GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT (AGAIN): UN REPORT ON ALLEGED RUSSIAN ‘WAR CRIMES’ IN SYRIA IS BASED ON ‘WE SAY SO’ & UNNAMED SOURCES

March 7, 2020, RT.com

A UN-mandated report, which accuses Russia of war crimes in Syria, heavily relies on anonymous sources and lacks evidence, but also smacks of deliberate disinformation that is halting the eradication of terrorism in Idlib.

Earlier this week, the The Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian Arab Republic released a report largely lambasting Syria and Russia in their fight against terrorism in Syria. Corporate media were quick to echo allegations of Russian “war crimes” in Syria, all while diminishing the crimes of terrorist groups against Syrian civilians and soldiers.

The report does passingly acknowledge that Syria, Russia and allies are fighting “armed opposition groups, including Hay’at Tahrir” (al-Qaeda); the rest of the document reads mainly as a litany of accusations against Syria and Russia.

In the “mandate and methodology” section, the report notes that its information is based on “233 interviews conducted in the region and from Geneva” as well as from governments, NGOs, and UN reports.

So a report based on testimonies taken in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or by phone, is again negating the masses of Syrians in Syria who would like their truths to be heard, the terrorism they have endured to be known.

I scoured the 24 pages of the report, but even in the annexes I could find no transparent and credible sources, only the following vague terms repeatedly referred-to: Witnesses, civilians, NGO, rescuers, medical teams, first responders, flight spotters, and early warning observers.

As Western media has largely focused on two accusations of Russian war crimes, I’ll address these here.

Russia War Crime – Accusation One

The first of two major accusations against Russia is of conducting airstrikes on Marat al-Numan, Idlib, on July 22, 2019, allegedly killing 43 civilians and targeting a market.

Details for this claim are provided by the unnamed sources mentioned above. Quite possibly, information was also provided by the usual suspects, like the one-man (Rami), UK-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” and the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets fake rescue group, which, by 2020, should need no introduction.

The commission refers to flight spotters, “civilians who monitor aircraft flights to provide…advance warning prior to an air strike.”

But who are these civilians? Do they use the early-warning radar systems like those provided to the White Helmets? Are they neutral observers? Or the usual sources embedded with terrorists that we are meant to believe as credible?

The report claims it had obtained “satellite imagery, video footage and photos” regarding the alleged airstrikes. Yet none are included in the report.

It claims it “obtained flight communication intercepts conducted in the Russian language.” 

How did it supposedly obtain these intercepts? How do they know they are authentic? How do we know, since the alleged intercepts are not shared in the report?

Russia has emphasized that “Russian aviation was not used in this area on July 22 and did not fly there.”

Russian Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy noted that reconnaissance two days after the alleged attacks showed, “the allegedly destroyed market is completely intact and functions as usual.”

Given that Syria is surveilled by the intelligence services of the US, Israel, and Turkey, is it really plausible that Russia would be so careless as to broadcast their moves over airways?

So, for claim number one, we are presented with a number of unnamed sources. There is no transparency as to who these sources are, what their allegiances are (civilians or members of al-Qaeda or other armed groups in that area) and no visual evidence presented.

Just the words of the commission. Trust them.

Journalist and blogger Vanessa Beeley, who was last week in Marat al-Numan, told me “I can categorically say that the White Helmet centers in Marat al Numan were next door to Nusra Front, as always.”

Keep that in mind when watching their dramatic footage of the alleged July 22 attacks.

Accusation Number Two

The second claim concerns a Russian airstrike on a refugee compound near Haas, Idlib, on August 16, 2019, allegedly killing 20 people.

The commission’s segment on this accusation is long, with details about why people came to live in that compound, on the agricultural fields surrounding the area, that children played in summer in an open area of the compound, and that there was a kindergarten and schools, and also a prayer room!

All this detail paints a very intimate picture: we can imagine the setting and the subsequent horrors.

But whereas the report is quite long on such details, it is scant on one rather important thing: evidence.

It relays what purported events took place, but again gives no specifics on who the cited sources are or on why they should be credible, given that Idlib is under the control of al-Qaeda.

Having myself looked into previous anti-Syria war propaganda, including articles by the New York Times, I have found that, time and again, sources cited inevitably display allegiance to terrorist groups.

For claim number two, the report again refers to intercepted communications “in the Russian language,” a claim which stands against that of Russia’s Defense Ministry on its pilots’ communication policies.

Again, no supporting visuals are included in the report.

In fact, in the entire 24 pages, a sole photo is provided: a detailed map of Syria.

We are simply meant to take the word of the commission.

It’s possible that the UN commission also relied on the report of Human Rights Watch. However, that report is also replete with anonymous sources and devoid of names and evidence.

Based on all of these vague points, the UN commission concluded “reasonable grounds to believe” the guilt of Russia having committed war crimes.

Since when do we need more than that, right?  Think WMD Iraq

Commission’s Track Record of War-Crime Reports

You would imagine since the commission’s mandate is to report all war crimes in Syria since 2011, it would be replete with massacres committed by terrorists, including the incessant beheadings, rapings, public executions, torture, the underground prisons (including under hospitals), the caging of civilians and use of them as human shields.

Scrolling through the commission’s archives, one finds only reports echoing the war propaganda popular at any given time, vilifying the main parties fighting al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and other terrorists in Syria: Syria and Russia.

The latest report covers the period from July 2019 to January 2020. Yet, while briefly admitting the presence of al-Qaeda in Idlib, the report does not highlight the terror of civilians targeted by al-Qaeda & co in areas they control, something which colleagues and myself have done.

And nowhere could I find reports of the terrorist bombings of civilians in Aleppo city, which have occurred routinely, long since the liberation in late 2016 of Aleppo City until only recently, when Aleppo’s countryside was restored to peace, all to the silence of corporate media.

Accusations of war crimes are a serious matter, requiring solid, transparent, evidence. From what the UN has presented, there is no clear evidence. Instead, there is a lot of “we say so,” and otherwise a reliance on sources and witnesses not named and quite possibly al-Qaeda-affiliated. In what court of law would such sources be considered acceptable?

The UN, US, and Western media play a guilty-until-proven-innocent game when it comes to their accusations against Syria and Russia. But it is they who have proven time-and-again to be guilty of war propaganda and of whitewashing terrorism in Syria.

Related:

‘Sorry, but it’s fake…again’: Russian military debunk NYT report on bombing of civilians in Syria, December 3, 2019

Excerpt:

“On Sunday, the leading US newspaper came up with a heartbreaking story of a housing complex for families displaced by the Syrian conflict being bombed in what the Times called a Russian airstrike in August. The journalists then stated that they were able to trace the air raid back to the Russian Air Force using “eyewitness photos and videos,” and claimed to have a trove of flight logs and cockpit tapes.

…Responding to the accusations on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry has highlighted flaws in the report – perhaps the most glaring of which is that Russian pilots neither receive commands, nor report on their mission mid-flight, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov argued.

“As frustrating as it can be for the masterminds behind this fake, but we have to say it once again: passing of coordinates to Russian bomber pilots and reports on task execution are not made by voice openly on air”

In fact, it is not the first time the Russian military has refuted claims that appeared in America’s newspaper of record. The Defense Ministry issued a similar correction following another damning piece by the same outlet in October. That story accused Russia of bombing UN-protected hospitals, some of which turned out to be militant hideouts tucked away in caves in the Idlib province. Konashenkov also questioned other evidence presented in the Times’ latest report, calling it “primitive and ill-defined” and adding that “In Russia, it is called a shot in the dark.”

DOCTORED FOOTAGE AND FAKE CLAIMS: TURKISH MEDIA CAMPAIGN IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION PEACE SPRING

Source


Since the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkish media outlets have released a large number of videos showing Turkish strikes on positions of the Syrian Army in Greater Idlib. In general, these videos provide a useful inside into Turkish operations against forces of the Damascus government. However, some of them appear to have apparent issues and cause legitimate raising of eyebrows.
It’s interesting to note that most of these ‘strange videos’ were released by ‘Clash Report’, the media outlet that spearheaded the Turkish military propaganda campaign in social media. Among other things, this media outlet released videos supposedly showing the destruction of the Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems and a bombing of a large Syrian Army military convoy. These videos drew a notable attention of the international audience. So, let’s get a closer look at them.

Video 1 – Destruction of a first Russian-made Pantsir air defense system

A simple example is the following Twitter post, in it, a Turkish drone strike reportedly destroyed a Russian-made Pantsir S-1, used by the Syrian Arab Army.
After the attack on its soldiers, Turkish Armed Forces destroyed one of the Syrian regime’s Russian-made Pantsir S-1 (Sa-22) air defense system. Aerial footage clearly shows the radar was active when it was hit.
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On the exact same day, with the exact same video, but in Arabic, the post claims that the Pantsir S-1 is being operated by the so-called Russian private military company – “Wagner” (Turkey regularly claims that Turkish-backed forces are fighting Russian mercenaries in Libya) – and that the radar was on and it was still destroyed in a drone strike, but in Libya.
جيش التركي ، دمر نظام الدفاع الجوي Pantir S-1 (Sa-22) الروسي الصنع. يبدو أن رادار النظام فعال..
ميليشيات Wagner الروسية في ليبيا.
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Both posts are followed, however, by a description of how much the Pantsir S-1 costs and that only 12 countries have the equipment, in the respective language.
The Pantsir S-1, said to be worth in excess of 75 million dollars, sits in the inventory of 12 countries, and was recently deployed by the Russian mercenary company in .
View image on Twitter
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إن Pantir S-1 ، نظام الدفاع الجوي الذي دمرته القوات الجوية التركية ، هو يستعمل 12 دولة. وتفيد التقارير بأن بانتسير ، بقيمة 75 مليون دولار ، تم استخدامها من قبل ميليشيات Wagner الروسية في ليبيا.
View image on Twitter
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Both of these claim Wagner deployed them in Libya.

Video 2 – Destruction of a second Russian-made Pantsir air defense system

A second video, purportedly showing a Pantsir-S1 system in Saraqib also raises some questions, as specifically to its content. It was published on March 3rd.
Images du système de défense aérienne (SA-22) abattu par des drones de combat turc à dans la nuit du 3 mars alors que son radar était actif.Des traces de caméras thermiques sur le côté de la batterie déterminent que le système a été tiré contre un avion turc
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The video is 16 seconds and is very obviously consisting of two glued fragments. The first fragment actually shows the installation of a rotating radar. The second begins with an explosion. Moreover, two fragments are glued in such a way as to create the feeling that this is a continuous video. However, a closer look allows to see that the second part was shot a little from a different angle.
Here are the shots between second 11-14, when the explosion happens, it fades to black, there’s a little flash and it resumes. It can be seen that the explosion is centered so that it is in the same place where the presumed Pantsir stood before gluing.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Then if the footage around second 14-16 is added here, it becomes obvious that the shooting is from a different angle. The tracks left from the Pantsir is now turned almost horizontally.
There are serious suspicions of falsification, as it can clearly be seen that there was an attempt to show the viewer something that this video does not specifically show.
Another problem is identical debris. After the explosion, a cloud of debris rises into the air. If one looks closely at them, it turns out that some of them are exactly the same.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Did the Pantsir system disappear? And finally, the main thing. Let’s see the “last” second before the explosion and the last second before the video ends. If one looked “closely” you could see that the Pantsir is mounted to a rather large four-axle vehicle, much larger than a normal truck. From it should remain quite large debris, parts of the chassis. There is nothing, nothing at all remains.
Red circles on the image show debris that have already landed on the ground, the smoke that one sees in the frame flies over them and sometimes covers them. That is, one can clearly see the surface of the earth, but the installation has disappeared. The identical debris flying in the air is in blue.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
These lacks are so so obvious that there is even a sarcastic video presenting some of the issues the video has.

Video 3 – Strikes on a Syrian Army column near Maarat al-Numan

Moving on to another video published by Clash Report, this time on March 3rd. It purportedly showed a Syrian Arab Army convoy being punded by Turkish strikes.
Starting from the 13th second of the video, an individual supposedly exist the tank, and begins moving towards the other armored vehicle. What is questionable is the manner of his movement, as if he’s experiencing some sort of “video game lag,” but in real life.
Compared to the soldiers running in a file to the right, the movement of the individual on the left appears as if separated into specific frames, and rather odd, since the movement of everybody else in the footage is quite fluid.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Then, the next explosion, which also obviously has jumps in footage, of where the specific parts were glued together, also has entirely identical debris resulting from the explosion that happens at the 41st second of the video.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
The final segment shows troops and a tank, being struck and then the camera rapidly pans to the side, not showing any of the aftermath, just the flash of the explosion and some partial debris.

***

Therefore, Turkish media outlets intentionally released doctored footage and made false claims in an attempt to paint the Turkish military operation in Syria more successful than it was. This is a common approach for any side of the conflict. However, it’s interesting to note that no of ‘high-professional’ maisntream media outlets adressed these gaps in Turkish-provided video reports.
A summary of Turkish Defense Ministry claims on the supposed casualties and equipment losses of the Syrian Army during Operation Peace Spring:
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see the full-size image
MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Erdogan The Liar

Erdogan Launches anti-Greece Propaganda; Seeks More Support for War Crimes in Syria

March 3, 2020 Miri Wood

Erdogan has launched an anti-Greece propaganda campaign while simultaneously seeking more support for his war crimes against Syria. Days after the caliph-wannabe gave free bus rides to thousands of alleged refugees to the Greek border, Turkey released refugee porn videos meant to make Greece hated by the Mockingbird west.

Last week, after the Syrian Arab Army put out the lights of 37 Turkish regime military invaders who had come to help al Qaeda in Idlib, madman Erdogan got the NATO klan at the UN to hold back-to-back meetings in support of his war crimes and in support of al Qaeda.
Article 4: When NATO tribesmen gather to cluck over an aggrieved member, in this case, Turkey who was enraged that Syria defended itself from criminal invaders. Article 5 is when the tribesmen bond via joint bombing (basically, a bullying operation).
Erdogan called for, and received an Article 4 meeting of NATO tribesmen, with the goal of moving it into a bellicose Article 5 meeting. Greece wanted some guarantees regarding Turkey’s dumping of refugees at Greece’s border. France, the US, UK, and Germany refused, followed by Greece tossing in the proverbial monkey wrench.
Erdogan claims to have dumped 18,000 alleged refugees at Greece’s doorstep; some photos suggest about 10,000 have arrived. Coincidentally, they are all men, and men of a particular age.
Men, however, simply do not cut the mustard when it comes to the needs of the refugee porn junkies, who self-titillate with self-righteous tears for women and baby refugees, and who will devour any amount of snake oil propaganda for such a fix.
Therefore, a video was produced, allegedly at the Greek border, of a screaming woman, allegedly a mother, and two screaming babies, who were intentionally manhandled to make them scream.
The backstory was that mean Greece had showered them with tear gas, though no gas was visible. Somehow, the video was supposed to make Greece look bad, and Turkey look good, even though it was Turkey who sent these alleged refugees packing.
What was ”heart wrenching” was the abuse of toddlers, & the psycho banshee fake mom.
Masih Alinjad is an alleged feminist/Iranian dissident who lives in NYC, who has worked for the CIA’s Voice of America, ‘Persian Service,’ and who does photo ops with Mike ‘Lied, Cheated, Stole’ Pompeo, and Madeline ‘Five Hundred Thousand Dead Iraqi Babies Was Worth It’ Albright.
To some extent, it is ”heart-wrenching” to see the disgusting White Helmets fake rescue scenes recycled to the alleged border of Greece. This 23 second video clip is the same grizzly script, without the white helmets and without the Hollywood make-up.
It is ”heart-wrenching” that anyone would tolerate this criminal propaganda and not condemn the standard terrifying of babies to make them scream, the ‘hand-off’ repetition of passing crying babies from aggressive men who shake them, yank their clothing up so that they will be chilled, and then run off with them into the netherworld.
Every bit of this obscenity is made worse by the addition of the fake mother who allows her babies to be rough-handled by strange men — shirt pulled up in chilly weather; pummeled on back; practically held upside down — while she screams like a psychotic banshee and flails about like she suffers from asterixis and disappears into nothingness as strange men go for the Olympic medals in the 500 meter sprint.
The Child Abuse at the Border has been an ongoing refugee porn motif, particularly when barbed wired is involved, moms are missing, and men touch babies and children inappropriately and/or in hazardous positions.
Generally the children are done in stills, and nobody questions the abuse.
In interesting coordination by NATO stenographer journalism, and NATO-supported NGOs, the ugly video provided by the friend of Pompeo and Albright, who works for one of the CIA cut-outs, was used prelude to the second deification of Turkey and demonization of Greece, on Monday.
Along came — surprise! — The Syria Campaign to confirm the fraudulent ‘tear gas’ video which shows no tear gas, merely the torment of babies, before sharing another Erdogan’s Turkey scam video, as reported by the WaPo Berlin desk director.
How convenient that Turkey released an edited video of a ridiculous dinghy.
The viralized, edited, video showed cuts of Greece’s Coast Guard: Pushing the dinghy away with a pole; appearing to make waves near the dinghy; firing shots into the water near to the dinghy.
Somehow, the NATO stenographers did not marvel at how overstuffed with humanity was the dinghy; even a decent motor would die out from the weight if it tried to travel any distance. Somehow, the NATO propaganda pimps did not consider that the distance from even the closest part of Turkey and Greece would still be impossible to reach.
UK’s Daily Mail pretends it’s naive enough to believe Turkey just happened to be nearby, just happened to take the [edited] video, just happened to rescue the immigrants Erdogan bragged about turning loose on Greece.
Though Greece has previously, sporadically, been demonized by the media, the stenographers have chosen the side of NATO Turkey over NATO Greece’s right to defend its borders. It has begun to snowball. The more Greece is demonized, the bigger the halo painted on Turkey’s madman, Erdogan.
Greece
Over 16 million results.
Bloomberg first diminishes Greece, then spreads Erdogan propaganda against it.
Men sent to Greece’s border by Erdogan start fires at the checkpoint. What other intimidation tactics will they use?
It is of note that uncorroborated reports claim that Turkish police have escorted criminals to the Greek border, when one considers this video that shows Turkish police firing tear gas:
Τούρκοι αστυνομικοί ρίχνουν δακρυγόνα στην Ελληνική πλευρά.
Η χώρα δέχεται εισβολή. Το βίντεο τα λέει όλα!!
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It has been suggested that Greece repatriate Syrians, who can then be offered reconciliation. As of Monday, however, of 98 persons arrested by the Greek Border Patrol, none was identified as Syrian.
Monday’s media attacks against Greece, at the behest of Turkey which admits to supplying one of the two videos, also pours a foundation for whatever new criminal hoax is being cooked up in Istanbul, with the visit of Kelly Craft, US Ambassador to the UN, and James Jeffrey, fake ambassador of the invisible embassy that does not exist in Damascus (though his paycheck, courtesy of the American taxpayer, is quite real). The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab joins them, today.
Surprisingly, France appears not to be joining this conspiratorial meeting, this breach of International Law, of the UN Charter. These unindicted criminals plot a way to better support Erdogan’s illegal military operations in Syria, plot a way to circumvent UNSCR 2504, the ugly compromise which slightly decreased the affront to Syria’s sovereignty that they could have vetoed.
American taxpayers will be thrilled to know that while their cities crumble, they scramble to keep a roof over their heads, CrowdFund to pay medical bills, and are now told they may not be covered for the Coronavirus, that President Donald J. Trump has found another $108 million to add to the $10 billion already provided, allegedly for humanitarian aid, though every time the SAA frees an area from al Qaeda terrorists, millions of dollars in abandoned NATO weapons are found.
If the US stood with “the people of Syria,” it would not arm and fund al Qaeda in the SAR. It would also not support the crazed president of Turkey.
The world knows that Trump is fiercely protective of US territorial integrity. He breaches Syria’s borders with impunity. He supports Turkey’s illegal incursions into Syria.
In supporting Turkey, he shows his contempt also for Greece, also a NATO ally.
— Miri Wood

INTERVIEW ON GEORGE GALLOWAY’S THE MOTHER OF ALL TALKSHOWS

In London for a new round of Imperialism On Trial (February 25, info here), I was on George Galloway’s The Mother Of All Talkshows Sunday night to discuss Syria.

George gives an excellent introduction on the nature of systematic, paid-for, organized, deliberate, war propaganda on Syria, to deceive people and whitewash the nature of the heinous, criminal, actions of the terrorists dubbed by the west as “rebels” who have beheaded children, among other crimes.

He kindly points out that I and others who have been telling the truth on Syria are being vindicated on a daily basis.

During the interview, I noted the media portrayal of what is happening in Syria (incessant demonization of Syria and Russia), and that Syria has a legal right to fight terrorism, and an obligation to the Syrian people to do so. 

Later, I came across an article eloquently outlining this perfectly. Author Stephen Gowans, in his recent article on Idlib, wrote (excerpts):

Erdogan wanted to run Idlib through his Al Qaeda proxies to gain leverage in order to shape the outcome of post-conflict talks on a new political arrangement for Syria. [6] This would allow him to further his Islamist agenda in a neighboring country—he had taken numerous steps to Islamize his own country—and to acquire profit-making opportunities in Syria for Turkish business people.

Erdogan’s plans were soon brought to fruition. By February, 2018, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the US campaign against ISIS, could call Idlib “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” [7] The veteran foreign affairs correspondent Robert Fisk would refer to the Syrian province as a territory teeming with “the Islamist fighters of Isis, Nusrah, al-Qaeda and their fellow jihadists.” [8] In September, 2019 The New York Times’ Eric Schmitt said that Idlib province contained “a witch’s brew of violent Islamic extremist groups, dominated by the larger Qaeda-linked organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front.” [9] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would control 99 percent of Idlib and surrounding areas. [10], creating what Cockburn dubbed an “al-Qaeda-run mini-state” [11]—behind which sat Erdogan, on the Sultan’s throne.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Al Qaeda are one and the same. After undergoing a previous rebranding as Jabhat al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch morphed once again, this time into HTS. As the Syrian delegate to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, explained to the UN Security Council in May,

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham … is the Al-Nusra Front, which itself is part of Al-Qaida in the Levant, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Iraq, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Therefore, we are all talking about Al-Qaida, regardless of its different names; all are designated by the [UN Security] Council as terrorist entities. [12]

The Washington Post described Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as “an extremist Islamist group that began as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and has tried to rebrand itself several times during the war.” [13] The New York Times says Hayat Tahrir al-Sham “is affiliated with Al Qaeda,” [14] while The Wall Street Journal lists the group as “a branch of al Qaeda.” [15]

But of Western mainstream journalists, Cockburn perhaps describes the group best. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, he wrote in early 2019, is “a powerful breakaway faction from Isis which founded the group under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra in 2011 and with whom it shares the same fanatical beliefs and military tactics. Its leaders wear suicide vests studded with metal balls just like their Isis equivalents.” [16]

“In September 2018, Russia and Turkey brokered a cease-fire agreement for Idlib to forestall a military offensive,” explained The Wall Street Journal. “The deal required that” Al Qaeda fighters “withdraw from a demilitarized buffer zone along the front line.” [21] Rather than withdrawing, Al Qaeda expanded areas under its control. [22] while continuing to carry on its fight against the Syrian military. The jihadists attacked Syrian army positions, targeted the Russian airbase at Khmeimim, and shelled towns and villages, “killing civilians and forcing more than 10,000 to flee,” according to the United Nations. [23] Turkey stood by while its proxies violated the cease-fire, failing “to meet its commitment to disarm” its fighters. [24]

In response, the Syrian army, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, launched an offensive to liberate Idlib. It has done this because Al Qaeda’s attacks have never stopped and because the government of Syria has an obligation to protect its citizens and control its own territory.

When Ja’afari addressed the Security Council in May he asked:

When will it be recognized that the right we are exercising is the same right others have exercised in confronting terrorist attacks against the Bataclan theatre and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as well as terrorist acts in Niece, London, Boston and other cities? The terrorists that members have confronted in their own countries were not equipped with Turkish rocket launchers and tanks. [25]

Apart from glossing over such inconvenient facts as the true character of the “armed opposition” and Erdogan’s connection to it, the US news media have failed to address a number of key questions.

First, is it legitimate for a government to use force to recover territory occupied by an armed enemy, even if the use of force endangers civilians or sparks their flight? If the answer is no, then the Allies acted illegitimately during World War II in liberating Europe from Nazi occupation, for their project was impossible without endangering some civilians and creating refugees.

Moreover, if civilian casualties and their displacement were acceptable consequences of US forces taking Raqqa from ISIS—the US defense secretary at the time, James Mattis responded to concerns about the effect of the US siege on civilians by noting that “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation” [26]—how is it that they are an unacceptable in the case of Syrian forces liberating Idlib from Al Qaeda?

A still more basic question is, Is it acceptable to respond in force to attacks from an enemy? The answer is obvious, which may be why it is never asked, for if asked, Syrian military operations against continued Al Qaeda attacks would have to be accepted as legitimate, rather than falsely portrayed as acts of aggression against Syrian civilians.

Third, is Turkey’s presence on Syrian soil legitimate? The answer is categorically in the negative. The invasion of Syria by Turkey and the occupation of part of Syrian territory by Turkish forces is no different in law, politics, or morality than the Nazi invasion of Poland, France, the low countries, the Soviet Union, and so on. It is clearly illegal, and an affront to the ‘rules-based international order’ to which the United, Turkey, and other NATO countries so conspicuously and hypocritically profess allegiance. The invasion and occupation have been carried out in defense of Turkey’s Al Qaeda proxy, and to advance the interests of Turks and Islamists against the interests of Syrians and secularists. Erdogan is no hero, but a villain, whose hands are as maculated by the blood of Al Qaeda’s Syrian victims as are those of his Al Qaeda proxies.

Finally, what are the costs of Al Qaeda’s continued rule over three million Syrians in Idlib? Are they greater than the costs in civilian casualties and displacement of bringing that rule to an end? The US news media have been generally supportive of the immense costs in blood and treasure Washington has incurred to wage its war on Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. While noting the civilian cost of driving ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the US news media have never denounced the US war on ISIS as a humanitarian horror story, a term it uses to denounce Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. Instead, ISIS itself is portrayed as a humanitarian horror story, and efforts to undermine and defeat it are welcomed. This should be true too of Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. It is Al Qaeda that is the humanitarian horror story and it is the actions of the Syrian military in undermining and defeating it that ought to be welcomed and met with approbation.

The Syrian military advance to recover Idlib and liberate it from Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has imposed a harsh regime of religious intolerance and Islamist despotism on three million Syrians, has not been welcomed by the US news media. Although the campaign is praiseworthy on multiple levels—it recovers national territory held by proxies of a foreign aggressor, and aims to liberate millions of people who have been tyrannized by a rule imposed on them by an organization made up of thousands of foreign fighters—US media, betraying their commitment to US geopolitical agendas, portray the commendable as indefensible. We ought to applaud the actions of the Syrian military, along with those of its Russian and Iranian allies, not deplore them. These actions are blows against reaction, oppression, and foreign aggression, and in defense of democracy on an international level, as well as in the furtherance of the welfare of the Syrian people.

RELATED LINKS:

Words of former special envoy, Brett McGurk

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over 

En route to Abu al-Duhour, Idlib (VIDEO)

American Journalist Killed in Turkey for Revealing the Truth Regarding ISIS-Daesh (Serena Shim)

Liberate Idlib and Syria: The Martyred of Mhardeh Speak Through the Ones They’ve Left Behind

Aleppo City’s Countryside Fully Secured, Syrians in Aleppo Celebrate The End of Terrorism

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on improved life in Aleppo since liberation (June 2017 VIDEO)

CNN recycles 2018 lies as 2020 lies on Syria

Eastern Ghouta rebuilding

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva K Bartlett Patreon

Telegraph Reporter Ensor Pimps Last Propaganda Post against Syria

February 25, 2020 Miri Wood

Telegraph reporter Josie Ensor who has engaged in anti-Syria propaganda since the beginning of the foreign-imposed war of terror has attempted to cash in on the anemic last template. She has succeeded in flunking Bathos 101, and has stopped just short of asking NATO to obliterate Syria to make her feel better. A curious lamentation on the 2009 -10 Damascene air and atmosphere feeling and being much thicker and darker simply does not the mustard cut.

Ensor’s final goodbye is a hodgepodge of the ongoing criminal lies against the Syrian Arab Republic since the early attempts to impose a NATO Spring on the sovereign Levantine country. Following Ensor’s weird imagery schematic, it could be described as exuding the stench of a stew, made from rotting produce and maggot-infested meat, cooked up and then left in the summer heat — and with a Greek chorus conveniently nearby, which chants, Please, Sir, may I have another?

Ensor’s alleged last goodbye swansong has a potential silver lining; her personalheavy heart, personal misery, personal clubbing, are so maudlin as to warrant a return to shunning of first person singular in news reports (her egocentrism extended to pulling her lamentations out from behind The Telegraph‘s pay/registration wall).

More

MEE: UK Gov’t’s Covert Propaganda Campaign in Syria

By Staff, MEE

The British government covertly established a network of citizen journalists across Syria during the early years of the country’s war in an attempt to shape perceptions of the conflict, frequently recruiting people who were unaware that they were being directed from London.

A number of leaked documents seen by Middle East Eye show how the propaganda initiative began in 2012 and gathered pace the following year, shortly after the UK parliament refused to authorize British military action in Syria.

Drawing upon British, American and Canadian funding, UK government contractors set up offices in Istanbul and Amman, where they hired members of the Syrian diaspora, who in turn recruited citizen journalists inside Syria.

These journalists, many of them young, were commissioned to produce TV footage, radio programs, social media, posters, magazines and even children’s comics.

While many Syrians turned spontaneously to media activism from the start of the war, the documents describe the way in which the British government sought to guide some of their output, seeing citizen journalism as a way of covertly influencing Syrian audiences.

The papers also make clear that those people who were recruited were often unaware that they were part of a British propaganda initiative.

Some of those who were recruited have defended their involvement, however, saying that they were reliant on western support in their efforts to counter pro-government reporting in Syrian state media, and in Iranian and Russian-backed media.

At a time when the last opposition-held enclave in Idlib province is under assault by pro-government forces, they questioned whether western countries could have contributed more material support to moderate rebels.

Some Syrian journalists complained that western support for their work was decreasing even as it was most needed.

The documents were drawn up as blueprints for the initiative by an anthropologist working in counter-terrorism at the foreign office in London. They were issued in late 2014 to a small number of communications companies that were invited to bid for three contracts to deliver the work.

The documents show that the over-arching aim of the citizen journalism project – and a series of interlinked British propaganda initiatives – was to promote the UK’s strategic interests in Syria and the Middle East.

These are defined in the leaked papers as “a more stable and democratic Syria that better meets the needs and aspirations of its people”, support for a political solution to the conflict, the alleviation of humanitarian suffering, and enhanced UK security.

As well as developing grassroots journalism aligned with British government values, the UK and other western governments were at the same time attempting to build civil society in areas controlled by some of Assad’s opponents, financing and training police forces and civil defense teams.

The anthropologist’s blueprint makes clear that this was being done not just to help maintain law and order and provide humanitarian assistance, but “to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

However, the documents acknowledge the risks to the young journalists who had unwittingly been co-opted by the British government.

The British government’s citizen journalism project was part of a three-pronged propaganda initiative that was developed in London and was, according to the documents, intended to “have a synergistic effect”.

The first strand, named Syrian Identity, sought to “unite Syrians through positive affirmation of common cultures and practices and to restore trust between neighbors, while illustrating Syrians’ strength in numbers,” according to the blueprint.

The documents explain that the second strand, called Free Syria, “seeks to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

It “amplifies the work of the ‘free’ police, civil defense teams and wider public service provision and broader developments in civil society and seeks to unite the moderate opposition (civil and armed) to work for a common future”.

The third, known as Undermine, “seeks to degrade the effectiveness of VE [violent extremist] networks in Syria by undermining the credibility of VE narratives and actors and isolating VE organizations from the populace.”

The document goes on, using a different acronym for IS: “ISIL is an explicit and named focus, Al Nusra Front (due to its current popularity within Syria) is addressed indirectly through its behavior.

“The purpose of the project to directly ‘Undermine’ (degrading the effectiveness of) VE networks in Syria through the delivery of media product, the emboldening and empowering of moderate voices, and supporting community coalescence around a vision of a tolerant, pluralist Syria. Ultimately, active Syrian rejection of VE is the requirement.”

The documents add that the research underpinning the initiative “will need to be able to draw upon open source material, jihadist discourse and, in particular, a network of assets inside Syria”.

Individuals familiar with the project say that around nine companies were invited to bid for the contracts. They included a number of firms established by former British diplomats, intelligence officers and army officers.

Although the contracts were awarded by the UK’s foreign office, they were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, and sometimes by military intelligence officers.

These companies set up offices in Amman, Istanbul and, for a period, at Reyhanli in southeast Turkey. From here they would employ Syrians who would in turn recruit citizen journalists inside Syria, who were under the impression that they were working for the media offices of Syrian opposition groups.

Meanwhile, other leaked documents seen by MEE show that the British government had awarded contracts to communications companies, which selected and trained opposition spokespeople, ran press offices that operated 24 hours a day, and developed opposition social media accounts.

British staff running these offices were told that their Syrian employees were permitted to talk to British journalists – as spokespeople for the Syrian opposition – but only after receiving clearance from officials at the British consulate in Istanbul.

One of the responsibilities of the press offices set up covertly by the British government under the terms of these contracts was to “maintain an effective network of correspondents/stringers inside Syria to report on MAO [moderate armed opposition] activity”.

In this way, the British government was able to exert behind-the-scenes influence over conversations that the UK media was having with individuals who presented themselves as Syrian opposition representatives.

People involved with the operation say that some prominent British journalists visiting Istanbul would be introduced to Syrians acting as opposition spokespeople, who had been prepared for the encounter by British handlers.

They say they would brief the Syrians before the meeting, and avoid any face-to-face contact with the visiting journalists themselves.

Channel 4 – White Helmets Collaboration: Britain’s Propaganda Package to Destroy Syria

February 7, 2020 Miri Wood

This edifice is not on the Syrian Health Ministry’s list of hospitals & therefore it is not a hospital, no matter what Britain’s Channel 4 claims. It also shows no signs of being bombed.

Channel 4 has outdone itself in war criminal propaganda against Syria. Giddy over its Bafta Award for fraudumentary, greedy to win an Oscar, and arrogant enough to attempt to inflict emotional blackmail on the UN, it has released one of the most ludicrous videos since the foreign war of terror was unleashed on the Syrian Arab Republic in 2011.

The video was shot in August 2019 but seems to have been kept on the back burner, for an emergency situation, like the one that is happening now: Syria is liberating Every Inch of itself from foreign-owned criminally insane savages. The smarm and the filth of this one were so viscous that even Jon “Velvet Throat” Snow — of last summer’s buffoonish Who You Gonna Believe, Us or Your Lyin’ Eyes infamy — sat out this jewel.

Shamelessly titled Incredible rescue of baby left behind in hospital after Syria bombing, it grotesquely insults mothers and health care professionals and those with any semblance of intelligence (excepting, of course, the emotional porn voyeurs and the peak colonialists who feel pious feeling said for them, over there.

Channel 4’s latest sham begins with an attractive panoramic view of what it claims to be the Al-Iman Maternity Hospital, in the middle of nowhere. The edifice is huge, enormous enough to have been an allied health sciences university hospital covering every system in the human body. But the camera pan shows no evidence of it ever having actually been a hospital; in fact, it simply looks like an old, huge, abandoned building.

Whatever it may have been, it does not look like it was aerial bombed, six times, after 0100, according to the somber Channel 4 voice-over (as the video cuts off before the apparent voice-over dude says, this is so-and-so, reporting from such-and-such, the author will simply refer to him as “VO Dude” throughout this report.).

channel-4

Channel 4 ‘ VO Dude — as is the wont — immediately and ominously declares that the “deliberate targeting of hospitals is a war crime.”

As is also the wont, not mentioned is that hospitals are accredited by governments in which they exist. This alleged maternity hospital does not exist on the list of Syria’s Ministry of Health’s distribution of hospitals, nor is it on the list of the Ministry’s private hospitals by governate.

I tell you here publicly that what has been said is misleading and false whatever the source that provides this information is a misguided source. There are no 27 hospitals in Idlib. Huh, now for our colleague the British Ambassador, if the White Helmets have opened a room in a cellar in a building, where it launches missiles and shells from, this is another thing, this is not a hospital. This is not a hospital, this is called a makeshift medical facility. This is a hallucination and a cinema on the ground when they call it a hospital. It is not a hospital. It is a room they open in a cellar in one of the buildings used for bombing civilians and the Syrian Arab army from. — H.E. Bashar al Jaafari, to UNSC, 18 June 2019

That this alleged maternity hospital is huge and visible for distances of a gazillion kilometers, it probably can not be considered one of the secret unhospitals claimed by al-Qaeda press liaisons, on every corner of every street in every area occupied by terrorists.

Again, for the record, and because Channel 4 keeps repeating the ‘war crimes & hospitals’ mantra, Geneva/ICRC Agreements explicitly state that the requirements for medical facilities in war zones include the ‘agreement of the host country’ and the ICRC Emblem to identify it. Anything less, and there is no hospital.

sarc
“When the Parties concerned have agreed…”.

We also take this opportunity to again remind Channel 4 — and VO Dude — that the Nuremberg Statutes are part of Geneva/ICRC, and that journalists who engaged in war propaganda were indicted, convicted, and sentenced to death under Principle VI, “crimes against humanity.”

nuremberg VI crimes against peace
Some journalists engaged in criminal propaganda were hung upon conviction, at the Nuremberg Tribunals.

After the veiled threat about ”war crimes,” the Channel 4 VO Dude manages to state, without cracking up in a fit of laughter over the absurdity, that after this unhospital was evacuated of 35 health personnel and new moms, and moms in labor and delivery, that “a baby has been left behind in the hospital under attack” because it was “somehow overlooked.”

Imagine a new mother overlooking the fact that her newborn infant was not with her. Imagine, that in addition to a mother being so derelict, so negligent, so were thirty-five health care professionals.

Anyway, it is the stethoscope-less, CPR-ignorant, bagging-incompetent, fake responders, the White Helmets, off to the rescue, sirens blaring, annoyingly, and oh, by the way, the forgotten baby was left in an — drum roll, please — incubator.

incubator babies
The incubator as emotional war porn appears to be immortal.

After what seems like a long century of sirens and chatter and VO Dude bathetically describing how these Helmets just always risk their lives for everyone (possibly the reason they have not been trained in even the basics of emergency care, despite tens of millions from the CIA and Brit intelligence is that they are just too darn busy).

Darkness surrounds the hospital (making it convenient not to be recognized as a hospital) except for an annoying flickering light (enhancing the fake drama) which conveniently leads to … the incubator room! where the lost baby forgotten by all, for an unstated amount of time is immediately located.

Let there be light.
And there was light, & it was good.
It was also darn convenient, too.

After much breathlessness, the gang decides to take the baby and leave.

Here we see a White Helmet holding a bunched blanket and engaging in ridiculous script; if they really were going to get a somehow overlooked neonate, it would likely be known that his name were known.

channel 4
Cannot Channel 4 improve a bit on the psyops? Is anyone really this bloody stupid?

Channel 4 — due to indolence, stupidity, or arrogance — went in to one of the utterly ridiculous, standard, White Helmets running scenes, because they always park their ambulances as far from an entryway as possible (reminiscent of the fab scene in Airplaneexcept this time it was in darkness, this “chaotic run [why? For the love of God, why?] across open ground.”

channel-4

Medical note: Most premature babies are kept in incubators to keep them warm, until their bodies self-adjust to proper thermoregulation. Those whose lung surfactant has not yet fully developed, are provided with extra oxygen, along with the heat, while in the incubator.

The Channel 4 VO Dude goes into the infant’s sad medical history, that of the “critical condition with a hole in his heart.”

Let’s clear that up, right now.

There are two types of ‘holes in the heart,’ both of which are holes in the septal wall of the heart. Though the atrial septal defect is less serious than the ventricular septal defect, much of the time, both frequently heal themselves, without surgery.

We are told that the neonate’s name is Yusef, and that he is a twin (of course. Channel 4 has forgotten that the twin motif was used, in Khan Sheikhoun by the dad who left his family to go rescue someone else, and then returned to find his entire family dead, including his baby twins, and then he had to dig graves for twins, wife, extended family, with his bare hands, because there were no shovels, after which he caught the express to Istanbul where he met Erdogan, kissed his forehead, and then got indigestion.).

Being a twin, makes ‘Yusef’s abandonment more ridiculous.

Finally, there is light, again, without explanation.

‘Yusef,’ the twin who oddly got left behind, in an incubator, ”somehow overlooked” by mom, and 35 staff members, now in the front seat of a vehicle.

Inexplicably — or perhaps to feature the white helmet — ‘Yusef’ is moved to the back. He is kept naked, though he should have been wrapped in a blanket.

Naked, though, the neonate looks more fragile, helpless, and therefore is a better marketing tool for emotional pornography than were he properly wrapped, kept warm.

He looks healthy, and does not cry.

Whose baby might he really be, this infant whom Channel 4 callously claims was “somehow overlooked”?

Channel 4 pimps the White Helmets, again, viciously suggests that this precious baby’s mom forgot about him. The creeps keep him naked and vulnerable, and the death squad Helmet holds something unrecognizable, with a tube.
WHOSE BABY IS THIS, REALLY?

The video is cobbled, and bumpy, which adds to Channel 4’s too frequent use of a variation on the word, “chaos,” as if to give legitimacy to the entire fraud of it.

After much driving, and drivel from the media operative, we finally arrive to a ‘hand off’ to another ambulance.

This purloined infant, who looks completely healthy, whose respiratory rate has been stable on the occasions it was visible, who is not shivering despite being sadistically kept uncovered, for this purpose, is handed to another man, in another ambulance, with lies, and unwrapped.

In August, the average night temperature in Syria is 67F/19C, which is too chilly for a neonate to be outdoors, naked, even if only for a ‘hand over.’

As there is no reason for Channel 4 to be reporting on August news in February, it is more likely the chaotic, cobbled propaganda video is recent.

The average night temperature in Syria, this time of year is 33F/0.4C.

As he presents the naked, stolen, ‘Yusef’ to the other man, he lies that his lips were blue (when rescued from that incubator, where he was “somehow, overlooked” by all). He screams the baby is in urgent need of oxygen.

The Channel 4 operative does not challenge the lie. He does not check the time. Were this infant oxygen-dependent, he would have looked it, and possibly not survived the five-minute drive, especially when viciously kept unwrapped.

The new ambulance set is pristine, and when last we see ‘Yusef,’ the urchin who has taken control of his fraud care, fumbles with accessories, while leaving the infant, naked.

Somewhere during this drive, the shameless mouthpiece for Channel 4 says, “who knows when they’ll be reunited,” referring to the purloined child, and giving no explanation of why the reunion would be unknown. Surely, by now, the incompetent, negligent mom realizes that one of her twins is missing.

Channel 4 returns us to more darkness.

Al Qaeda hates women; here is the Freudian evidence.
In the chaos, it was not understood if this was the evacuated — including the “somehow overlooked” ‘Yusef’ twin — ”maternity” one.

More chaos ensued, and the Channel 4 voice-over brought us to a sturdy-looking Helmets’ center, where there were some alleged patients in need of alleged evacuation.

Evacuation from what looks like a sturdy building to go “looking for a functioning hospital” like a trillion others, on this night, according to Channel 4.
Another naked baby.

This is Mariam. The bundle she is holding is reportedly her new granddaughter. It is amazing to see a woman in a video taken in Idlib, as they are generally only allowed out for public executions, or — if they are young and pretty, for fake photo ops showing ‘gender equality’ among the Nusra Helmets — but given this fraud report involved a maternity hospital, it could not have been helped.

‘Mariam”s daughter is only seen from behind, bent over, reportedly post c-section, struggling to climb into a van.

‘Mariam’ does her lines well, careful to look upward and left, when trying to remember.
Mom does not speak in this video. Her covered, bent, legs are all we see; she is practically invisible.

We return to chaos, and darkness, as the Channel 4 guy somberly tells us “crammed into this ambulance [is] around two dozen women with five babies.”

How odd that there are none of those teen girl White Helmets to help maternity patients.

As though things could not become more chaotic, an alleged doctor allegedly faints, as these “chaotic emergencies taking a toll on medical staff,” according to the Channel 4 NATO stenographer, who offers no explanation of why the lights suddenly go on, and we catch glimpses of women, and their faces, women, stuffed like sardines.

Women who may have been kidnapped.

The Channel 4 reporter does not concern himself that the only time we heard a young women’s voice, was when she used it to show concern for ‘the doctor.’

He is not concerned be the obscene story that a new mother would ”somehow overlook” one of her twins.

He is not concerned at the lies of the White Helmets, of the disregard for the infant, ‘Yusef.’ He is unperturbed when a man viciously states I have about twenty-five women. For what purpose does he have them?

The few women’s faces that we have been allowed to see, are haunted. They look like the women of the villages of Lattakia, who were kidnapped in the summer of 2013, mostly Alawite Syrian women, fumbling with headscarves their male abductors forced them to wear, before the pigsty al-Jazeera interviewed them forced to thank the terrorists for their very good care.

Channel 4 did not report on their kidnappings.

Channel 4 also did not report on the many children who were abducted from their homes in Lattakia villages in early August, and who were murdered for the cameras the last weekend of August 2013, in Ghouta.

Channel 4 did not report when 400 women & their children were kidnapped, nor did it report when the Syrian government was able to get the release of 58 of them, almost four years later.

On Monday 27 January, Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry dispatched a diplomatic letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and to the head of the Security Council, reporting that another fabricated chemical attack is planned in the Idlib-Aleppo area, under the direction of Turkey, by the White Helmets.

Channel 4 also did not report this news.

The Channel 4 mouthpiece does not hear the silence of these women. He does not notice their eerie, Stepford Wives quality about them.

He does not even wonder where any husbands might be.

Channel 4 ends its video presentation by once again demanding we believe its lies, rather than the evidence it provides. How lethal this barrage could have been while the camera pans a room filled with intact medical equipment. There is no sign of any bombing; rather, it looks as though some idiot dumped red wood chips around, and then watered them.

The nameless, shameless Channel 4 man who did not hear the silence of these women, audaciously complains about a non-existent United Nations agreement “shattered by the sound of international silence.”

— Miri Wood

Reportedly a group photo of the criminal liars of imperialist media.

Photo Tutorial on the Death Squad Helmets

GUARDIAN, ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTOR ACTS AS A SYRIAN TERRORIST MOUTHPIECE ON TWITTER, AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU’RE A RUSSIAN STOOGE

December 27, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

FILE PHOTO: Al-Nusra fighter in Syria ©  AFP/ Rami Al-Sayed

Giving a sympathetic platform to a terrorist is reprehensible at best, downright criminal at worst, and definitely a bad look for a ‘respected’ media contributor. Oh, it’s for bashing Assad and the Russians? Go ahead, then.

A funny thing happened recently on Twitter. A journalist who contributes to the Guardian, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic tweeted—in a long thread peppered with photos of Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, the leader of an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria—about “the force that dominates” Idlib. Hassan Hassan’s initial tweet coyly avoided mentioning that this force is Al-Qaeda in Syria.

And no, its not just us Russian bots who say that Idlib is infested with Al-Qaeda: former US special envoy, Brett McGurk, deemed Idlib “the largest Al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.”

The thread smacked of giving a platform to terrorist propaganda. After extensively quoting Jolani, Hassan weighed in with his own thoughts on the situation in Syria and his Al-Qaeda “rebels”.

Aside from whitewashing designated terrorists, the point of his thread was clearly a continuation of the anti-Russia hysteria corporate journalists are so rabidly devoted to.

These latest anti-Russia, anti-Syria headlines and tweets echo those  which abounded when eastern Ghouta and Aleppo were being liberated from  terrorists. Go to Aleppo now and you’ll find a city that just celebrated  Christmas and is rebuilding, and indeed rebuilding all over Syria, in areas once occupied by terrorists.

More importantly, liberated areas are no longer ruled by fanatics who imprison, torture, starve and assassinate civilians. Syrian women I interviewed  earlier this year in Sinjar, Idlib, spoke of being tormented by  terrorists in Idlib, and called for the Syrian army to liberate all of  Idlib.

But war propagandists don’t care about those civilians…

Backslapping and Rebranding

The  same corporate media vultures who bandy about self-righteously furious  expressions for all things Russian and Syrian are normalizing terrorists  in Syria, rendering ISIS into mere militants”, “fighting for survival”, as was the case in a recent Washington Post ode to ISIS.

So the US and allies invaded Iraq under the pretext of fighting Al-Qaeda, largely destroyed that country, killed untold numbers of Iraqi civilians, maimed untold numbers more… and now the same designated terror group, Al-Qaeda, is suddenly a fuzzy li’l militant?

Likewise, a recent Bloomberg article describes the bandits ruling in Libya (with its slave markets – thanks, American humanitarian intervention!) as an “internationally recognized” government, and the terrorists heading there to create more chaos as Syrian “rebels”.

Extreme Xenophobia

Unsurprisingly, when war propagandists get called out by thinking people, they deflect blame onto Russia. A perusal of replies to Hassan’s tweets reveals many (non-Russian) people object to war propaganda and the platforms that propagate it.

Hassan  gets a sticker for his efforts to do best in the Russophobia challenge.  He went beyond merely hurling the same old unoriginal accusations at  Russia, and denigrated the entire nation as “repulsive”. Classy.

Of course, when many on Twitter pointed out his xenophobia, he scrambled to reword.

But that’s the thing about Twitter: no edits. The vitriol is out there, there’s no undoing the racism.

Blatant war propagandists like him have, for years, acted as  cheerleaders and whitewashed the civilian-murdering terrorists in Syria,  slandered  those of us who challenge war propaganda and bother to give platforms  to civilians instead of terrorists, and relentlessly hounded Russian  diplomats and media.

The Russophobia, and indeed xenophobia, has  gotten preposterous. It is Russia that is actually helping Syria fight  terrorism, it’s Russia that also sends humanitarian aid, it’s Russia  that helps open humanitarian corridors for Syrian civilians, it’s Russia  that is aiding Syria in rebuilding, and it’s Russian sappers who have  done most of the demining of areas formerly occupied by terrorists.

And it is not Russia who financed, backed, and whitewashed terrorism: that honour goes to the US and its allies.

Increasingly,  people on Twitter are calling the war orchestrators and their  propagandists out. Of course,they must all just be Russian trolls, da?

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

September 10, 2019

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker Blog

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

It’s a two and a half hour flight from Moscow to Sochi and when you land you are in another world. Sochi is absolutely unique and like no place else in Russia, a gem in its own right. Sheltered by the Caucasian mountains from the severe northern winds which sweep over most of Russia in wintertime and tempered by the Black Sea breezes the summer, Sochi has a pleasant climate all year round. While the other resorts to the west on the same Russian Black Sea coast may get winter peak colds of -10 degrees and below, Sochi could see morning frosts but daily temperatures rarely drop below +10. There’s a reason the climate is characterized as subtropical.

Leaving Moscow birch trees and Siberian pines behind, the traveler when he emerges from the airport is amazed to be welcomed by swaying palm trees. And, above the palms, you will behold the snowcapped peaks of the guarding mountains lit by the sun.

It’s not only the nature and climate that make Sochi special, the man-made environment is also unique for Russia and at the highest global levels. Russia went through some rough times in the 20th century, which set a mark on most its cities, but in Sochi there is not a trace of bygone Soviet decay. Everything is as neat as we would think of countries like Switzerland. At the same time, we see stunning new Miami-style high-rise buildings perfectly placed among the lush scenery. A lot of that marvel came courtesy of Vladimir Putin’s bold decision to transform Sochi into a world-class all-year tourist destination in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Sochi hoax just won’t go away

I was reminded of this just recently, when in my research on the Russian economy I plowed through a couple of grant-fueled Western accounts of the economic history of the Putin years. One was Chris Miller’s book (2018) with the ridiculous title “Putinomics” (as unfit as they come for a book purporting to be academic research). The other one, a 2019 book from the Atlantic Council’s fiction department hack Anders Aslund – of Russian shock therapy fame – with the no less bizarre title “Russia’s Crony Capitalism.” In the case of Aslund and his employer, I am sure nobody would have expected anything else.

Miller unilaterally declared: “What is clear, however, is that a significant share of the funds invested [in Sochi] were wasted or stolen.” For evidence he refers to Navalny’s fraudulent pamphlet in addition to all the other propaganda clichés. (*1). In his book, Aslund in turn returns time after time – without any justification – to Sochi as an alleged hotbed of corruption and waste and one of the alleged original sins of Putin.

As these fellows cannot in the real Russia detect, no matter how hard they try, any Putinomics and not much of crony capitalism either, they just make it up. One of the favorite clichés such sham analysts resort to in order to back up their agenda-driven narratives about Russia is the supposed corruption and lavish spending in connection with the Olympic Games, trying to convince their readers that it was all nothing but “Putin’s vanity project.”

This line of attack was first developed in a desperate attempt to destroy the reputation of the Russian Olympic games even before they were held. Another topic on the anti-Sochi black agenda centered around the fake claims that gay people were supposedly persecuted in the country. And everything culminated just a couple of days before the games started in the wacky claim going viral in Western media that the Russians had built “twin-seat toilets,” toilets designed to have two people doing their business next to each other in one cubicle. In reality, the photos were from work in progress just before the partition walls and cubicle doors were being installed.

The Nemtsov report

The original raw material for the corruption and overspending narrative was delivered by late rabid opposition activists – derailed presidential hopeful from the anarchy of the 90s – Boris Nemtsov. It was a shamelessly forged report titled “Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). (*2). Nemtsov as a sworn nemesis of Putin was a totally unreliable witness to start with, it was clear that he would have no intention to render an honest and fair account of what was going on. All he wanted to do was to destroy the Games and deny millions of Russians, whose lives he had already conspired to wreck in the 1990s, to take pride in the Olympic Games which symbolized the national awakening and resurrected prosperity. – But the Western press sucked it all up – of course, because they were part of it.

Nemtsov’s report was rehashed in January 2014, just before the games were set to open, by another frenzied one-cause anti-Putin activist, Alexey Navalny, who basically plagiarized Nemtsov’s report with an added portion of hyperbole. (*3). This with the predictable and orchestrated knee-jerk reactions of the combined Western media.

The central claim and giant falsehood in these reports was the contention that the $50 billion dollar budget for the Sochi region in the run-up to the Olympics would have been event-based, that is, supposedly been spent on organizing the Games with a zero residual value. Following this blatantly false argument, the critics then pushed the meme that the Sochi Olympics would have been by far the most expensive in history. In reality, the actual organizing costs of hosting the Games, including the construction of all the sporting facilities was $10.6 billion, while the resting $39 billion were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. This infrastructure spending was related to the Games only insofar as Putin had wanted to take the chance of upgrading at one fell swoop Sochi into a modern urban area and world-class resort, a first for Russia. It was an investment for the future. Real experts never doubted the wisdom of that decision, but today only the most diehard lying propagandist could argue against it, as it is shown in the present report.

The $10.6 billion spent on Sochi is perfectly in line with other recent Games. The cost of London 2012 Olympics was $13.9bn, and that is a city which even from before had all the sporting infrastructure you could wish for. Sochi had none. Vancouver in 2010 coughed up $8.9bn. Pyeongchang 2018 had a cost of $13.1bn.

With the $40 billion, which did not form part of the organizational costs, Sochi has indeed been transformed into a top destination for both winter and summer tourism as well as business travel with amazing congress facilities and a solid offering of high-class hotels.

This is what Sochi in reality got with that money

Let’s see what Sochi in reality got for that money in addition to the amazing sports facilities:

  • A state-of-the art modern airport
  • A new seaport for cargo, passenger liners, ferries and personal boats
  • Several new railway stations, among them the Adler station which is one of the biggest in Russia (not known for its miniscule rail stations
  • 367 km of roads and bridges
  • 967,400 square meters of road surface and pavements
  • 200 km of railways, with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions
  • Two thermal power plants and one gas power plant with a combined capacity of 1200 MW, and four electric substations
  • 480 km of low-pressure gas pipelines
  • 550 km of high voltage power lines
  • A new water and wastewater treatment facility
  • Three new sewage treatment plants
  • A new graduate-level Russian International Olympic University
  • 60 new educational, cultural and health facilities
  • Two hospitals
  • A fascinating cluster of mountain villages built from scratch in the Krasnaya Polyana area (Gorky Gorod, Rosa Khutor, and others)
  • 25,000 additional hotel rooms, with 56 hotels rated four-star and above
  • A new theme park (Sochi Park)
  • A Formula 1 racing track (not an Olympic sport)
  • Renovation of a huge number of residential houses and public space
  • Barrier-free accessibility to public and commercial buildings for disabled persons
  • A 7-kilometer pedestrian and bicycle seaside boardwalk, Russia’s coolest along the newly created impressive beach down at the Olympic Village in the Imereti Lowlands

Most of the details for the above list were derived from Oleg Golubchikov’s marvelous report on the actual costs of the Sochi investments. (*4). Golubchikov provides transparent and detailed costs on each investment category with a division of the costs on organizational costs and investments in sporting facilities, and the Sochi urban infrastructure. Incidentally, he reaches the same grand total of $50 billion ($49.5bn, to be precise) for the combined costs as the propagandists announced, but with the difference that he shows where the funds in reality went. According to Golubchikov, the direct costs for holding the Games amounted to $10.75bn, whereas the infrastructure costs were $38.76bn. There is a break-down of both cost groups in his report, while the below table focuses on the infrastructure costs, which were the objects of the fabricated scandal.

This data on the costs and the infrastructure investments that they went into should convince anybody who is interested in the truth that there has absolutely been no squandering of funds and that $39 billion of the alleged “most expensive Olympics ever” in fact were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. Nevertheless, we will proceed below with exposing some more details, which should finally put the Nemtsov hoax to rest.

Nemtsov’s calculations just don’t hold water – and were never meant to

Nemtsov’s and Navalny’s propaganda pamphlets were masquerading as sound economic analysis based on global comparisons of alternative costs. Their findings then purported to show that Russia had built the Sochi objects significantly more expensively than global best practices would have it. As those reports are nothing but blatant propaganda and the calculations without merit, it would not make any sense to try to decipher them in detail. Just one example, concerning road and railroad works, the most expensive objects, will suffice more than enough.

I remind, 367 km of roads and bridges and 200 km of railways were constructed with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions. These included, among other things, a new elevated road passing through the whole city of Sochi (the Kurortny Avenue bypass road), an extension of the Sochi ring road, and the combined railroad and highway connecting the sporting cluster down at the Adler coastal area with the skiing cluster up in the mountains at Krasnaya Polyana. The latter was by far the most expensive individual investment. The railroad and highway are each 48-kilometer long and include 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7 km of highway tunnels and 6.7km of escape tunnels, in addition to 40 highway and 37 railway bridges and overpasses with a combined length of 35 km.

The total cost for these were $10.3. In Nemtsov’s account the cost was $9.404. The difference may be explained by the additional stretch of railroad going from the Adler railway station to the airport. Nemtsov claimed that the expenditure on the road would normally buy 940 kilometers of highway. That is a highly dubious claim in itself, but most importantly, Nemtsov is here cutting corners and straightening the bends by comparing flatland highway with a mountainous road with tunnels, bridges and underpasses. But those were precisely the challenging and costly parts of the entire combined highway and railroad.

Instead of minding the Nemtsov antics, we can just look at a very transparent comparative project cost from the United States. In 2013, construction began on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, a bored highway tunnel in the city of Seattle, Washington. It is a 2-mile (3.2 km) tunnel under Downtown Seattle. The construction cost was estimated at $3.3 billion. (*5).

Once again, this is a 3.2 km tunnel that cost $3.3 billion. But the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana highway had 6.7 km of automotive road tunnels, 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7km of escape tunnels, and 77 bridges and overpasses. Now, compare that with the total price of the merely 3.2-km Seattle tunnel. What can you say, glaring economy in favor of Russia here. With the Seattle cost level, the expenditure on tunnels alone would have been $17.5 billion, not counting the escape tunnels, bridges, overpasses and the surface parts of the 48-km four-lane road and 48-km railroad.

There is no reason to refrain from spelling it out: Nemtsov was not mistaken here, he was lying. His narrative is full of holes and deliberate attempts to confuse the reader. (He would not have fooled anybody, hadn’t it been for the orchestrated media propaganda). In his scandalous report, Nemtsov claimed that the combined “highway/railroad” had cost $9.404 billion. But immediately in the next paragraph, the activist dropped the railroad part and pretended that the expenditure was exclusively for the highway, to quote: “For 266 billion rubles, you could build 940 kilometers (and they only built 48 kilometers!) of high-quality four-lane highway in Russia…” (*6). Thus the 48 km railroad – which made up at least half of the cost – was magically made disappear from the comparison.

But that’s not all, next Nemtsov spirited away the tunnels, bridges and overpasses. Quote: “To estimate the cost of the 35-kilometer portion of the four-lane highway, we will use the average European cost – $10 million per kilometer. Thus, the price of the automobile road without the bridges and tunnels would be $350 million. One kilometer of high-speed railroad track, according to average European standards, is $45 million. Thus, the 25.7 kilometers of regular rail track should cost $1.156 billion.” – Here the railroad is back in the narrative, but the items that objectively carry a high cost – tunnels, bridges, overpasses – were all wiped out and never returned into Nemtsov’s mendacious narrative. Interestingly enough, there was that admission of those costly items being omitted. That is a common propaganda ploy, the fabulists mining their narratives with half-truths to gain tools to deflect criticism.

The above exposure of the Nemtsov bluff has clearly shown that the intention was just that: to bluff, to create a giant propaganda hoax aimed at spoiling the Games and sullying the reputation of Russia and its president.

There’s another giant transparent con right in the introduction of the Nemtsov travesty. Although he proceeds further down in the report to discuss the cost of the road building, Nemtsov pretends in the introduction that the $50 billion was all spent on sporting facilities. Quote: “With over $50 billion already spent, it is more expensive than the sports buildings of all 21 other Winter Olympics combined.” (*7). – He compares the cost for an airport, a seaport, several railway stations, power plants, power lines, gas pipelines, all those 367 km of roads and bridges, 25,000 hotel rooms, etc. etc. with previous costs on sports building. Give me a break and STFU.

Spinning the facts, he tells that the original budget for the sporting facilities and organization costs were $12 billion, but then allows (referring to the experience from previous Games) for regular Olympic cost overruns and inflation (from 2007 to 2013) and concludes that $24bn would have been the fair price. Therefore, Nemtsov fancies, the remaining $26bn would consists of nothing but “embezzlement and kickbacks.” (*8). This ridiculous postulation amounts to saying that the real price of organizing the Games and getting all that amazing infrastructure – of which only the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana combined highway and railroad had a fair cost, by global comparison, of at least $25bn – would have been only $24bn.

The Sochi Olympic expenditure also compares favorably with the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (in construction since 2006 and still unfinished, sic!) with a present price tag of 10.3 billion euro. (Approximately USD 13 billion). (*9).

A good gauge is also the approximately $3 billion that Toronto is planning to invest in just one subway station. (*10).

Enough of the fairy tales, now let’s return back to the real Sochi.

Tourists are Flocking to Sochi

All these infrastructure goodies obviously remained in Sochi after the Olympics. They were not dismantled and tucked away after the Games as the brothers-in-arm Nemtsov and Navalny and their cheerleaders in the Western media insinuated. They are there for the millions of visitors and the population of Sochi to enjoy. Notably, the population has grown with one fifth, up from the pre-Olympic 368 thousand to present day 450 thousand.

In the same period from 2013 to 2018, the number of visitors has nearly doubled from 3.8 million to levels around 7 million. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for visitors as many stay in private accommodation, rented or owned, but that must be the level. A foolproof indicator is the number of passengers travelling through Sochi airport. It has grown 150% from 2.4 million in 2013 to 6.3 million in 2018. (Note, both arrivals and departures are counted in airport statistics). A further 10% growth has been reported for first half of 2019.

Obviously, this tremendous growth in population and visitors would not have been possible without the $40 billion investment in Sochi’s infrastructure.

It has been established that 25,000 additional hotel rooms where built for the Olympics, of these 12,000 in 56 new world class hotels rated four-stars or above. This practically doubled the pre-Olympic capacity to a total of 55,000 rooms. Before the Olympic boom, Sochi had only one single hotel conforming to international standards, a Gazprom owned Radisson establishment with 200 rooms.

There’s more devastating news in store for the propagandists. The Olympic constructions did not result in any overcapacity, far from it, on the contrary the number of hotel rooms has significantly further risen since then. Reporting on the results of completing the new mandatory star rating procedures for hotels, the Sochi city administration told in February 2019, that the city now possessed a total capacity of 84 thousand rooms combined in 2,387 hotels, guest houses and hostels. (*12). On top of that comes the huge number of private accommodation.

This means that there has been a major shift towards more value-added visitors. With this total capacity, Sochi was ready to accommodate 200 thousand guests simultaneously in one day during the FIFA football world cup.

For sake of comparison, Helsinki (Finland) has built only 63 hotels with a combined 9,373 rooms in its entire history. (*12). Sochi then built 5 times more in just a couple of years before and after the Olympics than one of Europe’s major capital cities managed in over 100 years.

Interestingly, due to good bookings, the mountain resort hotels also get guests in the summer, and the coastal hotels in the winter.

Western wishful predictions of doom and gloom failed to materialize

Right after the Olympic games, the Western media kicked off a follow-up campaign designed to convince that all the investments actually had been in vain. Sochi is “Deserted and already falling apart,” The Daily Mail gleefully declared. (*13). A “ghost town,” announced the spooks at The Guardian (*14). “A $51 billion ‘ghetto’: Extraordinary images show Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympic park lying desolate and abandoned one year after most expensive games in history,” more lies from London. (*15). I cannot even get worked up about these claims — they are so ludicrously flawed — just what one would expect from the London fiction factory.

As there simply was nothing real to complain about, what the Western reporters did was to go up to the mountain winter sport cluster in summertime to report that no skiers were spotted, as the CNN did (*16), and then descend onto the coastal beach resort in wintertime (*17) to share their amazement over the empty beaches, as The Daily Mail did. (*18). The winter is mild down there, rarely cooler than 10°C in daytime, but it hardly qualifies for a beach season.

As post-Olympic Sochi really has been a resounding success, this line of attack is largely dead in the media. My impression is that the only ones who are trying to rehash the scandals are Moscow based correspondents of Western media who want to take a long weekend off and travel over to Sochi to enjoy some nice days in the sun during the Moscow winter gloom. It’s a surefire trick to get your employer to pay for it by promising a report about the “post-Olympic decay of Putin’s vanity project.” But even so, they seem not to be able to deliver, as for example was the case with Marjo Nakki from Yle, Finland’s state broadcasting corporation. She enjoyed her free meal but really had nothing to complain about. (*19).

For those who are interested to see how the real Sochi looks like, I refer to an article which I wrote back in 2017. It has a lot of pictures displaying the beauty of Sochi. Here is the link https://russia-insider.com/en/society/sochi-sunny-side-reality/ri4658

White Elephants Live and Kicking

What about the claims that the Olympic sporting arenas stand out like white elephants – unfinished, useless and abandoned? Already a few days before the games even took off, Voice of America declared that “Sochi Facilities Will Not Be Used After Olympics.” (*20). Alas, this wish did not come true; far from it.

These sporting facilities are surrounded on a large territory by hotels, convention centers, and various clusters of housing developments originally built to accommodate the Olympic teams, support staff, organizers and media. The result is an extraordinarily vibrant residential and recreational area with a gorgeous beach on one side and snowcapped mountains on the other. This area will for sure provide for some of the best quality of life in Russia, and a good one by any global standards.

And the venues are bustling with activity. One of the ice rinks is the busy home rink of the new Sochi Hockey Club, debuting in Russia’s prestigious KHL league right after the Olympics in 2014. The club draws between six to ten thousand spectators per game. Another ice rink is being used for various figure skating activities and ice shows. A third one has been converted into a Russian central facility for child health and sports activities. The speed skating arena was turned into a tennis center with nine courts under roof and 15 open-air courts. The Fisht Stadium, the central stadium of the Sochi Olympics, which hosted the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, was fast reconstructed to serve as one of football stadiums for the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. In 2014 Sochi hosted its first annual Formula One race on a street circuit built around these venues of the Sochi Olympic Park.

The sporting venues and adjacent hotels and congress centers have also been busy with continuously hosting one or another top level conference or summit.

President Putin has practically transformed Sochi into the country’s summer capital, where he frequently meets with foreign dignitaries during the sunnier half of the year. This also tallies with Russia’s pivot to Asia as Sochi is much closer to those countries.

Real Estate

Sochi saw a lot of real estate development – not included in the famous $50 billion price tag – across the city in the years leading up to the Olympic Games. After the sharp devaluation of the Russian ruble in 2014/2015 in the wake of the Western-imposed sanctions and the decline of the oil price, the Sochi real estate prices initially declined in in dollar terms. But since the decline the prices have surged by more than 100 to 200%. Premium category apartments with a sea view currently sell at a level of five to ten thousand dollars per square meter.

Concluding remarks

The present report should serve to convince the skeptic that without even a glimmer of doubt the bulk of the much touted Sochi $50 billion investment budget went towards a regional transformation and a thorough infrastructural overhaul of Sochi with a lasting impact. The reports about vanity spending and corruption can be firmly put down to malicious propaganda aimed at destroying Russia’s and its presidents external image, wipe out national support for the Games, and destabilize Russia’s political system.

Now, we are not saying that there would not be any legitimate concerns about the Sochi spending, there always are in connection with such huge projects, in all countries of the world. And while Russian law enforcement and the president have addressed some of them, the so-called opposition and their foreign cheerleaders have done nothing to expose any kinds of real misallocation of funds, solely concentrating on an entirely fictious propaganda narrative.

In addition to the impressive data evidencing the permanent economic boost that those investments delivered to Sochi, we may look at this from the point of view of the national economy. After the Sochi investments and the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the nation’s current account surplus got a $20 billion boost in form of a much lower capital outflow on foreign travel. In 2013, Russians spent $53 billion on travel abroad, but by 2018 the figure was down at $34 billion. Obviously, not all that money saved from foreign travel was spent in Sochi and Crimea, but these places sure made an enormous contribution towards it.

Finally, let’s see how miniscule the alleged scandal would be in an international comparison, even if the whole propaganda lie had been true. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the United States spent on entirely murky bailouts of the country’s banks and largest corporations 475 billion on the federal TARP bailout program. In addition to that the Federal Reserve’s own bailout program regaled the banks and corporations with $1.2 trillion in the immediate aftermath of the crisis (*21) without any oversight in blatant corruption schemes. (*22). These were followed by more venal schemes in form of Fed’s program to pump $3.5 trillion of virtually interest free money to those private entities belonging to the American financial aristocracy. (*23). Those funds were further contributed by the highly contentious $787 billion Obama stimulus package. Independent analysts have shown that, Obama’s stimulus package resulted in nothing else but “waste, fraud and abuse as well as highly questionable projects.” (*24).

I bring up the American corruption here, because the fabricated Sochi spending scandal was aimed at portraying Russia as a particularly corrupt country. Without any evidence and distorted facts and outright lies the propaganda media indeed managed to convince a substantial majority of the Western populations that this was the case. Therefore, I find it very opportune to remind where the real corruption and waste resides. After all, those people, and types like above referenced Chris Miller and Anders Aslund, especially designed their narratives to convince the public how a supposed byzantine Russian government was the epitome of crony capitalism in comparison with the shining city upon a hill that their America is supposed to be.

FOOTNOTES:

*1. Chris Miller (2018). Putinomics. Pages 139 and 140.

*2. Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk (2013). Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). https://www.putin-itogi.ru/cp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Report_ENG_SOCHI-2014_preview.pdf

*3. Alexey Navalny (2014). Sochi 2014: The Comprehensive Report. https://sochi.fbk.info/en/report/

*4. Oleg Golubchikov (2017): From a sports mega-event to a regional megaproject: the Sochi winter Olympics and the return of geography in state development priorities, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19406940.2016.1272620

*5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct_replacement_tunnel

*6. Nemtsov report, pages 23 – 25.

*7. Nemtsov report, page 6.

*8. Nemtsov report, page 6 and 7.

*9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Brandenburg_Airport

*10. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/nov/24/3bn-subway-station-toronto-alaska-bridge-pyongyang-hotel-valencia-city-arts-sciences

*11. https://ria.ru/20190219/1551082088.html

*12. https://www.stat.fi/til/matk/2018/12/matk_2018_12_2019-02-07_tau_005_fi.html

*13. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*14. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/17/sochi-olympics-legacy-city-feels-like-a-ghost-town

*15. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2941216/Extraordinary-images-Vladimir-Putin-s-Sochi-Olympic-park-lying-desolate-abandoned.html

*16. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*17. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*18. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*19. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10380886

*20. https://www.voanews.com/content/expert-worry-sochi-facilities-will-not-be-used-after-olympics/1844282.html

*21. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/07/14/the-big-bank-bailout/#482128b32d83

*22. A fantastic description about the bailout and Federal Reserve quantitative easing frauds and corruption schemes is provided by David Stockman in his The Great Deformation (2013).

*23. https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/with-global-recession-looming-russia-looks-strong/

*24. https://www.judicialwatch.org/corruption-chronicles/more-stimulus-fraud-waste/

 

New World Order in Meltdown, But Russia Stronger Than Ever

New World Order in Meltdown, But Russia Stronger Than Ever

August 30, 2019

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker Blog

Last week was full of portentous events. Only somebody who has not been awake for the last few years will fail to realize how these at first sight unconnected events are part of the same matrix. There was the ever louder talk in mainstream media about an approaching global recession, inverted yield curves and the negative yields, which tell us that the Western financial system is basically in coma and kept alive only by generous IV injections of central bank liquidity. By now it has dawned on people that the central bankers acting as central planners in a command economy and printing money (aka quantitative easing) to fuel asset bubbles are about to wipe off the last vestiges of what used to be a market economy.

Then we saw Trump taking new twitter swipes at China in his on-and-off “great trade deal” and the stock markets moving like a roller coaster in reaction to each new twitter salvo. Also, we had both Trump and Macron sweet talking about getting Russia back and again renaming their club G8. Last Tuesday at a G7 presser in Biarritz, the Rothschild groomed Macron took it one step further opening up about the reasons why they all of a sudden longed for friendship with Russia: “We are living the end of Western hegemony.” In the same series, Britain’s new government under Boris Johnson was telling his colleagues in Biarritz that he is now decisively going for a no-deal Brexit, after which he went back to London and staged a coup d’état by suspending parliament to ensure no elected opposition interfered with it.

Perhaps the weirdest news to crown it all, came from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the Western central bankers were holed up for their annual retreat. The president of Bank of England Mark Carney shocked everybody (at least those not present) by announcing that the US dollar was past its best-before and should be replaced with something the central bankers have up their sleeves.

The New World Order is in its death throes

What these events have in common is that they amount to an admission that the globalist New World Order project in its present form is dead, or at least in its death throes. It has bumped its head against an impenetrable Sino-Russian wall of resistance. The heated totalitarian propaganda against Russia since 2001 (when the NWO realized that Putin wasn’t their man); regime change and color revolutions in neighboring countries; attempts at Maidan style coups in Moscow; and finally the sanctions since 2014 were key to the Anglo-Zionist empires strategy. They needed to take over either China or Russia to gain absolute world hegemony. Taking over either one, they would have checkmated the remaining one, and after that the entire world. They rightly deemed Russia as the weaker piece and went all out in that direction. The NWO wanted to take advantage of Russia’s weakness in form of its Western minded comprador class and a shell-shocked liberal intelligentsia (dominating media, culture and business, just like in Hong Kong, BTW), which is constitutional uncapable of thinking with their own brains to liberate themselves from Soviet era stereotypes (“Soviet Union/Russia bad, West good”).

They then figured that economic and cultural sanctions (e.g. Olympic ban) coupled with doubling down on the propaganda would break the country. Luckily, the Russian narod, the common people saw through it all and would not play along with the enemy. At the same time, Russia paraded its resurrected military in Crimea and Syria as well as its formidable new hypersonic doomsday weapons. The military option to take over Russia was not in the cards any longer.

Russian economy from strength to strength

And the Russian economy. Believing their own propaganda, they had got that totally wrong. Endlessly repeating their own self-serving talking points they must have truly fancied that Russia’s economy amounted to nothing else than export of fossil fuels, that “Russia’s economy is the size of Holland’s,” that “Russia does not produce anything,” and that Russia was “nothing but a gas station with nukes” (somehow managing to ignore the significance of the nukes part). I seriously believe, that the propaganda had become so complete that the Western leaders and the intelligence people actually had come to adapt their own propaganda as the truth. What is for sure, is that all Western media, including what should be the most respected business journals and all those think tanks, had not published one honest appraisal of the Russian economy in 15 years. Every single piece I read over the years had clearly been written with the aim to denigrate Russia’s achievements and economic development. Nowhere to be found were reports on how Putin by 2013 had totally overhauled the economy transforming Russia into the most self-sufficient diversified major country in the world with all the capabilities of the foremost industrial powers. In fact, I tend to think that even the US presidents from Bush to Obama were fed in their intelligence briefings cooked up fake reports about the Russian economy and the whole nation. Actually, I would go one step further. I bet that the CIA itself in the end believed the propaganda it had given birth to. (It has been said that at some point the genuine Russia analysts had all been dismissed or demoted and replaced with a team specializing in anti-Russian propaganda).

But actually all the data was there in plain view. I myself took the trouble to compile a report on the real conditions of Russia’s economy fresh at the onset of the 2014 crisis. In the report, I set out to show that Russia indeed had modernized and diversified its economy; that it had a vibrant manufacturing industry in addition to its energy and minerals sector; and that its budget revenues and economy at large were not at all as dependent on oil and gas as it was claimed. Among other things, we pointed out that Russia’s industrial production had by then grown more than 50% (between 2000 and 2013) while having undergone a total modernization at the same time. In the same period, production of food had surged by 100% and exports had skyrocketed by almost 400%, outdoing all major Western countries. Even the growth of exports of other than oil and gas products had been 250%.

The gist of the study https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/putin-midterm-interim-results/ may be summarized with this quote from it: “The crisis-torn economy battered by years of robber capitalism and anarchy of the 1990’s, which Putin inherited in 2000, has now reached sufficient maturity to justify a belief that Russia can make the industrial breakthrough that the President has announced.” Events have borne out this insight. And it is therefore that Russia won the sanctions battle.

The report represented an appeal to the Western leaders to give up on their vain hope of destroying Russia through their sanctions and risking nuclear war at it. Russia was invincible even in this respect. For that purpose I expressly added this missive in the introduction to the report:

“We strongly believe that everyone benefits from knowing the true state of Russia’s economy, its real track record over the past decade, and its true potential. Having knowledge of the actual state of affairs is equally useful for the friends and foes of Russia, for investors, for the Russian population – and indeed for its government, which has not been very vocal in telling about the real progress. I think there is a great need for accurate data on Russia, especially among the leaders of its geopolitical foes. Correct data will help investors to make a profit. And correct data will help political leaders to maintain peace. Knowing that Russia is not the economic basket case that it is portrayed to be would help to stave off the foes from the collision course with Russia they have embarked on.”

A follow-up report https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/russian-economy-2014-2016-the-years-of-sanctions-warfare/ of June 2017 covering the sanctions years 2014 – 2016, showed how Russia went from strength to strength never mind the Western attempts at isolation. This report stressed that Russia’s economy had now become the most diversified in the world making Russia the most self-sufficient country on this earth.

In this report we exposed the single biggest error of the propaganda driven Russia analysis. This was the ridiculous belief that Russia supposedly was totally dependent on oil and gas just because those commodities made up the bulk of the country’s exports. Confusing exports with the total economy, they had foolishly confused the share of oil and gas in total exports – which was and remains at the level of 60% – with the share of these commodities of the total economy. In 2013 the share of oil and gas of Russia’s GDP was 12% (today 10%). Had the “experts” cared to take a closer look they would have realized that on the other side of the equation Russia’s imports were by far the lowest (as a share of GDP) of all major countries. The difference here is that while Russia does not export a great deal of manufactured goods, it produces by far a bigger share of those for the domestic market than any other country in the whole world. Taking the 60% of exports to stand for the whole economy was how the “Russia produces nothing” meme was created.

Finally in a November 2018 report https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/russian-economy-strong-and-stable/#chapter2, I could declare that Russia had won hands down the sanctions war having emerged from it as a quadruple superpower: industrial superpower, agricultural superpower, military superpower and geopolitical superpower.

Macron et co. realizes that Russia actually is a superpower

These facts have now finally dawned on certain key stakeholders of the globalist regime can be discerned from the fact that they have tasked their handpicked puppet president Macron to make up with Russia. Trump has got the same assignment, which is evident from the siren calls of the two leaders in Putin’s address. Both want to invite Putin to their future G7-8 get-togethers.

As it was said, Macron went as far as unilaterally capitulating and declaring the decline of the West. He went on to spell out that the reason for this spectacular geopolitical about-face was the rise of the Beijing – Moscow (de facto) alliance that has caused a terminal shift on the world scene. Curiously, he also openly blamed the errors of the United States for the dire state of affairs pointing out that “not just the current administration” were to be blamed. No doubt, the foremost of these errors, Macron had in mind, was the alienation of Russia and pushing the country into the warm embrace of China. It is quite clear, that this is what they want to remedy, snatch the bear back from the dragon. Fortunately, that won’t happen. Good if there will be rapprochement and good if the West will try, but after all what Russia has learnt by now it will not sell out on China under any circumstances. I think Putin and the Russian powers that be have clearly opted for a multipolar world order. That is definitely not what Macron’s and Trump’s employers have in mind but let them try.

Until Trump took office, the strategy of the US regime had been to pursue only Russia in its geopolitical ambitions, but by then it had dawned on them that Russia was invincible especially in the de facto alliance with China. In a sign of desperation, the empire then opened big time another front with China. Essentially going from bad to worse.

The world order is being shaken like never before

“The world order is being shaken like never before…”, that’s another quote from Macron. Obviously, it refers to the military and geopolitical strengths of the Sino-Russian alliance, but certainly also to the economic shifts as the West has lost – and will keep losing – its economic domination. This brings us back to Mark Carney of Bank of England and his unprecedented attack on the US dollar (*1) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-24/why-mark-carney-thinks-dollar-can-no-longer-be-worlds-reserve-currency arguing that it was time to end its global reserve currency status. As one option Carney brought up that the major Western central banks would instead issue a digital cryptocurrency. That is to say, a NWO currency controlled by the central banks. That would effectively mean the replacement of the Federal Reserve cartel with a cartel of the Western central banks (the Fed obviously being a part of it). That’s yet one step further north from any kind of democratic control and a giant step towards world government.

What could possibly have prompted such a radical US hegemony puncturing idea to be put forward? One reason obviously is that the Western economies really are in that extreme critical condition that more and more analysts caution about. (We shall look at the economic facts further down). There’s a very real possibility that we will be hit by a doomsday recession. What’s sure is that Carney’s bizarre speech could possibly not have occurred in a normal economic environment (any more than Macron’s admission that the Western hegemony is done with). According to Zerohedge (*2) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-26/things-will-never-be-same-again-here-are-20-questions-central-banks-admit-defeat Financial Times, the party organ of the globalist elite, admitted as much in its report on the Jackson Hole meeting. The central bankers “acknowledged they had reached a turning point in the way they viewed the global system. They cannot rely on the tools they used before the financial crisis to shape the economic environment, and the US can no longer be considered a predictable actor in economic or trade policy — even though there is no imminent replacement for the US dollar in sight.” There was an effective admission that the central bankers had run out of tricks to pull the economies out of the everything-bubble mess, not to mention the looming doomsday recession. According to FT, Carney went as far as flashing the war card saying: “past instances of very low rates have tended to coincide with high risk events such as wars, financial crises, and breaks in the monetary regime.” On the one hand this can be seen as an admission on how deeply tormented they are about the financial situation and what could happen when it comes crashing down. On the other hand, it can be seen as a sales pitch, “only we can fix it, trust us, give us a carte blanche.” Or more probably, both.

Note from above Carney saying: “the US can no longer be considered a predictable actor in economic or trade policy.” Bank of England President here directly attacking President Trump.

And just a couple of days later William Dudley an ex-president of New York Federal Reserve Bank (the most influential of the 12 federal reserve banks that comprise the Federal Reserve System) followed up on a direct attack on Trump. But as they say about spies, there are no ex-spies, and I would think the same applies for the global financial elite. And yes indeed, Dudley is a card carrying member of the Council of Foreign Relations. Dudley had penned an op-ed for Bloomberg titled “The Fed Shouldn’t Enable Donald Trump.” (*3) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-28/member-elite-bill-dudley-could-open-can-worms-quite-staggering , where he openly lobbies for the Fed to deliberately damage the economy in order to neutralize the policies (namely trade wars) of the sitting president and prevent his reelection chances by willfully ruining the economy.

One thing is for sure, the elite is desperate and in serious disarray. Very probable that the elite is split, too. It seems as if there were two globalist factions competing with each other and wanting to follow vastly different strategies. One faction supports Trump and the other is against him. Possibly, one that wants to do things with force and another that wants to gain by stealth. That could be Pentagon and the military-industrial complex vs. the financial elite, who also owns the media. My argument does not hinge on the veracity of those division lines, but that some rupture exists among the elites must be taken for granted, otherwise Trump would have been ousted by now with all that pressure on him.

To summarize this introduction. The Western world is in turmoil: the previous overwhelming geopolitical domination is gone and over with; military solutions against the main adversaries – China and Russia – are off the books; hybrid wars against them have failed; China and Russia are economically stronger than ever, too strong for the adversary; and to boot the domestic Western economies are in extraordinary bad shape, risking a depression of epic proportions.

Further down in this report, I will look at the one aspect of the question I am best equipped to handle, namely the economy. I will outline just in how bad shape the Western debt-fueled casino economies are. Having that as the background, I will then show how surprisingly strong the Russian economy is, at least in comparison with the Western gambling nations. Most importantly, Russia is virtually debtless, and that’s really the clue to survival in this extraordinary economic environment. In addition to the solid finances, Russia has other things going for it, too, as we will see below. I will not provide comparative data on China. One reason for that is, that China is not an economic risk. China does not have the debt problem that it is frequently touted in Western press to have. China, as the world’s number one export country, would of course take a hit in a serious global crisis, but that would not kill the economy. Although, China is the biggest exporter, there has been a shift from export-led growth towards domestic investment and consumption. The share of exports of goods and services in the country’s GDP was by 2018 down to 19.5%, half of the 2006 peak of 36%. On the contrary, the Chinese economy would stay vivid and therefore also help to sustain Russia’s exports.

I may add as one more piece of background, that it is my firm belief that the approaching economic disaster has long been evident to the central bankers and the globalist elite decision makers. Most likely the game plan was to establish the absolute world hegemony – which they not long ago thought was within early reach – and then after that deal with the debts as they saw fit as democratic dissent would not matter a bit anymore by then. That’s why they felt confident in building up the asset bubbles to carry them over to the final solution. Reminds me about a story told about Moscow’s so-called Khrushchyovka tenement buildings. These are low-cost three- to five-storied houses built quickly and cheap during the Khrushchev era to address the dire housing shortages of the 1960s. According to the story, the planners knew they would serve only for a few decades, but that would not matter all that much because by that time there would be Communism and everything would be perfect anyway. No Communism materialized, but presently the Moscow government under Mayor Sobyanin has initiated a program to tear them all down and erect new buildings where flats with title will be given for free to house the 1.5 million present residents of those buildings slated for replacement. – Well, that’s sort of Communism, isn’t it? – This kind of wishful thinking must have kept the globalist elite going, too. Unfortunately for the dreamers, though, their plans hit a snag in form of Russia and China.

Central bank fueled asset bubbles

Russia is low in debt, but you can’t say the same about the US and other Western nations. And that debt really is what got the world in the present mess and brought it teetering on the brink of financial collapse. Since the late 80s, the US central bank, the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan developed an addiction to cure any downward tick on Wall Street with easy credit, eventually requiring after every downturn ever bigger central bank liquidity injections to keep the stock indices on a growth curve. Greenspan was experimenting with a policy aimed at creating a “wealth effect” aka “trickle-down.” The idea being that Wall Street bankers and big corporations be stuffed with all the free money they can swallow for the purpose of keeping stock and bond prices high. The theoretical frame told that doing so something would eventually trickle down to the real economy, and everybody would live happily ever after. After stocks and bonds, Greenspan’s wealth effect policy was addressed to inflate home prices and all real estate with that. That was the road that eventually led to the 2008 subprime loan crisis, which took down Lehman Brothers and then all of Wall Street and the whole global economy.

But Wall Street recovered soon, because Greenspan’s successor Ben Bernanke had set forth to blow up an even bigger asset bubble. And the Europeans followed suit. The Fed fueled the market frenzy with creating money out of thin air (aka quantitative easing) in favor of governments, banks and corporations to the tune of $3.5 trillion in the decade following the 2008 collapse.

The European Central Bank has done the same for Europe in volumes more than 2.5 trillion euro to date. All the other Western central banks joined the gambling by flooding the markets with fiat money at same levels relatively speaking.

But anyway this astronomic leverage and the humongous budget deficits of the Western countries didn’t get the real economy anywhere. They have blown up asset bubbles of phantasmagorical proportions with preciously little trickle-down. Since the pre-crash peak in October 2007, the broadest US stock index (Wilshire 5000) has gained 95% (on top of covering the nearly 60% crash from in between). In the same 12-year period industrial production (manufacturing, mining, energy, utilities) has grown only 5% combined over all those years. (*4) https://www.deepstatedeclassified.com/heres-what-happens-when-the-fed-cuts-rates/ Deduct – the in itself lossmaking – shale oil and gas and there is barely no growth left in the 12 years. In fact, the US manufacturing sector was in June still 1.6% below the pre-crisis peak in December 2007. (*5) https://www.deepstatedeclassified.com/industrial-production-is-punk/ So we have a 5% gain in the most important part of the real economy vs. 95% in stock market gambling. The absurdity of the stock market growth is further evidenced by the gap between growth of real final sales and stock valuations since 2007 peak. Since then, the former has grown on an average 1.6% per year, while the stock market has delivered annualized growth at levels of 15%. Total industrial production share of the GDP in the US has sunk to 18%. (For comparison, the figure for Russia was 32% and growing.)

Trickle-down, anyone?

It would be false to claim there has not been any trickle-down at all. Millions of people have kept their jobs because of it. But at the same time they have had their real wages squeezed and the overwhelming majority have seen their standards of living drop. Only massive loads of consumer credits and ultra-cheap mortgages have kept up an illusion of superficial prosperity among the middle classes. This debt-fueled prosperity and it’s cursory result, the artificial real estate asset bubble will prove a wolf in sheep’s clothing when the everything-bubble bursts.

There’s been another form of trickle-down, too, a much more real and actually beneficial one. By creating the debt-fueled illusion of prosperity, the Western central banks have actually subsidized China, Russia and all of the emerging world as they have flushed their export goods on the global markets where the Western nations have picked it all up on borrowed money. Thanks for that, though. At the same time, that has driven production costs up in the West with the consequence that their own industries have been priced out.

The humongous borrowings fail to produce GDP growth

Every year since the last bout of the crisis in 2008, growth of debt in the national economies of each Western country has far exceeded the growth of economic output measured as GDP. Below chart shows just how bad it has been in the US.

The debt and GDP growth curves started to diverge in the late 70s, but from 2000 debt has spiraled out of control delivering preciously little incremental GDP. Deduct the wasteful debt and wasteful spending and there would be no growth whatsoever.

Not only has there been no real GDP growth but even the nominal growth has to a crucial extent been provided for by means of the enormous government borrowings. We see from below table that that in each year from 2008 to 2017 even the nominal GDP growth has been less than the growth of government debt, with 2015 and 2015 as the only exceptions when they were on par.

In the peak crisis years 2008 and 2009, debt growth was a staggering 5.7 and 6.3 times that of GDP growth.

The debt game has been equally miserable all over the West, perhaps with the only exception of Germany, who has wisely refrained from participating, even when egged on by liberal economists calling Germany’s more prudent policy unfair to the gambling nations. Below chart shows how much more the Western governments have borrowed than produced economic growth. The chart covers years 2004 to 2013, but the trend has been the same ever since. GDP growth has been vastly less than the growth of the colossal debtberg.

Note Russia there as the shining exception.

Below chart ranks countries according to their debt burden relative to GDP. And again you see how debtless Russia is compared with the squandering nations.

These charts concerned only government debt, when we add private debt to it, the picture is doubly worse. From the point of view of a national economy it really doesn’t matter in which form the excess debt expands, public or private. In fact, on an average in the West the situation with household debt is equally dire. Below chart tells you just how bad. And again note Russia as the one shining exception.

And it’s no better with corporations, which have throughout the last decade been enjoying mindboggling levels of central bank largesse in form of virtually unlimited interest-free financing. For example, compared to earnings, US bond issuers are about 50% more leveraged now than in 2007. (*6) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-24/corporate-debt-risk-flash-crash

Finally, there is the black hole containing trillions and trillions of bankers derivative risks. Deutsche Bank – which was recently placed in emergency care – alone is said to have 49 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives. These risks alone could take down the whole global financial system. (*7) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-20/bank-49-trillion-derivatives-exposure-melting-down-our-eyes

First no real interest, then on to negative yields

One of the many deadly side effects of the central bankers’ practice on gambling with the national economies is that they first eliminated real interest rates (pushed rates below inflation) and then doubled down on the destruction of sound economic principles by cooking up a system with negative yielding bonds (bonds which yield below zero). By now $30 trillion of the $60 trillion US bond market yield below inflation (no real interest) and nearly $17 trillion worth of bonds are in negative yield territory. That’s mostly made up by sovereign debt of Japan and European governments (12 at the moment) but recently the mass of negative yielding corporate bonds has also doubled to $1.2 trillion. Half of the $5 trillion worth of European government bonds sport a negative yield as well as 20% of European investment grade corporate bonds.

Inflation risk

Normally, this kind of excess liquidity artificially put on the market (aka money printing) would have led to high inflation if not hyperinflation. Several factors have helped to keep prices in check. First, it needs to be pointed out, though, that inflation is actually a lot higher than what the government reports. This has been pretty convincingly proven in the case of the United States. (See, for example, (*8) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-17/cpi-constantly-understates-inflation-why-will-lead-catastrophe?fbclid=IwAR0byF4lMciG77ItFvkFhftV9qEnkXAuKaj9oYLmnZn5c8C4ds4E8mie7rk). Official statistics may not see it, but people sure feel it.

Secondly, the asset price bubbles in real estate and financial markets in fact represent inflation, it’s just not officially recorded as such. As it is only the 10% (and increasingly, the 1%) who get the money, they spend it on the stuff that counts for them, stocks and real estate. Keeping their loot offshore also helps to dampen inflation at home. The squeeze on the middle classes and stagnating wages, is sadly an important factor in keeping inflation down. Ordinary people just can’t afford to buy.

One should also note, that resulting from the illusionary debt-fueled prosperity and its effect on keeping the local Western currencies artificially high, there has actually been an inflation in wages and production costs, but only in relative terms in comparison with the emerging world. This in turn has led to further offshoring of manufacturing jobs.

A crucial factor, which in the crazy money printing environment has kept consumer goods from hyperinflating has been imports from the emerging Asia and especially China. Huge growth of the Chinese manufacturing industry coupled with massive influx of cheap labor from the rural countryside into the cities enabled China for a couple of decades to constantly increase its exports to the US and Europe and these countries to keep prices down. (Including by domestic industries having to lower prices in competition). With the Trump trade wars and dramatically increasing protectionism, this will change. And it could get very ugly.

Finally, there is an important consideration that few if anyone seem to understand. That is the fact that the US and other Western countries have been able to print the stupendous amounts of money while keeping rates down and without the currency values crashing only because they enjoy local currency monopolies in their respective territories. The USD has of course been enjoying a global monopoly, but that is fast fading. All the other factors mentioned above (and several other ones), have enabled to prop up and prolong these currency monopolies, but there is a limit to everything. In the coming recession, I would expect some of the lesser currencies to lose their monopoly trust and that would shatter the position of the bigger currencies USD and Euro and force them to raise interest rates. I have earlier written more in detail about this in a report titled How the Dollar and Euro Monopolies Destroyed the Real Market Economy. https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/dollar-euro-monopolies-destroyed-market-economy/

The below chart suggests that the Western countries are already on the way to lose their respective currency monopolies. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) now have a combined GDP (measured in PPP, which is the only correct way to measure the relative size of national economies) larger than not only the G7 countries, but the US and Eurozone economies combined.

At its foundation in 1973, the G7 countries had a combined GDP PPP of 50% of the world economy, by today it is down to 30%. In the same time the nominal GDP share of world economy has crashed from 80% to 40%. The currency monopolies came with the economic superiority, it is therefore only natural that with the economic domination goes the currency domination, too. If we haven’t reached the tipping point yet, then that will happen within 5 to 10 years.

In summary, everything else unchanged, the risk of inflation picking up with just a few percentage points could have the entire Western financial systems coming crashing down due to the pressure on interest rates growing. The Fed and the ECB are continuously speaking about their inflation targets and how they want to pump the markets with more liquidity to raise inflation. There could yet be a big surprise in store for them. Interest rates as such could also be the primary trigger (even without inflation first rising), as nations would have to protect their currencies and attract financing for their colossal debtbergs.

Must add as a P.S. that the incipient flight to gold might well be one of the trigger events for those currencies to lose their monopolies. (Gold price is up 20% since May).

Deleveraging will come

These massive borrowings have delivered nothing of tangible value. Now, when the party is nearly over all there is left are the debt bubbles that have hit the roof. The real values of all the assets below bear no relation to the money that went into inflating the balloons. What’s left is economic hardship for 80% of the people, a crumbling infrastructure and simmering social tensions.

The debt saturation point has been reached, therefore this time it will be different, the central bankers have lost their magic wand and won’t be able to renew the debt binge and extend it with one more decade. Instead, there will be a day of reckoning. Governments and corporations will have to put their act together and let the market weed out the failed entities. Those who cannot carry the debt, will have to shed it. There will be bloodbath with defaults, bankruptcies and massive unemployment. – Perhaps a revolution here and there. – There will be no choice, deleveraging must happen.

Now, whether this system will come crashing down or just slowly die as it trundles downhill will not matter all that much. It will eventually die either way. Most people would prefer the slow motion option, but only with the crash would a cure come. Whatever, it has become increasingly difficult to stave off the crash and this time around, the financial markets would take the real economy down with them big time.

The impressive figures on Russia

The question then is, who would be left standing? Naturally, those who are less leveraged. Now, scroll back to have a new look at the above charts on government and household debt. Find the position of Russia there? That’s right. Russia is the country with – by far – the least debt, both public and private. Having after 2014 following sanctions been cut off from the Western debt orgy, even Russian corporations are shielded against a possible Western debt apocalypse.

In a global recession, no country is safe, but Russia looks to have quite a lot going for it in terms of economic advantages. Russia’s national balance sheet is next to none with by far the lowest debt of all major countries. All economic actors, the government, corporations and households are economically solid and minimally leveraged. Not only is the government virtually debtless, but it has again replenished its spectacular forex and sovereign wealth fund reserves. On top of that comes a hefty budget surplus. – Yes, you heard that right, surplus. In a time when all Western countries are in a chronic fight against deficits, you rarely even hear the term budget surplus. And more, Russia runs the world’s third biggest trade surplus. Add to that the current account surplus, and there’s the hat trick in form of your classic triple surpluses. Russia has a lot more going for it, too, as we will see.

Let’s look at Russia’s present financial health report.

Thanks to import substitution (domestic production instead of imports to neutralize sanctions) Russia’s industrial production rose 2.6% year-on-year in June. (USA +1.1%, UK +0.8%, Japan -2.4%, Germany -5.9%). Above, we mentioned that US industrial production was up with as little as a cumulative 5% since 2008 to date. In the same period Russia’s industry grew 18% notwithstanding the hardships of sanctions and sharp drop in oil price. In fact, since 2014 when the sanctions were first imposed, Russia’s industry has grown 12%.

Russia’s merchandise trade surplus for the first half of 2019 was $93 billion, ranking third in the world after China and Germany and before South Korea. Imports were down by 3%, the other side of the coin of growing domestic manufacturing. Even when exports also were slightly down, lower imports will keep the surplus on track to reach levels near $200 billion for the full year, just under last year’s record $212 billion.

Q1 current account surplus clocked in at $33 billion, up 10% over the year.

In this connection, it might be helpful to remind that Russia’s economy is nowhere near as dependent on fossil fuel extraction as it is habitually believed in the West. In fact, oil and gas only account for 10% of Russia’s GDP according to World Bank statistics. (In 2017, total natural resources share of GDP was 10.7%, but that includes minerals and forest, too).

We also need to point out that Russia has an enormous strength by way of being the world’s most self-sufficient major country. Russia has the by far lowest level of imports relative to GDP of all countries, as evidenced by below table. It shows that Russia’s imports as a share of GDP was as low as 7.2%, while the corresponding level for Western European countries was between 30 to 40%. The extraordinary low levels of imports in a global comparison obviously signifies that Russia produces domestically a much higher share of all that it consumes (and invests), this in turn means that the economy is superbly diversified contrary to the claims of most so-called Russia experts.

Despite initial scares, inflation has remained low even when the VAT rate was from the new year raised from 18% to 20%. The rolling 12-month inflation runs at 4.6% but with the declining trend the full year inflation is expected to hit the central bank’s target 4%.

The job market continues strong with record low unemployment levels, while the job participation rate has not deteriorated (so no tricks here). The July reading of 4.6% translates to 3.4 million unemployed, which is low for a country with a population of 146 million. The strength of the labor market was underscored by an increase of real salaries by 3.5% by July. This while disposable income otherwise has remained subdued.

Whereas the US is combating persistent budget deficits (latest reading, a deficit of 4.5% of GDP) – likewise the EU countries – Russia mustered a huge budget surplus equal to 3.4% of the GDP by July this year.

Russia’s foreign exchange and gold reserves have also done a spectacular comeback reaching $520 billion.

The Russia sovereign wealth fund surged in July to reach a value equal to 7.2% of GDP.

Despite the wholesome macroeconomic environment and impressive figures, Russia’s GDP growth has been less than 1% so far this year (year-on-year 0.6% in Q1 and 0.9% in Q2). However, by the looks of it the fundamental economy seems to be growing and modernizing, while the drag on the growth comes from depressed household consumption. What’s more important, though, is that while Russia’s growth is hovering around the 1%, so is that of all of the Western world. (Accuse me of whataboutism if you will, but these things need to be put in perspective). Q2 growth in the Eurozone was 1.1%, with Germany even about to slide into recession. UK clocked in at 1.2% and Japan at 0.4%. (All figures, year-on-year). The US showed only 2% (revised down 28 August) even when fueled by a mountainous budget deficit set to reach $1 trillion for the fiscal year and despite all that easy money the Fed keeps pumping out. Only China remained firmly in growth territory with 6.2%.

But, the real conundrum is, how can Russia produce the same GDP as all the Western countries with their seemingly limitless injections of give-away money? How is it possible that all those trillions and trillions that the Western central bankers have thrown on the economy do not produce any real incremental economic output?

The big disadvantage Russia has compared with the Western countries is the exorbitant real interest rate that the central bank maintains. The steering rate is presently 7.25%, with inflation predicted to be 4%, that translates into a primary real interest of 3.25%. Compare that with the negative real interest – and even negative yields – of competitor countries. As, the Russian central bank has failed to create a real banking sector which would lend according to international standards to the country’s businesses, the ones that are lucky to get a loan at all would look to pay interest at the level of 15% of more (save the largest corporations). The Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina does not see this as a problem, though. She has said that instead she would pin her hopes on improving the countries investment climate (sic!). (She calls for improvement of corporate governance, development of human capital, and all kinds of nice things. That would sure do it). (*9) http://ibcongress.com/en/news/nabiullina-nazvala-glavnye-ogranichenija-dlja-razvitija-ekonomiki-rossii/

Just this week, Putin called a high profile meeting with Nabiullina, the minister for economic development Maxim Oreshkin, and the finance minister Anton Sulanov, to express his deep concern with the sluggish GDP growth and stagnating income. No doubt, that the depressed income is not only a drag on the economy but on the president’s popularity. There is only one quick fix for it. The government and the CBR must ditch their overzealous austerity programs. It’s good that Russia is not over leveraged with debt, but certainly some debt would be in order to finance the infrastructure and other national strategic development programs instead of ripping it off people’s backs. Free the funds for raising pensions and public service salaries instead. And most importantly, Nabiullina must lower the rates and not run real interests in excess of 3% when the rest of the developed world is in negative territory. There is no other quick remedy for raising people’s income. That’s Putin’s choice. Hope somebody tells that to him.

In conclusion, we are not saying that Russia would not be hurt by the coming recession, we merely express our confidence that Russia is among the world’s countries best placed to cope with it.

Jon Hellevig, originally from Finland, works and lives in Moscow since the early 1990s. By education lawyer and MBA, Hellevig first worked in Moscow as a financial controller for a Russia-American joint venture engaged in shipment of oil and later became founder together with Russian partners of a business administration and consulting firm. Hellevig has written several books on Russian taxation and labor law. From mid-2000, Hellevig has written books on philosophy and social practices. The combination of his experience of actual life and governance in Russia with the theoretical framework pushed Hellevig to engage in the public debate about Russia’s development path including by way of writing articles for the part of the media, which is interested in the truth. Having at least a working knowledge of seven languages (English, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, German, and French), Hellevig has been able to follow first-hand the news across the Western hemisphere. Doing so, he realized a decade or so ago, that all the Western media in unison report the same stories about Russia and circulate the same fabricated scandals in the same words at the same time. Frustrated with the totalitarian style propaganda lies about Russia, Hellevig began to regularly produce fundamental analysis reports on the Russian economy in the wake of the sanctions that the Western powers imposed on Russia following the Ukrainian crisis in 2014

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE – WHITE HELMETS, “BANA AL-ABED” AND KILLING “EVIL RUSSIANS”

South Front

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - White Helmets, “Bana al-Abed” and Killing “Evil Russians”

Since the formal defeat of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate and so-called “moderate rebels” in most of Syria, the Middle Eastern country, has largely disappeared from the front-pages of mainstream media outlets. Nonetheless, the narrative management operation to distort the real situation in the war-torn country and demonize the Damascus government and its allies fighting foreign-backed radical militant groups continues.

The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an obvious example of the scale and spread of this campaign. The official trailer for the new part of the franchise features “heroic actions” of the White Helmets, “big bad Russians” bombing civilians and a kid in a gas mask apparently signaling the expected usage of “Assad’s chemical weapons” mantra in the story-telling.

The description of the first missions of the coming part of the world franchise reveals that they will incorporate Russian soldiers laughing while killing civilians as well as using chemical weapons against civilians. So, a “Bana al-Abed”-styled girl will have to kill some “evil Russkies”.

It appears that the goal of this effort is to bring back into attention some propaganda narratives that appear to have, at least partially, died down in recent years under pressure of facts. It’s an open secret that the White Helmets have deep ties with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria) and other radical groups de-facto playing a role in their propaganda wing and participating in staging chemical attack provocations.

The Twitter account of Bana al-Abed became widely known during the battle for Aleppo in 2016. The account operator, using the name and photos of the then 7yo girl, was writing scripted tweets blaming the “Assad regime” and Russia for civilian casualties, spreading fake news and even calling to start a new world war if that’s what’s needed to rescue what the account described as “innocent civilians”. After defeat of the radical groups controlling her part of the city, Bana and her parents withdrew from Aleppo alongside other members of militant groups that had reached a surrender deal with the Damascus government. Later, she and her family appeared in Turkey where Bana’s image continued to be used as a tool of the ongoing campaign against Syria. Her case is a sad example of how kids are being used for war propaganda purposes.

An interesting fact is that the “Call of Duty” game writer is not even hiding that the mainstream video game franchise seeks to indoctrinate its users. Taylor Kurosaki said that “he wants “Call of Duty” to be spoken of as on par with the best war films, and he hopes ‘Modern Warfare’ will inspire fans to check out the harrowing and eye-opening documentaries ‘The White Helmets’ or ‘Last Man in Aleppo”.” It’s no surprise that both mentioned “documentaries” were designed to glorify the White Helmets and militant groups they were assisting by their work and had little in common with the real situation in parts of the country, including, at some point, eastern Aleppo, controlled by MSM-promoted “moderate rebels”.

However, the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game, underlined a tendency that is by no means new. In some cases, modern video games, movies and even comic books are infested with war propaganda even more than news pieces released by CNN and similar media outlets.

Even DC comics, in late 2018, in its Doomsday Clock crossover with Watchmen showcased a superhero from Syria, called Sandstorm, who could control the desert sands. The generic stereotype boy called Nabil Azmah was from Douma, which isn’t even in the desert. He was later killed in the comics, fighting against the “Assad regime.” According to his fictional biography, his family were killed by fighters allied to Assad and his sister was gassed.

To top it off, in the next issue, Russian President Vladimir Putin was portrayed as the bad guy and even picked a fight with Superman, after a US superhero – Firestorm – democratically turned Russian citizens on Red Square into glass.

These tendencies are nothing new. DC comics, in the 80s, portrayed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who concludes a deal with Batman’s infamous enemy the Joker. The Joker then says that Iranians and him have a lot in common, namely “being insane.”

The mainstream entertainment industry is doing its best to “inform”  American youth of who the “good guys” are in Syria and around the world, even if these “good guys” accidentally appear to be members of al-Qaeda.

This situation is a demonstration of how little propaganda capabilities Syria, Venezuela, China, Iran or Russia really do have in comparison with their “Western partners”. In most cases, the US and the EU use bogeyman stories about the mighty Russian, Chinese, Iranian and even Syrian propagandists as formal justification to tighten censorship and to increase their own propaganda efforts.

When CNN Crew Blew Up the Oil Pipeline in Homs

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CNN and Other Pentagon War Propaganda Machines

February 20, 2019

CNN, along with all other Western corporate media, is not a news reporting establishment as people are told, it can be described as a News Faking Establishment, better even call it: The Pentagon’s Propaganda Arm.

They’re not innocent of any blood drop shed during any of the US and its cronies adventures worldwide throughout their lifespan. CNN is relatively new comparing with corporations like the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and alike.

We have repeated many times and in many forums how the manager of Reuters office in Syria, a Jordanian Khaled Oweis, actually doctored an interview he made with a wounded Syrian Arab Army soldier who received a bullet from the ‘Peaceful Protesters’ in Daraa, and the Reuters ‘journalist’ covered his voice and repeated: ‘The Syrian security officer shot you because you refused to shoot at the protesters?’.

That’s just one sick example exposed by a vigilant Syrian presenter who caught the same interview on his camera and displayed in full on Syrian TV channels at the very early days of the crisis in Syria.

Reuters office manager in Syria was arrested and as you would expect the entire West went lunatic exerting super pressure on the Syrian state, aided with Syria’s own allies sad to say, to release the ‘journalist’ and ‘respect free speech’.

Eventually, the Syrian state released the criminal, dubbed journalist, and expelled him from the country, and expelled with him all foreign-based news channels, and allowed only selected ones with no previous lying track record, again to the madness of Western countries.

The expelling of Western news agencies, the likes of Reuters, AFP, AP, New York Times, Washington Post, DW, BBC, France 24, and their Arabic versions like Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya, Qatari and Saudi state-owned channels respectively, their expelling from Syria at the critical early days have saved countless lives of innocent Syrians.

We have exposed numerous times the lies of these establishments and their ilks, especially in regards to the War of Terror the US and its lackeys waged against Syria.

The following is part of longer report how a Syrian activist Rafic Lutf managed to expose how the CNN crew led by anchor Arwa Damon (or Deamon) participated in blowing up an oil pipeline in Homs in one of the coldest winters the country witnessed just to have a news line accusing the Syrian state with this heinous crime they committed. The full report was deleted by YouTube when they suspended our channel with no proper justification. Watch:

We urge each state tha has an office or a representative of one of these news channels to treat them as criminals, or at least to deal with them with extra care, no one knows when they will be activated.

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Corporate Media: WMDs Weapons of Mass Deception

Just for a comparison: Syrian-based media are not allowed to air in the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia, since 2012, they’re also banned from satellite transmission on all Western and Arab owned satellites, that’s to ‘Promote Freedom of Speech’, we were told. Many Syrian media related individuals, private and public, are on Western sanctions lists.

I have a saying I kept repeating to Western citizens and it’s relative to all the crimes against humanity committed by their politicians in their names with their tax monies: ‘They fool you, they keep fooling you, and they enjoy fooling you, not because they’re smart, it’s because you’re foolable.

Sheeple Family
Sheeple: A typical western family following mainstream media

How much money will Russia lose in Venezuela

January 26, 2019

by Ivan Danilov

How much money will Russia lose in Venezuela

Ivan Danilov is a famous Russian economist and influential blogger.

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featured image © REUTERS / Manaure Quintero

Translated by Scott

The crisis in Venezuela has once again brought into question why the Russian state, as well as state-owned companies, invest money and issue loans to some countries. Many journalists and experts have already rushed with pleasure to calculate alleged financial losses of the Russian side, forgetting both that Caracas has not yet fallen and pro-American usurper has not won yet, and that Russia is not the USSR and is not engaged in charity.

It is particularly instructive to compare two strains of American propaganda: one aimed at the Russian audience through the American NGOs and the media-lured “leaders of public opinion,” and the other — aimed at the Venezuelan audience through lured Venezuelan politicians. The message “the money of the Russian budget and Rosneft went to useless support of the Venezuelan regime and will never be returned” targets the Russian audience, and the message “Russia robbed Venezuela with the help of bonded loans and contracts, taking control of a significant part of Venezuelan oil” targets the Venezuelan audience. It is easy to see that according to the laws of logic in one case the American propaganda should lie, because it is impossible to be a stupid benefactor and ruthless moneylender at the same time. However, in reality, the situation is even more interesting: American propaganda lies in both cases: Russia and Russian state-owned companies are not “geopolitical Shylock,” and they are not “geopolitical mother Teresa,” either. Moscow really helped and will continue to help Caracas, while always sensibly combining idealism with pragmatism.

Let’s start with the fact that Russia is not the main creditor of the Venezuelan economy and not even the second most important. If we take the Western (the most unflattering for Russia) estimates from the Bloomberg business information agency, it turns out that the leader in investments and loans is China with 70 billion dollars, but the honorable second place belongs to very influential and very respectable banks and investment funds, mainly from the US and the UK. According to the most conservative estimates quoted in the Reuters material, they lent to the governments of Chavez and Maduro, as well as the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA to the amount of about $50 billion.

Among Venezuela’s creditors there are such giants of the financial world as the American investment conglomerate BlackRock (the largest investment fund in the world, assets under management — 6,789 trillion dollars) and the most influential American Bank Goldman Sachs, which is known for its extraordinary opportunities of political lobbying in the US and the European Union. By the way, the Venezuelan opposition has repeatedly said that it will not pay the debts of the “anti-people regime” (especially the opposition does not want to pay the Goldman Sachs Bank, which literally saved Maduro in 2017). So, paradoxically, several very large and influential American financial companies are rooting for Maduro , because they are unlikely to want to run into a “write-off in the name of democracy” for at least $50 billion.

For comparison, the highest estimate of the total amount of loans and investments made by Russian structures in Venezuela is $17 billion, and this amount does not take into account some important aspects. First, Venezuela has long been paying off Russian and Chinese creditors with oil and shares in Venezuela’s oil fields — and this has been generating serious revenues for Venezuelan creditors for many years.

Secondly, Russian loans (it is worth noting that a similar scheme is used by the US, China, the UK and EU countries around the world) are often tied to the supply of Russian goods and services — that is, the money has already turned into salaries, for example, for domestic gunsmiths. So, to speak about losses of $17 billion is at least inaccurate and more than premature.

Unfortunately, in the Russian information field there are often sounding statements that the Venezuelan government is not to blame for anything, that economic difficulties are a myth or that economic difficulties (primarily hyperinflation) are 100% the result of American sanctions. That’s not so. No American sanctions can explain the fact that the Venezuelan gold reserve has been in London for many years at the disposal of the Bank of England, which, according to the latest information, refuses to return it at all, and in the current crisis situation, this gold may well become the budget of the pro-American junta.

No sanctions can explain the fact that the key Venezuelan assets, bringing the country’s main foreign exchange revenue (for example, an oil refinery and a network of Citgo gas stations), are located in the USA and in all the years of confrontation with America, the official Caracas did not bother to sell them and buy something similar in any other — friendly to Venezuela — country.

No sanctions can explain an absolutely insane policy of monetary stimulation of the economy, which has led to the fact that inflation in Venezuela has long been measured in tens or hundreds of thousands of percent per annum, undermining the economy and the standard of living of the population so that even toilet paper becomes a luxury product. It is time for Caracas (as well as some Russian economists) to realize that it is impossible to solve economic and social problems by “printing and distributing money.” According to the Central Bank of Venezuela for October 2018, which refers to Trading Economics, inflation in Venezuela was more than 1 300 000% — a level when the national currency turns into a wrapper, which can only be use to heat up a house during the next power outage. The fact that Venezuelans massively support Maduro despite the fact that prices increase by at least a few tens of percent every day for several years — a real miracle. Again, hyperinflation cannot be attributed to sanctions or falling oil prices. It is enough to look at the country on which American sanctions, American intervention and civil war hit much harder —  Syria. According to the CIA, at the peak of the war in 2016, the Assad administration managed to keep inflation at only 43.9%, and in 2017 it was brought down to 25.5%-that is, inflation is falling, and the economy is gradually returning to normal.

This example clearly shows the difference in financial discipline, and this comparison is clearly not in favor of Caracas.

We are now witnessing a rather acute political crisis, but for Venezuela such crises are, unfortunately, almost routine. Suffice is to recall actively supported by the US riots in 2014 and 2017, during which the legitimate government in Caracas also kept literally in the balance. If the administration of Maduro this time, too, will be able to keep the situation, it may even bring positive results at least in terms of changing the economic policy of the Venezuelan leadership, which just a few months ago (although Venezuela has been in a difficult economic crisis for many years) asked the Russian leadership to develop a plan for the normalization of the Venezuelan economy. If the legitimate government retains power and if the Russian plan is adopted for implementation, Venezuela will have a good chance to get out of the crisis and dramatically reduce its risks in the future. This will be good for Venezuela itself and for all its economic partners.

2018 – The Year of Lying Dangerously

By David Macilwain
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Amongst the many things that may be said about 2018 in the echo-chambers of Western media, you can be sure that an admission of the lies that were told will not be one of them. Yet of all the things that characterize this year of fracture and dissonance, the litany of lies told by Western leaders and media stands out – a veritable juggernaut of mendacity about almost every aspect of the political and strategic battles fought against internal and external enemies over the last year.

These lies, from casual half-truths to carefully constructed false narratives, have been mostly told to and used against Western states’ own populations, to create popular support or submission to policies and actions chosen by those wielding power. But they have also been told extensively to deceive and manipulate foreign antagonists in current conflict zones – Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Most disturbingly perhaps, lies have also been told to militaries and security forces by their own government leaders and intelligence agencies, and to a degree that is only now becoming apparent. The possibility that the most recent revelations on disinformation networks in Europe and the US could crack open the West’s “bodyguard of lies” makes 2018 what we might call the “Year of Lying Dangerously”.

Perhaps it’s a little personal tunnel vision that makes me focus on two of the most notable “lies” of 2018 – the Salisbury poisoning and the “Chemical attack” on Douma in Syria. But in one way or another, both of these –intimately connected – events have been central to so much else that has happened this year.

Whether it’s the “Iranian connection” – between the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran’s support for Syria against foreign-backed terrorists, joint Saudi-US-Israeli propaganda warfare over Yemen and Hezbollah – or the “Russian connection” – conflict over oil and gas markets, pipelines to Turkey and Germany, political and military support for Syria, information warfare with the US over Trump and the UK over “Novichok” – or simply the Tweets of Trump, – the Chemical Weapon disinformation war has been central to 2018.

It’s hard for those of us not seduced by the West’s Orwellian news machine to understand just how pervasively effective its mind-bending disinformation operations have become. The individuals and organizations leading these campaigns have evidently also been seduced by their own power to mislead millions, effected with a few mouse clicks or a single video clip.

And in their absolute disdain for their audience, they may be caught out pushing too far. Such was the case with the memorable “Mannequin Challenge” performed live on set by a couple of White Helmet actors. They got away with that crass self-promotion amongst social media followers, but for their opponents and victims seeing these NATO “heroes” playing at rescue-selfies was the last straw.

In fact, this over-honest self-revelation to their supporters became the start of efforts to expose the White Helmets as a criminal enterprise of the UK and US governments, whose members we now know to have been closely involved in some of the worst atrocities carried out by the foreign-backed terrorist groups with whom they worked.

The dreadful truth about the “Oscar-nominated” White Helmets began to emerge seriously in December 2016 following the liberation of East Aleppo, when independent journalists – Pierre le Corf, Vanessa Beeley and RT’s Lizzie Phelan and Murad Gazdiev amongst others – were able to see just where these “civil defense volunteers” had been operating; cheek by jowl with the chief terrorist groups holding the east of the city under siege.

Those researches have clearly continued in the two years since, establishing more solid incriminating evidence against the group, but this effort has evidently intensified in recent months following the joint UN-Israeli rescue operation of White Helmets and terrorist leaders from the Golan Heights in July, and their effective disbanding in most areas of Syria.

The results of these researches were presented by the director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, Maxim Grigoriev, at a special meeting at the UN HQ in New York just before Christmas. Grigoriev presented videos of interviews he himself conducted with former White Helmets members in Aleppo and Ghouta, along with the extensive findings on the true nature of the White Helmets’ activities, as revealed by Syrian citizens from “rebel-occupied” areas.

The UN meeting, made to a collection of journalists, included personal testimony from Vanessa Beeley, as well as direct and demanding presentations from Syria’s UN rep Bashar al Jaafari, and Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia. Independent journalist Eva Bartlett, who has also played a lead role in researching and exposing the White Helmets operation, has written already on the meeting, and particularly noting the complete failure of the Western corporate media to report it or attempt to answer the criticisms and claims made against the group.

Despite the presence of a CBS reporter, who asked a question about the threat from foreign extremists following the “US withdrawal from Syria”, media support for the White Helmets continues without a hiccup, with this horrific contribution from the Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen.

What Grigoriev presented was truly shocking, and categorical evidence that the White Helmets is a criminal organization and should be on the UN’s list of designated terrorist organizations – as stated clearly by Vassily Nebenzia. The video presentation lasts over an hour, but is really essential viewing; the atrocities carried out by the many members of the White Helmets, with the full knowledge and support of the UK and US governments, make their continued feting and lionizing by Western governments and media a crime against humanity.

Quite simply, these men are guilty of the most brutal and barbaric crimes against innocent people – women and children in particular – that we can possibly imagine. Unlike so many dreadful atrocities committed in the past – the Crusaders’ slaughter of Jerusalem’s population might spring to mind – these modern-day barbarians acted in cold blood, calculated and sadistic; even in their fake rescue operations –

A former White Helmet interviewed in Aleppo by Grigoriev describes how, in the filming of one such “rescue” following an alleged Syrian airstrike, bodies were brought from the morgue and wounded people brought from a nearby hospital just for the propaganda video. Children were also often used in these stunt-videos, as well as dummies, confirming the long-held suspicions of impartial analysts.

As has been observed before, including by myself, the treatment of children by White Helmets members in their propaganda videos actually constitutes serious child abuse or even torture – their filming of “treatment for gas exposure” in Douma hospital, or simple brutalisation – as with the use of Omran Daqneesh, turns instantly from humanitarian act to inhuman one when seen in its true light.

Omran Daqneesh, and Hassan Diab – the White Helmets’ Douma victim who went to the Hague to testify, were however reunited with their parents physically intact; they were the lucky ones. As Omar al Mustafa testified when interviewed by Maxim Grigoriev –

 “People evacuated by the White Helmets often did not come back alive. For example, a person receives a minor injury, is rescued, evacuated, and then brought back with their stomach cut open and with their internal organs missing. I heard that a little girl was injured. They took her to Turkey and brought her back in three days, dead and with no internal organs.”

Grigoriev heard similar stories from a great many people including White Helmets members, leading him to state that:

A large body of evidence allows for a clear conclusion that the White Helmets centres were a key element in the system of forced removal of human organs.

We need to just let that sink in a bit. The forced removal of human organs; from children “rescued” by our own countries’ mercenaries. And even if the likes of the Guardian and the NYT and CBS prefer to put this reality in the too hard basket, have no doubt that the White Helmets’ backup teams will be taking Russia’s evidence very seriously.

Seriously enough to consider cutting and running even? As Nebenzia says – “the sponsors share responsibility for their crimes.” And their liars’ luck might be about to run out; we can only hope!

Chomsky’s Misinformation on Syria

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Noted academic, father of modern linguistics, political/anti-war activist Noam Chomsky disturbingly supported Hillary in 2016, saying “I don’t think there’s any other rational choice.”

At the time, I called it a disturbing statement by someone who knows better. Money-controlled duopoly power runs America, a one-party state with two extremist right wings.

They’re in lockstep on issues mattering most, including support for endless wars of aggression and corporate empowerment over the general welfare.

There’s nothing democratic about undemocratic Dems. There’s no “other rational choice” than rejecting both wings of one-party rule, tyranny masquerading as democracy they abhor, supporting revolutionary change by grassroots activism, taking to the streets, resisting tyranny – the choice between living free or exploited the way things are now.

Chomsky is wrong on Syria, claiming Putin “is trying to restore some degree of Russian power in the world, some degree of Russian authority. One extension of that and, in fact, the only one is the Russian position in Syria.”

Kremlin involvement in Syria is largely a Russian security issue, wanting the scourge of US-supported terrorism prevented from spreading to Russia’s heartland.

It’s not about propping up Assad. Putin’s responsibility is serving and protecting Russian interests, not those of Syria or any other countries.

Assad isn’t “a horrible war criminal,” as Chomsky falsely claimed. Nor are the “bulk of the atrocities (in the country) his responsibility,” adding:

“There’s no justifying Assad,” a deplorable statement about a leader, overwhelmingly supported by Syrians, involved for nearly eight years in combating US aggression and terrorists Washington created and supports. Chomsky failed to address all of the above.

Opposition forces are jihadists, cutthroat killers, imported from scores of countries – armed, funded, trained and directed by US special forces, CIA operatives, and their imperial counterparts.

They’re not moderate “rebels,” none of them, Chomsky adding “(t)he current situation is that Assad has pretty much won the war, like it or not.” 

“There was in the early stages a democratic secular, quite respectable opposition, but they were very quickly overwhelmed by the jihadi elements, supported from the outside” – the US and its imperial allies.

Democratic secular elements don’t use violence in pursuit of their aims – not in Syria or anywhere else. 

War was planned, orchestrated and launched by Washington, supported by NATO, Israel, the Saudis, UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey – using jihadists to wage dirty war. 

There was no popular uprising as falsely reported. From its onset, there’s been nothing civil about what’s going on – a US regime change plot, all of the above ignored by Chomsky, what’s most important about endless war in the country.

He shamefully claimed “it makes sense for the United States to maintain a presence (in Syria) which would deter an attack on the Kurdish areas” – failing to explain the US illegally occupies northern and southern parts of the country.

Kurds are threatened by Turkey, not Assad. Allying with him is their best defense, especially with Russian support if forthcoming.

Referring to legitimate Syrian governance as “the murderous Assad regime” is a disgraceful perversion of truth.

Tim Anderson’s book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” is the definitive account of the conflict. Separately, he explained Obama’s dirty war, now Trump’s, as follows, saying:

“Washington and its allies try another ‘regime change’ in Syria. A fake ‘revolution’ uses Islamic gangs, during an ‘Arab Spring.’ The Western media constantly lie about this covert, dirty war.”

“A political reform movement is driven off the streets by Islamic violence. (The misnamed pro-Western) ‘Free Syrian Army’ slaughters minorities and government workers.”

“Saudi and Qatari backed Islamists carry out a series of massacres, falsely blaming them on the Syrian Army and President Assad.”

“Most of Syria’s opposition backs the state and army against terrorism. Washington calls a puppet exile group ‘the Syrian opposition.’ “

“Washington (using Saudis, Qatar, Turkey and Israel) backs all the armed Islamist groups, pretending some are ‘moderate rebels.’ “

“A resistance coalition rallies to Syria. Iran, Hezbollah, Iraq and Russia join the Syrian Army in destroying western backed terrorist groups.”

Anderson’s book explains all of the above and more in detail, why it’s essential reading to understand what’s going on – polar opposite media propaganda, notably Chomsky’s misinformation as well.

Syria, its people, and government are victims of US aggression. What’s most important to explain, Chomsky ignored.

From Fakery to Thievery? Masih Alinejad’s Too Basic Understanding of Freedom

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“To do whatever I want, because I can.” That could be the half-passable answer of a 5-year old child when asked what freedom is. Many sufferings in our world come precisely because of the alarming number of people who carry such flawed concept of human liberty well into their adulthood. When this idea is not refined through further education and an inquisitive spirit, a person can endure an entire life believing that deceiving, stealing and other corruptions of society are a sort of nature-given right, and that any obstacle to them necessarily implies “injustice or oppression.”

This can be said to be the story of Masih Alinejad who recently published a book narrating what she describes as her heroic struggle against such kind of “injustice or oppression,” not surprisingly by grabbing a copyrighted photograph as a book cover without actually paying for it.

Alinejad became an international internet celebrity back in 2014 when she launched “My Stealthy Freedom,” a Facebook page inviting Iranian women to post photos of themselves without a headscarf, closely followed by an allegedly spontaneous campaign heavily promoted by Western mainstream media garnering awarding it hundreds of thousands of likes. Although the vast majority of them came from Europe and the United States, she claims to be “a spokeswoman for voiceless women in Iran who can express themselves for the first time in more than 30 years.”

Last May, Alinejad published a memoir describing her journey from a pity village girl to an unofficial, New York-based spokeswoman for Iran’s women. Yes, all of them.

Alinejad’s campaign coexists with those of other Western women who advocate for the acceptance of topless and nudity in public places. Since the Iran factor is not involved in the latter, they rarely leave the marginality they inhabit with rare mass media attention and top-to-bottom engineered virality. And that’s precisely how Alinejad’s campaign is seen by a majority inside Iran. As false, bizarre and ridiculous. There is no internal physical social movement, no massive public protests have been recorded, and it may just barely make an appearance as a subject of private conversations.

The reason is that both Iranians and Westerners see their dress-codes as something normal in their own cultural environments. If someone argues that specific clothing is imposed on Iranian women, following the same logic, it is also imposed on Western women. Not only that, specific clothing is also imposed on Western men, and Iranian men who wear only long pants in public and unlike women don’t have dresses as an alternative choice. Miss Alinejad has never expressed any concern about men’s limited choices. Somehow only the stereotypes of “oppressed women” are useful for her.

Alinejad’s most common argument is that she’s not against the headscarf, but in favor of the right to choose. According to her, this freedom exists in the West, but not in Iran. Of course, this is correct only from a Western-centric perspective, but not among Iranians among whom being bare-headed in public is seen as impolite and offensive, just like nudity in the Western commonplace. Moreover, in Iran it is also associated to something pejorative (due to its practice among nomadic rural people), non-Iranian, and once imposed. No academic studies exist as to which dressing code is more beneficial to women or societies as a whole, and absolute freedom of choice, from nudity to masks, currently exists in few countries. Certainly, Iran is not among them, but neither are the United States, the United Kingdom, or France. Such examples do not bother Alinejad too much; she only speaks of Iran, and only about women.

Moreover, she suggests that only the Western dress-code is correct and represents freedom. As we all know from Hollywood movies, when two children find themselves on a desert island after the shipwreck, they naturally begin to speak English, cover their bodies in accordance to the Western dress-code, and prepare food consistent with the Western menu. There would be no Persian language, no Iranian headscarves, no Swazi nudity, no Chinese meals either, only “normal” i.e. Western norms. No matter how ridiculous this is, to hundreds of thousands of egotist Westerners on Alinejad’s page, it makes perfect sense and sound logic.

To prove that being bare-headed is actually normal and demanded, Alinejad often serves photographs and footages from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, of a supposedly “free” Iran which offered freedom and choice. A brazen twisting of historical facts considering Iran was ruled at that time by a pro-American Pahlavi dictator who led an aggressive westernization campaign using massive violence, hundreds of assassinations, state-sanctioned torture and institutional discrimination. In spite of all their attempts, the proportion of women who adopted the Western dress-code was in permille, as well as limited to the capital and mostly foreign workers.

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The oppressive regime was finally overthrown by a popular revolution with the participation of millions of women in overt and covert political activism and who marched with headscarves and voted in the 1979 referendum for the Islamic Republic, i.e. free, democratic and anti-American Iran.

And here lies the real problem.

The pure intentions of Alinejad’s campaign raise more than one eyebrow when considering relevant information. After moving to the West, she married a staunch Pahlavi monarchist and worked as a correspondent for the U.S. government-funded media RFE/RL and VOA, undoubtedly of a propagandistic nature. The American-Iranian political relations and official Washington demonizing agendas are well-known, but there’s something more to say about Alinejad’s close associates. One year after starting her Facebook campaign, she received an award for “defending human rights, women’s freedom, and equality” from UN Watch. Speaking without euphemisms, Alinejad was financially sponsored by a pro-Israeli lobby group that has been leading a smear anti-Iranian campaign for many years.

According to Alinejad’s words, she got the idea to write a memoir book from Sheryl Sandberg, a billionaire and “philanthropist” who sponsored various pro-Israeli activist programs. This gives us a clear picture of the people who are trying to convince everyone that Iran, under a brutal dictatorship that kept a 75% of women illiterate was a feminist paradise that needs to be restored. People with scarce amounts of shame.

A poorly-understood concept of freedom

Yesterday, our staff stumbled with the Facebook post of a travel photographer complaining over the seemingly unlawful use of one of his photographs of the Iranian city of Isfahan, properly licensed in the Getty Images stock agency. The photograph appeared to have been stolen for the cover of Alinejad’s book “The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran” published by Little Brown and Company, a subsidiary of the Lagardère Publishing multinational media conglomerate headquartered in Paris. Vogel, the photographer, claims he hasn’t seen a penny from the use of his photograph for such a controversial and highly-publicized book and that neither Getty Images nor the book publisher have provided any explanations.

The likely theft of the creative content is far from speculative, considering Alinejad has a long-term habit of unauthorized grabbing of photographs from the private albums of Iranian citizens. There have been a number of such cases, targeting photos featuring unveiled Iranian women in rural areas or nature (where urban dress-code isn’t even in effect), usually taken without permission from photo-sharing networking services, and misrepresenting them on the Facebook page as “women protesting against the headscarf” along with shabby descriptions of “seeking freedom.”

After the objections, the posts are simply erased and Alinejad never publicly apologizes to anyone. The practice of privacy violation and theft perfectly reveals her concept of “fighting for freedom of choice.”

“The theft of photos is something I’ve experienced before,” shared Vogel with us. “But when your photo is stolen by someone so generously funded and who perverts the meaning of ‘freedom’ to the point of finding it justifiable to distribute child pornography online and offline, it just gives you the shivers,” referring to a recent controversy in which Masih Alinejad used the Instagram platform to share the graphic video of a couple of minors being raped in Iran by another person who felt freedom means “to do whatever I want, because I can.” What was she thinking? That it would be a good idea to use it to show Iran has no security because crime happens there. You know, unlike in…

Needless to say, Alinejad did not ask for permission of the victims or the families to share such highly sensitive content with the world wide web, enraging Iranian internauts. Instead of the usual procedure, in which social networking websites ban the account of a user sharing child abuse and pornography using their platforms, Alinejad’s post even got its share of media spotlight in the London-based channel Manoto, before she herself realized that trying to score some political points distributing child pornography might make her look bad with the hand that feeds her from Paris to New York.

Time’s Person of the Year Hypocrisy

By Stephen Lendman
Source

On Tuesday, Time magazine announced its annual Person of the Year Award, honoring what it called “Guardians…who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.”

Time’s editors ignored the most highly deserving investigative, muckraking, truth-telling journalists of our time, focusing on major issues mattering most – polar opposite establishment reporting Time and other major Western media feature exclusively, suppressing what’s most important to report.

The late William Blum was excluded from consideration. His books, Empire Report, and other writings documented US high crimes throughout the post WW II period – hard truths Time and other establishment media suppress. 

Nor was WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange a candidate for person of the year. He’s a virtual prisoner inside Ecuador’s London embassy, unable to leave its confines for over six years, fearing arrest and extradition to the US for the crime of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be, taking an enormous risk “in pursuit of greater truths,” not risk enough for Time’s editors.

Two Reuters journalists were honored for running afoul of Myanmar’s despotic regime, sentenced to seven years imprisonment for allegedly revealing state secrets.

The suburban Washington-based Gazette Journal was honored for the killing of five of its staffers in a mass shooting last June. 

Former CNN bureau chief Maria Ressa was an honoree over her struggle to prevent Philippine President Duterte from shuttering her online Rappler news website.

Jamal Khashoggi was a posthumous honoree, a longtime Saudi insider/turned critic, a neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post columnist – recognized solely for the international turmoil over his murder, not for journalism the way it’s supposed to be.

In announcing this year’s award, Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said “(a)s we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories ― from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley.”

War on truth-telling journalism begins at home. Time magazine, along with other major print and electronic media, are part of the problem, operating as press agents for wealth, power and privilege.

Digital democracy is largely all that remains of journalism the way it’s supposed to be. Free and open societies are threatened. State-sponsored censorship is the new normal.

Fiction substitutes for vital facts in the mainstream, news carefully filtered, dissent marginalized. Supporting powerful interests substitutes for full and accurate reporting on issues mattering most.

Wars of aggression are called liberating ones. Social justice, human and civil rights are eroding for our own good. Patriotism means going along with government lawlessness – internally and abroad.

Journalist/author AJ Liebling once said “(t)he press is free only to those who one one.” Before the age of television, he warned that “(p)eople everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers (and magazines like Time) with news.”

Establishment print and electronic media support what demands condemnation – notably endless US-led wars of aggression, neoliberal harshness, and police state laws against nonbelievers.

Trump was Time’s runner-up for this year’s Person of the Year award. Russiagate witch hunt special council Robert Mueller was third.

Person of the Year, Nobel prizes, US Presidential Medal of Freedom awards, and other establishment ones most often honor the least deserving – ignoring the most worthy in societies worldwide.

The Largest Conspiracy Theory Peddlers Are MSM And The US State Department

By Caitlin Johnstone
Source

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The US State Department has issued a statement accusing the Syrian government of having carried out a false flag chemical weapons attack in northwestern Aleppo with the intent to blame it on the jihadist factions in the region, citing “credible info” that the public has not been permitted to see. Never mind the known fact that there are actual, literal Al Qaeda affiliateswho have admitted to using chemical weapons in Aleppo, and who are known to have used chemical weapons throughout Syria even by the State Department’s own admission: the Official Narrative is that only the Syrian government uses chemical weapons, so the chemical weapons usage must necessarily be a false flag staged by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Except they didn’t use the words “false flag”. Despite the accusation being the exact definition of the thing that a false flag attack is, you won’t see the US government using that term, nor will you ever see it used in this instance by any of the authorized mainstream narrative-framing institutions like CNN or Fox News. This is because the term “false flag” is reserved solely for mention when referring to crazy, kooky Kremlin propaganda, as in the insane, unhinged, tinfoil hat belief that terrorists in Syria might possibly have some kind of motive to stage a false flag chemical attack in order to get the US, UK and France to act as their air force in a retaliatory strike against the Syrian government. That kind of false flag would be completely inconceivable to any right-minded empire loyalist, and is forbidden to even think about.

At the same time we are seeing a push from the mass media to advance a narrative that the Yellow Vests protests in France are due to Russian influence, with Iraq-raping neocon Max Boot publishing a column today in the Washington Post that is based entirely around the talking point that two trending Russian topics on social media have been “giletsjaune” and “France,” and Bloomberg putting out an article blatantly titled “Pro-Russia Social Media Takes Aim at Macron as Yellow Vests Rage”. Their entire theory is that since there are people in Russia talking about a major event that everyone else in the world is also talking about, the protests against Macron’s unpopular centrist policies are therefore the result of a conspiracy seeded by Russia.

But you’ll never hear this theory about a Russian conspiracy referred to as a “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream press. The theory that Russian elites have conspired to infiltrate the highest levels of the US government has been given serious treatment at the top echelons of media and political influence, despite its lacking any discernible evidence whatsoever, but when they talk about these alleged conspiracies they always make a point of using the word “collusion” instead. There is no actual difference between the words collude and conspire when used in this way, but the former is used because a deliberate effort has been made to stigmatize the word “conspiracy” while the word “collude” remains effectively neutral in the public eye.

But the fact of the matter is that conspiracy theories have gone mainstream, and there is no legitimate reason to call the authorized, power-manufactured conspiracy theories by a different name than the grassroots narratives like those about 9/11 or the JFK assassination. Indeed, due to the nature of populist folk narratives there is a lot more publicly available evidence contradicting the official 9/11 and JFK assassination stories than there is for the establishment Russia conspiracy theories, because those narratives often boil down to nothing more than secretive intelligence agencies saying “This is true because we said so.” Since grassroots conspiracy theories are unable to rely on empty assertions from authority, they tend to be built upon information that is publicly available.

Some people get annoyed with me for using the term conspiracy theory at all, but I insist that the phrase is itself intrinsically neutral: a theory about a conspiracy. The problem is not the phrase, it is the stigma that has been attached to that phrase by establishment media and establishment politicians; shifting to a different phrase to describe theories about conspiracies would only ensure that that phrase becomes stigmatized in the exact same way by the same sort of campaign. This would only ensure the survival of the tactic of regurgitating a pre-stigmatized label in the war of ideas instead of advancing actual arguments. The fact of the matter is that powerful people do indeed conspire, those conspiracies do indeed need to be talked about, and the largest promulgators of conspiracy theories are not Infowars or RT, but mainstream media and the US State Department.

Those who dismiss an idea by calling it a “conspiracy theory” without providing further argumentation are simply admitting to you that they have no argument, and it is right to point this out when they do it, because something being a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean it’s not grounded in facts. Some conspiracy theories are good and are backed by solid evidence, some are stupid and are circulated for intellectually dishonest reasons. Once upon a time you would be called a conspiracy theorist for saying the west is arming terrorists in Syria or the DNC is conspiring to ensure the primary victory of Hillary Clinton; those things are now conspiracy facts, as history has vindicated the solid theories which predicted them. Other conspiracy theories are promulgated by dim-witted partisan loyalists for no other reason than dim-witted partisan loyalty, like the aforementioned Russiagate conspiracy theory, or the QAnon conspiracy theory which claims Donald Trump is leading a rebellion against the Deep State as cryptically reported by an anonymous user on 8chan.

Other conspiracy theories are subscribed to simply because they help people escape the cognitive dissonance of conflicting beliefs. For example, a strong believer in capitalism who sees the undeniable signs that a plutocratic class has control of their government, but who cannot accept that this plutocratic takeover was facilitated by a rampant capitalist system which ensures that the greediest sociopaths rise to the top, may avoid cognitive dissonance by explaining the existence of the corrupt dominator class with conspiracy theories about Jews or pedovore cults. A liberal who cannot accept that neoliberal empire loyalists like Macron have failed to “make centrism cool” as Max Boot predicted will avoid cognitive dissonance by explaining the failures of the Church of the Status Quo with conspiracy theories about Russian social media campaigns.

Conspiracy theories, in reality, are nothing more than people’s attempts to explain what is going on in their world. Why Trump got elected. Why things stay shitty despite our perfectly rational attempts to change them. Why voting doesn’t seem to make much difference in the actual behaviors of one’s government. Why we keep marching into stupid wars, Orwellian dystopia and climate collapse despite having every incentive not to. Why the wealthiest of the wealthy keep getting wealthier while everyone else gets poorer and poorer. Some attempts to explain these things will come from a well-informed and intellectually honest place, and some will come from a myopic and intellectually dishonest place. Their individual merits can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

And in my opinion the conspiracy theories coming from the world’s most powerful institutions are the most dishonest by far. I saw a recent post by the WikiLeaks Twitter account which referred to the corporate media as “the narrative business pretending to be in the news business,” which is in my opinion a perfect way to phrase it. The real currency of the world is not gold, nor is it bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military force; it’s narrative control. The ability to control the stories people tell about what’s going on in their world means the ability to control how they think, how they vote, how they behave, and how they all agree money and power itself operates within our society. Since society is made of narrative, controlling the narrative is controlling that society.

Conspiracy theories are a way for those in power to manipulate the narrative without actually giving the public any hard facts and evidence, and the world’s most powerful institutions are increasingly relying on conspiracy theories because they don’t have facts and evidence on their side. And why would they? The same power establishment which deceived the world into destroying Iraq is obviously far too depraved to be able to justify its global hegemony with factual evidence. All they have is narrative control, and they’re starting to lose even that.

University of Sydney Unwilling to Tolerate Freedom of Political Expression

By Marwa Osma
Source

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Australian professor, Dr. Tim Anderson, was suspended from the University of Sydney after showing his students during a lecture a picture of an Israeli flag partially covered by a swastika accompanied by a text, which compared Israeli and Palestinian attacks and deaths.

Tim Anderson, a senior lecturer in the department of political economy, replied to the suspension saying the university has violated his right to “intellectual freedom”.

The decision by the University’s Provost Stephen Garton was without any doubt essentially motivated by Professor Anderson’s research and public statements on Syria, Iraq, and Palestine including Anderson’s carefully documented book entitled “The Dirty War on Syria”. In his book, Dr. Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth” through careful analysis concluding that the “war on terrorism” is fake and that the United States is a “state sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking.

The provost also reprimanded Anderson for sharing the same image online from his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, and for making it available for download on the online learning platform Canvas. As per, he proposed that the professor’s employment be terminated.

Sydney University academics had a different opinion than that of the university’s provost though. By the afternoon of Friday, December 7, 30 academics, including several emeritus professors, had signed an open letter arguing that academic freedom was “meaningless if it is suspended when its exercise is deemed offensive.”

The university academics criticized the suspension of an academic who merely showed students material featuring the Nazi swastika imposed over Israel’s flag, saying it was a body blow to academic freedom.

It was not the first time that Dr. Tim Anderson’s solidarity with anti-imperialist states was causing controversy. Federal ministers also criticized Dr. Anderson for visiting Syria and North Korea, where he expressed solidarity with their incumbent leaders and operating governments. Amid a media barrage to try to drum up public support for US-led military attacks on Syria and North Korea, the corporate media launched an extraordinary vilification campaign against academics seeking to expose the lies behind the US cruise missile strike on Syria in the 1st week of April 2017.

When asked about the reasons behind the University of Sydney’s decision, Dr. Anderson implied that it was because of his criticism of the war propaganda in the western media including the lies that the corporate media has told at different times. There are also some Zionist lobbyists, who have also pushed to get him suspended, according to Dr. Anderson.

On his Facebook page, Dr. Tim Anderson wrote a text explaining that his suspension is the “culmination of a series of failed attempts by management to restrict” his public comments. Dr. Anderson then explained that these “petty and absurd” complaints have been ongoing for the last 18 months. Concluding that in his view, they represent an unusually aggressive regime of political censorship, in which no decent university should be involved.

What has been happening with Dr. Tim Anderson is clearly a witch-hunt and an open attack on basic democratic rights, above all free speech.

The clear logic of this suspension is that anyone who questions any aspect of the colonial states’ foreign and military policy is guilty of challenging the western mainstream narrative and should therefore be sacked.

However, academics like Dr. Tim Anderson have a responsibility to educate the public, especially in face of the constant misinformation from the West’s corporate and state media. Likewise, it is our duty as academics, journalists, and students to unconditionally defend his right, and the right of all academics, political activists, workers, and students, to oppose the drive to war and to exercise freedom of political expression whether we agree with their political views or not.

And as Dr. Anderson asked of us all in his Facebook post I ask you all again, examine the graphic below and decide for yourself whether or how this infographic might be ‘offensive’.

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University of Sydney Professor Tim Anderson Suspended for “Criticism of War Propaganda against Syria, Iraq and Palestine”

Global Research, December 08, 2018

Global Research is in solidarity with Professor Tim Anderson who was suspended from his position as Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney, Australia. 

This decision by the University’s Provost was largely motivated by Professor Anderson’s research and public statements on Syria, Iraq and Palestine including Anderson’s carefully documented book entitledThe Dirty War on Syria,  

“Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. 

Scroll down for reviews of Prof. Anderson’s book on Syria (published by Global Research). (click book cover right to order Tim Anderson’s international bestseller)

It should be understood that this is not an isolated event. Academic freedom is threatened. Several prominent academics have been fired or intimidated under different circumstances.

Below is Tim Anderson’s text on his Facebook page  followed by an article published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Yesterday University of Sydney Provost Stephen Garton suspended me from my position as a senior lecturer and banned me from entering the university. I have worked as an academic at this University for more than 20 years and am appealing the decision to a Review Committee.

This move is the culmination of a series of failed attempts by management to restrict my public comments. I have always rejected such censorship. The latest complaint concerns my advisory analysis of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Examine the graphic below and decide for yourself whether or how this infographic might be ‘offensive’.

These complaints, over the last 18 months, have been petty and absurd. In my view they represent an unusually aggressive regime of political censorship, in which no decent university should be involved.

Most of the management complaints have to do with my criticisms of war propaganda against Syria, Iraq and Palestine. I don’t accept such censorship.

Stephen Garton has ignored the ‘intellectual freedom’ rule of the university, which states that academic staff are entitled to ‘express unpopular or controversial views, provided that in doing so staff must not engage in harassment, vilification or intimidation’. I will point this out to the Review Committee.

I have told Provost Garton that I don’t abuse or engage in gratuitous criticism, but I do criticise dishonest propaganda harshly, when justified. I have rejected his attempts at political censorship as unprincipled.


Academics fight suspension of lecturer over swastika image

by Jordan Baker, 

Sydney Morning Herald, December 7,  2018

Sydney University academics have criticised the suspension of an academic who showed students material featuring the Nazi swastika imposed over Israel’s flag, saying it was a body blow to academic freedom. (see above image, left hand corner)

By Friday afternoon 30 academics, including several emeritus professors, had signed the open letter arguing that academic freedom was “meaningless if it is suspended when its exercise is deemed offensive.”

The academic at the centre of the controversy, senior lecturer in political economy Tim Anderson, has also been criticised by federal ministers for visiting Syria and North Korea, where he expressed solidarity with their dictatorial regimes.

Earlier this week, Sydney University served Dr Anderson a termination notice, saying the swastika material amounted to serious misconduct that was “disrespectful and offensive, and contrary to the university’s behavioural expectations”.

Dr Anderson was given a week to show why he should not be sacked and has been barred from entering the university in the meantime. He is appealing the decision, describing the complaints as petty and absurd.

The academics, mostly from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said employment should not be dependent on their work remaining within the bounds of “contested and intrinsically indefinable constraint”.

Some of the signatories of the letter are also vocal opponents of a proposal by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to fund a course in western tradition at the university. They argue that the proposal also compromises academic freedom.

“The suspension of Dr Tim Anderson pending the termination of his employment is an unacceptable act of censorship and a body-blow to academic freedom at the University of Sydney,” the academics wrote in the open letter.

“There can be no better-known or more banal occurrence in intellectual history than the suppression of ideas on the grounds of their offensiveness to powerful interests.”

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Featured image: Sydney University lecturer Tim Anderson during a recent trip to North Korea. CREDIT:FACEBOOK

The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.

The popular myths of this dirty war – that it is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or a sectarian conflict – hide a murderous spree of ‘regime change’ across the region. The attack on Syria was a necessary consequence of Washington’s ambition, stated openly in 2006, to create a ‘New Middle East’. After the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.

The Dirty War on Syria

by Professor Tim Anderson

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-8-4

Year: 2016

Pages: 240

Author: Tim Anderson

List Price: $23.95

Special Price: $15.00

click to purchase, directly from Global Research Publishers

[Seven] years into this war the evidence is quite clear and must be set out in detail. The terrible massacres were mostly committed by the western backed jihadists, then blamed on the Syrian Army. The western media and many western NGOs parroted the official line. Their sources were almost invariably those allied to the ‘jihadists’. Contrary to the myth that the big powers now have their own ‘war on terror’, those same powers have backed every single anti-government armed group in Syria, ‘terrorists’ in any other context, adding thousands of ‘jihadis’ from dozens of countries.

Yet in Syria this dirty war has confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along sectarian lines. Despite terrible destruction and loss of life, Syria has survived, deepening its alliance with Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, the secular Palestinians and, more recently, with Iraq. The tide has turned against Washington, and that will have implications beyond Syria.

As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.

Reviews: 

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Anderson’s excellent book is required reading for those wanting to know the true story of the imperialist proxy war waged on Syria by the U.S. and its Western and Middle Eastern puppet states. This account could also be titled “How to Destroy a Country and Lie About it”. Of course Syria is only one in a long line of countries destroyed by Washington in the Middle East and all over the Global South for more than a century.

Anderson’s analysis is particularly useful for dissecting the propaganda war waged by the U.S. to hide its active support for the vicious Islamic fundamentalists it is using in Syria. In spreading this propaganda the U.S. has been aided not only by the West’s mainstream press but also by its prominent so-called human rights organizations. Asad Ismi, International Affairs Correspondent for The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor.


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