Monday, January 22, 2018

Weaponizing Paypal Offshoot: Palantir and the War Against Wikileaks and Whistleblowers

Palantir: The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks 

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News


January 22nd, 2018

WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now the fight to silence WikiLeaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.

As Part I of this investigative series revealed, Pierre Omidyar – eBay billionaire and PayPal’s long-time owner – holds considerable sway over several journalists and organizations that once championed WikiLeaks but now work for the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept. Thanks to his deep ties to the U.S. government and his own long-standing efforts to undermine the organization, Omidyar is using his influence to bring renewed pressure to WikiLeaks as it continues to publish sensitive government information.

However, Pierre Omidyar is not the only PayPal-linked billionaire with strong government connections and a dislike for WikiLeaks.

Peter Thiel, who once compared writers at Gawker to Al Qaeda after they wrote about his sexuality, is a close confidant of Donald Trump — who, as president, continues to crack down on whistleblowers (even denying them bail) and whose administration has named arresting WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange a top priority. 

Thiel is a perfect companion for the Trump administration in this regard — having, through his management of a top government technology contractor, overseen the creation of a “pre-crime” algorithm that targets would-be whistleblowers. Not only that, but that very contractor once created a plan challenging “the WikiLeaks threat,” a plan that displays some frightening similarities to current efforts to silence or discredit the organization and its famous editor.

Thiel, after Trump’s inauguration, was nearly appointed chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, until Thiel withdrew his name. Several of Thiel’s top aides and associates have been given high-profile positions, including important positions on the National Security Council.

However, Thiel’s strongest relationship to the government comes not from his Trump White House ties, but from his being chairman of the government contractor Palantir Technologies, a company Fortune called “one of Silicon Valley’s biggest, most secretive software startups.”

Palantir began at PayPal as an antifraud algorithm that detected “unusual account activity.” However, following September 11, PayPal co-founder Thiel theorized it could be used to look for “terrorists.” He, along with his long-time associate Alex Karp, decided to name their offshoot company, which was based around the algorithm, after the all-seeing crystal from The Lord of the Rings. It was launched in 2004, two years after PayPal was acquired by eBay’s Pierre Omidyar.

Upon launching, Palantir was largely funded by Thiel himself as well as by In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA – an agency also connected to Pierre Omidyar. Since its founding, Thiel has long had a hand in how Palantir is run and currently serves as its chairman. As of 2015, PayPal employees still composed 80 percent of Palantir’s management team.

Palantir and its connections


While Palantir Technologies has many high-profile clients, including some of Wall Street’s largest banks, its most important customer is the U.S. government. Palantir has benefited greatly from government contracts over the last decade, raking in more than $419 million between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2016 from a total of 121 contracts. In recent years, its profits from government work have grown substantially, to over $132 million in government contracts during fiscal year 2016.

The main government agencies that have contracted – and continue to contract – with Palantir are the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense. Its intelligence arm, called Palantir Government, is also used by the CIA, the FBI, the NSA and the Pentagon to “uncover terrorist networks,” fraudsters and “subversives.” Its track record for government work has long been celebrated by key officials in the Trump administration — including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Though Palantir has largely been hailed in the press for helping track down white-collar criminals like Bernie Madoff and aiding U.S. troops in tracking insurgents in occupied Iraq, it also has another less-publicized use that is of utmost interest to the U.S. government: preventing the leaking of classified information and silencing whistleblowers. By 2012, Palantir had developed a means of indexing information accessed by its software and had created “an audit trail of what the Palantir users were reading, whether they’d handled the information properly and whether they’d modified it in any way.”

Not only that, but – in recent years – Palantir has allowed the Orwellian concept of “pre-crime” to be put into practice. It tracks people the government suspects may commit crimes, including suspected “subversives.” Essentially, Palantir not only enables the government to catch leakers; by recording if classified information was improperly handled and by whom; it also predicts which government employees are most likely to blow the whistle, before it even happens.

The Palantir Plan 

 

A slide from a presentation of the ‘Palantir Plan’, which – at the 
direction of the U.S. government, hoped to clamp down on Wikileaks.


It’s no surprise that Palantir has developed capabilities that allow it to thwart the leak of government information to organizations like WikiLeaks by tracking – and predicting – the actions of potentially disgruntled government employees, soldiers and contractors. In 2010, the U.S. government was left reeling following WikiLeaks’ publication of the Iraq War logs and other documents allegedly leaked by Chelsea Manning. Already a top government contractor at the time, Palantir, along with two other top technology companies contracted by the government — HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies – was tasked with developing a plan not only to silence WikiLeaks but to destroy it completely.

The resulting plan of attack devised by three firms, titled “The WikiLeaks Threat,” was made public in 2011 after hackers associated with Anonymous targeted HBGary and gained access to scores of emails sent between HBGary, Berico and Palantir. It seeks mainly to take advantage of existing fractures within the community of WikiLeaks and its supporters through an elaborate media disinformation campaign. The leaked correspondence among the three contractors showed that the plan was meant to target WikiLeaks’ “global following and volunteer staff” as well as its donor group.

The plan is based largely on what the firms identified as WikiLeaks’ three biggest weaknesses and how those weaknesses could be “capitalized on.” The first weakness mentioned is “financial” and references the financial blockade against WikiLeaks that began in 2010. HBGary’s CEO at the time, Aaron Barr, had also mentioned, in the leaked correspondence relating to the document, that it was important to “get people to understand that if they support the organization we will come after them. Transaction records are easily available.” In other words, Barr asserted that those individuals donating to WikiLeaks should also be targeted.

The next weakness noted regards “security.” Though it doesn’t reference any existing security problem, the document calls for the “need to create doubt about their security and increase awareness that interaction with WikiLeaks will expose you.” The latter was also part of an anti-WikiLeaks strategy laid out in a U.S. Army report.

The final weakness noted in the document targets the “mission” of WikiLeaks. It notes that “there is a fracture among the followers because of a belief that Julien [sic] is going astray from the cause and has selected his own mission of attacking the U.S.” The document later notes that this fracture should be exploited by working to “feed the fuel between the feuding groups” by using “disinformation” and by creating “messages around [WikiLeaks] actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization.” A “media campaign to push the radical and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities” is also cited.

Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the attention the document gives to one individual in particular: journalist and the shining star of The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald. The document notes that Greenwald was critical in moving WikiLeaks’ U.S.-based server to a French one following the release of the Manning leaks, stating specifically that “it is this level of support that needs to be disrupted.” This statement refers more broadly to well-known journalistic professionals with “a liberal bent.” The document further notes that most of these professionals “if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals.”

The document concludes that “without the support of people like Glenn, WikiLeaks would fold.”

Executing the Plan


Though Palantir’s CEO at the time of the document’s release, Alex Karp, apologized for the company’s role in devising a plan to neuter WikiLeaks and spoke haughtily of the organization’s right to free speech, events that have taken place in the years since it’s release suggest this plan was never taken off the table, as Karp seemed to imply, and is currently in effect.

For instance, the plan to exploit WikiLeaks’ “security” weakness mentioned in the document was made manifest through the Obama administration’s persecution (now continued by Trump) of whistleblowers. This crackdown – for the first time – saw legitimate whistleblowers, such as Jeffrey Sterling and John Kiriakou, imprisoned in order to make examples of them. In both of those cases, Sterling and Kiriakou were convicted after allegedly revealing classified information to journalists — James Risen and Matthew Cole, respectively. Risen and Cole are both currently employed by Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept.

Of course, the longest and harshest prison sentence was reserved for Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks’ most well-known source, who was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for the leaks until her sentence was commuted during Obama’s final days as president. Palantir has, as previously mentioned, contributed by helping the government track suspected and potential whistleblowers within the ranks of its employees, increasing the likelihood that anyone who tries to come forward with sensitive or classified information will be exposed and suffer major legal consequences.

There is also evidence that the “financial” weakness of WikiLeaks is again being exploited as the organization finds itself under increased pressure in response to its recent, controversial releases.

As mentioned in Part I of this series, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) — funded by Omidyar and with many of its directors on The Intercept’s payroll — voted unanimously to stop receiving donations on behalf of WikiLeaks in December, even though it had been set up primarily to help WikiLeaks circumvent the blockade that Omidyar and others oversaw. Even though Omidyar had publicly stated in 2013 that the PayPal blockade was no longer in effect, the FPF had admitted at that time that, despite Omidyar’s statement, the blockade continued. Though the situation between PayPal and WikiLeaks has remained largely unchanged since that year, the FPF’s position on the matter has changed drastically in recent months. Wikileaks has interpreted the FPF’s new position essentially denying the existence of the blockade as proof that the organization has kowtowed to political pressure.

Given what is referenced in the Palantir document and the associated leaked correspondence, there is substantial evidence suggesting that this is the newest iteration of the blockade against WikiLeaks — targeting donations made specifically from within the U.S., which also happens to be WikiLeaks’ largest donor base.

Turning Greenwald: exploiting professional preservation and advancement?


Also of interest is the Palantir document’s seemingly prophetic reference to Glenn Greenwald. Upon joining The Intercept in 2013, Greenwald relegated the rights over the Snowden cache to Omidyar — essentially privatizing them after a billionaire with government connections galore made him a very lucrative offer.

Greenwald has described Omidyar’s offer as “a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity [that] would be impossible for any journalist, let alone me, to decline.” This is a strong indication that Greenwald was presented with the choice of “professional preservation over cause” and, as Palantir predicted, chose to follow the former. It is possible that Omidyar’s influence over the FPF and The Intercept may have persuaded other FPF members with a “liberal bent” to do the same.

Furthermore, while Greenwald still voices support for WikiLeaks and Assange to some degree on Twitter — mainly regarding Assange’s arbitrary detention — he has failed to comment on the FPF vote, of which he was part, as well as the virulent attacks against WikiLeaks leveled by some of his fellow FPF directors and fellow Intercept writers. Though his silence may seem unsurprising to some, given his and the FPF’s connections to Omidyar, it has been suggested that his silence may have struck a nerve with Assange.

In the wake of the 2016 election: exploiting the “mission” weakness


More telling than anything else, however, is why the FPF chose to move forward with this decision. Among those members of the FPF who have spoken up against WikiLeaks in recent months — each of them has pointed to the concern that WikiLeaks and Assange have “gone astray” from WikiLeaks’ original mission, rejecting its commitment to nonpartisanship and intentionally aiding the Trump campaign in the 2016 election — thus making the organization and Assange responsible for Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

Those FPF members that do not share these views have remained silent, despite the fact that many of them have vocally defended WikiLeaks in the past.

This is remarkably in keeping with the Palantir document’s cited “mission” weakness. While the document — written in 2010 — said that some disgruntled WikiLeaks supporters felt that Assange’s alleged target was the United States government, the same “fracture” has arisen with accusations that Assange was unfairly singling out Hillary Clinton. In both cases, Assange and WikiLeaks’ goal was to expose the crimes of both the U.S. government and, later, Hillary Clinton — not to slander either with false information.

Now, those accusing WikiLeaks of everything from Russian collusion to secretly plotting with the Trump campaign are being exploited by a massive “media campaign” built on “disinformation.” Just as the Palantir document suggests, this media campaign is working to “feed the fuel between feuding groups [i.e. those who accuse WikiLeaks of anti-Hillary partisanship and those who do not].”

As will be revealed in Part III of this series, one writer in particular — Kevin Poulsen — has been instrumental in this recent, post-election media campaign to discredit WikiLeaks. Yet, Poulsen’s history shows he is no friend to whistleblowers or WikiLeaks. Not only was Poulsen responsible for causing massive damage to the reputation and defense of Chelsea Manning prior to her trial, he also shares a direct connection to the FPF — and a shady connection to the U.S. government. More troubling still, he — after two mysterious suicides — is the only surviving member of the group that created SecureDrop, the app which — after being promoted by the FPF and The Intercept — is now widely used by top media outlets for “secret” communication between would-be whistleblowers and big-name journalists. Could Poulsen’s troubled past with WikiLeaks and its sources endanger SecureDrop’s goal of protecting whistleblowers?

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News. She has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently resides in Southern Chile. 



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Pentagon Declares Dominion: Document Carves Up Globe, Warns "Challengers"

Pentagon unveils strategy for military confrontation with Russia and China

by Bill Van Auken - WSWS


20 January 2018 

The Trump administration’s defense secretary, former Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, rolled out a new National Defense Strategy Friday that signals open preparations by US imperialism for direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Mattis made clear that the strategy, the first such document to be issued by the Pentagon in roughly a decade, represented an historic shift from the ostensible justification for US global militarism for nearly two decades: the so-called war on terrorism.

“Great power competition—not terrorism—is now the primary focus of US national security,” Mattis said in his speech, which accompanied the release of an 11-page declassified document outlining the National Defense Strategy in broad terms. A lengthier classified version was submitted to the US Congress, which includes the Pentagon’s detailed proposals for a massive increase in military spending.

Much of the document’s language echoed terms used in the National Security Strategy document unveiled last month in a fascistic speech delivered by President Donald Trump. Mattis insisted that the US was facing “growing threat from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.”

The defense strategy goes on to accuse China of seeking “Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.”

Russia, it charges, is attempting to achieve “veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor.”

“China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea,” it states.
“Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors.”

In what appeared to be a threat directed against both Russia and China, Mattis warned,

“If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.”

Both Moscow and Beijing issued statements condemning the US defense strategy. A Chinese spokesman denounced the document as a return to a “Cold War mentality.” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, told a United Nations press conference:

“It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialog, instead of using the basis of international law, the US is indeed striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts.” 

A government spokesman in Moscow characterized the document as “imperialistic.”

Like the National Security Strategy released last month, the defense strategy also singles out North Korea and Iran as “rogue regimes,” charging them with destabilizing regions through their “pursuit of nuclear weapons or sponsorship of terrorism.” It accuses Tehran of “competing with its neighbors, asserting an arc of influence and instability while vying for regional hegemony.”

The document calls for the preparation for war across what it describes as “three key regions”: the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. The document also makes brief references to Latin America and Africa, asserting the necessity of US imperialism striving for hegemony on both continents. It makes clear that these continents are arenas for the global “great power” struggle that forms the core of the strategy, asserting that a key aim in Africa is to “limit the malign influence of non-African powers.”

What emerges clearly from the Pentagon document is a vision of US imperialism besieged on all sides and in mortal danger of losing global dominance. It reflects the thinking among the cabal of retired and active-duty generals that dominate the Trump administration’s foreign policy that the past 16 years of unending wars in the Middle East and Central Asia have failed to further US strategic interests, creating a series of debacles, while grinding down the US military.

“Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding,” the document states.
“We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”

The Pentagon’s aim, according to the defense strategy, is to ensure that the US remains “the preeminent military power in the world” able to “ensure the balance of power remains in our favor,” “advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity” and “preserve access to markets.”

The thrust of the document is a demand for a vast buildup of the American war machine, which already spends more than the next eight countries combined, including nearly triple the military spending of China and roughly eight times the amount spent by Russia.

A failure to implement the huge military spending increases that the Pentagon is demanding—the Trump White House has called for a $54 billion increase in the military budget, while Congressional leaders have suggested an even bigger hike—will result “in decreasing U.S. global influence, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, and reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living,” the declassified summary of the defense strategy warns.

Despite having siphoned trillions of dollars out of the US economy to pay for the past 16 years of war, Mattis and the defense strategy present the American military as an institution that has been virtually starved of resources, unable to meet “readiness, procurement, and modernization requirements.”

The overriding objective in terms of modernization is the buildup of the US “nuclear triad”—Washington’s array of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers, capable of destroying life on the planet many times over.

The document said the Pentagon will seek to upgrade all aspects of its nuclear war-fighting apparatus, “including nuclear command, control, and communications, and supporting infrastructure.” It added that “Modernization of the nuclear force includes developing options to counter competitors’ coercive strategies, predicated on the threatened use of nuclear or strategic non-nuclear attacks.” In other words, the US military is prepared to launch a nuclear war in response to a conventional or cyberattack.

Tellingly, the Pentagon document uses the words “lethal” and “lethality” 15 times to describe the aims of Mattis and his fellow generals in regard to their proposed military buildup. Clearly, what is being prepared is a level of mass killing far beyond the bloodbaths carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

In Mattis’s speech there was a strong element of resentment toward the civilian government and its constitutional control over the military. He described US troops being compelled to “stoically carry a ‘success at any cost’ attitude, as they worked tirelessly to accomplish the mission with inadequate and misaligned resources simply because the Congress could not maintain regular order.”

Mattis warned that the war plans outlined in the document will require “sustained investment by the American people,” noting that “past generations” had been compelled to make “harsher sacrifices.”

These new “sacrifices” will take the form of savage cuts to essential social services, including the gutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with the transfer of resources to the military, the arms industry and the financial oligarchy.

The National Defense Strategy released Friday constitutes a grave warning to working people in the US and throughout the world. Driven by the crisis of their system, America’s capitalist ruling class and its military are preparing for a world war fought with nuclear weapons.

Keeping Up with the Tamimi's: Israel's War Against an Intransigent Palestinian Family

"Occupation is the biggest act of Provocation" says the father of Ahed al Tamimi

 by Going Underground - RT 


January 22, 2018

We speak to Bassem al-Tamimi, the father of jailed 16-year-old Palestinian schoolgirl Ahed al Tamimi, about protesting the illegal occupation of Palestine.



LIKE Going Underground http://fb.me/GoingUndergroundRT FOLLOW Going Underground http://twitter.com/Underground_RT FOLLOW Afshin Rattansi http://twitter.com/AfshinRattansi FOLLOW on Instagram http://instagram.com/officialgoingund...

Warning Signs: Wildlife Decline in Canada

Alarming Statistics About Wildlife Decline in Canada - CIRC Symposium at UNBC

by Peter Ewart -  Prince George Daily News


January 21, 2018

Megan Leslie, president of the World Wildlife Fund – Canada (WWF-C), says that wildlife populations are plummeting at an alarming rate around the world, including in Canada.

Leslie, former deputy leader of the federal NDP, was the keynote speaker at the opening session of a forum organized in Prince George on January 19-20 by UNBC’s Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) with the support of the ECHO Network (Environment, Community, Health Observatory) and PICS (Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions). About 175 people attended.

Leslie opened the session by talking about the WWF’s Living Planet 2016 Report.

The findings of this report show that wildlife populations across the world have declined by 58 per cent since 1970. According to Leslie, if we continue this trajectory, numbers will have declined by 67 per cent in 2020. In other words, we are facing a two-thirds decline of wildlife populations on the planet.

How is Canada doing? Leslie says that there is an expectation that Canada with such a vast land and huge expanses of water must be doing better. But WWF-C conducted its own wildlife survey of 903 species in Canada and found surprising results. At first glance, the situation does not look too bad, i.e. the overall decline has been about eight per cent since 1970. However, when these figures are dug into, it is cause for concern because certain species such as ducks and other waterfowl have actually risen in total numbers, thus masking the true state of the decline of other species.

Leslie points out the actual figures are shocking, with 50 per cent of species in Canada in decline. For example, grassland birds are down 69 per cent; shore birds – 43 per cent; amphibians – 34 per cent; and fish – 20 per cent.

She says that these figures have caused WWF-C to look at conservation differently. One thing is clear – the stressors and threats to wildlife populations are getting more complicated and difficult to deal with. For example, individual stressors are combining into cumulative impacts that magnify the overall stressors on wildlife species. In addition, cascading effects are being created, whereby a decline in one species creates stress on others in terms of the food chain, etc.

Stressors in Canada include habitat loss because of forestry, agriculture, urbanization and industrial development. Climate change in Canada is happening at almost double the global rate and is having a significant effect on wildlife. In addition, there is increased pollution, pesticides, sewage, plastic waste, shipping traffic, unsustainable harvests of fish, and the spread of invasive species.

In the past, problems could sometimes be solved by removing an individual stressor such as the pesticide DDT which was harming peregrine falcon populations. However, today, wildlife species often face multiple stressors, many of which are difficult to rectify.

For example, she cites the case of right whale deaths. Many of these deaths are being caused by ship strikes or net entanglements in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Solutions include having the ships slow down and designing safer nets. But the problem is larger. It is also about the changing climate, as right whales should not be in the Gulf at this time of year but rather in the Bay of Fundy and off the coast of Nova Scotia. Changes in water temperature have affected the location of zooplankton populations which the right whales traditionally feed upon.

British Columbians, of course, are familiar with the kinds of problem that Leslie discussed. Over the past few years, pine beetles have destroyed a large part of the pine forest in the Interior. On one level, yes, the infestation is caused by the pine beetle. But other factors that have exacerbated the problem include the warming climate, along with the planting of monocultures and forest fire suppression creating host material for the beetles.

In the face of the challenges of cumulative impacts and climate change, Leslie says that the conservation movement is changing and adapting, and that this is crucial for moving ahead. One of the interesting things that has happened as a result of the shocking statistics on wildlife decline in Canada is that it has further united WWF-C personnel and made them even more passionate to find solutions to the pressing problems facing wildlife conservation in the country.

Some of the WWF-C’s ongoing projects include the development of a Skeena Cumulative Effects Assessment Tool which provides a guide for community leaders and decision-makers to plan for and manage development to ensure the future of the Skeena eco-system for the benefit of the wildlife and human beings who live in the region. The large Skeena estuary is undergoing dramatic changes in terms of industrial development, rail, pipelines, shipping, tourism and other factors which will have a unprecedented cumulative effect. If not managed properly, this could put both the estuary and the region’s various natural resources at risk.

The WWF-C is also providing input into the Nunavut Land Use Plan that will set the course for conservation and economic development in that vast region. Leslie emphasized that industrial development such as mining is important for the economic development of Nunavut, but that careful land use planning is necessary to lessen impacts on migrating species like caribou. In addition, any development must be viewed in the whole picture of cumulative impacts on the region including rapid climate change, arctic shipping and other factors. In tackling these problems, the wealth of traditional knowledge from Indigenous peoples is critical and needs to be combined with modern science.

Leslie concluded her presentation by telling the audience that “you are demonstrating the possible,” and that conservation work in the future will require “all hands on deck.”

When Spy Worlds Collide: Fusion, Orbis, MI6, and CIA Clusterf*ck on Trump Investigation

The CIA Bull in Glenn Simpson's China Shop

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


January 22, 2018


Moscow - In criminal trials the rule for prosecuting and defending lawyers is the same. Never ask a witness a question unless you already know the answer.

The corollary rule for defending lawyers is – if the answer to your question will incriminate your client, don’t ask it, and hope the prosecutor fails to do his job.

Glenn Simpson, a former employee of the Wall Street Journal, is currently on trial in the US for having fabricated a dossier of allegations of Russian misconduct (bribes, sex, blackmail, hacking) involving President Donald Trump and circulating them to the press; the objective was to damage Trump’s candidacy before the November 2016 election.

Simpson was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017; then the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on November 8 and again on November 14, 2017. So far, Simpson’s veracity and business conduct face nothing more than the court of public opinion. He has not yet been charged with criminal or civil offences. That will happen if the evidence materializes that Simpson has been lying.

Simpson’s collaborator in the dossier and his business partner, Christopher Steele, is facing trial in the London High Court, charged with libels he and Simpson published in their dossier. Together, they are material witnesses in two federal US court trials for defamation, one in Miami and one in New York. If they perjure themselves giving evidence in those cases, they are likely to face criminal indictments. If they tell the truth, they are likely to face fresh defamation proceedings; perhaps a civil racketeering suit for fraud; maybe a false statement prosecution under the US criminal code.

One question for them is as obvious as its answer. Who do an American ex-journalist on US national security and an ex-British intelligence agent go to for sources on Russian undercover operations outside Russia in general, the US in particular? Answer — first, their friends and contacts from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); second, their friends and contacts from the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6, as the UK counterpart is known.

Why then did the twenty-two congressmen, the members of the House Intelligence Committee who subpoenaed Simpson for interview, fail to pursue what information he and Steele received either directly from the CIA or indirectly through British intelligence?

The answer no-one in the US wants to say aloud is the possibility that it was the CIA which provided Simpson and Steele with names and source materials for their dossier, creating the evidence of a Russian plot against the US election, and generating evidence of Russian operations. If that is what happened, then Simpson and Steele were participants in a false-flag CIA operation in US politics.

This isn’t idle speculation. It has been under investigation at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since Simpson and Steele decided in mid-2016 to go to the FBI to request an investigation, and then told American press to get the FBI to confirm it was investigating. At the fresh request this month from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI is still investigating.

Simpson’s appearance at the House Intelligence Committee was the sequel to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee; for that story, read this.


Simpson’s three lawyers from the Washington, DC, firm of Cunningham 
Levy Muse, who appeared with him at the Senate and House committee 
hearings. (L-R) Robert Muse; Joshua Levy, and Rachel Clattenburg. 

The firm’s other name partner, Bryan Cunningham, was a CIA officer specializing in cyber operations.

The transcripts of the House Intelligence Committee were released last Thursday. Simpson’s first appearance was on November 8, and can be read in full here.

Simpson’s lawyers did all the talking; Simpson said nothing, pleading the US Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Although his lawyers repeatedly claimed during the earlier Senate Committee hearing that Simpson was testifying voluntarily, the House Committee recorded that Simpson was compelled to testify. “Our record today,” the November 8 transcript begins,

“will reflect that you have been compelled to appear today pursuant to a subpoena issued on October 4th, 2017.” 

Simpson then told the Committee through his lawyers that he would plead the Fifth Amendment and not answer any questions. The first transcript is a record of debate between Republican and Democratic members of the Committee.

This resulted in an agreement for Simpson to testify under the subpoena but on terms his lawyers said would limit the scope of the questions which he would agree to answer.

Steele, according to the November 8 transcript, was also summoned to testify. A British citizen with home in Berkshire and office in London, he refused and the Committee recorded his “non-cooperation and non-testimony.”

Republicans outnumber Democrats on the House Committee, 13 to 9. Just 5 Republican members were at Simpson’s November 14 appearance; 7 Democrats. The Republican committee chairman, Devin Nunes, was absent. Release of Simpson’s transcript was an initiative of the Democrats. In a statement by their leader on the committee, Adam Schiff, the Democrats claimed last week “thus far, Committee Republicans have refused to look into this key area and we hope the release of this transcript will reinforce the importance of these critical questions to our investigation.”

Read the November 14 testimony here.


Members of the House Intelligence Committee on the podium at an 
open hearing in November 2017. From left to right: Adam Schiff (D), 
Michael Conaway (R), and Thomas Rooney (R).

Search the 165 pages of the transcript for the CIA, and you will find many references to the letters, C, I and A – specialize, social, commercial, especially, association, financial and politician. There were 44 mentions of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI); 4 mentions of “British Intelligence” – the spy agency to which Steele belonged ten years ago – one mention each of the Israeli Mossad, the Chinese and Indian intelligence services.

According to Simpson, “foreign intelligence services hacking American political operations is not that unusual, actually, and there’s a lot of foreign intelligence services that play in American elections.” He mentioned the Chinese and the Indians, not the Israelis. The Mossad, Simpson did tell the Committee, was his source for his belief that Russian intelligence has been operating through the Jewish Orthodox Chabad movement, and the Russian Orthodox Church. “The Orthodox church is also an arm of the Russian State now… the Mossad guys used to tell me about how the Russians were laundering money through the Orthodox church in Israel, and that it was intelligence operations.”

There are just two references in the Committee transcript to the CIA. One was a passing remark to imply the Russians cannot “break[ing] into the CIA, [so instead] you are breaking into, you know, places where, you know, an open society leaves open.”

The second was a bombshell. It dropped during questioning by Congressman Thomas Rooney (right), a 3-term Republican representative from Florida with a career as an army lawyer. Rooney asked Simpson:

“Do you or anyone else independently verify or corroborate any information in the dossier?”

Simpson replied by saying, “Yes. Well, numerous things in the dossier have been verified. You know, I don’t have access to the intelligence or law enforcement information that I see made reference to, but, you know, things like, you know, the Russian Government has been investigating Hillary Clinton and has a lot of information about her.”

Then Simpson contradicted himself, disclosing what he had just denied. “When the original memos came in saying that the Kremlin was mounting a specific operation to get Donald Trump elected President, that was not what the Intelligence Community was saying. The Intelligence Community was saying they are just seeking to disrupt our election and our political process, and that this is sort of kind of just a generally nihilistic, you know, trouble-making operation. And, you know, Chris turned out to be right, it was specifically designed to elect Donald Trump President.”

How did Simpson know with such confidence what the “Intelligence Community” was “saying”, and who were Simpson’s and Steele’s sources in the “Intelligence Community”? Rooney failed to inquire. Instead, he and Simpson exchanged question and answer regarding the approach Simpson and Steele made to the FBI when they delivered their dossier. In the details of that, Simpson repeated what he had already told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rooney then asked what contact had been made with the CIA or “any other intelligence officials”. Simpson claimed he didn’t understand the question at first, then he stumbled.



What Simpson was concealing in the two pauses, reported in the transcript as hyphens, Rooney did not realize. Simpson was implying that no-one from Fusion GPS, his consulting company, had been in contact with the CIA, nor him personally. But Simpson left open that Steele had been in contact with the CIA. Rooney followed with a question about “anyone”, but that was so imprecise, Simpson recovered his confidence to say “No”. That was a cover-up – and the House Intelligence Committee let it drop noiselessly.

Intelligence community sources and colleagues who know Simpson and Steele say Simpson was notorious at the Wall Street Journal for coming up with conspiracy theories for which the evidence was missing or unreliable. He told the Committee that disbelief on the part of his editors and management had been one of his reasons for leaving the newspaper. “One of the reasons why I left the Wall Street Journal was because I wanted to write more stories about Russian influence in Washington, D.C., on both the Democrats and the Republicans… eventually the Journal lost interest in that subject. And I was frustrated…that was where I left my journalism career.”


Left: Glenn Simpson reporter for the Wall Street Journal in 1996, 
promoting his book, Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption 
in American Politics. Right: Simpson in Washington in August 2017.

When Simpson was asked “do you – did you find anything to — that you verified as false in the dossier, since or during?” Simpson replied: “I have not seen anything – “. Note the hypthen, the stenographer’s signal that Simpson was pausing.

“[Question]. So everything in that dossier, as far as you’re concerned, is true or could be true?”

“MR. SIMPSON: I didn’t say that. What I said was it was credible at the time it came in. We were able to corroborate various things that supported its credibility.”

Sources in London are divided on the question of where Steele’s sources came from – CIA, MI6, or elsewhere. What has been clear for the year in which the dossier’s contents have been in public circulation is that the sources the dossier referred to as “Russian” were not. For details of the sourcing. The subsequent identification of the Maltese source Joseph Mifsud, and the Greek-American George Papadopoulos, corroborates their lack of direct Russian sources. Instead, the sources identified in the dossier were either Americans, Americans of Russian ethnic origin, or Russians with no direct knowledge repeating hearsay three or four times removed from source.

So were the allegations of the dossier manufactured by a CIA disinformation unit, and fed back to the US through the British agent, Steele? Or were they a Simpson conspiracy theory of the type that failed to pass veracity testing when Simpson was at the Wall Street Journal? The House Intelligence Committee failed to inquire.

One independent clue is what financial and other links Simpson and Steele and their consulting firms, Fusion GPS and Orbis Business Intelligence, have had with US Government agencies other than the FBI, and what US Government contracts they were paid for, before the Republican and Democratic Party organizations commissioned the anti-Trump job?

The House Committee has subpoenaed business records from Fusion, but Simpson’s lawyers say they will refuse to hand them over. The financial records of Steele’s firm are openly accessible through the UK government company registry, Companies House. Click to read here.

Because the Trump dossier work ran from the second half of 2015 to November 2016, the financial reports of Orbis for the financial years ending March 31, 2016, and March 31, 2017, are the primary sources. For FY 2016 and FY 2017, open this link to read.

The papers reveal that Orbis was a small firm with no more than 7 employees. Steele’s business partner and co-shareholder, Christopher Burrows, is another former MI6 spy. They had been hoping for MI6 support of their private business, but it failed to materialize, says an London intelligence source.

“Chris Burrows is another from the same background. They all hope to be Hakluyt [a leading commercial intelligence operation in London] but didn’t get the nod on departure.” 


(L) Christopher Steele; (R) Christopher Burrows.

They do not report the Orbis income. Instead, for 2016 the company filings indicate £155,171 in cash at the bank, and income of £245,017 owed by clients and contractors. Offsetting that figure, Orbis owed £317,848 – to whom and for what purposes is not reported. The unaudited accounts show Orbis’s profit jumped from £121,046 in 2015 to £199,223 in 2016, and £441,089 in 2017.

The financial data are complicated by the operation by Steele and Burrows of a second company, Orbis Business Intelligence International, a subsidiary they created in 2010, a year after the parent company was formed. Follow its affairs here.

According to British press reports, Orbis and Steele were paid £200,000 for the dossier. Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee the sum was much less — $160,000 (about £114,000). Simpson’s firm, he also testified, was being paid at a rate of about $50,000 per month for a total of about $320,000. If the British sources are more accurate than Simpson’s testimony, Steele’s takings from the dossier represented roughly half the profit on the Orbis balance-sheet.

British sources also report that a US Government agency paid for Orbis to work on evidence and allegations of corruption at the world soccer federation, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Indictments in this case were issued by the US Department of Justice in May 2015, and the following December. What role the two-partner British consultancy played in the complex investigations by teams from the Justice Department, the FBI and also the Internal Revenue Service is unclear. That Steele, Burrows and Orbis depended on US government sources for their financial well-being appears to be certain.

Another reported version of the FIFA contract is that Steele, Burrows and Orbis were hired by the British Football Association to collect materials on FIFA corruption, and provide them to the FBI and other US investigators, and then to the press. The scheme’s objective was reportedly to advance the British bidding for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 by discrediting the rival bids from Russia and Qatar. Click to read. Were MI6 and CIA sources mobilized by Orbis to feed the FBI with evidence the US investigators were unable to turn up, or was Orbis the conduit through which disinformation targeting Russia was fed to make it appear more credible to the FBI, and to the media?

US Congressional investigators have so far failed to notice the similarities between the FIFA and the Trump dossier operations. Early this month two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that they have called for a Justice Department and FBI investigation of Steele for providing false information to the FBI. The provision of the US code making lying a federal crime requires the falsehoods occur “within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States.” Simpson has testified that when Steele briefed the FBI on the dossier, he did so at meetings in Rome, Italy.

Now then, Part I and this sequel of the Simpson-Steele story having been read and thoroughly mulled over, what can the meaning be?

In the short run, this case was a black job assigned by Republican Party candidates for president, then the Democratic National Committee, for the purpose of discrediting Trump in favour of Hillary Clinton. It failed on Election Day in 2016; the Democrats are still trying.

In the long run, the case is a measurement of the life, or the half-life, of truth. Giuseppe di Lampedusa wrote once that nowhere has truth so short a life as in Sicily. On his clock, that was five minutes. He didn’t know the United States, or shall we say the stretch from Washington through New York to the North End of Boston. There, truth has an even shorter life. Scarcely a second.

War on 'Fake News' Is a War on the People

The war against ‘fake news’ is a war on us

by Jonathan Cook


January 22, 2018

Barely a day passes without a new development in the war on social media – that is, the war on us.

Today, it is a report that Twitter has emailed hundreds of thousands of its users, warning them that they shared “Russian propaganda”.

As WSWS notes:

Twitter is warning its users that it knows exactly what they are viewing and sharing on social media, implying that if they post something that falls afoul of the US government, they may be subject to investigation or prosecution.

And, we should add, they will almost certainly be subject to online “disappearance” – the virtual form of what authoritarian regimes have always done to dissidents.

WSWS continues:

Last week, representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube testified before the Senate Commerce committee on their efforts to combat “extremist” content.

Monika Bickert, head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, told lawmakers that the social media company has hired 10,000 people for its “security” department to review, block and take down content, and that this number will be doubled over the next year. Google, for its part, plans to bring the number of content moderators it employs to 10,000 this year.

Think about that. These social media giants are prepared to pay tens of thousands of extra salaries to staff whose only job will be to block news and ban people based on the political content of what they write and the stories they choose to share. Those stories are being characterised by self-interested politicians on both ends of the narrow neoliberal bandwith as “fake news” and “Russian propaganda”. Joe McCarthy eat your heart out!

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is throwing his weight behind the campaign to dumb down the internet, has promised to reduce the amount of news available through his platform’s feeds so that we get back to using social media as a means to share films of cute kittens or promote ways to spend more money on consumables. That will make the advertisers much happier.


Last week Zuckerberg clarified that what limited news you do receive from friends and family through your feeds will be filtered to make sure it comes from “authoritative” and “trustworthy” sources. In short, it will come from one of the six US media corporations that control almost everything Americans read and see, and much of what the rest of us do too.

Here is the WSWS again:

“In an indication of what this will mean in practice, the stock value of the New York Times shot up by nine percent that day, in the expectation that its postings would displace content from independent media organizations.”

Would we accept this wholesale censoring of the internet if it were being carried out by Donald Trump or the UK’s Theresa May? Or even Rupert Murdoch, for that matter? Of course not. We would call it a blatant suppression of free speech, and be thinking about how to break up these dangerous new-media monopolies.

But when it is “nerdy” Zuckerberg and the faceless billionnaires behind Google and Twitter doing it, the censorship is presented as simple technical adjustments made for the benefit of mankind – tweaking algorithms to separate the “truthful”, all-American wheat from Russian chaff.

And where are the few liberal voices left in the corporate media, those that pretend they care about free speech and pluralism, and claim to be opposed to state and corporate surveillance and witch-hunts?

Where, for example, is the Guardian’s George Monbiot, who recently wrote eloquently about the campaign of no-platforming conducted by the easy hate-figures of the traditional rightwing media? Monbiot and the other free-speech advocates seem totally unfazed by the for-profit inquisitions currently being waged by Facebook, Twitter and Google, inquisitions enthusiastically backed by their own supposedly liberal publications, such as the Guardian and the New York Times.

This is not about the right to spout nonsense, or even “fake news”, on social media, as some dismiss it.

In an ever faster-moving world, these platforms are now an essential component of our ability:

  • to keep ourselves informed using alternative – that is, non-profit-seeking, non-corporate, non-establishment-friendly – sources of news and analysis;
  • to build our critical understanding of the ways propaganda is being disseminated to sanction neoliberal wars of aggression waged in our names at home and abroad under the banner of “humanitarian intervention”;
  • and to mobilise opposition to such wars and to the corporate world whose psychopathic need to extract more wealth from a finite planet is stoking climate breakdown.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our response needs to match that threat.


UPDATE:

And here is the proof that the political and media campaign against “fake news” on social media – but not the much more significant problem of fake news to be found in the traditional corporate media – is paying off.
The Guardian reports:

The Edelman trust barometer, the 18th annual survey, found 64% of 1,050 UK respondents worried that social media companies were not regulated enough, 69% agreed that they did not do enough to prevent bullying and 70% that there was insufficient action to stop illegal or unethical behaviour on networks.

But the survey also found:

there had been a striking 13-point increase in support for traditional media, to 61% – the highest level since 2012.

In other words, many of us are slowly buying into the idea that we should be deprived of the use of the only major platforms we have to challenge a corporate narrative that fuels both endless wars and climate meltdown.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Calling Occupants of Interstellar Craft: Can the Aliens Save Us?

Will Aliens Save Humanity?

by Robert Hunziker - Dissident Voice


January 19th, 2018

It was July 1st, 1952 when Look magazine carried this story: “Flying Saucers— The Hunt Goes On” with the byline: “Fearful of danger from the skies, the United States Air Force is launching a secret search to discover once-and-for-all what is the mysterious, unbelievable thing Americans keep sighting overhead.”

At the time, the Air Force confirmed more than 800 sightings of flying saucers with reports from outposts all across the country, including “our vital atomic installation sites.” Atomic sites were specific areas of intense interests for the odd fast-moving saucers.

Flash forward 65 years: Interviews with U.S. military personnel validate the presence of strange UFO craft shutting down nuclear missile sites, turning the instruments off, inoperative, and overriding human controls. All of which is shocking to the nth degree!

Visitors from outer space obviously do not like nuclear stuff in the hands of humans. Otherwise, why focus on shutting down nuclear sites? Any force powerful enough to shut down nuclear weapon silos is so far beyond the capabilities of earthlings that they can dictate whatever they want. Still, why shut down missile sites? If “intention” is exposed by activity, then their message says nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons should go the way of the dodo bird.

A documentary film d/d July 2, 2017, UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed by UAMN TV is fascinating, almost beyond belief.

There are many, many documentaries about UFOs but mostly ill conceived, unsubstantiated and horribly contrived. UAMN’s may be one of the only films that seems credible (hopefully, maybe) because of the quality of first-hand witness accounts and use of declassified military documents.

UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed is a Robert Hastings film. He was born in Albuquerque, NM in 1950 at a military base where atomic weapons were engineered. His father served in the USAF. From 1966-67, the family was stationed at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. During one particular incident of UFO activity over a Minuteman missile site, Hastings personally witnessed five UFOs tracked on radar at base air control. That experience led to a lifetime of research. The film’s message comes thru very clearly. Humans should not be messing around with nuclear power. Didn’t Einstein also say that?

Hastings’ film is based upon declassified U.S. government documents and personal accounts of military officers, revealing that, as early as December 1948, UFOs began showing up at American nuclear laboratories, bomb storage depots, weapons tests grounds, and as time went on, intercontinental weapons missile sites.

ICBM launch officers from the 1960s and 1970s have come forward with Encounters of the Third Kind, stating that UFOs hovered over launch facilities as ICBMs suddenly malfunctioned, unable to launch or react to commands by human operators. Additionally, ground level security guards made panicky calls to underground mission control officers, informing them of the presence of unidentified circular craft maneuvering in the sky above ICBM launch silos.

In September 2010 several high-ranking retired military officers came forth in Washington, D.C. to discuss these encounters, as follows:

Captain Robert Salas, U.S. Air Force, retired in 1967, was a first lieutenant stationed at Malsmtrom Air Force Base in Montana as a missile launch officer. On March 24th a ground-based security guard called Capt. Salas to report, whilst screaming into the phone, that a red glowing object was hovering over the front gate. Immediately thereupon, the ICBMs locked into a “no-go” condition, as if a magical wand waved across the sky, shutting down the ICBMs.

Lt. Col Dwynne Arneson, retired USAF in 1967, was officer in charge of the Air Force communications center at Great Falls, Montana. In March he received a message from a junior officer that hovering UFOs had shut down missile launch operations.

Captain Bruce Fenstermacher, USAD retired from Warren AFB Wyoming 1976. Security guards reported a 50’ long cigar-shaped white object hovering in the sky. When Capt Fenstermacher later met with the security guard, he was in the fetal position and could not be calmed down.

According to U.S. unclassified documents, missile sites in the former Soviet Union also experienced identical malfunctioning problems during the same time frame.

The Freedom of Information Act revealed documents confirming, as early as December 1948, UFOs were sighted at Los Alamos, the birthplace of nuclear weapons. That same lab tested the first atomic bomb only three weeks before dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. The documents claim that UFOs consistently appeared in the area. The Oak Ridge Nuclear Lab in Tennessee also experienced UFOs, as did the Hanford Processing Plant in Washington State, and so did the Savannah River Complex, a plutonium-manufacturing site in South Carolina.

UFO sightings began to occur in earnest at U.S. missile sites as early as 1962. Lt Col Philip Moore, USAF retired Walker AFB, was in command at missile Complex Seven in charge of a launch crew for ICBMs. His ground crew reported a bright light above Site Six that rapidly accelerated, instantly stopped, and instantly changed directions, nothing like they had ever witnessed before.

Every ICBM base in the U.S. reported incidents of objects hovering over missile facilities. Often, USAF personnel tracked the UFOs on radar, performing maneuvers vastly beyond man-made capabilities. Radar operators were stunned as the objects flew at speeds of thousands of MPH, made sharp angled turns, and instantly stopped in mid air. Air Force interceptors chased some of the objects in futile attempts.

At Vandenberg AFB in 1967 Dr. Robert Jacobs (lieutenant at the time) said he witnessed a UFO intercept and destroy a test ICBM flight. He filmed the missile launches with a telescopic camera. A dummy warhead at speeds of 5,000-6,000 MPH was shot four times and destroyed by a UFO that he captured on film. The CIA captured his film.

Before the CIA took the film, Jacobs’ superior officer Major Mansmann, using a magnifier, studied the film in detail frame-by-frame. Here’s what he saw: The shape was a classic disc with a raised bubble in the center. The entire lower saucer glowed, and it rotated slowly. As it shot beams of light at the USAF dummy warhead, the saucer first positioned itself to aim and shoot, happening at speeds of 6,000 MPH.

In another close encounter, USAF Capt. Jay Earnshaw at Warren AFB WY in 1965 was in command of the site. The security control officer called him to report strange objects, 5 to 6 oblong lights hovered above the gate. Meantime, missile launch sites at N. Dakota and S. Dakota reported similar incidents.

Maj Gaylan King, USAF retired Ellsworth AFB SD in 1966 reported a saucer hovering over his missile site with a reddish light beaming down at the missile.

Capt. David Schindele, Minot AFB ND in 1966, reported an object 80’-100’ in diameter sighted around his missile launch pads. All of his missiles went off “alert status” and shut down as the object hovered.

Furthermore, according to Hastings’ web site, as recently as October 2012, multiple UFO incidents occurred at ICBM sites in Montana.

Meantime, the world community already knows, first-hand, the destructive power of nuclear, and Japan is number one on the hit parade, to wit: (1) August 6, 1945, Hiroshima atomic bomb attack with 70,000 reported dead (probably higher), (2) August 9, 1945 Nagasaki atomic bomb attack, 39,000 reported dead (probably higher), (3) December 5, 1965 Broken Arrow coast of Japan- A US Navy aircraft with one nuclear bomb fell off the USS Ticonderoga into five-mile depth water, never recovered, (4) March 1981- 100 workers accidentally exposed to radiation doses of 155 millirem/day during repairs of nuclear power plant, (5) June 1999- Shika Plant control rod malfunction exposes operators to uncontrolled sustained radiation, (6) Tokaimura Nuclear Accident- a uranium processing facility accident exposed three workers to excessive radiation, two died and 116 received large doses, (7) March 11, 2011- Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant experiences three Full-Monty blowouts or Total Meltdown, proving that the China Syndrome is reality. Next, they’ll hold Olympics Games (2020) in radiation zones of Fukushima.

Not only that, the world community already knows that deadly out of control nuclear power destroys people in bunches sans war. Chernobyl (1986) is the A-Team primo example of how that works, as 800,000 healthy Russian and Ukrainian Chernobyl “liquidators” (average age of 33-yrs) worked to control the meltdown. Over 120,000 have died with another 30%-40% disabled for life with chronic illnesses and genetic and perigenetic permanent damage to their descendants. Yes, radiation damage is passed on from generation to generation to generation.

Furthermore, Chernobyl is an example of nuclear radiation accidents bringing heartache and harm to innocent citizens who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”1

Meantime, Rocketman’s ICBMs and nuclear warheads (North Korea) grow ever more real and threatening, as the Leader of the Free World (Trump) and The Great Leader (Kim Jong Un) occasionally exchange babyish words of wisdom, a bit of an oxymoronic undertaking.

Judging by Japan’s 70-year experience with nukes and the ongoing generation-by-generation-by-generation damage and destruction to Chernobyl survivors, it appears UFOs may be on to something when they manipulate nuclear warheads, dead stop, but then again, what about the credibility of all of the retired military officers who spoke up about UFOs hovering over ICBM missile sites? Are military officers in charge of top-secret military installations that contained enough nuclear power to blow parts of Earth to smithereens credible witnesses?

You’ve gotta wonder what’s going on and are UFOs sending a message? 


Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com.
Read other articles by Robert.

1. Source: Chernobyl’s Kids With Bodies Ravaged By Disaster, USA Today, April 17, 2016). []

Womens' March Marching in Victoria: ‘Best City in Canada for Women’? Not good enough!

Victoria ‘Best City in Canada for Women’? Not good enough

by WomensMarchCanada


January 20, 2018

Victoria Women’s March returns for continued improvement in equality, representation, health, safety and economic security for all women.


Last year, thousands gathered in Centennial Square and marched in support of women’s rights and equality.

On January 20th, 2018 the Victoria Women’s March returns with the theme “Look back, March forward” to celebrate the progress we have made and demand the changes that are still necessary to ensure equality, representation, health, safety and economic security for all women.

As of this writing, 1384 have RSVP'ed through Women’s March Canada Victoria March webpage.


Listen. Hear.


Women’s March Victoria

January 20th, 2018

11AM - 1PM

12:00 PM (march begins)

Centennial Square, Victoria


This year’s march was organized entirely as a grassroots volunteer effort, by women of a variety of ages, backgrounds and abilities. Diversity, representation and inclusion are core elements of this year’s march.

“Even though Victoria was rated the Best City in Canada for women last year by CCPA, we have a long way to go in ensuring the health, safety, representation and economic stability for women of all ages. There is still widespread and systematic oppression particularly for First Nations women and women of colour, those with differing abilities, women with health concerns, people of the LGBTQ community, and women in the sex industry--and that needs to change.” says Cayla Naumann, who volunteered to coordinate the march this year.

The Victoria March is a sister march to the now 41 marches planned across Canada , as part of Women’s March Canada. Women’s March Canada focuses specifically on issues pertaining to Canadian women and minorities , issues of intersectional discriminations, as well as policies and laws that are still not inclusive or progressive enough.

This year’s global event is a followup to last year’s global march event on January 21st, 2017 that included people of all backgrounds -- women and men and gender nonconforming people, young and old, of diverse faiths, differently abled, immigrants and indigenous -- who came together, six million strong, on all seven continents of the world.


The march on January 20th, 2018 will begin at 11:00 am at Centennial Square. This year will highlight speakers and their organization’s goals and actionable items for the coming year that support regional women’s issues. At 12:00 PM the march will head down Government Street toward the Parliament building. The march will end at approximately 1:00 pm at the Parliament buildings.

We hope to see you at the march! To RSVP for the event and for more information go to:
http://www.womensmarchcanada.com/womens-march-canada-victoria-march-2018

-30-

Press Release: For Immediate Release
To coordinate media interviews and for further information:
Cayla Naumann
victoria@womensmarchcanada.com

Friday, January 19, 2018

Same Pillar, Different Day: New Look, Old Content for The Guardian

A Liberal Pillar of the Establishment - 'New Look' Guardian, Old Style-Orthodoxy

by Media Lens


January 19, 2018

As Noam Chomsky has often remarked: 'liberal bias is extremely important in a sophisticated system of propaganda.' One major news outlet that Chomsky had in mind was the New York Times, but the same applies in the UK.

As a senior British intelligence official noted of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan:

'It is always helpful for governments who want to get the Guardian readers of the world on board to have a humanitarian logic.'

This suggests that respected liberal media like the New York Times and Guardian are key battlegrounds in the relentless elite efforts to control public opinion.

On January 15, the Guardian was relaunched as a tabloid with a 'new look'. Katharine Viner, the paper's editor, proclaimed in all seriousness:

'we have a special relationship with our readers. This relationship is not just about the news; it's about a shared sense of purpose and a commitment to understand and illuminate our times. We feel a deep sense of duty and responsibility to our readers to honour the trust you place in us.'

Those words - 'shared sense of purpose and commitment', 'duty', 'responsibility', 'honour', 'trust' - imply an openness to readers' comments, even to criticism; an important point to which we return below.

Viner continued:

'We have grounded our new editions in the qualities readers value most in Guardian journalism: clarity, in a world where facts should be sacred but are too often overlooked; imagination, in an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are.'

The grand declaration to honour the yearning of its readers 'for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are' rings hollow. This, after all, is a paper that fought tooth-and-nail against Jeremy Corbyn. As Rob Newton pointed out via Twitter, linking to a lengthy series of screenshots featuring negative Guardian coverage:

'The "left liberal" Guardian's campaign against @JeremyCorbyn was as relentless as the right-wing Daily Mail & The Sun. Here's the proof'

Vacuous phrases continued to pour forth from the editor on the 'new look' paper:

'Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and also witty, stylish and fun.'

'Fiercely independent and challenging'? When the Guardian Media Group is owned by The Scott Trust Limited, a 'profit-seeking enterprise'? (In other words, it is not a non-profit trust, with many readers still mistakenly holding a romantic vision of benign ownership.) When the paper is thus owned and run by an elite group of individuals with links to banking, insurance, advertising, multinational consumer goods, telecommunications, information technology, venture investment, corporate media, marketing services and other sectors of the establishment? When the paper remains dependent on advertising revenue from corporate interests, despite the boast that 'we now receive more income from our readers than we do from advertisers'. When the paper has actually ditched journalists who have been 'fiercely independent and challenging'?

However, it is certainly true that the Guardian 'will remain what it has always been': a liberal pillar of the establishment; a gatekeeper of 'acceptable' news and comment. 'Thus far, and no further', to use Chomsky's phrase. But, as mentioned, the Guardian will not go even as far in the political spectrum as Corbyn: a traditional left Labour figure, rather than a radical socialist proclaiming 'Revolution!' or an anarchist itching to bring down global capitalism.

Meanwhile, readers can expect the 'new look' Guardian to continue its attacks on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, such as the recent smear piece by ex-Guardian journalist James Ball that began scurrilously:

'According to Debrett's, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: "Visitors, like fish, stink in three days." Given this, it's difficult to imagine what Ecuador's London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.'

Ball went on, dripping more poison:

'Today, most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists – with many seeing him as a supporter of the style of politics of both Trump and Vladimir Putin.'

When we challenged Ball via Twitter for evidence of these foolish claims, he was unable to provide any. His facile response was:

'The WikiLeaks twitter feed is a pretty good start tbh [to be honest]'

That Katharine Viner's Guardian would happily publish such crude propaganda in an ostensibly 'serious' column speaks volumes about the paper's tumbling credibility as well as conformity to power.

No doubt, too, this liberal 'newspaper' will continue to boost Tony Blair, the war criminal whose hands are indelibly stained with the blood of over one million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. But, for the Guardian, he will forever be a flawed hero, someone they have worked hard to rehabilitate in recent years, constantly seeking out his views and pushing him as a respectable elder statesman whose voice the public still needs to hear.

The essence of the Guardian was summed up by satirical comedian reporter Jonathan Pie on the day of the relaunch:

'New design. Same old virtue signalling, identity politics obsessed, champagne socialism (minus the socialism), barely concealed contempt for the working classes bullshit I presume though.'


The Empty Rhetoric Of Seeking 'Uncomfortable' Views 

 

One of the Guardian stalwarts helping to project an illusion of consistent challenge to authority is long-time columnist George Monbiot. We were once admirers of Monbiot, and we still respect his environmentalist writing, particularly on the imminent dangers of climate disruption...up to a point (for instance, he never properly addresses the key issue of the corporate media, including the role of his own paper).

But well over a decade ago, we first started challenging Monbiot on his serious blind spots and establishment-friendly ignorance when it came to foreign policy.

In more recent years, we have even been smeared by him, in a pitiful manner akin to that of Oliver Kamm of Murdoch's Times, an inveterate supporter of Western 'interventions', on whom Monbiot often seems to rely for his slurs.

A recent piece by Jonathan Cook, once a Middle East Guardian reporter, is a skillful skewering of Monbiot's stance. Monbiot has repeatedly attacked those who dare question Washington-approved narratives on Syria, Rwanda and the Balkan Wars. Anyone who challenges Western government propaganda claims about Syria, for example, is condemned as an Assadist or conspiracy theorist. His targets have included Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger, university professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson, and Media Lens.

On Twitter last month, Monbiot alleged that Hayward and Robinson 'have disgraced themselves over Syria'. But when has Monbiot ever excoriated Guardian columnists Jonathan Freedland and Natalie Nougayrède, Nick Cohen of the Observer, David Aaronovitch of The Times and John Rentoul of the Independent, all of whom have 'disgraced themselves' over US-UK wars of aggression?

And why is Monbiot's focus so skewed to 'their' war crimes rather than 'our' war crimes? The editor of the Interventions Watch blog searched Monbiot's Twitter timeline in December 2017 and found he had mentioned 'Syria' in 91 tweets and 'Yemen' in just three tweets. With rare exceptions, virtually the entire UK political and media system has disgraced itself over Yemen – currently the world's greatest humanitarian catastrophe. This should be a key central concern for any honest dissident commentator today.

Cook writes of Monbiot:

'Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has been possible ever before.'

He adds that the many leftists:

'who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.'

Cook sums up:

'All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west's proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.'

We will return later to that point of dissidents being denied a platform to reply. Meanwhile, Monbiot has not responded to Cook, as far as we are aware.

Ironically, of course, the Guardian sells itself as a fearless supporter of 'open' journalism, delivering 'the independent journalism the world needs'. But, once again, there are always safe limits. Tim Hayward, mentioned above, is Professor of Environmental Political Theory at Edinburgh University. He recently recounted what happened after the Guardian published a long piece by Olivia Solon, a senior technology reporter for Guardian US in San Francisco. Solon argued that critical discussion of the White Helmets in Syria had been 'propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government'.

After publishing this hit piece, the Guardian essentially shut down all discussion, refusing even to grant a right of reply to those who had been maligned, including independent journalists. Hayward described what happened after publication:

'What the Guardian did next:
• quickly closed its comments section;
• did not allow a right of reply to those journalists singled out for denigration in the piece;
• did not allow publication of the considered response from a group of concerned academics;
• did not respond to the group's subsequent letter, or a follow up email to it;
• prevaricated in response to telephone inquiries as to whether a decision against publishing either communication from the group had or had not been taken;
• failed to respond to a message to its Readers' Editor from Vanessa Beeley, one of the journalists criticised in the article.'

George Monbiot played his part too, says Hayward:

'tweeting smears against critics and suggesting they read up about "the Russian-backed disinformation campaign against Syria's heroic rescue workers".'

This was disreputable behaviour from a 'progressive' journalist who claims that:

'I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion.'

The Guardian journalist added that newspapers, including his own, 'should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.' Monbiot's own behaviour exposes these words as empty rhetoric.

Guardian Looks Beyond Corbyn To The Next 'Centrist' Candidate


Meanwhile, the Guardian is looking beyond the time when Corbyn is Labour leader. A recent article by Ian Sinclair in the Morning Star argues that the Guardian is putting its weight behind Emily Thornberry, Corbyn's shadow foreign secretary.

A Guardian interview with her was, unusually, advertised well over a week in advance of publication. It was a major feature in which she was described as 'a key architect of Labour's comeback, and widely tipped to be the party's next leader'. But there was very little in the piece about the policies she espouses, not least foreign policy issues.

One such issue is the Middle East, which was wholly absent from the Guardian interview. Last November, Sinclair observes, Thornberry proclaimed that Israel 'stands out as a beacon of freedom, equality and democracy'. And, in a December speech to Labour Friends of Israel, she described former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres as 'a hero of the left, of the state of Israel and of the cause of peace.'

Sinclair points out:

'In contrast, in 2005, US dissident Noam Chomsky called Peres "an iconic mass murderer," presumably for his role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that led to the creation of Israel and for being head of government when Israel shelled a United Nations compound in Lebanon in 1996, killing over 100 civilians.'

Thornberry's comments on Israel, says Sinclair, 'are a cause for concern for those who want to see an anti-imperialist, humane attitude towards international affairs'. He continues:

'Thornberry is the perfect candidate for Guardian "centrist" types who would like to neuter Corbynism — someone who can gain the backing of significant numbers of Corbyn supporters while at the same time diluting the movement's relative radicalism by returning the Labour Party to safer, Establishment-friendly ground.'

The indications are that the 'new look' Guardian will be happy to promote a potential Labour leader who soft-pedals Israel's crimes. This is part of a bigger picture of the paper offering little more than token criticism of elite Western power.

We should not be surprised. No amount of redesign can gloss over the structural issues that ensure the Guardian remains very firmly a liberal pillar of the establishment and essentially a guardian of the power-friendly status quo.

DC & DE

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