Saturday, September 15, 2018

Al Qaeda Goes Hollywood

Presenting The Syria Deception: Al Qaeda Goes to Hollywood

by Dan Cohen - The GrayZone Project

September 15, 2018

An exclusive Grayzone investigative documentary rips the cover off of the most sophisticated and expensive campaign of humanitarian interventionist propaganda in modern history.   

For decades, Western governments, corporate media and Hollywood have engaged in a project of mass deception to manufacture consent for military interventions. Waged in the name of lofty ideals like freedom, human rights and democracy, US-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya wound up bringing death, destruction and even the return of slavery to the African continent.

As the wounds from those catastrophes festered, Washington embarked on its most ambitious project yet, marketing another war of regime change, this time in Syria.

This investigative mini-doc exposes the cynical deceptions and faux humanitarianism behind the campaign to sell the dirty war on Syria. It will also demonstrate the lengths that the US and its allies have gone to develop new ploys to tug at Western heartstrings and convince even liberal minded skeptics of war that a US intervention was necessary — even if it meant empowering Al Qaeda’s largest franchise since 9/11 and its theocratic allies among the insurgency.

Big lies and little children have formed the heart of what is perhaps the most expensive, sophisticated, and shameless propaganda blitz ever conducted.

Welcome to the Syria Deception.

NATO: A Spreading War-Making Virus

The NATO Virus is Spreading

by George Galloway - SOTT

June 7, 2018

 Like a geographical virus the spread of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has broken all natural boundaries. It is immune to any antibiotic of logic and poses a deadly threat to the health, peace and stability of the world.

For decades in the West, NATO was believed to have been a defensive response to the creation of the Warsaw Pact - despite the fact that it was formed long before the treaty, which has in turn been nearly 30 years dead.

NATO Secretary-General 
Jens Stoltenberg poses next to a 
world map, Brussels, Belgium, May 7, 2018

Nonetheless, like death and taxes, membership of NATO has been assumed to be one of life's few certainties with an increasing share of national wealth going to pay for it.

This might have gone on unquestioned but for the multiple East-West crises of the last few years and the bizarre inclusion of, brothers-in-arms and non-North Atlantic states, Colombia and Israel in recent NATO activity.

Almost overnight, interest in my long-quiescent No2NATO campaign has picked up as public opinion has switched on like a light to the fact that there is little that is defensive about NATO and even less that is North Atlantic.

When the Colombian President announced a Co-operation Agreement with NATO in 2013 and expressed hope that his country would eventually join the US-led alliance, it was met with opposition in his own country and embarrassed chortles at NATO HQ. Jungle fighting against the FARC guerrillas or a confrontation with the Chavez revolution in neighboring Venezuela were clearly "out of area" - even for the mission-creepers in Brussels.

But with the sharpening of US hostilities towards Venezuela, holder of the world's largest proven oil reserves, and now officially an enemy of Washington subject to the usual spectrum of regime-change bombardment, NATO-Colombian relations have suddenly been cranked up dramatically.

It is likely that the US will soon turn to a Contra-style physical confrontation with the tenacious Chavistas in Venezuela, in which case a maritime and even ground force presence for the US will be necessary. When the Venezuelans fight back, this could be deemed to be an attack on a "NATO-partner and candidate member". Vietnam 2 could then be fought by, not only the US, but Britain, France, Belgium and Uncle Tom Cobley.

Although not European, Israel has long participated in such cultural highlights as the Eurovision Song Contest - and has often won it! They ply their less-successful football trade in the UEFA Champions League too. The ever advancing NATO encroachment towards the border with Russia has, until now, kept Israel out of NATO. It had to make do with being a "Mediterranean Partner" alongside the likes of Egypt and Morocco.

Israel's complex relations with Russia pose a dilemma for Benjamin Netanyahu. After all, it is only weeks ago that the Israeli premier shouldered his way to President Vladimir Putin's side on the Victory day parade in Moscow.

Huge numbers of Russian Jews are also citizens of Israel - including, virtually overnight last week, Roman Abramovich. There is visa-free travel between the countries and significant economic relations.

Being on opposing sides in the long-war in Syria has tested relations between Moscow and Tel Aviv but it has not broken them. So when 18,000 NATO soldiers just invaded the Baltic States and Poland for the eighth Saber Strike military maneuvers aimed at Russia, nobody expected the Israeli Parachute Regiment to turn up. But they did.

The "exercises" are designed to cast a shadow over the World Cup in Russia, and to act tough - as a bolster to the spectrum of sanctions on Russia at a time when they are beginning to fray as Putin's visit to Austria just demonstrated.

The message is, our soft power might be tissue-thin but our guns still pack a punch. And now we've got the Israelis on the front-line too. Together with the recent reckless bombing in Syria, which came uncomfortably close to vital Russian interests, and the increasingly bellicose threats of war by Israel against Iran, sabers may begin to be sharpened on both sides after the World Cup is won.

NATO's value to its US overlord is that it can bypass individual nuances on policy in member states. So, while Germany, Italy and France are chafing somewhat against endless economic sanctions on Russia, and where virtually everyone is against Trump on Iran, NATO's independent institutional power and its elaborate trip-wire system can plummet everyone into a crisis - irrespective of member-state nuances never mind hostile public opinion.

It may be hoped that NATO membership assumes consent to US orders as a kind of default position. That when a trip wire is allegedly crossed, the alliance itself will move into action before European public opinion can even begin to get its boots on.

A couple of years ago I shared a platform at an important festival of ideas in Hay-on-Wye, on the Welsh-English borders, with a freshly retired English general who had just been serving with NATO High Command.

The general bluntly stated that "British mothers have to realize that their sons may have to give their life's blood on the streets of Vilnius" in defense of NATO's positions there.

My own protestations, that Russia posed no threat whatsoever to the Baltic States and that, in any case, British mothers had never heard of Vilnius and would never agree to spend their children's blood there, were met with a contemptuous wave of the hand. It signaled that no anti-war agitation from the likes of me would be allowed to be of any consequence whatsoever.

I believe that NATO and its partner organizations, far from being a defensive shield, are an aggressive, ever wider broadsword. Far from keeping the peace they represent a clear and present danger of war. Far from representing 'the democracies', NATO poses a real threat to democratic control of foreign and defense policy in member countries. It is for these reasons I will shortly relaunch my No2NATO campaign. Before it is too late to do so.

The Greening of Brown

Hundreds Disrupt Global Climate Action Summit, Demand Climate Justice


September 14, 2018

Civic and business leaders convened at California Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit, but protestors decried their “false solutions” to the climate crisis.


Preparing the Public Mind for the 'Libyanization' of Syria

The Bluffer's Guide to Bombing Syria

by Peter Ford - 21st Century Wire

September 14, 2018 

 Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria, with a rather useful media guide, aptly described as, “The Dirty Dozen: 12 lies they tell you to anaesthetise you for the upcoming bombing of Syria.”

The propaganda mills of the British and American governments – spokespersons, media, think tanks – are working overtime churning out ‘talking points’ to justify the upcoming large scale bombing of Syria on the pretext of use of prohibited weapons.

Here is a guide from a former insider to the top dozen of these lies.

1. There are more babies than jihadis in Idlib. As it happens this gem of moral blackmail is untrue. There are twice as many jihadis (about 100,000) as babies (0-1 year) (55,000). What is this factoid meant to say anyway? Don’t try to free an area of jihadis because you might harm a lot of children? The Western coalition scarcely heeded that consideration in razing Mosul and Raqqa in order to crush ISIS. They are still pulling babies out of the rubble in Raqqa.

2. The reports [of the imminent chemical weapons ‘attack’] must be true because Assad has done it before. False. Since 2013 when Asad gave up chemical weapons under supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the OPCW have not visited the sites of alleged attacks in jihadi-controlled areas but have accepted at face value ‘reports’ from pro-jihadi organisations like the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society, along with ‘evidence’ from hostile intelligence agencies. In the case of the one site the OPCW did visit, Douma, their report said they found no evidence of sarin, no untoward traces in any of the blood samples taken from ‘alleged victims’ (their term), no bodies and only ambiguous evidence of use of chlorine.

3. The OPCW report on Douma was flawed because the Russians and Syrians caused delay. False. As documented in the OPCW report, delay was caused by UN bureaucracy and jihadi snipers. The inspectors do not say their findings were to any significant degree invalidated by the delay.

4. Assad uses chemical weapons because they frighten large numbers of people into fleeing. False. They don’t. This desperate argument is trotted out to counter the fact that Assad would have to be stupid to use chemical weapons knowing what the result would be and that he would derive minimal military benefit. To date, not one of the alleged chemical attacks has precipitated an exodus any greater than flight caused by the legendary ‘barrel bombs’. The inhabitants of Douma by their own testimonies given to Western journalists were even unaware there might have been an attack until they heard about it in the media.

5. The OPCW won’t be able to investigate because it won’t be safe. A feeble excuse to preempt calls for establishing facts before bombing. The Turks escort Western journalists into Idlib. They have hundreds of troops there and the jihadis kowtow to them because they control all logistics. The Turks could escort OPCW. And wouldn’t the jihadis be keener than anybody for the inspectors to visit if their claims were true?

6. The upcoming strikes are not aimed at regime change. False. The plan is to decapitate the Syrian state with attacks on the presidency. Failing that the aim is to make Idlib a quagmire for the Russians. Anything to deprive Asad and Putin of victory, regardless of whether it prolongs the war.

7. It’s all Russian disinformation. Yeah, like the arms inspectors before the Iraq war who said no WMD in Iraq. Reality: the Russians have got great intelligence on what Western powers with their jihadi clients are up to and are calling out the phoney moves.

8. There won’t be enough time for parliamentary debate. Pull the other one. Reality: the government are terrified of a rerun of 2013 when Labour and 30 brave Tory MPs voted against bombing, causing Cameron and then Obama to back off.

9. MPs can’t be told what is planned because it would jeopardise the safety of service personnel. How low can you stoop? Feigning concern for flyers when it’s really just about keeping the people in ignorance of how big the strikes are going to be.

10. There are going to be massacres, a bloodbath, or ‘genocide’. False. We heard all this hysteria before Aleppo, before Eastern Ghouta and before the campaign in the South. All vastly exaggerated. The Syrian Arab Army has not been responsible for a single massacre, while the jihadis have been responsible for many (source: quarterly reports of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria).

11. People have nowhere to go. False. The Russians have opened safe corridors but the jihadis are not allowing people to leave. They can still leave for the northern border strip which Turkey controls, where there are camps, and many (including jihadi fighters) will be able to cross temporarily into Turkey.

12. We can’t tell you which armed groups we support because it would make them targets for Assad. Really? You think he doesn’t know? Isn’t it because you are terrified it will come out that we have been supporting some real head-choppers?

Author Peter Ford is a retired British Diplomat who was Ambassador to Bahrain from 1999-2003 and Syria from 2003-2006.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files


IWC 67 Day Three - Two Solitudes

IWC 67 Day Three - Two Solitudes  

by Paul Spong - orcalab

September 12, 2018

Florianopolis Brazil - This morning began with a presentation by the USA of the revised ASW (aboriginal and subsistence whaling) Bundle.

The most controversial details (carry over and automatic renewal) provisions had been massaged sufficiently to satisfy many of the objections that had been raised yesterday, or at least satisfy many of the countries which were uneasy or inclined to oppose it yesterday.

The changes were insufficient to satisfy the BAG (Buenos Aires Group) which consists of the Latin American countries who are the whales’ greatest defenders. So a vote was held.

I’m quite sure the USA was holding its breath as the vote proceeded, but in the end when the Secretary announced the result there was an audible sigh of relief in the room. The USA had achieved predictability and stability for the Alaskan families and communities which depend on Bowheads for food and cultural continuity.

There was an instant celebration in the room and beyond. Nothing was noticed or said about the side consequences of the decision. Greenland gets to kill more whales than ever and so does Russia.

Changes like removing length and time of year restrictions on killing fin whales near Greenland must have consequences but they are unknown and certainly in this forum unnoticed. While the decision was a victory for the USA, at the same time it was a defeat for whales and their defenders.

There are so many side effects to the decision that will resonate for years, even decades to come. For me the ugliest consequence is the permission St. Vincent now has for the whalers of Bequia to go on killing humpbacks whenever they come close. The quota is 4 per year and includes a “carry over” provision. Within 7 years 28 humpbacks could be killed.

The decision flies in the face of a whale watching economy that is growing in the Caribbean and based on identified individuals. Go figure. The only sense I can make of it is that the USA was so desperate to achieve its objective for far north Alaskan communities that it was willing to give everything else away.

Poor humpbacks.

The ASW decision engendered such a feeling of bonhomie in the room that several whale friendly decisions were taken with only token opposition. A resolution on advancing understanding of the role of whales in ecosystem functioning was passed after a vote with 63% support. It was so interesting to hear virtually the same objections repeated time after time by Japan’s allies – irrelevant, outside the scope of the Convention, etc.

Possibly as a result of this defeat, two more resolutions were passed by consensus after the chair of the Finance and Administration Committee assured the audience they would not have financial consequences. These resolutions, on anthropogenic noise and ghost gear for a while produced an aura of cooperation during the afternoon session. For me, the highlight of the feel good phase was Belgium’s comment that “protecting whales and dolphins means protecting ourselves”. Yes! Unfortunately though predictably the cozy feeling didn’t last.

Following the afternoon coffee break chairman Morishita introduced Agenda item 12, Future of the IWC. It seems he did so because the meeting was falling behind schedule and he wanted to catch up. I’m not sure if it was a mistake but it did open a can of worms.

There are two visions of the future. One is described in the Florianopolis Declaration which sees a future in which whales are respected and valued, only treated in non-harmful ways. Naturally this is anathema to Japan, so suddenly we were hearing comments about how some members had been so nice to others they deserved reciprocal gestures such as recognizing the validity if killing whales sustainably.

Unsurprisingly the appeals didn’t fly. After more than an hour of overtime the meeting ended for the day.

Quite clearly we are back to normal:

Two solitudes.

IWC 67 Day Four - The great divide 

by Paul Spong - orcalab

 September 13, 2018

Florianopolis Brazil - This morning began with a vote on the Florianopolis Declaration proposed by Brazil which essentially looks forward to a future for whales and the oceans they inhabit in which most whales live free from the threat of death by harpoon, and via their spirit and beauty contribute to the economies of their human neighbours.

It’s a wonderful vision in which the inhabitants of our planet share its bounty and live in harmony.

A pipe dream to be sure, but in this forum one that was accepted by 60% of those present and able to vote at this meeting.

Japan and it’s bloc voted predictably but the vote was interesting in some of its other details. Switzerland, South Africa, Kenya and Nicaragua all abstained. The latter two had already been showing signs of sitting on the fence or dropping to the other side during the meeting but I had thought Switzerland and South Africa to be pretty solidly pro whale.

I may have to revise that opinion tomorrow which is the last and possibly most dramatic day of IWC 67. 
Many big decisions have already been made but the one that could take the IWC back to pre-history has been put off until tomorrow, the last day. It’s Japan’s proposal to start commercial whaling again and redraw the rules under which the IWC operates. Given the way things have mostly been tilting in the whales’ favour so far, it’s a little unsettling to see how pleased some of the people who should be worried are looking. 

A rumor has been going around that the USA wants or needs to give Japan something so it doesn’t go home totally bruised. I haven’t had a feeling nor have any evidence to confirm that but the rumour is a bit unsettling. Almost at the end of this day a concession was made to Antigua and Barbuda regarding proposed annual meetings of the Conservation Committee that I felt totally unnecessary but it happened. Whether it’s a harbinger of a strange day tomorrow I don’t know but I do know we need to be vigilant.

The tricky shape of things here showed up in several ways today, most particularly in Japan’s response to an NGO comment about its whaling under “special permit”. EIA (Environmental Investigations Agency) on behalf of a dozen NGOs made a statement calling on the Commission to reject Japan’s proposal to overturn the moratorium in which it referred to commercial whaling by Iceland Norway and Japan.

The reference outraged Japan which demanded an apology, presumably because the hundreds of whales it kills annually are for research not commerce. Chairman Morishita seemed a bit taken aback by the charge and suggested the parties get together to talk.

It hasn’t happened yet and probably won’t but given the International Court of Justice’s characterisation of Japan’s research whaling as commerce I don’t think Japan has a leg to stand on. Quite possibly Japan might quietly let the matter drop, which would be the most sensible course, but the way things are going here it might want to go another round.

There’s no question things are heating up. We might see fireworks in the morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Guardian Leads Media Misinformation Campaign on Nicaragua

The Guardian continues its shameless misinformation campaign against Nicaragua and its people 

by Camilo Mejia

September 9, 2018

On its September 7 article, the once progressive newspaper reports that Nicaragua was brought to a standstill by a general strike called by the Civic Alliance, one of the main opposition coalitions behind the attempted soft-coup, citing how banks and upscale shopping malls in Managua are all closed in support of the strike.

What The Guardian fails to mention is that those upscale businesses only represent a small portion within the Nicaraguan sector, which is mostly driven by micro, small, and mid-size businesses that are part of the country’s popular market economy, which in turn employs about 90 percent of the country’s workers.

In truth, commerce was business as usual throughout Nicaragua, as these images show.

Roberto Huembes Market, Managua,
September 7, 2018

The paper then quotes Ana Margarita Vigil, calling her the ‘national director of the outlawed Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).”

Market in Matagalpa, September 7, 2018  
Market in Granada, September 7, 2018

What they omit is that the MRS was not arbitrarily “outlawed,” it simply lacks the legal status of a political party because its leaders have not been able to obtain more than 1.3 percent of the popular vote, which isn’t enough to qualify them to run in elections.

“With 200 political prisoners and [new] murders every day,” Vigil is quoted.
“This strike is just one more sign that nothing is normal here in Nicaragua.” 

Here, again, The Guardian leaves out vital information. First, since the roadblocks were removed, the only people who have died as a result of political turmoil have been Sandinistas, including Lenin Mendiola, who died as a result of gunshots fired directly from an opposition march in Matagalpa on August 11 of this year.

Lenin Mendiola, Sandinista assassinated earlier this year by right-
wing protesters who shot him from a march in Matagalpa.

Another Sandinista, Bismarck Martinez Sanchez, is presumed dead after video evidence of his capture and torture was found on the cell phones of opposition operatives; he was kidnapped at a tranque (or roadblock) on June 29 of this year. Several of the perpetrators of these crimes have been arrested. They are the kind of criminals being called “political prisoners,” by people in the opposition, such as Vigil.

“Last week, Ortega expelled a UN human rights mission after it published a report denouncing government repression and describing a “climate of fear” in the Central American country,” continues the article, giving the impression the Nicaraguan government punished the UN for publishing its report.

In reality, it was the Nicaraguan government that invited the UN mission, at a time when political violence still prevailed in many parts of the country, but that violence has largely ended, and since the UN already conducted its investigation and issued its report, there was no longer a need for their continued presence. The team was not ‘expelled’ from Nicaragua, as was the case in Guatemala, where President Jimmy Morales, with police and military leaders in tow, asked the UN mission to initiate its transfer out of the country.

The paper portrays the opposition as a strong and unified movement that represents the sentiment and interest of the Nicaraguan people against a repressive dictatorship, but the reality is almost the exact opposite.

For starters, the opposition not only lacks a well-defined and unified leadership, but the different actors within it are constantly at odds with one another. On the day the Civic Alliance issued its call for a national strike, a leader from the so-called Azul y Blanco Movement asked its members not to follow the Alliance on social media, and continued to promote a petition asking the Alliance to become more belligerent.

Conflict between opposition members 
“Movimiento Azul y Blanco” and Alianza Civica.

Differences also exist between pro-choice civil society organizations and the fervidly pro-life, homophobic, and deeply misogynist Catholic Church, which has perhaps been the strongest pillar in the anti-Sandinista charge, a role the church has played historically.

Other differences exist between student groups that have openly advocated for a prolonged general strike, and wealthy business groups who would lose a lot of money from such a measure. Lastly, there are those within the opposition who consider themselves leftists, and those who have traveled to the US, where they have met with extreme right wing republicans who are co-sponsors of the NICA Act in the US Congress, a measure that would effectively amount to an economic embargo.

In the case of Vigil and other MRS leaders, they have met with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is trying to re-arm the contras.

Nicaraguan students meet with right-wing Republican lawmakers 
Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to seek their help.

In contrast to everything The Guardian would have its readers believe, and with the disarticulation in leadership of the right-wing opposition, the Sandinista government and its base are stronger than ever.

Sandinista Nicaraguans march for Peace and Justice for their dead, 
wounded, and disappeared. Managua, September 8, 2018.

Despite western media claims that protests have continued, the only significant marches taking place in Nicaragua are led by pro-government people, clamoring for justice for those who were wounded, tortured, disappeared, killed, burned, and for those who are still being persecuted and hunted, for the simple crime of being Sandinista.

Strange Alibis: When Truth Doesn't Immediately Ring So

The Strange Russian Alibi

by Craig Murray

13 Sep, 2018
Like many, my first thought at the interview of Boshirov and Petrov – which apparently are indeed their names – is that they were very unconvincing. The interview itself seemed to be set up around a cramped table with a poor camera and lighting, and the interviewer seemed pretty hopeless at asking probing questions that would shed any real light.

I had in fact decided that their story was highly improbable, until I started seeing the storm of twitter posting, much of it from mainstream media journalists, which stated that individual things were impossible which were, in fact, not impossible at all.

The first and most obvious regards the weather on 3 and 4 March. It is in fact absolutely true that, if the two had gone down to Salisbury on 3 March with the intention of going to Stonehenge, they would have been unable to get there because of the snow. It is therefore perfectly possible that they went back the next day to try again; and public transport out of Salisbury was still severely disrupted, and many roads closed, on 4 March. Proof of this is not at all difficult to find.

This image is from the Salisbury Journal’s liveblog on 4 March.

Those mocking the idea that the pair were blocked by snow from visiting Stonehenge have pointed to the CCTV footage of central Salisbury not showing snow on the afternoon of 4 March. Well, that is central Salisbury, it had of course been salted and cleared. Outside there were drifts.

So that part of their story in fact turns out not to be implausible as social media is making out; in fact it fits precisely with the actual facts.

The second part of their story that has brought ridicule is the notion that two Russians would fly to the UK for the weekend and try to visit Salisbury. This ridicule has been very strange to me. Weekend breaks – arrive on Friday and return on Sunday – are a standard part of the holiday industry. Why is it apparently unthinkable that Russians fly on weekend breaks as well as British people?

Even more strange is the idea that it is wildly improbable for Russian visitors to wish to visit Salisbury cathedral and Stonehenge. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the most breathtaking achievements of Norman architecture, one of the great cathedrals of Europe. It attracts a great many foreign visitors. Stonehenge is world famous and a world heritage site. I went on holiday this year and visited Wurzburg to see the Bishop’s Palace, and then the winery cooperative at Sommerach. Because somebody does not choose to spend their leisure time on a beach in Benidorm does not make them a killer. Lots of people go to Salisbury Cathedral.

There seems to be a racist motif here – Russians cannot possibly have intellectual or historical interests, or afford weekend breaks.

The final meme which has worried me is “if they went to see the cathedral, why did they visit the Skripal house?”

Well, no evidence at all has been presented that they visited the Skripal house. They were captured on CCTV walking past a petrol station 500 yards away – that is the closest they have been placed to the Skripal house.

The greater mystery about these two is, if they did visit the Skripal House and paint Novichok on the doorknob, why did they afterwards walk straight past the railway station again and head into Salisbury city centre, where they were caught window shopping in a coin and souvenir shop with apparently not a care in the world, before eventually returning to the train station? It seems a very strange attitude to a getaway after an attempted murder. In truth their demeanour throughout the photographs is consistent with their tourism story.

The Russians have so far presented this pair in a very unconvincing light. But on investigation, the elements of their story which are claimed to be wildly improbable are not inconsistent with the facts.

There remains the much larger question of the timing

The Metropolitan Police state that Boshirov and Petrov did not arrive in Salisbury until 11.48 on the day of the poisoning. That means that they could not have applied a nerve agent to the Skripals’ doorknob before noon at the earliest. But there has never been any indication that the Skripals returned to their home after noon on Sunday 4 March. If they did so, they and/or their car somehow avoided all CCTV cameras.

Remember they were caught by three CCTV cameras on leaving, and Borishov and Petrov were caught frequently on CCTV on arriving.

The Skripals were next seen on CCTV at 13.30, driving down Devizes road. After that their movements were clearly witnessed or recorded until their admission to hospital.

So even if the Skripals made an “invisible” trip home before being seen on Devizes Road, that means the very latest they could have touched the doorknob is 13.15.

The longest possible gap between the novichok being placed on the doorknob and the Skripals touching it would have been one hour and 15 minutes.

Do you recall all those “experts” leaping in to tell us that the “ten times deadlier than VX” nerve agent was not fatal because it had degraded overnight on the doorknob? Well that cannot be true. The time between application and contact was between a minute and (at most) just over an hour on this new timeline.

In general it is worth observing that the Skripals, and poor Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, all managed to achieve almost complete CCTV invisibility in their widespread movements around Salisbury at the key times, while in contrast “Petrov and Boshirov” managed to be frequently caught in high quality all the time during their brief visit.

This is especially remarkable in the case of the Skripals’ location around noon on 4 March. The government can only maintain that they returned home at this time, as they insist they got the nerve agent from the doorknob. But why was their car so frequently caught on CCTV leaving, but not at all returning?

It appears very much more probable that they came into contact with the nerve agent somewhere else, while they were out.

I shall write a further post on these timing questions shortly.

R2P for J Pod: J50 Capture Plans

The Cruel J50 Capture Plans!

by LifeForce

September 12, 2018

Even if J50 ever was truly separated from her family they can reunite on their own or be reunited NOT captured. J50 distress calls would be heard up to 10 miles. That would also bring the family to J50 aid if being captured.

(Note: A BC Transient “Tumbo”, who suffers from scoliosis, has been separated and found his family on their own.).

If stranded on a beach the family may well be nearby for her to be refloated and reunited.

There are not any assurances that J50 would ever be released if captured. The Aquarium and research industry is not telling the whole story. It is part of their agenda to promote captivity!

The Springer case was different from that of J50. That young orca was somehow separated from her family who were not located. She was from Northern BC so needed help to get back to her family. Even then the Vancouver Aquarium wanted to keep her in a sea pen at their research station near Vancouver, BC. She would have been far from her home and chance at reuniting with her family. They asked but Lifeforce refused to support that cruel plan.

Similar attempts by NOAA Fisheries recently to help the Vaquita in Mexico resulted in a critically endangered Vaquita being captured and not surviving. There are lessons to be learned from that experience. (From Orca Network)

The Suffering

Lifeforce had reminded NOAA and DFO that this is J50’s family who just went through 17 days of mourning the death of another family member? It is unimaginable that they would even consider putting this pod through it all again!

Any proposed capture plans for the orca Scarlett/J50 would be cruel and presents a high risk of harm to her, her mom Slick/J16 and her family. This is the same family that with mom Tahlequah/J35 recently mourned the loss of her baby and carried the lifeless body for 17 days. Separating Scarlett and mom Slick would cause them unimaginable suffering. It would break a precious bond between them and their lifelong family.

A capture attempt could result in injuries and drowning. There is no guarantee that J50 would even survive the heartbreak, stress and captive experiments. Then the mother and family will never have any closure. That means more grief for this suffering family if captured. Being with family, not in an alien pen with humans, is the best “medicine” for any recovery. In Nature wildlife do pass on with their families but not torn apart from them. J50 is gravely ill so let them be!

Researchers claim a capture must be done because she is valuable for producing babies. Well J50 should be respected as an individual and not treated as a baby maker in an attempt to stop possible extinction caused by humans! But sadly there have not been any successful SRKW births since 2015 anyways. If Emergency Orders under the Canadian Species at Risk Act and in the US are not immediately implemented then further deaths will unfortunately continue. Endangered orcas will still be dying from illnesses caused by lack of food, boat traffic, pollution and more.

Sea World Funds Capture Plans

The young, sick orca J50 may be captured through a Sea World fund with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Sea World setup this fund to counter public opposition to captivity resulting from the Blackfish movie. The movie exposed the cruel captures and captivity of orcas including the Lifeforce footage of the tragic life of Tillicum.

The Vancouver Aquarium business deals with Sea World included beluga insemination experiments that led to many deaths. And if their pools are ever used again to imprison cetaceans for entertainment and experiments under the guise of “rescues” it would continue the free source of sentient whales and dolphins to supply aquariums worldwide!

J50 and others must never be exploited as "untapped resources" for “research tools” in cement prisons!

Spread the Word! Spread this Petition!

Save the Orca Families Now! Enact Emergency Measures Now!

The Upcoming NOAA Meetings are in the US Only

· Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in Friday Harbor at Friday Harbor High School

· Sunday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. in Seattle at University of Washington, Haggett Hall Cascade Room

You Can Contact the Canadian DFO at: Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson at

The Southern Resident Killer Whales are a transboundary species. They are not the property of the US. Canadians should be given all the facts to make an informed opinion against any capture. There should be a review committee with balance points of views – to present all the facts!

A large number of emails to NOAA have hopefully led to more public input and more government review of ill-conceived plans. Countless people worldwide have expressed their sadness over the mourning and continued plight of J Pod. Prominent orca researcher, Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research, also opposes the capture. Lifeforce has said:

And You Can Simply Tell them: “Stop the Cruel Capture Plans for Orca J50 and Family! And No Drugs in the Salmon!” By email at

More information at Lifeforce Ocean Friends:


News Release

September 12, 2018 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On the Brink in Syria Again

On the Brink with Russia in Syria Again, 5 Years Later

by Ray McGovern - Special to Consortium News

September 12, 2018

It’s deja-vu all over again in Syria, with the U.S. on the verge of a confrontation with Russia as Donald Trump faces his biggest decision yet as president, comments Ray McGovern.

The New York Times, on September 11, 2013, accommodated Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s desire “to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders” about “recent events surrounding Syria.”

Putin’s op-ed in the Times appeared under the title: “A Plea for Caution From Russia.” In it, he warned that,

“a military strike by the United States against Syria will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders … and unleash a new wave of terrorism. … It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Image: New York Times

Three weeks before Putin’s piece, on August 21, there had been a chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed. There soon emerged, however, ample evidence that the incident was a provocation to bring direct U.S. military involvement against Assad, lest Syrian government forces retain their momentum and defeat the jihadist rebels.

In a Memorandum for President Barack Obama five days before Putin’s article on September 6, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) had warned President Barack Obama of the likelihood that the incident in Ghouta was a false-flag attack.

Despite his concern of a U.S. Attack, Putin’s main message in his Op-Ed was positive, talking of a growing mutual trust:

“A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action. [Syria’s chemical weapons were in fact destroyed under UN supervision the following year.]

“I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive … and steer the discussion back toward negotiations. If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust … and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.”

Obama Refuses to Strike

In a lengthy interview with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg published in The Atlantic much later, in March 2016, Obama showed considerable pride in having refused to act according to what he called the “Washington playbook.”

 Clapper (far right): No slam dunk Assad did it. (Office of DNI)

He added a telling vignette that escaped appropriate attention in Establishment media. Obama confided to Goldberg that, during the crucial last week of August 2013, National Intelligence Director James Clapper paid the President an unannounced visit to caution him that the allegation that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack in Ghouta was “not a slam dunk.”

Clapper’s reference was to the very words used by former CIA Director George Tenet when he characterized, falsely, the nature of the evidence on WMD in Iraq while briefing President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in December 2002. Additional evidence that Ghouta was a false flag came in December of 2016 parliamentary testimony in Turkey.

In early September 2013, around the time of Putin’s Op-Ed, Obama resisted the pressure of virtually all his advisers to launch cruise missiles on Syria and accepted the Russian-brokered deal for Syria give up its chemical weapons. Obama had to endure public outrage from those lusting for the U.S. to get involved militarily. From neoconservatives, in particular, there was hell to pay.

Atop the CNN building in Washington, DC, on the evening of September 9, two days before Putin’s piece, I had a fortuitous up-close-and-personal opportunity to watch the bitterness and disdain with which Paul Wolfowitz and Joe Lieberman heaped abuse on Obama for being too cowardly to attack.

Five Years Later

In his appeal for cooperation with the U.S., Putin had written these words reportedly by himself:

“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’
It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

In recent days, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has left no doubt that he is the mascot of American exceptionalism. Its corollary is Washington’s “right” to send its forces, uninvited, into countries like Syria.

“We’ve tried to convey the message in recent days that if there’s a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger,” Bolton said on Monday.
“I can say we’ve been in consultations with the British and the French who have joined us in the second strike and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response.”

As was the case in September 2013, Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have the rebels on the defensive, this time in Idlib province where most of the remaining jihadists have been driven. On Sunday began what could be the final showdown of the five-year war. Bolton’s warning of a chemical attack by Assad makes little sense as Damascus is clearly winning and the last thing Assad would do is invite U.S. retaliation.

Haley: Already knows who did it. (UN Photo)

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, with remarkable prescience has already blamed Damascus for whatever chemical attack might take place. The warnings of direct U.S. military involvement, greater than Trump’s two previous pin-prick attacks, is an invitation for the cornered jihadists to launch another false-flag attack to exactly bring that about.

Sadly, not only has the growing trust recorded by Putin five years ago evaporated, but the likelihood of a U.S.-Russian military clash in the region is as perilously high as ever.

Seven days before Putin’s piece appeared, Donald Trump tweeted: “Many Syrian ‘rebels’ are radical Jihadis. Not our friends & supporting them doesn’t serve our national interest. Stay out of Syria!”

In September 2015 Trump accused his Republican primary opponents of wanting to “start World War III over Syria. Give me a break. You know, Russia wants to get ISIS, right? We want to get ISIS. Russia is in Syria — maybe we should let them do it? Let them do it.”

Last week Trump warned Russian and Syria not to attack Idlib. Trump faces perhaps his biggest test as president: whether he can resist his neocon advisers and not massively attack Syria, as Obama chose not to, or risk the wider war he accused his Republican opponents of fomenting.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years, and was a Presidential briefer from 1981 to 1985.

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

Counting Down for Whales: Day Two at the IWC 67

IWC 67 Day Two 

by Paul Spong - OrcaLab 

September 11, 2018

Florianopolis Brazil - It’s quite unreal, sitting on the balcony of our room looking out over the pool and past the palm trees to the ocean rolling in, thinking about this day inside. Very clearly, lines have been drawn, though it’s hard to know how the balance will turn out before this week ends.

One of the great characters from the past has shown up, Daven Joseph whose deep hypnotic voice still fills the room with nonsense. He is representing Antigua and Barbuda though he has previously skipped around wearing badges of opportunity.

Today in full throttle he castigated the audience for failing to uphold the rights of indigenous people to food security, then lost his train of thought creating a list of supporters, forgetting that the USA had endorsed the comments of others about the issue at hand. To be truthful, I feel for him. The ASW Bundle which treats all requests the same is an attempt to avoid scrutiny of details that may upset some members.

The lowlight of the morning was the defeat once again of the proposal to establish a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS). It was supposed to be considered later in the agenda but generously moved forward by the Chair because Brazil’s Environment Minister wanted to make the pitch. He was passionate and eloquent, pointing out the great benefits that would follow for research opportunities and the economies of local communities on both sides of the South Atlantic, adding the clincher support of the Scientific Committee which had considered the SAWS Action Plan since the last rejection and given it a thumbs up.

Nothing doing.

Country after county repeated Japan’s line – no need, goes against the objectives of the Convention etc. So it failed with a 61% majority. I thought at the time that Japan made a strategic mistake by announcing its unqualified opposition at the beginning of the debate. Had it made even a slight gesture of sympathy for what is clearly a heartfelt cause of the proponents, perhaps stating its understanding or even abstaining in the vote it might have garnered sympathy for its own heartfelt causes.

My prediction is it won’t get even a shred of that later this week when it lunges at the Moratorium.

Just a few minutes later it’s suddenly dark here. Helena and I are about to head off to an NGO sponsored reception at a restaurant along the beach from the hotel. It will be interesting to see who among the delegations shows up. This morning, Chairman Morishita announced the event and said it was open to anyone “if you don’t have anything better to do”. It was quite a reveal and consistent with his absence from the Conservation Sub-Committee meeting a couple of days ago.

The role of NGOs at this meeting is certainly evolving in a positive direction but it is clear we are still second-class citizens. No respect from the sustainable users who believe they alone have the keys to the future, totally failing to understand that we are all in it together.

By the end of this day the various positions of IWC members were perfectly clear. Everyone respects and sympathizes with the genuine needs of people who have relied on whales for food for centuries, even millennia. But there is a deep suspicion of the motives of Japan and others who use the rights of aboriginal people to food as a means to their own ends. Much is included in the Bundle that has little or nothing to with actual need, including the killing of up to 4 humpback whales annually by the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia. This hardly equates with the needs of Arctic people who’ve relied on whales for their survival for thousands of years and doesn’t sound fair, yet it is what the Bundle proposes.

To me the story we heard about Bequia kids rushing out of their classroom when a humpback whale was seen off shore sounded more like the enthusiasm we see in many parts of the world when whales are sighted, not a thirst for blood.

Voting on the Bundle was put off until tomorrow. Meanwhlle, drafters are hard at work revising language to deal with the comments that have been made, in hopes they will find common ground.

We will know in the morning how things pan out.

American ATB Tanker "OneCure" Slinks Through Seaforth Channel

American ATB tanker "OneCure" passed through Seaforth Channel

by Ingmar Lee

September 12, 2018

Three nights ago, the American ATB tanker "OneCure" passed through Seaforth Channel, and then quietly snuck by Bella Bella, and carried on southbound through Lama Pass, and on through Fitzhugh Channel, and onward down the BC Inside Passage.

This is the very 1st trip by one of these American ATB's through the Central Coast Inside Passage since the wreck of the ATB "Nathan E Stewart" in Seaforth Channel nearly 2 years ago.

Since the NES disaster, American ATB's have been BANNED from plying Fitzhugh Channel, Dean Channel, Lama Pass, Seaforth Channel, Finlayson Channel, Princess Royal Channel and Grenville Channel by a decree ordered by Pacific Pilotage Authority CEO, Captain Kevin Obermeyer.

Instead, they are now required to travel via Hecate Strait.

Or so we thought.

Apparently the "OneCure" found the rather ordinary September Hecate Strait gale conditions a tad uncomfortable 3 nights ago, and sought permission from Obermeyer's office to travel inside instead. And happily the good Captain's "Director of Marine Operations" granted that permission according to their "Standard of Care document."

So this begs the question, what if the Captain of a fully loaded 10,000 deadweight ton-capacity ATB tanker is on its way to Alaska and runs into a gale, will Captain Obermeyer's "Standard of Care document" now also allow it to enter these waters?

Can we now, once again, expect to see loaded, or unloaded American ATB's passing to-and-fro in front of Bella Bella every two weeks, once again??

It should be noted that the "OneCure" is an identical sistership to the ATB "Jake Shearer" -even equipped with the same PROVEN FAILED TECHNOLOGY (Articouple Locking Pins) which caused the Shearer to tear loose from its fully loaded petroleum barge (3.5 million gallons of diesel and regular unleaded) -which then drifted to within a stones throw of the Goose Islands just last November.

Following is my email exchange with Captain Obermeyer on this very serious matter:


ATB "OneCure" travelled via Lama Pass, Fitzhugh last night

Ingmar to Kevin

Hello Kevin, can you explain why the ATB "OneCure" passed southbound through the Inside Passage last night?

By the time I was notified, my tracker only goes back far enough to show it at Pointer Island at the junction of Lama Pass and Fitzhugh Channel, but people have reported seeing it go by Bella Bella.

All these areas have been decreed off-limits to ATB's by your order.

It is greatly concerning that this sistership of the "Jake Shearer," -which is equipped with the same proven-failed technology (ie their "Articouple" locking pins which failed on the Shearer in rather ordinary Hecate Strait weather last November) is risking these waters once again.

Cheers, Ingmar

Kevin Obermeyer
I will look into it Ingmar as nothing has changed with respect to our rules. Cheers Kevin Sent from my iPad


Kevin Obermeyer to Ingmar

Hi Ingmar:

It was southbound in ballast (no petroleum products onboard) and requested the deviation due to weather. It was approved by my Director of Marine Operations based on the fact that the barge was empty. This is allowed under the Standard of Care document.

Trust this helps.

Cheers Kevin


Ingmar to Kevin

Hello Kevin,

Well if your "Standard of Care document" allows this, then I expect the American ATB's will now make it a habit, as they do every trip with their "at the Captain's discretion" option to duck into Laredo. Can we also now expect your "Director of Marine Operations" to start allowing loaded ATB's into these waterways whenever they run into heavy weather as well?!

Now every ATB trip goes through Laredo, which is not in the spirit of your decree. Being "empty" is no excuse. As you well know, the "Nathan E Stewart" was also "empty." Please instruct your Director of Marine Operations to refuse such requests immediately and forthwith.

Cheers, Ingmar

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Documenting Israel's Concerted Attacks on US Rights Activists

Leaked Clips from Censored Documentary on Israel Lobby Reveal Attacks on US Activists


September 10, 2018

Excerpts of the censored Al Jazeera undercover film on the Israel lobby in the US have started to be leaked. The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah and the Grayzone Project’s Max Blumenthal explain how these clips show the Israeli government backing attacks on American pro-Palestinian activists and Black Lives Matter.

We’re joined by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, where he has reported repeatedly on some of the clips that have been released. And we’re also joined by Max Blumenthal, the founder and editor of The Graystone Project, which has likewise reported on the censored film. 

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Roger Annis, David Swanson, Janine Bandcroft September 13, 2018

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

September 13, 2018

Fears of a broader, perhaps global, war spreading from the fires of Syria's seven-plus year conflict are currently being fanned by western media.

The focus of its interest this time is in Idlib province, where previously defeated fighters were allowed by the Syrian Arab Army to flee.

As it has in the past, the press is propagating an "Assad chemical weapons attack" narrative, used once in East Ghouta to unsuccessfully fool president Obama into escalation, and again in Khan Sheikoun, prompting president Trump into a retaliatory cruise missile barrage, (ostensibly to protect Syrian civilians).

Listen. Hear.

The truth though is, the war fomented and fueled by Trump's predecessor has always been about regime change, and that failed effort remains the impetus behind all the American coalition's actions so far, and whichever others are to come.

Roger Annis is a longtime socialist and trade union activist. He’s a prolific essayist, whose website, A Socialist in Canada covers a broad swath of topics and issues from a social justice and peace perspective. He’s followed western regime change efforts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria and contends, when it comes to foreign affairs, whether Trudeau, or Trump, May or Macron, the policies are indistinguishable.

Roger Annis in the first half.

And; those following the career of Donald Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton will be unsurprised by his recent threats against and disparagement of the International Criminal Court. But the vitriol of his attack, with its denial of allowing US soldiers answer for alleged torture and other war crimes committed in Afghanistan, and denunciation of efforts by Palestine to get the ICC to indict Israel for its crimes against civilians is instructive; touching as it does the rawest of the New American Century's nerves, exceptionalism.

David Swanson is a peace and political justice activist, journalist, radio host, and author. He’s also director of whose annual confab Designing a World Beyond War: Legalizing Peace kicks off this week in Toronto. David's book titles include: ‘War No More: The Case for Abolition,’ ‘When the World Outlawed War,’ ‘War Is a Lie,’ and ‘The Military Industrial complex at 50’ among others.

You can find out more at: #NoWar2018. David also blogs at Let’s Try Democracy (,, and hosts the public affairs program, Talk Nation Radio.

David Swanson and designing a World beyond war in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin of some of the good things to gotten up to in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Roger Annis and the accelerating pressures on regimes still resisting "change."

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:

Not So Nice Reality of Canadian Militarism

Canadian Leftist Militarism Leaves Decency Behind

by David Swanson - Let's Try Democracy

September 11, 2018

If one were to travel north through North America, with the seasons or the change in climate, harvesting crops of patriotic warmongering, the biggest drop in crop yield might come around the Mason Dixon Line, not the Canadian border.

Yves Engler’s new book, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada’s Foreign Policy proposes to provide 10% of the explanation for why many Canadians suffer under the delusion that their nation’s government is a benevolent force in the world — with the other 90% having come in an earlier book on propaganda.

Canada participates in numerous U.S.-led wars and coups. Usually Canada’s role is so minor that one cannot imagine its removal making much of a difference, except that the principle impact is in fact one of propaganda.

The United States is a bit less of a rogue for every co-conspiring junior partner it drags along. Canada is a fairly reliable participant, and one that boosts the use of both NATO and the United Nations as cover for crime.

In the United States, traditional barbaric justifications for war are overwhelmingly dominant in motivating the largest portion of the population that supports any war, with humanitarian fantasies playing a minor role. In Canada, the humanitarian claims seem to be required by a slightly larger percentage of the population, and Canada has developed those claims accordingly, making itself a leading promoter of “peace keeping” as a euphemism for war making, and of R2P (the responsibility to protect) as an excuse to destroy places like Libya.

I would very much prefer a policy called war keeping that used peaceful means, to war under the label “peace keeping.”

Canadian foreign policy is roughly that of the U.S. Democratic Party. In fact the lesser evil party in Canadian politics (the New Democratic Party, which isn’t new) claimed to “oppose” the war on Afghanistan right up until Barack Obama became U.S. president. The NDP in Engler’s account is almost as bad as the U.S. Democrats. The labor movement is bigger but almost as bad as that in the United States. The think tanks and pundits of the Canadian left, the liberal heroes, the corporate media, and the nationalistic warlusting of the culture as a whole are all almost as bad as in the United States.

Engler’s book provides an excellent survey and diagnosis. He points to U.S. influence, to financial corruption of many sorts, to labor unions lobbying for weapons jobs, and to the typical problems of corporate media. He describes a culture in which nationalism has been a response to U.S. influence, but in which that nationalism motivates participation in U.S.-led killing sprees. Obviously a better response to U.S. influence is needed.

The standard that Engler proposes for a better Canadian foreign policy is unimpeachable. He proposes appealing to the golden rule, and ceasing to impose actions on foreign lands that Canadians would not want done to Canada.

Engler’s book begins with a critique of current Canadian policies, and throughout it he develops many recent examples of Canadian war making. But he also goes many decades into the past, an approach that one might expect to open up more minds to the acceptability of criticizing the behavior of those in power. However, Engler — who even gets Rwanda right, of all rarities — sabotages his whole argument with a single sentence.

Despite the extent to which R2P rests on World War II myths, despite the extent to which militarism as a whole rests on World War II myths, Engler declares Canada’s participation in World War II to have been justified. Here’s a brief sketch of what’s wrong with such claims.

Engler will be speaking at #NoWar2018 in Toronto.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Venezuela Struggles to Defend Against Economic War

Venezuela Introduces ‘Free Exchange’ of Currency

by Paul Dobson  - Venezuela Analysis

Sept 10th 2018

Despite authorising all banks and firms to trade in foreign currency, exchange rates will not float but remain fixed by the Central Bank.

Merida - Venezuela has taken a further step towards freeing up the exchange of its Sovereign Bolivar (BsS) currency this Friday, with the government authorising public and private firms and banks, as well as ordinary citizens, to trade in other currencies for the first time since 2003.

The latest shake up was announced by Finance Minister Simon Zerpa and Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) President Calixto Ortega, who announced the “free exchange” of the national currency.

Central Bank President Calixto Ortega
and Finance Minister Simon Zerpa. (YVKE) 

The move forms part of a series of economic reforms introduced by the Maduro government in the last 20 days which look to stabilise the economy and put the brakes on hyperinflation. Other measures have included the launch of a new Domestic Trade Ministry, a Gold Savings Plan, a monetary reconversion, and a change in fuel subsidies.

Critics, however, have argued that the new measures do not entail a lifting of currency controls, but rather a partial opening up of the spaces where foreign currency can be bought and sold, with exchange rates still remaining firmly under the control of the Central Bank.

“The free exchange of currency is being established across the national territory,” proclaimed Zerpa at a press conference Friday.
"The new exchange system in Venezuela is open, transparent and designed for the development of the economy,” he continued.

Under the new exchange scheme, public and private firms and banks will be able to legally trade in foreign currencies, marking an expansion of the August 20 announcement which saw three hundred exchange houses licensed to begin operations.

Now, Venezuelans will be able to purchase up to US $400 a day through the banking system ”for retail, to meet their personal needs,” Zerpa revealed.

Currency controls were implemented in 2003 by the late President Hugo Chavez in an attempt to limit capital flight out of Venezuela. A series of subsequent mechanisms have been rolled out, including assigning quotas of subsidised currency to every Venezuela, centralising the exchange mechanisms, and even a triple-tier pricing system, which have looked to block large-scale capital flight.

Pressure of currency controls and excess currency demand gave rise to an illegal parallel exchange market, largely guided by a Miami-based website, which currently orientes the sale prices of many basic goods.

Speaking to press, Zerpa also offered a balance of the reformed state-controlled DICOM exchange mechanism, which saw the price jump to 60BsS per US dollar with the monetary reconversion in August and the landmark overturning of the Law of Illicit Exchange. He indicated that US $4.3 million have been traded on the DICOM auction market since August 20, which he held up as a show of “confidence” in the new system.

At present, DICOM trades at 61 BsS per US dollar, whilst the illegal parallel market trades at 110BsS.

Under the new exchange scheme, all banks or companies will have to trade foreign currency at a “unified” price which will be set by the BCV rather than allowing for a free floating value based on supply and demand.

Currency exchange by all public entities, including the prominent PDVSA national oil company, will now be centralised and controlled by the BCV, whilst private sector export or tourism firms which trade in foreign currencies will have to hand over twenty percent of their currency income to the BCV.

Uncertainty remains about the impact of the new measures, with left-wing economist Manuel Sutherland describing them as “an advance” but “still too timid,” arguing that the nation needs “something much more radical.”

“The new measures of free currency exchange don’t have anything of free about them,” he told Venezuelanalysis.
“We still don’t know what the norms and agreements [which will establish the working of the mechanism] are,” he added.

For his part, opposition parliamentarian and economist Jose Guerra criticised the measures, echoing Sutherlands claims that they do not represent a lifting of currency controls.

He also observed that without the foreign currency earnings brought in by oil exports ─ now under BCV control ─ banks, exchange houses, and other firms will continue to suffer shortages of dollars needed to operate...

“A new exchange mechanism without the supply of dollars is like making rice with chicken without the chicken,” he tweeted.

Access to foreign currency has been further complicated by US financial sanctions signed into law by President Donald Trump last year, which prohibit US lending to the Venezuelan state, discentivizing both foreign and national firms from investing in the Caribbean country.

The sanctions have also caused significant problems for PDVSA, whose US subsidiary, CITGO, has been barred from repatriating profits, depriving the Venezuelan government of at least US$1 billion in annual revenue.