it took a whistle blower with a conscience to effectively compel British society to act humanely in the field of medicine.

But as standards rise in the West, research that would be prohibited there springs up in poorer nations, where regulation is often lax or unenforced, and the population vulnerable. In recent decades, ethical abuses – especially by Western drug firms operating in parts of Africa or India – are myriad. The world needs more Pappworths. But they won’t be thanked.

The medical establishment continued to bear a grudge against Pappworth. It was only in 1993, 57 years after he qualified for it – and a year before he died, aged 83 – that Pappworth was sufficiently forgiven to be made a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. At the award ceremony, wrote Seldon, there was riotous applause as Pappworth shuffled up to collect his fellowship. It must have been a bittersweet moment for the pestilential nuisance.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Facing down the wolves in white coats”

Fred Pearce (born 30 December 1951) is an English author and journalist based in London. He is a science writer, reporting on the environment, popular science and development issues from 64 countries over the past 20 years. He specialises in global environmental issues, including water and climate change.

Pearce is currently the environment consultant of New Scientist magazine and a regular contributor to the British newspapers Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, and Times Higher Education. He has also written for several US publications including Audubon, Foreign Policy, Popular Science, Seed, and Time.

Pearce has written a wide range of books on environment and development issues published in both the UK and US.

Comment: The scope of Nazi-style experiments documented from places around the world, and even in the most ‘democratic’ of nations, is shocking:

America’s Crisis – An Ubiquitous Culture of Spin – By Chris Kanthan (Sott.net)

Media reality

Trump famously said that if he shot a person on 5th Ave, he still wouldn’t lose any supporters. Shocking as it may be, he was quite right. Of course, on the other side, the damning evidence of Clinton corruption in the WikiLeaks emails didn’t really sway any Hillary voters. The reason is that the discourse in America has become extremely divisive and partisan. People live in their own ideological echo chambers where critical thinking doesn’t exist. However, the problem goes beyond politics – this fact-free, stubborn, narcissistic, illogical and spin-loving attitude has become pervasive in every aspect of our society. The most dire challenge that America faces is not financial, geopolitical or environmental. It is the crisis due to the death of logic and objectivity.

Let’s start with some examples in politics.

During the election: According to Trump and his supporters, the unemployment number was fake (since, based on labor participation rate, 38% of adults weren’t working), GDP growth below 4% was horrible, monthly jobs growth under 300,000 was indicative of a recession, and the stock market was a big fat bubble!

After the election: Now, for Trump and his loyal supporters, official unemployment numbers are legit and awesome (even though the labor participation rate hasn’t budged since 2016), GDP growth of 2.3% is a sign of a booming economy, average monthly jobs growth of 175,000 is amazing, and the stock market is a reflection of tremendous accomplishments by Trump (until it crashes).

As for the Democrats, Trump was a Nazi and a racist for wanting a wall – never mind that we already have had a wall in many parts of the US-Mexico border for a long time. Hillary supporters also refused to read the WikiLeaks emails and couldn’t see anything suspicious about the Clinton Foundation, her private email server, or the deletion of 30,000+ emails. However, any accusation related to Russia interference or collusion was eagerly accepted at face value without any corroborating evidence – the Steele dossier being an obvious example. Louise Mensch and other trolls have millions of social media followers who thrive on their daily dose of shocking allegations, innuendos and claims that what they would like to be true, definitely is.

Thus we have a political environment where one half of the country is totally against the other. Democrats in Congress will automatically reject Republican ideas and vice versa. The result of this ideological fanaticism is gridlock, inefficiency and terrible legislation. It’s hard to negotiate with an irrational person; it’s almost impossible for two irrational people to negotiate.

The media is also caught in this ideological trap. On a given topic, one can almost always predict the viewpoint of MSNBC, Fox News, Washington Post or Breitbart. Lone gone are the days when one could expect objectivity and neutrality from the media.

We have become a society of relentless spinning. Everyone works backward – start with the conclusion and twist logic like a pretzel to make it true. Every logical fallacy in the book gets deployed. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • One of the most commonly used tools is “what about-ism”. Bring up Islamic terrorism, and someone will counter with, “what about domestic terrorism by whites?”
  • Cherry-picking or selective use of facts and data. “We added 2 million jobs last year” may ignore the fact that many of them are part-time or temp jobs.
  • Ideological filters are powerful tools to reject truth and facts. “I don’t believe anything from Breitbart” or “I reject anything that might be considered socialist.”
  • Exaggeration and distortion are powerful tools to fool ourselves and others. “Iran wants to annihilate Israel” is over-the-top; and “Putin annexed Crimea” ignores the fact Crimea had a referendum and willingly joined Russia (and there’s much more behind this drama).
  • Slogans and catch phrases stand in for truth. Whether it’s tax cuts or global warming or how to lose weight, people are programmed to instinctively react to buzz words and phrases, while eschewing deeper analysis. The ubiquitous American desire for quick solutions causes more problems in the end.
  • Sensationalism has become a powerful propaganda tool. News media rely on it for advertisement revenue; public figures use it to boost their popularity or to get votes; and people use it to convince themselves of their own views. This is also similar to people screaming or using expletives to make their points.
  • Flip-flopping has become an art. Listen to Bill Clinton, Obama or other leading Democrats a few years ago, and they spoke strongly against illegal immigration. Now it’s a complete reversal. Trump supporters constantly complained that Obama commanded no respect from other nations. But now that Trump’s rating around the world is abysmal, the new argument is, “Who cares what the world thinks?”

The bigger problem is that all these attributes aren’t limited to politics and, in fact, have permeated every aspect of our society. In the legal system, lawyers constantly use these tactics to argue their cases – in fact, such a clever lawyer is admired. Even the judges at the highest levels are driven by ideology – that’s why Obama and Trump have very different choices for the US Supreme Court. Logic and law are distorted to arrive at predetermined conclusions.

In sales and marketing, nobody can succeed without spinning and exaggerating. Obviously, being factual and objective is a death sentence for a career in those areas.

Foreign policy is replete with spins, exaggerations and blatant lies. Want to attack Iraq? Let’s exaggerate Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda and WMD. Bring fake witnesses who cry about babies in incubators murdered by Saddam’s soldiers, forge papers to show the sale of Uranium from Niger to Iraq, plant stories in the New York Times and then use them to bolster your case on Sunday shows. Similarly, if we want to arm Al Qaeda in Syria, we just call them “moderate rebels” – a simple marketing tactic that solves a sticky problem. Have you ever heard US politicians or corporate media talk about waging wars for profits, imperialism or natural resources? No, it’s always about freedom and democracy! When trillions of dollars are at stake, deception becomes an integral part of foreign policy and perpetual wars.

The spin culture has also spread into science and medicine. GMOs are always marketed in terms of higher yield or cheap food, while it’s really about profits and, more importantly, controlling people and nations. Vaccines are blindly accepted by people who fall for the slogan, “Safe and Effective.” The billions of dollars of annual profit in the vaccine industry and the revolving door between Big Pharma and bureaucracies such as the CDC are ignored by the masses.

Big Pharma repackages old medicines with insignificant changes in order to get new patents that will justify higher prices. OxyContin’s 12-hour pain reliever was a marketing scam, but the lies brought in billions of dollars. Scientists fudge the data for clinical trials, and regardless of how many times Big Pharma gets caught for fraud, people’s faith remains undeterred. Even global warming is full of sensationalism, wild conjectures and over-confident claims when there are too many overlooked known and unknown variables. The nerdiest scientist is as vulnerable to groupthink, peer pressure and temptations of fame and fortune as the sleazy politician on CNN.

Our financial system is controlled by a private Federal Reserve Bank, which has created a Ponzi scheme fueled by unsustainable debt and inflation. However, the elites keep spinning about prosperity and growth. Propagandists on CNBC and other financial media are paid to blow up bubbles all day long. When the bubbles burst, they will look you in the eye and will tell you that no one could have seen it coming.

All these problems have arisen because deception has become a way of life and we don’t have the patience (or sometimes the skill) to think critically and objectively. It’s as if the movie Idiocracy or the TV show Jerry Springer has become the new reality. More than 2000 years ago, Socrates taught Greeks how to think rationally and logically, but somewhere along the way, we lost it. This crisis is solvable, but it requires a deliberate shift in our thinking and behavior.

Chris Kanthan (Profile)

Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Syria – War of Deception. It’s available in a condensed as well as a longer version. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto. Follow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel

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True US goal in Syria is control over resources, not fighting ISIS – Russian MoD – By RT

True US goal in Syria is control over resources, not fighting ISIS – Russian MoD
The US-led coalition’s attack on pro-government forces in Syria has again proven that Washington’s true goal is to capture “economic assets” instead of fighting terrorism, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The MoD was referring to an incident which took place on Tuesday in Deir Ez-Zor province, as a Syrian militia unit was moving against a “sleeper cell” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The operation was prompted by a surge in shelling of the positions of Syrian government forces in the area over the past few days, attributed to the covert activities of IS terrorists, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

A unit of the pro-government militia was conducting a reconnaissance search mission on February 7 near the former oil processing plant of Al-Isba. While there, “the militiamen came under a surprise mortar and MRLS shelling, and were attacked by helicopters of the US-led ‘international coalition.’”

As a result, 25 members of the pro-government unit were injured. Initial media reports, citing unnamed US officials, suggested that some 100 Syrian soldiers had died in the assault by the coalition forces.

The US Central Command earlier called the attack on Syrian militiamen “self-defense,” claiming that the troops allegedly launched an “unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] headquarters.”

The US version of events, however, raises “lots of questions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

Following the incident, the Russian military talked to the coalition through the established communication channels, with the latter stating that Al-Isba was under the control of SDF and US troops. The immediate cause of the incident, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, was the fact that the militia unit acted on its own, without consulting Russian advisers first.

The case exposes a greater problem, however, as according to the MoD the attack by the coalition “once again proved that the true goal of the continuous illegal presence of US forces in Syria is already not the fight against ISIS international terrorist group, but the capture and control of the economic assets belonging solely to the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Damascus has decried the attack as a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity,” SANA reports, citing a letter to the UN issued by the Foreign Ministry. The US-led coalition is illegal and should be disbanded altogether, the ministry stressed.

“We demand [the international community] condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it,” the ministry said, adding that this is not the first time the US-led coalition has targeted Syrian government forces.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US-led coalition’s presence on its soil, calling it an act of blatant aggression and violation of the country’s sovereignty.

Damascus has also urged the UN to press the US to leave, especially following the successful defeat of the main IS forces. The US, however, has stated that it may remain in Syria indefinitely to counter what it describes as Iranian influence and to secure “post-Assad leadership” for the country.

Recent developments indicate that the US might be effectively shifting towards partitioning Syria altogether, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned earlier on Wednesday.

“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists,” Lavrov stated.

“Now, they are saying that they will keep their presence until they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change.”

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Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report – By RT

Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report
A new study from advocacy group Tax Justice Network reveals that Switzerland is the world’s most-corrupt country, with a “high secrecy score of 76.” It’s followed by the US and the Cayman Islands.

“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s largest offshore financial centers, and one of the world’s biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” said the group’s report ‘Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results’.

It explained that “the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.

“These factors, along with ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial sector whistleblowers (resorting at times to what appear to be non-legal methods) are ongoing reminders of why Switzerland remains the most important secrecy jurisdiction in the world today,” said the report.

The index ranks countries for the assistance their legal systems provide to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the secrecy score, the more corrupt the government is.

In order to create the index, a secrecy score is combined with a figure representing the size of the offshore financial services industry in each country.

According to the report, the United States’ secrecy score (60) is rising, which results in attracting corrupt wealth. In 2013, the US was in the sixth place, and in 2015 it took the third in the rating.

“The continued rise of the US in the 2018 index comes off the back of a significant change in the US share of the global market for offshore financial services. Between 2015 and 2018 the US increased its market share in offshore financial services by 14 percent,” said the report. In total the US accounts for 22.3 percent of the global market in offshore financial services.

“The US provides a wide array of secrecy and tax-free facilities for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual states.”

The report added that “Financial secrecy provided by the US has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.”

Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Guernsey closed out the top-10 most corrupt countries.

The least corrupt nations among the 112 covered in the rating were San Marino, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Montserrat.

The countries with the lowest secrecy score were UK (42) and Slovenia (42), Belgium (44), Sweden (45), Lithuania (47), Italy (49) and Brazil (49).

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Koch Brothers Plotting Takeover of Supreme Court The billionaire magnates have their eyes on the Supreme Court, and that’s not all. by Jacob Sugarman (MINT PRESS )

Chairman of the board of Americans for Prosperity David Koch speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP/Paul Vernon)

Between Donald Trump’s historic unpopularity and an unprecedented number of resignations in the House and Senate, this year’s midterm elections could prove to be a blue wave for Democrats, even with much of the congressional map gerrymandered against them. If so, the Koch brothers appear to have missed the memo.

According to CBS, the right-wing billionaires are “all in” for 2018, planning to spend as much as $400 million on political candidates across the country. But it’s not just Congress they hope to reshape in their own image. The Washington Post reports the oil magnates have their sights set on the next Supreme Court vacancy, and that their political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, is “expanding its portfolio into the judicial branch.”

“In 2017, the network’s activists worked phones and knocked on doors, urging voters to push their senators to confirm Neil M. Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia,” writes the Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “The new effort will build on the 2017 work, led by Concerned Veterans for America, which network officials viewed as an indication of how much energy activists will bring to the new judicial campaign.”

As part of their latest push, the Kochs announced Sunday that they have hired Sarah Field as vice president of judicial strategy. Field previously worked for the Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative pressure group that has helped Trump stack the courts with any number of far-right ideologues, including Gorsuch.

The Kochs’ active involvement in the nomination process speaks to their burgeoning alliance with the Trump administration. While the avowed libertarians refused to endorse Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, they have found common cause with the president on a host of policy matters, ranging from a trillion-dollar tax cut for multinational corporations and the rich, to massive deregulation and the ongoing dismantling of the Environment Protection Agency. As a separate report from Ye Hee Lee and James Hohmann of the Post reveals, they already have a major ally in Marc Short, a former political strategist for the Kochs who now serves as White House liaison to Capitol Hill.

“On areas of disagreement where they were once outspoken—such as supporting free trade, advocating more open borders and opposing deficit spending—network officials now tread carefully to downplay divisions and avoid antagonizing Trump,” Ye Hee Lee and Hohmann observe.

Over the weekend, more than 500 megadonors, each of whom contributes more than $100,000 annually to the Koch network, gathered at a resort in Palm Springs for a biannual seminar to assess, among other things, the first year of the Trump’s presidency. When Americans for Prosperity’s Tim Phillips mentioned the former reality show host’s numerous federal district and circuit court appointments—the most in modern American history—the crowd erupted in applause.

“Securing Justice Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court bench was a major victory for freedom, but the fight to realign our courts around the rule of law is far from over,” the newly appointed Field said in a statement. “This year we will mobilize our activists as needed, particularly when members of the Senate choose to needlessly obstruct the confirmation process. When the next vacancy opens on the Supreme Court, we will be ready.”

Top Photo | Chairman of the board of Americans for Prosperity David Koch speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP/Paul Vernon)

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet, where it first appeared.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

 
 

Syrian Forces Conduct Op in Idlib, Where Russian Su-25 Was Shot Down – Lawmaker- By SPUTNIK

Syrian forces conduct special operation in Damascus suburb

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin
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Downing of Russian Su-25 in Syria (5)
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The Syrian Special Forces are conducting a military operation in the area, where the day before a Russian Su-25 was shot down by the Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group, killing its pilot.

“The [Russian] air forces destroyed the [terrorist] unit, which fired the MANPADs, … at the present moment the Syrian Special Forces are working in the area. And if the elements of this MANPAD are found, then by their manufacture numbers and by origin, in the nearest future we will know where these MANPADs came from,” Russian government party member Viktor Vodolatsky stated, citing his sources.

According to the lawmaker, the Russian air defense are maintaining close air-support for the offensive.

The operation takes place after the Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group, which includes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously known as al-Nusra Front) terror organization, on February 3 shot down a Russian Su-25 aircraft using a handheld anti-aircraft missile while it was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria. The pilot of the jet fighter managed to eject himself from the plane, but was killed by the militants in a subsequent fight.

READ MORE: Terrorists Shot Down Russian Su-25 in Idlib, Russia Airstrikes Attack Zone – MoD

The Russian side promptly responded to the attack, conducting a high-precision missile strike in an area controlled by the terrorists, killing some 30 of them.

Tahrir al-Sham has claimed responsility for the downing, releasing a post on social media quoting their commander in charge, saying that one of their militants had hit a Russian SU-25 during an “air raid” over the city of Saraqeb in the northwestern province of Idlib.

READ MORE: Tahrir Al-Sham Claims Responsibility for Shooting Down Russian SU-25 – Reports

Russia’s Olympians win case against International Olympic Committee – By Alexander Mercouris

Court of Arbitration for Sport lifts IOC imposed lifetime bans on Olympic participation by 28 clean Russian athletes

epa05439101 (FILE) A file picture dated 23 February 2014 of the Olympic flag (L) and the Russian flag (R) during the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games in the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 24 July 2016 announced that Russia will not receive a blanket ban from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following the country’s doping scandal. The IOC said that it would be the responsibility of the individual sports federations to check the doping records of Russian competitors under its jurisdiction. EPA/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Two months ago, when the International Olympic Committee decided to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee and to ban Russian athletes from competing in the coming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea under their own flag – allowing only a selected few Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic flag and by invitation only – I expressed in an article for RussiaFeed my own total incomprehension at this decision.

I said that the decision seemed to me to make no legal sense since it contradicted the findings of the International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid report, which concluded that there was no evidence of any government organised state sponsored doping scheme in Russia

Schmid – somewhat grudgingly but nonetheless conclusively – admits that there is in fact no evidence of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia

….the independent and impartial evidence do not allow the IOC DC to establish with certitude either who initiated or who headed this scheme.

On many occasions, reference was made on the involvement at the Minister of Sport’s level, but no indication, independent or impartial evidence appeared to corroborate any involvement or knowledge at a higher level of the State.

Elsewhere Schmid admits that the doping scheme in Russia did not involve all Russian athletes – a sure indication by the way that it was not government organised or state sponsored – and that it was different from the doping scheme in the former German Democratic Republic, which of course was both government organised and state sponsored.

Given that this is so, why is former Sports Minister Mutko against whom no evidence of wrongdoing exists being banned from participating in the Olympic Games for the rest of his life?

Why is the Russian Olympic Committee being suspended, when no evidence of the involvement of any of its members in the doping scheme exists?……

The anti-doping systems now put in place in Russia are now universally acknowledged to be just about the best in the world……

Given that this is so and that there is no longer any possibility of Russian athletes engaging in a massive doping conspiracy in the coming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, why is action being taken to prevent them competing on the same basis as everyone else?……

In reality the decision of the International Olympic Committee to ban certain Russians from involvement in the Olympic Movement, to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee, and to allow only specially invited Russian athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics and then only under the Olympic flag, has nothing to do either with sport or doping or the principles of legality.

The sequel was that the Russians – grudgingly and perhaps wrongly – agreed to the International Olympic Committee’s terms so as to permit those Russian athletes who wanted to compete in the PyeongChang Games and could obtain invitations from the International Olympic Committee to do so.

However he situation then went from bad to worse, with the International Olympic Committee banning Russian athletes against whom no evidence of involvement in doping exists or has ever existed.

The decisions moreover were made in secret, with no real explanation of how or why they were being made.

Russian bafflement and anger at these seemingly whimsical and arbitrary decisions was made abundantly clear at a meeting on 31st January 2018 which President Putin held with those Russian athletes who had managed to secure invitations to compete in the PyeongChang Games from the International Olympic Committee.

After apologising to the athletes for the Russian government’s failure to protect them President Putin had this to say

At the same time, while admitting our own failures, mistakes, lack of attention to the things relevant and important in modern sports, we really hope that our colleagues in international sport organisations will do everything to make sure these organisations do not become departments of certain countries’ government bodies, no matter how powerful and influential these countries seem at first glance. We really hope for this kind of attitude towards this matter, towards sports, and rely on their courage.

We realise that modern sport is linked with sponsorship, advertising and everything else that accompanies major international competitions. But if modern international sports and the Olympic movement lose the main element of sport, which unites peoples and countries, all of it will become pointless. In this case the appeal of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin “O Sport, You are Peace!” will lose its meaning.

We will do everything to prevent this from happening. We will work with international organisations and support, as I said, our athletes who did not make it to the Olympics.

Some things really seem strange to us in this context. As you know, many of them were allegedly banned from the Games for the totality of circumstances not related to doping. What are we fighting against then? Doping or something else? We would like to know what it is.

(bold italics added)

The highlighted words show that the Russians believe that the International Olympic Committee is being pressured by threats to withdraw sponsorship and advertising coming from Western countries, first and foremost the United States.

Other Russian officials have made their anger clear in far less measured terms.  Nikolay Patrushev, the powerful secretary of Russia’s Security Council, has said that if the International Olympic Committee continues on its present course it risks the break-up of the Olympic Movement.  .

I suspect that the Russians privately believe that the true reason why Russian athletes with clean records were being banned was because they were seen as posing an increasingly dangerous threat to the medal hopes of US athletes.

There also seems to have been a secondary desire to humiliate Russia by knocking it off its position at the top of the Sochi Winter Games’ medal table.

The anger in Russia on this issue perhaps explains the current runaway success in Russia of the film ‘Going Vertical’, which tells the story of how the Soviet basketball team beat the US national team at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.  Reuters has this to say about popular reaction to this film in Russia

After taking more than 2.2 billion roubles ($38.88 million) at the box office in just over three weeks, the film, financed by the state, has become the country’s most successful home grown production in rouble terms, watched by over 9 million people or approximately one in 12 registered voters.

During one packed Moscow showing this week, some audience members broke into spontaneous applause and others wiped tears from their eyes at decisive moments in the narrative.

Regardless, the first legal consequences of the International Olympic Committee’s decisions became evident today when three separate panels of the Lausanne based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) unanimously decided to lift lifetime bans imposed by the International Olympic Committee on 28 Russian athletes against whom no evidence of doping violations exists, and to reduce the time limits of bans imposed on 11 others.

The Russians are hailing these decisions as a breakthrough, and perhaps they are.

However it is testament to the implacable attitudes of some people that the International Olympic Committee is saying that it may defy these CAS decisions, so that the Russians athletes whose bans CAS has lifted may still be prevented from participating in the PyeongChang Games.  In addition the International Olympic Committee is also saying that it is considering appealing the CAS decisions to the Swiss Federal Appeal Court.

That the Olympic Charter apparently says that the International Olympic Committee is bound by CAS’s decisions, and that defiance of those decisions may therefore be contrary to the Olympic Charter, apparently is neither here nor there.

Meanwhile the CAS decisions have provoked a furious reaction from the usual suspects.

An article by Martha Kelner in the Guardian harshly criticises the International Olympic Committee not for acting illegally by banning clean athletes against whom no evidence of doping violations exists, but for not going further by imposing a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, irrespective of whether they are guilty or not

First there was the news that the Russian athletes permitted to compete as neutrals would still be introduced on the start line as being from Russia. Then came the announcement that the Russian flag may appear at the closing ceremony as their national anthem booms around the stadium and into homes around the world. Last week it was revealed that, of a pool of 389 Russian athletes, 169 would be allowed to compete in South Korea.

We should have anticipated this really. By caveating its ban with the provision that Russian athletes who could “prove” they are clean would be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang, the IOC left itself with wriggle room. But the ruling of Cas has exposed a gaping hole that leaves many asking whether the lawyers should have realised the potential for this unravelling – especially as the IOC president, Thomas Bach, is a former Cas lawyer.

The IOC could have followed the blueprint of the International Paralympic Committee, which successfully banned Russian athletes from Rio 2016, or the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, which did the same. But instead it issued lifetime bans on 45 athletes which history should have told it were unenforceable

In other words the International Olympic Committee should have imposed a collective punishment on Russian athletes by banning all of them regardless of whether they are innocent or not because they are Russians.

Needless to say that is not only completely illegal; it is also grossly discriminatory and morally wrong.

Kelner justifies her call by citing the “overwhelming evidence” of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia, whose existence supposedly has been “proved”.  CAS supposedly made the “wrong” decisions because it ignored the existence of this conspiracy which has been “proved”

A month before Rio 2016 a report authored by the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren found overwhelming evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia. So why – more than 18 months later – are we a week away from another Olympic Games wondering yet again how many Russian athletes will be competing?…

There are questions also to be asked of Cas about how it has dealt with these cases. It seems they have been treated like any other anti-doping violation appeal dropped through the Cas letterbox in Lausanne, Switzerland. That is to say each case has been treated individually, ignoring what is proven evidence of a state-run system….

This verdict has given Russia some serious arsenal in the propaganda war and it is already claiming that it proves talk of state-sponsored doping was overblown. For all the posturing, once again the clean athletes are the victims here and their turmoil goes on.

The Schmid report in fact found no evidence – much less “overwhelming evidence” – of a government organised state sponsored doping scheme in Russia, and in evidence given to Schmid Professor McLaren himself in effect admitted that he had no proof that a government organised state sponsored doping scheme had been operating in Russia.

I say this because Professor McLaren admitted to Schmid that he had no proof that Vitaly Mutko – Russia’s Sports Minister, who would have had to have been involved in any government organised state sponsored scheme – had any knowledge of the doping which was going on,

As for Kelner’s suggestion that Russian athletes should be denied the right to prove their innocence, I am quite simply at a loss to know what to say, other than that attitudes to Russians in Britain must be very bad indeed if it has now become so easy to demand that Russians be denied their right to prove their innocence simply because they are Russians.

The Russians for their part are saying that if the International Olympic Committee continues to defy the CAS decisions by preventing Russian athletes whose bans have been lifted from participating in the PyeongChang Games then they will bring legal action against the International Olympic Committee in the Swiss civil courts.

I have no doubt that they will do so, and given the CAS decisions I have no doubt they will win.

As for the appeal to the Swiss Federal Appeal Court that the International Olympic Committee is talking about, I cannot see what possible grounds there are for it, and I am sure if it is ever brought it will fail.

The next couple of days will show what the International Olympic Committee will now do.

Hopefully sense will finally prevail and talk of talk of pointless appeals and further legal action will fade.

If so there may be grounds for hope of a belated return to sanity, and for a line to be drawn under this unhappy affair

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The Comic Gay Oligarch Heroes of the West Versus Putin – By Phil Butler (EASTERN OUTLOOK)

 

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I’ll admit it, I have come to enjoy defending Russian President Vladimir Putin to readers. It’s the easiest job in the world, you know? One thing that makes deriding Putin opponents so easy is the fact that after four years of constant mudslinging, the ultimate villain remains unscathed. Yes, Putin makes political analysis of the current geo-political mess easy work. It’s too bad more people in the west don’t pay attention. Here’s the latest light work from my desktop.

The New York Times headline read, “Russians Brave Icy Temperatures to Protest Putin and Election.” And I thought out loud, “Hell, Russians brave icy temperatures to walk their dogs every morning. What’s so brave about that?” But the headline is catchy, I’ll hand it to the Putin hating dynamic duo of Neil MacFarquhar and Ivan Nechepurenko. Once again, the sellout western press refuses to surrender its stupendous assault on logic and our senses. And the criminal and blogger, who shall henceforth go unnamed by me, called on his throng of disciples (blog readers and Pussy Riot fans) to rise up like the Bolsheviks, to take back Russia for the Rothschilds. Like I said, my job gets easier and easier. According to the mighty NYTs, the blogger who would be Russia’s salvation recorded a message for his heroic horde of dissenters. It went something like this:

“Every additional year of Putin staying in power is one more year of decay.”

Really? As if every Russian on Earth does not realize where their country’s economic problems emanated from! Russians with Putin are 1,000 times better off than if they were just another Eastern European “democracy” feeding fat Germans and Hollanders. Like bad pennies, MacFarquhar and Nechepurenko keep turning up like an uninvited gay couple at a heterosexual wedding. If I did not know better I’d say they both possess a double dose of Putin envy, this based on their continual missed steps in reporting on what the world’s most famous Russian is up to. But I am not here to discuss MacFarquhar playing the man-part, or his colleague riding a big-green toy choo-choo train in his Twitter pic. It seems to me though, that a disproportionate number of anti-Putin people are gay, aren’t they? The blogger in question, Putin’s toughest foe according to everybody from Bloomberg to the Wall Street Journal, he’s got some real winners on his side. But let’s move on to other headlines, just to reveal how my job of debunking idiots has become child’s play.

CBS Sports has even been called up by the western oligarchs, to do their political duty and hammer on Putin. Yes, you guessed it, “Remembering the time Vladimir Putin stole Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring,” it recollects the claims the Russian president took the Patriots owner’s 2005 Super Bowl ring. The story tells of the NFL New England Patriots very own oligarch, Robert Kraft whining about Putin “stealing” his ring, when in reality he gave it to the Russian president then went “Indian giver” on account of the new Russophobia. I recall Kraft standing with Vladimir Putin and the world’s crookedest media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. Oh, and how can believe a man whose team cheated in the Super Bowl, anyhow. The image is here, see for yourself. And just to show how stupid Kraft is, his retailing of the story reflects Russia as still being the Soviet Union. One has to wonder how such nincompoops become billionaires. Again, proving author Pete Blackburn should stick to reporting touchdown dances in the end zone instead of trying to drive traffic to his column using Putin – it’s easy pickings for me.

Last, but not least, every bit of storyline you read about Russia’s famous president bears the stench of vested interest, one way or another. Take this Houston Chronicle story about a Russian natural gas shipment arriving in Boston last week. Why would a Houston newspaper be interested in an LNG shipment to Boston? First, the Houston Chronicle needs more Texas pipeline and ports authority readers and fans. Secondly, the newspaper is owned by Hearst Corporation, which makes most of its money, not from the sale of newspapers, movies, or TV shows, but from business information systems like; First DatabankHomecare HomebaseMOTOR Information Systems, and Fitch Ratings. “How?” you ask, does a Houston Chronicle story affect profits for Hearst Corporation endeavors in financial information business? I’ll leave you to figure out how such levers are pulled. Suffice it to say there’s money in bashing Putin at every turn. Here’s a Fitch Ratings report on sanctions and Russian LNG from December, just to get your started.

Yes, defenders of those pesky Ruskies, and of their pragmatist leader Vladimir Putin, we’ve grown accustomed to the easy analytical life. The other side of the narrative has made it just too easy with the unrelenting bullshit – sensational claim after unsubstantiated sensational lie – the Panama Papers and Baltic invasions… And all Putin has to do is sail a rusty tub of an antique aircraft carrier past the cliffs of Dover to set his populace laughing until they can’t stop coughing. This is what westerners don’t quite get. Russia seems all hurt and pissed off, but in reality, Putin supporters are laughing themselves to death over western lunacy. Maybe somebody should try and poll this reaction across wide Russia, instead of attempting to pull the wool over the world’s eyes.

Hey, Neil MacFarquhar, Putin and the Russians beat ISIS. Putin and the Russians think the New York Times is funny. And the rest of the world is catching on.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
https://journal-neo.org/2018/02/01/the-comic-gay-oligarch-heroes-of-the-west-versus-putin/

Too many wars make too many enemies – By Pat Buchanan (Creators) (SOTT)

black countries on red

© SOTT.net

If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week’s end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his troops will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded. Erdogan’s foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the U.S. to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates, all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, the U.S. will face a choice: Stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area with Turkey, as Erdogan threatens, U.S. credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan’s forces could mean a crackup of NATO and loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO’s loss of Turkey would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges to U.S. foreign policy.

Comment: Wars are not one-sided, and picking to fight one is never a requisite. Choosing to fight many wars simultaneously is downright insanity.

The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the threat of a North Korean ICBM that could hit the U.S. out of the news. But no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China’s territorial claims with U.S. warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a duplicitous and false friend. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

As for America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon. A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing.

If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States?

Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago.

This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, have seized power in Yemen’s southern port of Aden, from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis. These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn.

There are other wars – Somalia, Libya, Ukraine – where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fight for scores of nations, with troops on every continent, and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. “I didn’t know there were 1,000 troops in Niger,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. “We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing.”

No, we don’t, Senator. As in all empires, power is passing to the generals.

And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city? Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia-gate.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.

Comment: And there it is. The ‘memo’ trumps unholy wars. This is what distracts the American public from the ongoing, escalating and mind-blowing atrocities being committed daily in its name.

John Pilger discusses mainstream media and imperial power – By Dennis J. Bernstein, Randy Credico (MintPress News)

John Pilger

© AP/Lefteris Pitarakis
Filmmaker John Pilger, Ecuadorian Embassy, London, June 22, 2012.

Emmy award-winning filmmaker John Pilger is among the most important political filmmakers of the 20th and 21st century. From Vietnam to Palestine to atomic war, Pilger’s work has been on the cutting edge, and his stinging critique of western media has always be revelatory. And, no doubt, his biting analysis is more relevant and important now than ever. His latest film, The Coming War on China powerfully presages the growing potential for war between the US and China.

Randy Credico and Dennis J. Bernstein spoke with Pilger on January 18 about the multiple failures of the corporate press in fanning the phony flames of Russiagate, and turning its back on Julian Assange – acting more like prosecutors than journalists, whose responsibility it is to monitor the centers of power and report back to the people.

They also spoke with Pilger about the recent decision by the British Library to acquire his substantial works and invaluable archives and make them readily available to a much wider audience:

Dennis Bernstein: Congratulations, John. Your work has now been made a part of the collection at the British Library.

John Pilger: To see all my written work over the years go onto a single hard drive was a sobering experience. I am pleased, however, because now in the digital age people can access all of my work and I myself can access information I may have forgotten.

Dennis Bernstein: I would like to read a little of what they said on the record when they welcomed your material into the library. They write,

“Throughout his career, John Pilger has demonstrated the power and significance of investigative journalism in uncovering stories of people who have been ignored by the mainstream media or left otherwise without voice. His groundbreaking work in Cambodia revealed the devastation caused by the Khmer Rouge and his film Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia has subsequently been described as one of the ten most influential documentaries of the twentieth century.”

I would like to read now a little of the statement that you sent to the World’s Socialist Conference where they were discussing the deep nature of censorship. You wrote,

“Something has changed. Although the media was always a loose extension of capital power, it is now almost fully integrated. Dissent, once tolerated in the mainstream, has now regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves toward a form of corporate dictatorship.”

And it is getting worse at an exponential rate, wouldn’t you say?

John Pilger: Yes. Chris Hedges is an example of that. He was right in the mainstream at The New York Times and now finds himself outside it. Another example is America’s most celebrated investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, who it appears now can only get published in Germany. Hersh has effectively been ejected from the mainstream in the United States.

In my own case, I navigated my way through the mainstream. My films are still shown on commercial TV in Britain. My written journalism, however, is no longer welcome. Its last home was The Guardian, which three years ago got rid of people like me and others in a kind of purge of those who were saying what The Guardian no longer says anymore.

That has happened right across the liberal media. The Washington Post – which is at the moment going through a period of self-aggrandizement with the release of the film The Post – is also the notorious source of a site which listed some of the most distinguished dissenting sites in the United States, including Consortiumnews, Black Agenda Report, Counterpunch and others, as sources of Russian propaganda. It is forcing all of us into this margin, when really the mainstream is in the margin and the margin is in the mainstream.

Dennis Bernstein: Could you talk about the work of Julian Assange in the context of this corporate censorship machine?

John Pilger: Julian Assange has personally borne the brunt of much of this historic shift. He and Wikileaks have exposed so much, and that is unforgivable. There is no doubt that what Wikileaks has done is the most important disclosure journalism of my lifetime. Around the world, politicians who have been deceiving the public have been caught out by the revelations of Wikileaks. It is quite an epic achievement.

Anger has been directed at Julian by people in the media who have been shamed by Wikileaks, because Wikileaks did the job that journalists ought to have been doing for many years. Wikileaks has done it across such a spectrum and put to shame those who are paid to keep the record straight. That has been Assange’s crime.

Dennis Bernstein: It has come to the point where to tell the truth is to commit professional suicide.

Randy Credico: At the recent World Socialist Conference, Julian Assange warned of what he called the “super states” on the internet and how much power they have – the Facebooks and Googles, etc.

John Pilger: He raised the whole specter of artificial intelligence and how it can be abused by the undemocratic forces that control so much of the world. I think what he had to say was very interesting and extremely timely. It is important to remember that Assange is a refugee and that the refugee is almost a symbol of our times. There are those who try to cross the Mediterranean and don’t make it or who cross deserts to get work to support their families.

Julian is a political refugee who is trying to inform us of something we either don’t know about or are unwilling to talk about. The United Nations has recognized that he is being detained unlawfully. It is interesting to hear what he says but we also have to keep an eye on his welfare. His situation should be a burning issue for journalists everywhere. If it can happen to him, it can happen to any of us.

Randy Credico: A lot of mainstream journalists complain when Trump refers to them as the enemy of the people, but they have shown themselves to be very unwilling to circle the wagons around Assange. What is the upshot for journalists of Assange being taken down?

John Pilger: Trump knows which nerves to touch. His campaign against the mainstream media may even help to get him re-elected, because most people don’t trust the mainstream media anymore.

In my experience as a journalist, the public have always been ahead of the media. And yet, in many news outlets there has always been a kind of veiled contempt for the public. You find young journalists affecting a false cynicism that they think ordains them as journalists. The cynicism is not about the people at the top, it’s about the people at the bottom, the people that Hillary Clinton dismissed as “irredeemable.”

CNN and NBC and the rest of the networks have been the voices of power and have been the source of distorted news for such a long time. They are not circling the wagons because the wagons are on the wrong side. These people in the mainstream have been an extension of the power that has corrupted so much of our body politic. They have been the sources of so many myths.

This latest film about The Post neglects to mention that The Washington Post was a passionate supporter of the Vietnam War before it decided to have a moral crisis about whether to publish the Pentagon Papers. Today, The Washington Post has a $600 million deal with the CIA to supply them with information.

Media in the West is now an extension of imperial power. It is no longer a loose extension, it is a direct extension. Whether or not it has fallen out with Donald Trump is completely irrelevant. It is lined up with all the forces that want to get rid of Donald Trump. He is not the one they want in the White House, they wanted Hillary Clinton, who is safer and more reliable.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of Flashpoints on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at http://www.flashpoints.net.

Randy Credico is a political satirist, civil rights activist, prankster and host of Randy Credico Live on the Fly on WBAI.

Comment: Thank you John Pilger for the Alt News validation and your commentary on the sad state of honest journalism in Western society. FYI: SOTT was (proudly) included on the blacklist put together by PropOrNot and published in The Washington Post.

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