Saturday, May 05, 2018

Snatching Victory from Defeat: UK's Media Election Results Deniers

Freedom No More  

by Craig Murray

4 May, 2018

As I write, with over 75% of all yesterday’s English local election results in, Labour has a net gain of 55 councillors compared to the high water mark of the 2014 result in these wards, while the Tories have a net gain of one seat against a 2014 result which was regarded at the time as disastrous for them, and led the Daily Telegraph to editoralise “David Cameron Must Now Assuage the Voters’ Rage”.

Yet both the BBC and Sky News, have all night and this morning, treated these results, in which the Labour Party has increased by 3% an already record number of councillors in this election cycle, as a disaster.

What is more, they have used that false analysis to plug again and again the “anti-Semitism in the Labour Party” witch-hunt.

It was of course the continuous exacerbation of this mostly false accusation by Blairite MP’s which – deliberately on their part – stopped the Labour Party doing still better. The Blairites are all over the airwaves plugging this meme again today.

What is more this Labour result has been achieved despite the complete collapse of the UKIP vote, which collapse had been expected to boost the Tory Party. In fact the net loss of over 100 UKIP seats has not resulted in overall net gains for the Tory Party, even though those ex-UKIP voters demonstrably did mostly split to Tory. The very substantial UKIP voter reinforcements simply saved the Tories from doing still worse. The Liberal Democrats are showing some signs of life.

Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and the tendentious media misrepresentation of the election results reminds me why I could not get excited about it. A media with the extremely concentrated ownership we see in the UK can never be free, and certainly does not represent a wide spread of political opinions. Even the views of the official Leader of the Opposition are almost entirely deemed to be outside the Overton window. In Scotland the Scottish government is subject to unreasoning media attack, day in and day out, which contrasts strikingly with the treatment of Westminster ministers and issues.

There is a seriously worrying example from Leeds of the decline of free speech, where disgracefully a meeting discussing the bias of the corporate and state media has now been banned by Leeds City Council because of its content. We are not allowed even to get together to discuss media bias. Retired Ambassador Peter Ford, Professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward, Vanessa Beeley and Robert Stuart were to address the meeting at Leeds City Museum entitled “Media on Trial”. I cannot sufficiently express my outrage that Leeds City Council feels it is right to ban a meeting with very distinguished speakers, because it is questioning the government and establishment line on Syria. Freedom of speech really is dead.

British society truly has changed fundamentally if a former British Ambassador to Syria is banned from speaking in public premises on his area of expertise. What is still worse is the tone of this sneering report from Huffington Post, now firmly a part of corporate media, in which Chris York libels the speakers as “Assad supporters”, interviews none of the speakers and nobody to make the argument for free speech, but does manage to interview the “founder” of the jihadist “White Helmets.” In terms of banning dissent while simultaneously ramping up the official narrative, York has won himself top establishment brownie points. The man – and I use the term loosely – is unfit for polite company.

Carnage Again in Israel's Gaza Shooting Gallery

Sixth Consecutive Week of Friday Gaza Protests Leaves Over 160 Wounded 


May 4, 2018

It is the fifth Friday of the Great March of Return protests here in the Gaza Strip. And as you can see behind me, thousands of Palestinians are participating in the protest today, close to the border line between Gaza and Israel.


Report from Gaza: For the sixth consecutive week Palestinians in Gaza headed to the Israeli border to demonstrate the "Great March of Return." Israeli soldiers continued their attacks on the protesters, wounding over 160. Special correspondent Noor Harazeen reports from Gaza

Remember to Maim: Cutting the Legs from Under the Great March of Return

As IDF Uses Gaza Protesters for Shoot-to-Maim Target Practice, Israel Argues Human Rights Don’t Apply to this “War”

by Elliott Gabriel  - MintPress News

May 04th, 2018

The manner in which protesters, including children, have been injured – live ammunition fired at the groin, neck, limbs, and abdomen – suggests that Israeli troops intentionally aim to inflict maximum physical harm on the civilian participants in the marches.

GAZA CITY, PALESTINE Israeli officials have deemed peaceful protests by Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip to be tantamount to a “state of war,” arguing that soldiers were well within their rights firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters participating in ongoing mass mobilizations at the eastern fence enclosing the besieged territory.

In response to a High Court petition by human rights advocates, authorities in Tel Aviv noted that “the state opposes the applying of human rights law during an armed conflict,” arguing that even the Red Cross deemed human rights law inapplicable during wartime.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 50 Palestinians have been killed in the protests while over 6,200 protesters have sustained injuries at the hands of Israeli forces deploying live ammunition or rubber-coated steel rounds and other less-lethal munitions.

The state attorneys’ argument attempts to give international and domestic legal status to the military suppression of peaceful protest and the suspension of international human rights law enforcement, allowing occupation forces the right to use lethal force against unarmed demonstrators.

Since March 30, residents of the captive region have held large-scale demonstrations to draw attention to the continuing dispossession of the people of Palestine and theft of their ancestral land by the Tel Aviv government, with the support of the U.S. government.

Organizers hope to continue the rallies until May 15, when Israelis will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. The date is mourned by Palestinians as Nakba Day, or “The Day of Catastrophe,” when the ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and expansionism was commenced by the extremist Zionist militia, which later united as the “Israeli Defense Forces” or Israeli military. From 1947 to 1949, around 750,000 Palestinians out of a total population of nearly 1.9 million were expelled from the land of Palestine.

Around two-thirds of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinians are war refugees, or their descendants, who are confined to what is tantamount to a large-scale, open-air prison camp. Speaking to Reuters, 24-year-old protester Ahmed said:

“If it wasn’t for the occupation we would have lived as free as people like in other countries … If they don’t allow us back, at least they should give us a state.”

Grim facts reveal intentional abuse

The manner in which protesters, including children, have been injured – live ammunition fired at the groin, neck, limbs, and abdomen – suggests that Israeli troops intentionally aim to inflict maximum harm that could result in life-altering disabilities, paralysis, amputation or the sterilization of civilian participants in the marches.

Many are struck by a new explosive type of ammunition known as the “butterfly” bullet, which causes massive deformities and creates exit wounds as large as a fist. The bullet expands upon hitting targets, decimating human flesh and bone or “pulverizing” internal organs, according to local health officials.

According to Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in the Occupied Palestinian Territories:

“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone … These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations, and most of them will have disabilities for life.”

The Israelis, however, cite the law when justifying their use of deadly force. In a statement to Al Jazeera, an Israeli military official said:

“The IDF only employs means that are lawful under international law. No new bullets or gas have been employed during the recent events in the Gaza Strip.”

Cold-blooded mass murder and repression

While Israeli authorities claim that the peaceful protests in Gaza constitute a state of war, videos captured of Israeli soldiers show them casually discussing how best to inflict harm on unarmed Palestinians while facing little to no danger from protesters.

In a video released in April, a sniper can be seen expressing elation after shooting a protester who was allegedly throwing rocks, exclaiming “Yes!”

According to a new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, 83 percent of Israeli respondents “strongly support” the open-fire policy while around 71 percent of Israelis reject the easing of a crippling blockade imposed on Gaza for the past 11 years.

Israeli authorities consistently claim that the protests are organized by Islamist Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which has ruled the Strip since winning elections in 2007, and that the protest aims to provide cover for alleged “terrorist attacks” using stones and Molotov cocktails.

Various factions and civil-society groups have endorsed the march, however, and deny that Hamas has a monopoly on leading the mass actions or that the protests have any ulterior motives beyond the stated demands for the right to return to their former homes in historic Palestine.

Palestinian academic Rashid Khalidi noted that the methods used by the Israeli army indicate a fear of peaceful protest as well as an inherently racist attitude toward the people of Palestine:

“So, heavily armored Israeli soldiers with sniper rifles at hundreds of meters are picking off, systematically, Palestinian protesters or people who try to approach the fence or whatever. And that this is a policy that the government is proud of … I think it tells us a lot about Israel’s attitude towards Palestinians, that they are subhuman.

“… [A]t the rate at which things are going, unfortunately, we’re probably likely to see even more savage, vicious, brutal, murderous repression.”

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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Friday, May 04, 2018

Fish Farm Salmon Lice Outbreak Threatens Clayoquot's Wild Salmon

Salmon lice outbreak could devastate Clayoquot salmon

by Clayoquot Action

May 3, 2018
Tofino A massive salmon lice outbreak in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve threatens to wipe out this year’s salmon run.

Cermaq’s documentation on the lice for April show that the numbers of salmon lice on seven of their fourteen Clayoquot farm sites are up to ten times higher than the threshold requiring treatment.

The regulatory threshold is three motile salmon lice per farm fish.

There are 20 open net-pen salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound, all located on wild salmon migration routes. The salmon lice outbreak is occurring as wild salmon smolts are leaving Clayoquot’s rivers to begin their life at sea.

Salmon lice are small parasitic crustaceans that feed on the skin and mucous of fish. Research shows wild salmon populations are at risk from salmon lice coming from farms. Open net-pen farms are crowded with up to half a million salmon, making an ideal breeding ground for disease and parasites such as salmon lice. This drastically increases the number of lice in surrounding waters.

Without salmon farms, wild salmon would not encounter salmon lice until they are adults, big enough to handle them. Juvenile salmon can only carry a load of one louse per gram of body weight—even two lice per smolt is a lethal load.

“This outbreak is an environmental disaster—we are seeing wild juvenile salmon carrying lethal loads of salmon lice”, said Clayoquot Action Campaigns Director Bonny Glambeck.
“These fish have been given a death sentence—studies show there is no way these fish will survive to spawn and reproduce”.

Cermaq recently received a controversial permit to use a new pesticide to control salmon lice in Clayoquot Sound. The treatment—Paramove 50—is known to suppress the immune system of the farm fish and trigger outbreaks of viruses such as Piscine Reovirus (PRV).

Salmon lice continue to plague the salmon farming industry globally. The chemical treatments Cermaq plans have not solved the salmon lice problem anywhere in the world. Salmon lice quickly become resistance to new treatment methods.

“This is a band-aid solution for a serious problem that the salmon farming industry is unable to solve. Clearly a new approach is needed, which is why we’re seeing a global shift to land-based salmon farming”, said Ms. Glambeck.
“Why are we sacrificing local food security, the wild salmon economy, and the iconic ecosystems of Clayoquot Sound, when the writing is clearly on the wall?”

The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its pristine rainforest valleys which provide prime salmon habitat. However, in recent years the salmon of the region have been in drastic decline. For example, the Kennedy River saw no sockeye spawners return last fall.

Clayoquot Action continues to advocate for the removal of open-net pen salmon farms from BC waters.


Bonny Glambeck, Clayoquot Action Campaigns Director,

High res photos of Clayoquot May 2018 juvenile salmon with lice and Cermaq salmon lice graphs available here:

Cermaq’s public reporting webpage:

Journalism and Journalists Living and Dying in Honduras

Honduran journalists face increasing threats and intimidation

by Heather Gies - AJE

May 3, 2018

Honduras is the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists and they say things are getting worse.
Harassment, suspicious phone calls, and restricted access to government sources have become routine for Honduran journalist and human rights defender Dina Meza, who says she is one of many media workers threatened for challenging authorities in her country.

Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The group ranked Honduras 141 out of 180 countries on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

Dangers for journalists include physical attacks, threats, and abusive legal proceedings, Reporters Without Borders said.

Meza, the founding editor of alternative digital magazine Pasos de Animal Grande, which specialises in investigative coverage of human rights issues, knows these threats firsthand.

She has repeatedly suffered threats of sexual violence and against her life, as well as surveillance and other forms of intimidation, such as unusual late-night phone calls.

The threats forced her to spend months outside the country in 2013.

As a safety precaution, Meza often is flanked by a pair of international human rights observers provided by Peace Brigades International when she works in the field on investigations or reporting outside of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Sharp increase

Violence against journalists has spiked in the wake of the 2009 US-backed military coup that removed former president Manuel Zelaya and paved the way for current President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is often criticised for prioritising the interests of multinational corporations over the Honduran people.

At least 62 journalists have been killed in the country between 2006 and 2017, according to data from the Commission for Investigation of Attacks on Journalists of the Latin American Federation of Journalists.

Only two of those killings happened before 2009.

In the same period, murders of land and environmental defenders, human rights activists, LGBTQ people, and other vulnerable groups have also increased.

The statistics make Honduras the most deadly country for journalists in the Americas per capita. Only Mexico rivals Honduras with 165 journalists killed from 2006 to 2017, according to the federation.

Meza also heads a project with the Association for Democracy and Human Rights (Asopodehu), which supports at-risk media workers and offers training to young journalists.

She told Al Jazeera that Honduran authorities use the climate of fear caused by violence against journalists to their advantage.

"This violence against journalists creates a lot of self-censorship," Meza said.

This self-censorship accompanies de facto bans by Congress and other official spaces for adversarial journalists, Meza who considers herself banned, said.

"Unfortunately, in Honduras, [state] institutions impose the news agenda." 

'Masks off'

During the 2009 coup, the government suspended constitutional guarantees and imposed a media blackout.

Cesar Silva, a television reporter with UNE TV, a two-year-old channel that has been critical of Hernandez' government, said the coup was a defining moment for journalists.

As Honduran media glossed over Zelaya's removal as a "constitutional substitution", a tiny minority of journalists reported on the popular uprising and violent military crackdown on the streets.

"The masks all came off," Silva told Al Jazeera, saying the vast majority of established journalists in the country followed the money and supported the coup. "Everyone took a stance."

Months later, Silva was abducted and tortured for two days after releasing footage of post-coup repression. He was forced to flee the country but returned several months later to continue reporting, despite the dangers.

"From the time we wake up, begin our work, leave our houses - there's a risk," he said of his UNE TV team.

Like Meza, Silva has been denied access to Congress and other state institutions.
He said press freedom continues to worsen.

Last year, Hernandez won a second term despite widespread allegations of fraud and controversy around his re-election bid. Honduras plunged into its worst political crisis since the coup.

Silva's UNE TV was the only local television channel that broadcast the police and military crackdown on the anti-fraud protests that shook the country for weeks following the November 26, 2017 election.

During a live broadcast in January, soldiers beat Silva and his colleagues and smashed their camera equipment. In February, a man attempted to stab Silva while he was on the air.

"The conditions are more difficult every day," Silva said, decrying the targeting of independent journalists in both physical attacks and smear campaigns by mainstream media.

"What motivates us is that we are on the right path. Our beacon is the truth," Silva said.
Continuing restrictions

Last year, Congress reformed the penal code to punish journalists with four to eight years in jail for "apologising for terrorism".

Critics slammed the reform, known as Article 335-B, for targeting reporters who refuse to toe the government line or be "bought off".

A separate reform broadly redefined "terrorism" in a way opponents said could criminalise social protests at judges' discretion.

The public prosecutor's office shot down Article 335-B as unconstitutional, but its future hinges on the Supreme Court.

More recently, Hernandez' allies in Congress promoted a cyber-security bill aimed at regulating "acts of hatred and discrimination" on the internet. Civil society organisations blasted the bill as a "gag law".

Ismael Moreno, a Jesuit priest and director of Radio Progreso, told Al Jazeera legislation like Article 335-B epitomises the "extreme use of law" to "exercise power over the weak".

He added that freedom of expression in Honduras is "extremely precarious" and "conditioned by the arbitrary decisions" of a government he claimed "is the product of fraud and illegal re-election".

After last year's election, Radio Progreso's signal went off the air in the capital in what Moreno said was an act of government-sanctioned sabotage.

Moreno has not received death threats, but anonymous smear campaigns have accused him of drug trafficking, vandalism, and other crimes. He claims to have sources confirming his daily activities are surveilled by military intelligence.

Like Meza and Silva, Moreno has received protective measures, in his case provided by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He takes practical precautions to protect his safety, recognising his entire team is vulnerable.

"It is a challenge and a responsibility to continue exercising freedom of expression despite enormous difficulties," he said, linking restricted press freedom to attacks on other basic rights.

"We cannot allow a small elite with links to multinational companies to continue controlling [society]," Moreno said.
"We have to fight to transform Honduran society with the goal of having the rule of law where freedom of expression is respected."

Reading the Guardian, Watching Big Brother

2018: When Orwell’s 1984 stopped being fiction 

by Jonathan Cook

May 4, 2018

This is the moment when a newspaper claiming to uphold that most essential function in a liberal democracy – acting as a watchdog on power – formally abandons the task.

This is the moment when it positively embraces the role of serving as a mouthpiece for the government.

The tell is in one small word in a headline on today’s Guardian’s front page: “Revealed”.

When I trained as a journalist, we reserved a “Revealed” or an “Exposed” for those special occasions when we were able to bring to the reader information those in power did not want known. These were the rare moments when as journalists we could hold our heads high and claim to be monitoring the centres of power, to be fulfilling our sacred duty as the fourth estate.

But today’s Guardian’s “exclusive” story “Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance” is doing none of this. Nothing the powerful would want hidden from us is being “revealed”. No one had to seek out classified documents or speak to a whistleblower to bring us this “revelation”. Everyone in this story – the journalist Patrick Wintour, an anonymous “Whitehall official”, and the named politicians and think-tank wonks – is safely in the same self-congratulatory club, promoting a barely veiled government policy: to renew the Cold War against Russia.

It is no accident that the government chose the Guardian as the place to publish this “exclusive” press release. That single word “Revealed” in the headline serves two functions that reverse the very rationale for liberal, watchdog-style journalism.

First, it is designed to disorientate the reader in Orwellian – or maybe Lewis Caroll – fashion, inverting the world of reality. The reader is primed for a disclosure, a secret, and then is spoonfed familiar government propaganda: that the tentacles of a Russian octopus are everywhere, that the Reds are again under our beds – or at least, poisoning our door handles.

“British diplomats plan to use four major summits this year – the G7, the G20, Nato and the European Union – to try to deepen the alliance against Russia hastily built by the Foreign Office after the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March.”

This – and thousands of similar examples we are exposed to every day in the discourse of our politicians and media – is the way our defences are gradually lowered, our critical thinking weakened, in ways that assist those in power to launch their assault on democratic norms.

Through such journalistic fraud, liberal media like the Guardian and BBC – because they claim to be watchdogs on power, to defend the interests of the ruled, not the rulers – serve a vital role in preparing the ground for the coming changes that will restrict dissent, tighten controls on social media, impose harsher laws.

The threat is set out repeatedly in the Guardian’s framing of the story: there is a self-evident need for “a more comprehensive approach to Russian disinformation”; Moscow is determined “systematically to divide western electorates and sow doubt”; “the west finds itself arguing with Russia not just about ideology, or interests, but Moscow’s simple denial, or questioning, of what the western governments perceive as unchallengeable facts.”

Tom Tugendhat, son a High Court judge, a former army officer who was honoured with an MBE by the Queen in his thirties, and was appointed chair of the Commons’ important foreign affairs select committee after two years in parliament, sets out the thinking of the British establishment – and hints at the likely solutions. He tells the Guardian:

“Putin is waging an information war designed to turn our strongest asset – freedom of speech – against us. Russia is trying to fix us through deception.

Second, there is a remedy for the disorientation created by that small word “Revealed”. It subtly forces the reader to submit to the inversion.

For the reasons set out above, a rational response to this front-page story is to doubt that Wintour, his editors, and the Guardian newspaper itself are quite as liberal as they claim to be, that they take seriously the task of holding power to account. It is to abandon the consoling assumption that we, the 99 per cent, have our own army – those journalists in the bastions of liberal media like the Guardian and the BBC – there to protect us. It is to realise that we are utterly alone against the might of the corporate world. That is a truly disturbing, terrifying even, conclusion.

But that sense of abandonment and dread can be overcome. The world can be set to rights again – and it requires only one small leap of faith. If Russian president Vladimir Putin truly is an evil mastermind, if Russia is an octopus with tentacles reaching out to every corner of the globe, if there are Russian agents hiding in the ethers ready to deceive you every time you open your laptop, and Russian cells preparing to fix your elections so that the Muscovian candidate (Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn?) wins, then the use of that “Revealed” is not only justified but obligatory. The Guardian isn’t spouting British and US government propaganda, it is holding to account the supremely powerful and malevolent Russian state.

Once you have stepped through this looking glass, once you have accepted that you are living in Oceania and in desperate need of protection from Eurasia, or is it Eastasia?, then the Guardian is acting as a vital watchdog – because the enemy is within. Our foe is not those who rule us, those who have all the wealth, those who store their assets offshore so they don’t have to pay taxes, those who ignore devastating climate breakdown because reforms would be bad for business. No, the real enemy are the sceptics, the social media “warriors”, the political activists, even the leader of the British Labour party. They may sound and look harmless, but they are not who or what they seem. There are evil forces standing behind them.

In this inverse world, the coming draconian changes are not a loss but a gain. You are not losing the rights you enjoy now, or rights you might need in the future when things get even more repressive. The restrictions are pre-emptive, there to protect you before Putin and his bots have not only taken over cyberspace but have entered your living space. Like the aggressive wars of “humanitarian intervention” the west is waging across the oil-rich areas of the Middle East, the cruelty is actually kindness. Those who object, those who demur, do so only because they are in the financial or ideological grip of the mastermind Putin.

This is the moment when war becomes peace, freedom becomes slavery, ignorance becomes strength.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dan Kovalik, CAIA's Great March Solidarity Protest, Janine Bandcroft, Christina Nikolic May 3, 2018

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

May 3, 2018

As Honduran refugees squeezed between street gangsters and the immovably corrupt government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez hang fire in Tijuana, protests by the little people in the capital reportedly "turned violent" Tuesday. That's the neutral "turn of phrase" the professional western media uses when the monied interests, friends of the bankers and resource barons of El Norte, are challenged by those they rob daily.

The truth is plainer: Social order in Honduras has been brought to the breaking point by the thieves who stole the government, (with the blessing of Canada and the United States) and the failure of the capitalist system - at least as practiced by Hernandez and his cohorts.

And, the evidence of that failure is both bleeding in the streets of Tegucigalpa, and banging on America's doors at Mexican crossings and elsewhere.

Listen. Hear.

Contrast the reportage of the growing riots in Honduras, (that followed years of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations) with the recent eruption of "Arab Spring-like" manifestations in neighbouring Nicaragua. There, a leftist government long a thorn in the imperial paw touched off a tax revolt after announcing changes to the state pension plan, changes Sandinista President, Manuel Ortega was quick to reverse. But, to listen to the BBC, CBC, and US corporate press, it sounds as though Satan himself had risen in Managua.

Daniel Kovalik is a human rights lawyer, essayist, and author who’s book, ‘The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Putin’ is still fresh a year after publication. He teaches international human rights law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is Senior Associate General Counsel for the United Steel Workers union, and is a long-time peace and justice activist, focused especially on Colombia and Central America, where he serves as an attorney for Colombian plaintiffs in cases alleging corporate human rights violations. Dan is too a co-recipient of a Project Censored Award for chronicling the murder of trade unionists in Colombia.

Dan Kovalik in the first half.

And; while Palestinians continue to press for their rights in the homeland they've watched being stolen for three generations and more, their 'Great March of Return' in it's fifth week now, has highlighted the brutality of the Netanyahu regime. Every Friday hundreds of demonstrators have been injured, many shot in the legs by snipers with high velocity, live rounds. At least fifty are confirmed to have been shot dead. Tomorrow is another Friday, and the desperately determined people of Gaza will again go to the wall, emblem of their suffering, and challenge Israel's conscience.

In cities around the World, others have demonstrated in solidarity for the Palestinian cause. I went down to where the Victoria chapter of CAIA, Canadians Against Israeli Apartheid hold their weekly vigil downtown after the second week of killings and talked to both CAIA and pro-Israel counter-demonstrators.

Gaza and the Great March seen from a great distance in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft, and greentrepreneur extraordinaire, Christina Nikolic will be here in studio at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin to bring us up to speed with some of the good things to get up to in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Dan Kovalik and troubling times bubbling over in Central America.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Fault in Our Stars: Requiem for a Hollywood Fat Cat

The Fault in Our Stars: Requiem for a Hollywood Fat Cat

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press

May Day 2018

Let's all give it up for the #MeToo movement. Sexual assault and abuse is a scourge older than Methuselah. Since the beginning of recorded time, Patriarchy has made a Hell on Earth for women and girls.

It continues to do so, and the fact Harvey Weinstein's career immolation served to spark awareness and activism going far beyond California is the singlemost hopeful development in human development in our still-young century; and perhaps it will prove even more profound should the roots of its promising initiation take a deeper societal hold.

But, there's something disquieting about the whole l'affaire Weinstein; something more disturbing than the ill-making mental image of a bloated Harvey the Hutt tonguing hapless starlets chained by their ambition before his gilded throne.

The unease goes beyond the casual aplomb shown by the perp sanguinely waving off accountability with a leer and shrug. It's more bothersome even than his half-hearted apologia, made as if revelations of his grotesque predatory behaviour were nothing new, nothing to get so worked up about, nothing like revelatory really at all.

The problem is he actually, honestly could not get it; couldn't see where he'd crossed the line.

Reviewing the footage, I believe his performance. His surprise, shock, and outrage expressed then look genuine. Why, Harvey seems to ask, should I be singled out? "Why only Weinstein?" And, (with due recognition to Kevin Spacey and the handfuls of lesser luminaries similarly outed for the boorish obviousness of their abuses) he has a point.

Is it fair to pillory a token few bad apples for the sins of an entire industry?

More importantly though, for those concerned with the ill treatment of workers in tinsel town and every town, does throwing up human sacrifices to paper over endemic and systemic problems merely add insult to the injuries suffered past and current victims of workplace abuse? Isn't the real villain in this piece bigger and by magnitudes more odious than the self-important Mr. Weinstein; bigger even than Hollywood itself?

Full disclosure: I'm a veteran of 'The Biz', and still suffering industry induced PTVSD. So, you can dismiss what follows as sour grapes, or accept it as a valuable insight into the workings of the glamour business distilled from thousands of hours on scores of shows and hundreds of sets.

I left the business entirely around 2001, but the bonfire of my own career had effectively burned to embers nearly a decade earlier. I never thought to go back to it until recently when due either to cognitive memory failure or desperation borne of hitting that awkward age between the faded marketability of ones skills and utter retirement I thought taking a job on set could be fun.

When a prominent television company swooped into my neck of the backwater recently I answered their call for a "driver". I remembered set drivers as old guys who spent most of their time sitting in minivans reading novels while waiting to ferry cast and production crew around. Sure, it's a lowly position in the filmmaking hierarchy, but also one largely out of the firing line. That is to say, sheltered from the shit storm of production department squabbling and petty pecking order politicking.

How well I remember watching the figurative floggings of production assistants from my union protected film tech. perch with pity and disgust back in the day. Anyone familiar with the workings of a set will tell you, next to extras PA's are the universal whipping posts of the film world, subject to every manner of debasement, diminishment and general degradation of spirit their betters can devise. And all done with near complete impunity. I recall we used to call it, "brutal".

During my recent experience, I noticed a subtle shift in demeanor from the old days. The blatancy of abuse was absent, but its essence, that default attitude of disrespect I remembered remained; unmistakable, distinct, and as vile as ever. Masked now behind a veil of faux collegiality, the tone may have changed but not the tenor.

Gone where the open-handed insults and denigration by screaming set tyrants of yore, replaced now by woke next-gen set minders who smiled reassuringly, calling underlings "babe" and "dude" and "hon" while driving them like day-hire slaves.

Has Hollywood peered in its own black mirror and seeing Harvey Weinstein staring back found itself unable to bear things remain the same any longer? Do we have him to thank for at least that? Or is the new understanding merely a set piece, designed to assure itself and the rest of us there can be meaningful changes made?

It would be nice to think things have changed in Hollywood, and a new era of respect and good regard for neighbours and colleagues based not on status or earning power but on the inherent value of beingness is begun and will emanate outward through the media lens to imbue the social fabric, ultimately enriching all of our working experiences. I'd like to believe too the burning of effigies like Harvey and Kevin and Bill Cosby would prove the spark of a renewed enlightenment; but I'm skeptical.

I walked away from the movie set shivering in the eleventh hour, after standing in the rain, (employed as it turned out not as driver but a radio relay, a cog in a daisy chain of broken communication) with not so much as an umbrella or cup of coffee, and a sunset away from hypothermia.

The woman from production was surprised to see me, and all the one who had called me "babe" earlier wanted to know now was, "Who released you?"

Me babe? I released myself.

Watching the Becoming of Vegan Round the World

Creating A Vegan Documentary: A Director Shares His Journey

by James Hoot

April 2018

Let's face it; the vegan movement needs a new PR campaign. We all want to think that we're perceived as animal saviors and environmental benefactors, but that's often not the case.

So many people just don't like vegans or the perceived ideals behind veganism. They still think we're weird. We're on a mission to change that.

Vegan Round the World: The Series is the first time a documentary series has highlighted the human side of the vegan movement.

A filmmaker talks about when inspiration strikes...


Gaza and the West's Mute Liberal Class

Gazan Gandhis: Gaza Bleeds Alone as ‘Liberals’ and ‘Progressives’ Go Mute

by Ramzy Baroud

May 1, 2018

Three more Palestinians were killed and 611 wounded last Friday, when tens of thousands of Gazans continued their largely non-violent protests at the Gaza-Israel border.

Yet as the casualty count keeps climbing - nearly 45 dead and over 5,500 wounded – the deafening silence also continues. Tellingly, many of those who long chastised Palestinians for using armed resistance against the Israeli occupation are nowhere to be found, while children, journalists, women and men are all targeted by hundreds of Israeli snipers who dot the Gaza border.

Israeli officials are adamant. The likes of Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, perceives his war against the unarmed protesters as a war on terrorists. He believes that “there are no innocents in Gaza.”

While the Israeli mindset is not in the least surprising, it is emboldened by the lack of meaningful action, or outright international silence to the atrocities taking place at the border.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), aside from frequent statements laced with ambiguous legal jargon, has been quite useless thus far. Its Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, derided Israel's killings in a recent statement, but also distorted facts in her attempt at ‘even-handed language’, to the delight of Israeli media.

“Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ... as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities," she said.

Encouraged by Bensouda's statement, Israel is exploiting the opportunity to deflect from its own crimes. On April 25, an Israeli law group, Shurat Hadin, is seeking to indict three Hamas leaders at the ICC, accusing Hamas of using children as human shields at the border protests.

It is tragic that many still find it difficult to grasp the notion that the Palestinian people are capable of mobilizing, resisting and making decisions independent from Palestinian factions.

Indeed, for the nearly decade-long Hamas-Fatah feud, the Israeli siege on Gaza and throughout the various destructive wars, Gazans have been sidelined, often seen as hapless victims of war and factionalism, and lacking any human agency.

Shurat Hadin, like Bensouda, are all feeding into that dehumanizing discourse.

By insisting that Palestinians are not capable of operating outside the confines of political factions, few feel the sense of political responsibility or moral accountability to come to the aid of the Palestinians.

This is reminiscent of former US President Barack Obama's unsolicited lecture to Palestinians during his Cairo speech to the Muslim world in 2009.

"Palestinians must abandon violence," he said.
"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed."

He then offered his own questionable version of history of how all nations, including ‘black people in America’, the nations of South Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Indonesia fought and won their freedom by peaceful means only.

This demeaning approach – of comparing supposed Palestinian failures to others’ successes - is always meant to highlight that Palestinians are different, lesser beings who are incapable of being like the rest of humanity. Interestingly, this is very much the core of the Zionist narrative about the Palestinians.

That very notion is often presented in the question "where is the Palestinian Gandhi?" The inquiry, often asked by so-called liberals and progressives, is not an inquiry at all, but is a judgement - and an unfair one at that.

Addressing the question soon after the last Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, Jeff Stein wrote in Newsweek, "The answer has been blown away in the smoke and rubble of Gaza, where the idea of non-violent protest seems as quaint as Peter, Paul and Mary. The Palestinians who preached non-violence and led peaceful marches, boycotts, mass sit-downs and the like are mostly dead, in jail, marginalized or in exile."

Yet, astonishingly, it is being resurrected again, despite the numerous odds, the unfathomable anger and unrelenting pain.

Tens of thousands of protesters, raising Palestinian flags continue to hold their massive rallies across the Gaza border. Despite the high death toll and the thousands maimed, they return everyday with the same commitment to popular resistance that is predicated on collective unity, beyond factionalism and politics.

But why are they still being largely ignored?

Why isn't Obama tweeting in solidarity with Gazans? Why isn't Hillary Clinton taking the podium to address the unremitting Israeli violence?

It is politically convenient to criticize Palestinians as a matter of course, and utterly inconvenient to credit them, even when they display such courage, prowess and commitment to peaceful change.

The likes of famed author, J.K. Rowling, had much to say in criticism of the peaceful Palestinian boycott movement, which aims at holding Israel accountable for its military occupation and violations of human rights. But she became mute when Israeli snipers killed children in Gaza, while cheering whenever a child falls.

The singer Bono of the band U2 dedicated a song to the late Israeli President Shimon Peres, accused of numerous war crimes, but his voice seems to have grown hoarse as the Gaza boy, Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoub, 15 was shot by an Israeli sniper while protesting peacefully at the border.

However, there is a lesson in all of this. The Palestinian people should have no expectations of those who have constantly failed them. Chastising Palestinians for failing at this or that is an old habit, meant to simply hold Palestinians responsible for their own suffering, and to absolve Israel from any wrong doing. Not even Israel's 'incremental genocide' in Gaza will change that paradigm.

Instead, Palestinians must continue to count on themselves; to stay focused on formulating a proper strategy that will serve their own interests in the long run, the kind of strategy that transcends factionalism and offer all Palestinians a true roadmap to the coveted freedom.

The popular resistance in Gaza is just the beginning; it must serve as a foundation for a new outlook, a vision that will ensure that the blood of Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoub is not spilled in vain.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is

Monday, April 30, 2018

Poking Out Iran's Eyes in Syria: Israel's Latest Underreported Attacks

Israeli Military Attacks Iranian Backed Syrian Bases 


April 30, 2018

Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reported that some 200 missiles were destroyed and 11 Iranians were killed in the process, which Iran denies at this time. In the meantime, Netanyahu has been granted war powers authority in extreme situations by the Knesset, with only the defense minister's approval. This in spite of the fact that the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as well as the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee all rejected Netanyahu's request for such powers.

On to discuss all of this with me is Larry Wilkerson. Col. Wilkerson is former chief of staff to the Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now a distinguished professor at the College of William and Mary. Thank you so much for joining me, Larry.

 Col. Larry Wilkerson: Israel does not want to end the war in Syria, it is in their interest to keep this war going, and to keep the Iran Nuclear Deal from succeeding

Following the Skripal Narrative: Keeping Ones Eye on the Bouncing Ball

Where They Tell You Not to Look

by Craig Murray

30 Apr, 2018

At the very beginning of the of the Skripal incident, the security services blocked by D(SMA) notice any media mention of Pablo Miller and told the media not to look at Orbis and the Steele dossier on Trump, acting immediately to get out their message via trusties in the BBC and Guardian.

Gordon Corera, “BBC Security Correspondent”, did not name the source who told him to say this, but helpfully illustrated his tweet with a nice picture of MI6 Headquarters.

MI6’s most important media conduit (after Frank Gardner) is Luke Harding of the Guardian. 

A number of people replied to Harding’s tweet to point out that this was demonstrably untrue, and Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his Linkedin profile. That profile had just been deleted, but a google search for “Pablo Miller” plus “Orbis Business Intelligence”, without Linkedin as a search term, brought up Miller’s Linkedin profile as the first result (although there are twelve other Pablo Millers on Linkedin and the search brought up none of them).

Plus a 2017 forum discussed Pablo Miller’s Orbis connection and it both cited and linked to his Linkedin entry.

You might think that any journalist worth his salt would want to consider this interesting counter-evidence. But Harding merely tweeted again the blank denials of the security services, without question.

This is an important trait of Harding. Last year we both appeared, separately, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Harding was promoting a book and putting the boot into Wikileaks and Snowden. After his talk, I approached him in an entirely friendly manner, and told him there were a couple of factual errors in his presentation on matters to which I was an eye-witness, and I should be very happy to brief him, off the record, but we could discuss which bits he might use. He said he would talk later, and dashed off. Later I saw him in the author’s lounge, and as I walked towards him he hurriedly got up and left, looking at me.

Of course, nobody is obliged to talk to me. But at that period I had journalists from every major news agency contacting me daily wishing to interview me about Wikileaks, all of whom I was turning down, and there was no doubt of my inside knowledge and direct involvement with a number of the matters of which Harding was writing and speaking. A journalist who positively avoids knowledge of his subject is an interesting phenomenon.

But then Harding is that. From a wealthy family background, privately educated at Atlantic College and then Oxford, Harding became the editor of Oxford University’s Cherwell magazine without showing any leftwing or rebel characteristics. It was not a surprise to those who knew him as a student when he was employed at the very right wing “Daily Mail”. From there he moved to the Guardian. In 2003 Harding was embedded with US forces in Iraq and filing breathless reports of US special forces operations.

Moving to Moscow in 2007 as the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, others in the Moscow press corps and in the British expatriate community found him to be a man of strongly hawkish neo-con views, extremely pro-British establishment, and much closer to the British Embassy and to MI6 than anybody else in the press corps. It was for this reason Harding was the only resident British journalist, to my knowledge, whose visa the Russians under Putin have refused to renew. They suspected he is actually an MI6 officer, although he is not.

With this background, people who knew Harding were dumbfounded when Harding appeared to be the supporter and insider of first Assange and then Snowden.

The reason for this dichotomy is that Harding was not – he wrote books on Wikileaks and on Snowden that claimed to be insider accounts, but in fact just carried on Harding’s long history of plagiarism, as Julian Assange makes clear. Harding’s books were just careful hatchet jobs pretending to be inside accounts.

The Guardian’s historical reputation for radicalism was already a sham under the editorship of Rusbridger, and has completely vanished under Viner, in favour of hardcore Clinton identity politics failing to disguise unbending neo-conservatism. The Guardian smashed the hard drives containing the Snowden files under GCHQ supervision, having already undertaken “not to even look at” the information on Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact the hard drives were not the only copies in the world does not excuse their cravenness.

We know, of course, what MI6 have fed to Harding, because it is reflected every day in his output. What we do not know, but may surmise, is what Harding fed back to the security services that he gleaned from the Guardian’s association with Wikileaks and Snowden.

Harding has since made his living from peddling a stream of anti-Assange, anti-Snowden and above all, anti-Russian books, with great commercial success, puffed by the entire mainstream media. But when challenged by the non-mainstream media about the numerous fact free assertions on behalf of the security services to be found in his books, Harding is not altogether convincing. You can watch this video, in which Harding outlines how emoticons convinced him someone was a Russian agent, together with this fascinating analysis which really is a must-read study of anti-Russian paranoia. There is a similar analysis here.

Perhaps still more revealing is this 2014 interview with his old student newspaper Cherwell, where he obvously felt comfortable enough to let the full extent of his monstrous boggle-eyed Russophobia become plain:

His analogies span the bulk of the 20th century and his predictions for the future are equally far-reaching. “This is the biggest crisis in Europe since the Cold War. It’s not the break-up of Yugoslavia, but the strategic consensus since 1945 has been ripped up. We now have an authoritarian state, with armies on the march.” 

What next?

“It’s clear to me that Putin intends to dismember Ukraine and join it up with Transnistria, then perhaps he’ll go as far as Moldova in one way or another,” Harding says. 

This is part of what he deems Putin’s over-arching project: an expansionist attempt to gather Russo-phones together under one yoke, which he terms ‘scary and Eurasian-ist’, and which he notes is darkly reminiscent of “another dictator of short stature” who concocted “a similarly irredentist project in the 1930s”.

But actually I think you can garner everything you want to know about Harding from looking at his twitter feed over the last two months. He has obsessively retweeted scores of stories churning out the government’s increasingly strained propaganda line on what occurred in Salisbury. Not one time had Harding ever questioned, even in the mildest way, a single one of the multiple inconsistencies in the government account or referred to anybody who does. He has acted, purely and simply, as a conduit for government propaganda, while abandoning all notion of a journalistic duty to investigate.

We still have no idea of who attacked Sergei Skripal and why. But the fact that, right from the start, the government blocked the media from mentioning Pablo Miller, and put out denials that this has anything to do with Christopher Steele and Orbis, including lying that Miller had never been connected to Orbis, convinces me that this is the most promising direction in which to look.

It never seemed likely to me that the Russians had decided to assassinate an inactive spy who they let out of prison many years ago, over something that happened in Moscow over a decade ago.

It seemed even less likely when Boris Johnson claimed intelligence showed this was the result of a decade long novichok programme involving training in secret assassination techniques. Why would they blow all that effort on old Skripal?

That the motive is the connection to the hottest issue in US politics today, and not something in Moscow a decade ago, always seemed to me much more probable.

Having now reviewed matters and seen that the government actively tried to shut down this line of inquiry, makes it still more probable this is right.

This does not tell us who did it. Possibly the Russians did, annoyed that Skripal was feeding information to the Steele dossier, against the terms of his release.

Given that the Steele dossier is demonstrably in large degree nonsense, it seems to me more probable the idea was to silence Skripal to close the danger that he would reveal his part in the concoction of this fraud. Remember he had sold out Russian agents to the British for cash and was a man of elastic loyalties. It is also worth noting that Luke Harding has a bestselling book currently on sale, in large part predicated on the truth of the Steele Dossier.

Steele, MI6 and the elements of the CIA which are out to get Trump, all would have a powerful motive to have the Skripal loose end tied.

Rule number one of real investigative journalism: look where they tell you not to look.

Syria: France's 'Bottes au Sol'

French troops in Syria!

by Kevork Almassian - Syriana Analysis

April 24, 2018

Kevork Almassian brings the latest reports on the incoming French troops to Hasakeh, Syria.


Israel's Missile Attacks Against Iranian Bases Produces More Than Casualties

Iranian missiles destroyed in 'bunker busting' Syria strikes: Report #SyriaWar

by Middle East Eye

April 29, 2018

Hama and Aleppo attacks destroy major arms depots and cause minor earthquake, according to reports, days after Israel threatened Iran

Missile attacks on Syrian government-held airbases overnight struck several arms depots, including some holding surface-to-surface missiles that Iran was preparing to deploy, according to reports.

Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese pro-Hezbollah newspaper, said the attacks in Hama and in the Aleppo countryside were apparently carried out with "bunker-busting" missiles, causing huge explosions which Syrian state television said caused a 2.6 magnitude earthquake.

The reported explosion at one of the
Syrian air bases (screengrab)

The origin of the attacks has not been confirmed, however it comes weeks after Israel bombed the T4 airbase in Syria and days after the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Israel would attack Iranian assets in Syria if they were deemed a threat.

The Israeli military said soon after the latest bombing raids that it did not comment on foreign reports and had no information at this time.

According to the Syrian army, the strikes targeted a base in Aleppo province and Salhab aiport, Hama, where the 46th Syrian army brigade and Iranian "consultants" were stationed. The blast at Hama sent a huge fireball into the air.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said "assessments" showed major arms caches, including Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, had been destroyed in that attack.

But Iran's Tasnim news agency said on Monday that reports of Iranian casualties were baseless and no Iranians had been killed in the attacks.

"All these reports over an attack on an Iranian military base in Syria and the martyrdom of several Iranian military advisers in Syria are baseless," an unnamed source told Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The Syrian army said late on Sunday that "enemy" rockets had struck several military bases in the Hama and Aleppo countryside in what it said was a new "aggression" by its enemies, state television said.

Syrian state television said the missile attacks took place at 10.30pm local time. Successive blasts were heard in rural Hama province and authorities were investigating the cause.

Israel has previously hit Iranian-backed militia outposts in Syria, mainly targeting arms convoys of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Israel regards the group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad, as the biggest threat on its borders.

Earlier this month it struck a Syrian air base, killing seven Iranian personnel. Israel has warned it could hit Iranian bases in the war-torn country should tensions with Tehran escalate.

The Observatory said a Syrian army base was hit near the city of Salhab, west of Hama, where Iranian forces are also stationed.

It also said rockets hit Syrian government bases in the region surrounding Nairab military airport, which is close to Aleppo International Airport.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathon Conricus told Reuters:

"We don't comment on foreign reports and we have no information at this time."

On Sunday, the Israeli defence minister, Lieberman, said Israel would maintain freedom of operation in Syria, Haaretz reported.

“We have no intention to attack Russia or to interfere in domestic Syrian issues,” Lieberman said at the annual Jerusalem Post conference, according to Haaretz.

“But if somebody thinks that it is possible to launch missiles or to attack Israel or even our aircraft, no doubt we will respond and we will respond very forcefully,” Haaretz quoted him as saying.

In February, Israel said it launched multiple air strikes against air defences and Iranian targets inside Syria. Among the targets was the T4 airbase, after it said it had intercepted an Iranian drone on the Syria-Israel border.

Syria: Regime Change by Another Name Still Smells

Syria and Chemical Weapons: Debating the Regime-Change War in Syria

by Roger Annis - A Socialist In Canada

April 24, 2018

(with postscripts) 

Like the rest of Canada’s corporate media, the state-run CBC is virulently anti-Russia and a constant voice favouring the regime-change war in Syria.

So it was something of a surprise to hear its national radio news report on April 22 provide evidence that counters the claims of a chemical weapons attack against the town of Douma, Syria in the region east of Damascus on April 7.

Photo provided to Western media by the
Western-funded ‘White Helmets’ agency
purporting to show victims of a chemical
weapons attack in Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018

The CBC reported some of the information first reported by Robert Fisk of the UK Independent on April 17. Fisk spoke to medical personnel who treated what were later claimed by Western media to be victims of a chemical attack.

They explained to Fisk that the victims treated that day were suffering from respiratory ailments caused by the dust, debris and concussion symptoms of explosions. The medical personnel were interviewed separately and broadcast on a YouTube channel in Syria; you can view the video here.

Military clashes were still taking place on April 7 between the Syrian government and the right-wing militias in control of Douma since 2012. A ceasefire agreement has since provided for the withdrawal of the militias and re-assertion of control of Douma by the Syrian government.

As Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook reported on April 18, Fisk’s reporting has been ignored or downplayed by Western media. The CBC reporting makes no specific mention of Fisk or his original reporting.

There is, of course, a long history of chemical weapons usage by the Western imperialist powers going back more than 100 years. The famed UK prime minister Winston Churchill was a firm proponent of chemical weapons usage during World War One and also in Britain’s colonial wars of the same era in the Middle East, Africa and India.

Britain also used chemical weapons in its military intervention into northern Russia in 1919. That intervention sought the overthrow of the revolutionary government which came to power in Russia and neighbouring republics during and after November 2017.

Chemical weapons were used with a vengeance by the U.S. and its allies during their brutal wars against the peoples of Korea and Vietnam. They have been used by NATO and allied countries as recently as in Iraq in 2003 (white phosphorus and depleted uranium) and in Gaza against Palestinians by Israel (white phosphorus).

In contrast to its one-off radio report on April 22, the CBC’s website continues to publish standard-fare Western news reports consisting of a mix of some news along with half truths and falsehoods. In this example on April 21, citations are provided from the Western-funded and promoted ‘White Helmets’ agency which mixes civil defense initiatives with propaganda favouring the violent overthrow of the Syrian government.

An April 10 report by U.S. antiwar activist and writer Rick Sterling provides a good overview of this latest chemical weapons accusation against the Syrian government. Sterling’s report was first published on Mint Press News and was then reprinted on Monthly Review‘s MR Online. Also on MR Online is an article reviewing the history of chemical weapons accusations against Syria.

The ‘World news’ page on my A Socialist In Canada website is following closely the unfolding situation in Syria. It contains headlines and weblinks to vital news and analysis of Syria, including of late by Gregory Shupak in Jacobin and Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting and by Scott Taylor, who writes a weekly column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

I view the broad outlines of the situation in Syria as follows:

* The Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies are retaking control much of the western parts of the country which have been under the control of right-wing militias supported by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

* At the same time, the U.S. and its NATO allies, including Turkey, are laying the groundwork for partitioning large parts of Syria, notably the northern strip along the border with Turkey and vast stretches of the eastern part of the country (where, coincidentally, most of Syria’s oil and gas reserves lie). This is the new and latest variant of their longstanding regime-change war in Syria.

* Syrian Kurdish political leaders are willing participants in the U.S. partition plans. (Kurds comprise some 2.5 million of Syria’s population of 18.5 million.)

* The supposed conflict between the U.S. and Turkey over Syria is typical theatre of the Trump era of U.S. politics designed to obscure and distract what is truly taking place in U.S. and NATO foreign policy. The two NATO allies see eye to eye in plans to weaken and divide the country and people of Syria. Their purported disputes are theatrics. Inside Turkey, a drive to an authoritarian state continues, accompanied by brutal crackdown against the rights of Turkey’s large Kurdish population. A particular target is the left wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament.

Debating the regime-change war in Syria

An April 24 commentary on Syria by writer Sonali Kolhaktar is published on CounterPunch: ‘The left, Syria and fake news‘. The commentary is re-posted from Truthdig, where it originally appeared on April 19 under the title ‘Why are some on the left falling for fake news on Syria?‘. Many such commentaries are being published by ostensible leftists condemning the antiwar and left wing voices in the West that are defending Syria’s national sovereignty in the face of the determined drive by U.S.-led imperialism to overthrow the Syrian government. Common to all the condemnations, including this latest one by Kolhatkar, is that they say and propose absolutely nothing by way of how the war in Syria could end. That’s because they favour the violent overthrow of the Syrian government and president. The rest is talk.

On April 23, Truthdig published a reply by U.S. writer and journalist Max Blumenthal to Kolhatkar’s original article. His reply is here: ‘Syria controversy: Don’t believe the official narrative‘. Truthdig published a brief rejoinder by Kolhatkar to Blumenthal on the same date.

Kolhatkar wrote in her rejoinder, “We need to get beyond the battle over Assad’s crimes to unite against U.S. militarism, but unfortunately, pro-Assad sentiment undermines the left’s credibility on this issue.” But we get no hint of how an antiwar left could “unite against U.S. militarism”.

An antiwar movement certainly should not “unite” in turning a blind eye to the U.S. regime change war in Syria. The same turning a blind eye is taking place over the civil war being waged for the past four years in eastern Ukraine by the extreme-right government in Ukraine with NATO backing.[1]

Nor should an antiwar movement make abstract calls for Russia to withdraw its military support to the Syrian government. A political agreement is required to end the war in Syria. This can open a process of national reconstruction, complete with political discussion and debate over the past and future paths of economic development for Syria. Certainly, the Syrian government’s past policies favouring the spread of globalized capitalism into the country should come under sharp scrutiny.

Presently, there is a dearth across the board of discussion in the West as to how a movement of solidarity with the Syrian people can assist a process of national ceasefire, dialogue and reconstruction. For example, nothing is known in the West of Russia’s longstanding proposals to the Syrian government and people that they modify the Syrian constitution in order to provide recognition to the country’s national minorities, notably the Syrian Kurds.

In the absence of a political agreement for ceasefire and peace, calls for withdrawal of Russian and Iranian support to Syria amount to calls for the people of Syria to surrender their sovereignty to imperialism. Thankfully, the people of Syria are not about to follow such counsel.

[1] The pro-NATO Atlantic Council recently published an article expressing unease over the continued ascendance of a violent, extreme-right movement in Ukraine and the decline in legitimacy of the governing regime in Kyiv. Russia analyst Mark Ames commented on Twitter on April 23 on the Atlantic Council article: “Now even NATO’s front group [the Atlantic Council] is worried about Ukraine’s Nazi problem. Until recently, these same hacks smeared anyone worried about Ukraine’s Nazi problem as ‘Russian disinformation’, ‘Putinist’, ‘Kremlin bot’ etc.”

The tragic fall of Afrin to NATO-member Turkey’s military intervention, and the dangerous aftermath, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, March 24, 2018

1. Deception in plain sight: Douma, part one, report on Media Lens (UK), April 25, 2018

[This report on Media Lens examines the near-to universal, pro-war reaction of mainstream media in Britain to the false news that a chemical weapons attack was perpetrated by the Syrian government against the people of the town of Douma on April 7, 2018. The report also looks at Glenn Greenwald’s retractions and flounderings following his claim on Democracy Now! on April 9 that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. He told program host Amy Goodman, “I think that it’s—the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of this chemical weapons attack, as well as previous ones, is the Assad government…”

[Media Lens explains to its readers that part two of this report will be published soon. From the ‘About’ page of the online publication: “Since 2001, we have been describing how mainstream newspapers and broadcasters operate as a propaganda system for the elite interests that dominate modern society…”]

2. ‘It just doesn’t ring true’, Douma part two, report on Media Lens (UK), April 26, 2018

3. The eclectic CounterPunch ups the ante on anti-Russia reporting

[CounterPunch has published a commentary on April 25 which accepts the unproven claim of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government on the town of Douma on April 7. Worse, it ups the ante by saying that Russian president Vladimir Putin schemed with the Donald Trump regime in Washington as the latter prepared its missile attacks launched together with Britain against Syria during the night of April 13/14. The CounterPunch commentary begins:

Not once, but twice, Donald Trump seized upon the specter of alleged chemical use, by Bashar al-Assad, to punish Syria with missile attacks. With predictable and expedient faux rage, he risked elevating a seven year horror into a cataclysmic nightmare; at least that’s the common political sentiment.

Perhaps, this calculation is more than a bit frayed given the certainty of a choreographed agreement between Trump and Putin before the attacks began.

To be sure, only a political novice would overlook the bargain that enabled Trump to stage his domestic political show and afford Putin ample time to move his forces to avoid his own domestic fallout should any of the U.S. missiles have missed their Syrian mark and fallen, instead, upon a Russian fighter jet or pilot.

Pardon my cynicism, but I have little doubt that when it comes to the Middle East, or elsewhere, neither of these autocrats sees much beyond their own political and economic self-interest no matter what flag their rhetoric comes draped in. It’s not just the way of the times, but the accomplished trait of each…

[The commentator ‘overlooks’ mentioning the fact that Russian-supplied air defenses allowed the Syrian armed forces to shoot down more than half the estimated 110 U.S. and UK missiles launched on April 13/14. The writers’s claim of a “choreographed agreement” between the U.S. and Russia thus takes left-wing conspiracy theorizing to a whole new level.]

4. No attack, no victims, no chemical weapons: Witnesses from Douma, Syria speak at OPCW briefing at The Hague, RT, April 26, 2018

5. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter refutes U.S. chemical weapons claim in Syria, interview with Scott Ritter, on ‘Flashpoints Radio‘, KPFA station, with host Denis Bernstein, April 23, 2018 (Transcript of the interview is published here on Consortium News, April 27, 2018)

Introduction by Dennis Bernstein:
In the 1980’s, Scott Ritter was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, specializing in intelligence. In 1987, Ritter was assigned to the On-Site Inspection Agency, which was put together to go into the Soviet Union and oversee the implementation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This was the first time that on-site inspection had been used as part of a disarmament verification process.

Ritter was one of the groundbreakers in developing on-site inspection techniques and methodologies. With this unique experience behind him, Ritter was asked in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, to join the United Nations Special Commission, which was tasked by the Security Council to oversee the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. From 1991 to 1998, Ritter served as a chief weapons inspector and led a number of teams into Iraq.

According to Ritter, in the following Flashpoints Radio interview with Dennis Bernstein conducted on April 23, US, British and French claims that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians last month appear to be totally bogus.

6. Kurds, the survivors of the Syrian wars, by Patrick Cockburn, London Review of Books, April 5, 2018 (available to subscribers only) 

Map of Syria, in London Review of Books April 2018

Comment by Roger Annis, April 28, 2018:

In his latest contribution to the London Review of Books (writing date March 23), Patrick Cockburn provides valuable information on the recent history and current, difficult circumstances facing Syria’s estimated Kurdish population of 2.5 million. Turkey has invaded the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwest Syria and is conducting an ethnic cleansing of the region. The U.S., meanwhile, is using the Kurdish forces of northern Syria in its plan to weaken and partition Syria.

Cockburn’s authority is based on his extensive travel and reporting from Syria. But he continues his habit of describing Syria using unproven allegations against Russia and the Syrian government. Thus, we read the following in this latest contribution to the London Review of Books: “Russia gave Turkey permission to use airpower freely over Afrin, withdrew its military contingent from the enclave and opened the door for Turkish forces to invade, which they did on 20 January [2018].”

This is how Cockburn describes Russia’s wise decision in January 2018 not to take NATO’s bait and engage militarily against NATO member Turkey in Afrin on behalf of Kurdish forces aligned with NATO member United States. For that decision, writers in the West such as Cockburn heap disparaging distortions of the truth on Russia’s head.

Furthermore, in typical fashion of those making such allegations, not a word is reported by Cockburn of Russia’s longstanding proposals to the Syrian government and people that they modify the Syrian constitution to provide recognition of Kurdish national (autonomous) rights. Nor is there any mention of the proposal by the Syrian and Russian armed forces to the Kurds of Afrin in December 2016 that the Kurds accept the entry of Syrian armed forces and allies into Afrin region in order to forestall the anticipated Turkish intervention.

Kurdish acceptance of the proposal would have stirred U.S. ire. In other words, for good or for bad, the Kurdish leadership in Afrin bowed to the Turkish intervention and inevitable ethnic cleansing that followed rather than jeopardize their alliance with the United States and its illegal intervention and occupation in oil-and-gas-rich eastern Syria.]

The plans by Turkey and the U.S. to partition Syria are passively described by Cockburn as follows:

“The country is now divided into three zones, each under a different authority and supported by a different foreign sponsor.” 

Note how NATO members Turkey and the U.S. are described as “different” from one another in their objectives in Syria and not at all described as the illegal, foreign invaders and occupiers that they are. Syria’s national government in Damascus is reduced to one of three “different authorities”, alongside the two illegal occupiers.