Monday, March 19, 2018

Cambridge Analytica Focus Deceptive

The Dangers In The Blow-Up Over Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s Computer Gurus 

by Greg Palast

March 18, 2018
There are two dangers in the media howl over Trump’s computer gurus Cambridge Analytica, the data-driven psy-ops company founded by billionaire brown-shirts, the Mercer Family.

The story is that Cambridge Analytica, once directed by Steve Bannon, by shoplifting Facebook profiles to bend your brain, is some unique “bad apple” of the cyber world.

That’s a dangerously narrow view. In fact, the dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Trump, but by i360 Themis, the operation founded by… no points for guessing… the Brothers Koch.

Mark Swedlund, himself an expert in these tools, explained in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, that i360 dynamically tracks you on 1800 behaviors, or as Swedlund graphically puts it [see clip below],

“They know the last time you downloaded porn and whether you ordered Chinese food before you voted.”
Swedlund adds his expert conclusion: "I think that’s creepy." 

The Koch operation and its competitor, Data Trust, use your credit card purchases, cable TV choices and other personal info — which is far more revealing about your inner life than the BS you put on your Facebook profile. Don’t trust Data Trust: This cyber-monster is operated by Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain,” who is principally funded by Paul Singer, the far Right financier better known as The Vulture.

Way too much is made of the importance of Cambridge Analytica stealing data through a phony app. If you’ve ever filled out an online survey, Swedlund told me, they’ve got you — legally.

The second danger is to forget that the GOP has been using computer power to wipe away voting rights of Black and Hispanic voters for years — by "caging," "Crosscheck," citizenship challenges based on last name (Garcia? Not American!?!), the list goes on — a far more effective use of cyberpower than manipulating your behavior through Facebook ads.

Just last week, Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas and Trump’s chief voting law advisor, defended his method of hunting alleged “aliens” on voter rolls against a legal challenge by the ALCU. His expert, Jessie Richman, uses a computer algorithm that can locate “foreign” names on voter rolls. He identified, for example, one “Carlos Murguia” as a potential alien voter. Murguia is a Kansas-born judge who presides in a nearby courtroom.

It would be a joke, except that Kobach’s “alien” hunt has blocked one in seven new (i.e. young) voters from registering in the state. If he wins in court, it will endanger no less than a million new voters as his system, like the voter ID laws before it, spreads to GOP controlled states. Become A Kobach Litigation Supporter

The Cambridge Analytica story was first reported by The Guardian and Observer in 2015. Did we listen? Did any US paper carry the story the British paper worked on for years? So, my first reaction reading this story was nostalgia — for the time when I was a reporter with The Guardian and Observer investigations team. We could spend a year digging deep into complex stories, working with crazy insiders. There, in 2000, I uncovered another cyber-crime: Using database matching to purge felons from Florida voter rolls. (None, in fact, were felons; most were Democrats.)

I moved back to America, but found I had to give up any hope of doing true, deep investigative reports in my own country. US papers will re-report Guardian news, because American media truly fear initiating deep investigation. And THAT, fear of digging out the truth, is a greater threat to America than Steve Bannon.

* * * * *

Before turning to journalism as an investigative reporter for The Guardian and BBC Television, Greg Palast was an investigator of fraud and racketeering for governments and labor unions worldwide. Known as the reporter who exposed how Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black voters from Florida rolls to steal the 2000 election for George Bush, Palast has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now a major non-fiction movie. The post-election update of the movie, subtitled The Case of the Stole Election, has just been released on Amazon — and can be streamed for FREE by Prime members!

Stay informed, get the signed DVD of the updated, post-election edition of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of The Stolen Election, a signed copy of the companion book — or better still, get the Book & DVD combo.

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Destroyer of Worlds: May Damns All of Russia As Murderers

The Blood Libel of the British Government (SIC)

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

March 18, 2018

Moscow - Prime Minister Theresa May committed a blood libel against Russians in the House of Commons last week. This was the allegation that the Russian state and all Russians are murderers.

May has subsequently asked the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to correct the record by charging that only one Russian, President Vladimir Putin, is a murderer.

The Canadian Government was also requested by the British to urgently correct the record May has been making in refusing to allow the international rules of the Chemical Weapons Convention to decide what happened in the poison attack in Salisbury on March 4.

According to the new Canadian statement, coordinated with the British, the international convention can be suspended by Prime Minister May in order to make her blood libel stick.

If this is reminding you of Adolph Hitler’s blood libel against the Jews, followed by Austrian support after the Anschluss (union) with Germany of 1938, it should.

A blood libel is an allegation of murder against a race of people. Its history is ancient; it’s most familiar today as the charge of ritual murder against Jews. Hitler and the Nazis followed many others over a thousand years of European history. That history also includes organizations associated with the Russian Orthodox Church and several Romanov tsars. Read a brief summary. The last tsar, Nicholas II, used to read the blood libel aloud to his family during Lent of 1918, and at the family’s Easter service that year, when the Romanovs were under arrest in Tobolsk; for the record, read pages 114-117 of this British history.

Left: Nicholas with his wife and two of his daughters at Tobolsk. 
Right: Sergei Nilus, author of a series of blood libel books which were 
favourites of the tsar. Possession of Nilus’s books was a criminal offence in the Soviet Union.

In the form of allegations of ritual cannibalism, the blood libel has also been a recurring allegation in inter-tribal, genocidal and also colonial wars in Africa, Australasia, North and South America.

In the UK, publishing or broadcasting a blood libel is an offence against the law, a hate crime. This is what the Metropolitan Police advise is British law, and how to enforce it in cases of verbal abuse or incitement to violence.

According to the Home Office, as the British ministry of law and order is called, a hate crime is defined as

“any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic.’ This common definition was agreed in 2007 by the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service (now the National Offender Management Service) and other agencies that make up the criminal justice system.”

Writing hate on walls is a crime in the UK. According to the Home Office, “offences with a xenophobic element (such as graffiti targeting certain nationalities) can be recorded as race hate crimes by the police.” The effect of media reporting and broadcasting has been to accelerate the rate of growth in the police statistics of hate crime.

The Home Office reported last October that in the year between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, the number of hate crime offences recorded by the British police was 80,393. That was up 29% over the previous year, and nearly double the number reported for 2012-2013.


Part of the rate of increase is due to police improvements in investigation of evidence and reporting. Part is due to media publications and statements by politicians. “Part of the increase,” acknowledges the Home Office,

“is due to a genuine increase in hate crime, particularly around the time of the EU Referendum in June 2016. There was also an increase in hate crime following the Westminster bridge terrorist attack on 22 March 2017.”

On March 14, in her House of Commons speech on the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Prime Minister May declared:

“the UK government concluded it was highly likely that Russia [sic] was responsible for this reckless and despicable act… Mr Speaker, it was right to offer Russia [sic] the opportunity to provide an explanation. But their [sic] response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events. They [sic] have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they [sic] lost control of their [sic] nerve agent.
No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia [sic] has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law. Instead they [sic] have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.” 

May speaking at the Commons on March 14. 

The Latin term ‘sic’ has been added. It’s short for the full Latin phrase, ‘sic erat scriptum’ (‘thus it was written’). It is a term of irony, used to qualify what was said or written when the correct spelling and grammar or the known truth are different.

This was the way in which May intended to refer to all Russians. She did not refer to individual perpetrators of the crime she alleged to have been committed in Salisbury. She couldn’t. She and her government have so far presented evidence of victims, but no evidence of a weapon or a crime.

“So Mr Speaker, there is no alternative [sic] conclusion other than that the Russian State [sic] was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.” 

The first ‘sic’ indicates that May was lying about the scope for alternative conclusions; there are many alternative conclusions, and these include press-reported leaks from the Foreign Office and the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory .

The second ‘sic’ identifies the term which, in Oxford Dictionary English, means a nation or territory or political community under a single government. May’s allegation was a blood libel against the nation and community of Russians, all of them.

Two days after May, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attempted to erase the blood libel from the parliamentary record by broadcasting on the BBC:

“The quarrel [sic] of the UK Government is not with Russian people, is not with Russians living here in this country… We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening [sic].
Our quarrel — our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision [sic], and we think it overwhelmingly likely [sic] that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe [sic] for the first time since the Second World War. That is why we are at odds with Russia [sic].” 

Another twenty-four hours elapsed before Johnson ordered his ministry to issue a fresh qualification of the blood libel. This reiterated May: “Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts [sic] of the matter – the attempted assassination [sic] of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion [sic] other than that the Russian State [sic] was culpable. It is Russia [sic] that is in flagrant breach of international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Johnson’s underlings then repeated part of what Johnson had said the day before.

“We have no disagreement with the people of Russia and we continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all [sic] dialogue between our countries but the onus remains on the Russian state [sic] to account for their [sic] actions and to comply with their [sic] international obligations.”

That last phrase by the FCO means one thing to the British; another thing for everybody else. This was revealed across the water in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, and at The Hague, the Dutch headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This Canadian statement was released on March 15; click to read here.


The Canadian statement insists on “ the rules-based international order on which we all depend”. But Canada says it is allowing the UK to opt out of the rules when it wishes to accuse Russia, the Russian state, all Russians, and President Putin of attempted murder by chemical weapon on British territory. This is the meaning of Paragraph 2:

“it remains the prerogative [sic] of each State Party to determine whether [sic] to employ the provisions of Article IX in requesting clarification on any matter which may cause doubt about compliance of another State Party with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The United Kingdom made a request for clarification [sic] directly with the Russian Federation. And as the UK Permanent Representative informed this Council yesterday, Moscow has failed to provide an explanation. Russia’s insistence on employing Article IX procedures is an attempt to deflect and delay – pure and simple – so that it need not provide a credible response to uncomfortable questions.”

For the story of the British ultimatum – in Canadian English, clarification – read this. The Convention, which can be read here, does not allow a member state or government to opt out of Article IX. In fact, as international lawyers point out, Article VII is mandatory for both the UK and Russia. This orders:

“Each State Party shall cooperate with other States Parties and afford the appropriate form of legal assistance to facilitate the implementation of the obligations under paragraph 1.”

Article XXII of the convention, entitled “Reservations”, says bluntly there are none. “The Articles of this Convention shall not be subject to reservations. The Annexes of this Convention shall not be subject to reservations incompatible with its object and purpose.”

The Canadian representative to OPCW, Timothy Edwards, is a junior diplomat from Ottawa who was standing in for his country at the OPCW because Sabine Nolke, the Canadian government’s official representative, doubles as Canada’s ambassador to The Netherlands. Nolke was elsewhere when Edwards was employed to break the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Edwards didn’t say this aloud in front of other OPCW representatives. Instead, his March 15 “supplementary statement” was slipped into the OPCW’s mailbox for publication by a secretary on the organization’s website. Edwards did give a speech two days before, on March 13. That speech in the OPCW record reveals Canada was carefully avoiding the British jump to conclusion that Russia was to blame.


When he was on his feet, mouth moving, Edwards didn’t have May’s script; that would follow the next day in London. Canada, said Edwards, was ready to “welcome their [British] commitment as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention to keep the OPCW informed as the investigation proceeds.”

How could Canada guess the British prime minister was about to declare the investigation proceeding at an end – and also that the British were unilaterally halting their commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention?

Timothy Edwards in 2013, when he led a union of Canadian diplomats 
in strike action for better wages. He was then moved from working in 
Ottawa to The Hague. 

By getting Canada to introduce the reservation to Article IX without open discussion by OPCW members, the British arranged an alibi for violating the convention themselves.

KM Line Reinforcements - Burnaby January 19

A Senior's Moment: Arrested Taking a Stand Against Kinder Morgan

Yesterday I Was Arrested Standing Up to Kinder Morgan

by Liz McDowell - Protect the Inlet

March 19, 2018

Yesterday, I was arrested taking bold action to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline, as a new wave of protests against Kinder Morgan began.

Indigenous leaders have called for a series of rolling actions that will take place this week from Monday to Saturday.

Everyday starting tomorrow, groups will meet at 8:00 am at the Burnaby 200 Soccer field for a mandatory training and then deploy for the action at 10:00 am.

Click here to let organizers know when you can make it.

After nearly five years working to raise awareness about the risks of the pipeline expansion, I decided to listen to the call of Coast Salish elders to “warrior up” against Kinder Morgan and put my body on the line.


Yesterday I joined 25 other people from all walks of life and together we marched to the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby mountain tank farm.

Once we arrived, we sat in front of the gates for several hours, singing and getting to know each other, before the RCMP arrived to arrest us for breaking an injunction that makes it illegal to come within 5 meters of Kinder Morgan’s property.

Rolling actions against Kinder Morgan will be happening every morning from Monday until the window for tree-clearing at the tank farm closes on March 26th (in order to protect migratory birds that start arriving in the spring).

Click here to let organizers know exactly when you can be there. I know they’ve sent you a lot of forms this week, but please take a moment to fill out this one even if you’ve already filled out a whole bunch.

I take breaking the law very seriously, and I didn’t make this decision lightly. The injunction that a court granted Kinder Morgan last week gives the corporate oil giant more rights than Indigenous communities and British Columbians - and that’s deeply unjust. So I refused to follow the law.

"The injunction that a court granted Kinder Morgan last week gives the corporate oil giant more rights than Indigenous communities and British Columbians - and that’s deeply unjust."  – Liz McDowell

I grew up along the proposed pipeline route - first in Chilliwack (in Stó:lō territory) and then in Langley (in Kwantlen and Katzie territory). Communities in the Fraser Valley would face huge risks from this pipeline - it would run right under the aquifers that supply their drinking water, through vital farmland and under several key waterways. To me, these risks are very clearly not acceptable.

I want to protect these lands I call home, I want my daughter to grow up in a future without catastrophic climate change, and I want our federal government to respect the rights of the Indigenous peoples who’ve been caretakers of this land since time immemorial.

It was an honour and a privilege to stand in solidarity with Indigenous leadership and together with such a dedicated group of people, most of whom had never done anything like this before. I was arrested alongside people like Clayton Thomas-Muller, who said he was taking action not just to fight for a safe future for his two sons -- but for all of our young people.

And Jeanette Paisley, a retired Montessori teacher who said,

“I’ve been a law-abiding citizen all my life and I have rarely had a speeding ticket but I am appalled that Kinder Morgan can get its way and I’m very disappointed with Trudeau.”

"I’ve signed petitions all my life and when I heard about this I decided it was time I got off my duff and do something." – Jeanette Paisley, retired Montessori teacher.

And former Edmonton-based tech entrepreneur Tim Bray, who wrote a powerful blog about his experience. If you’re curious about what to expect when taking bold action, I really recommend this piece by Tim.

"If you’re in Van­cou­ver, and care about this stuff, you can make a dif­fer­ence."  - Tim Bray, Tech Entrepreneur

Thank you for being part of this movement, I hope to see you on the streets very, very soon. Once again, please fill out this form to let organizers know when you can make it.

With hope and determination,
Liz McDowell

PS - If you want to catch a glimpse of the bold and beautiful action from yesterday, check out the wrap up video on the Protect the Inlet website.

The Old Man and the Tree: Terry Christenson Sitting in the Way of Kinder Morgan

Grandfather Scales Tree, Erects Mid-Air Camp To Stop Kinder Morgan Clear-Cutting 

by RisingTideNorthAmerica

March 19, 2018   

Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver)Early this morning Terry Christenson, a 70-year old Grandfather of two, and former Juno nominee, scaled a tree on the inside of Kinder Morgan’s fence (Westridge terminal side) and erected a mid-air camp suspended from its trunk.

Terry constructed the high-flying structure to stop Kinder Morgan’s proposed tree clearing which is being done to enable the company’s drilling through Burnaby Mountain.

“This pipeline does not have consent of the Indigenous Nations it would pass through.
It would endanger the livelihoods and economies of all those that depend on an oil free coast and I for one won’t stand by and let it happen,” said Terry Christenson. 
“I’m taking this action to protect my grandchildren’s future. I care about this land, this coast and I won’t let it be destroyed all so a Texas oil company can increase its profit share.”

The National Energy Board approved Kinder Morgan to clear trees from the area and green lighted the company to begin drilling through Burnaby Mountain, flash point of protests against the project.

The NEB has said Kinder Morgan needs to clear the area before March 26th to avoid interfering with birds migrating north for the summer. If clearing is not done by that date it would be a major set back for the company and plans could not proceed until after the migrating birds had left.

“We are all in this fight together. We have better options to produce energy and move people around then building another dirty pipeline that the world’s scientific community has said we need to move away from,” asserted Christenson. 
“It’s time that the Prime Minister got that message and I’ll be doing my best to hang out here until he does.”

This action is the latest in a series of action against Kinder Morgan’s construction plans. It is also just a week after a massive mobilization against the project that brought thousands to the streets of Burnaby.


For More Information contact Vanessa Butterworth

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ahed Tamimi and the Pathology of the Israeli Mind

Ahed Tamimi and the Pathology of the Israeli Mind and More

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

March 18, 2018

At several kilometers above earth as I travel in Europe and at airports one can catch up on lots of work to do but also have time to contemplate the beauty, fragility, and meaning of lives we make. Even have a chance to catch up on good readings (now reading a book about how to organize the mind to deal with overload of information!). I contemplate (like others) what has transpired in the past and what is to come.

As the human mind works, thoughts may scatter: some nice and some not so nice. In moments of sadness we think of suffering: memories of people like Rachel Corrie (murdered in Gaza 15 years ago), people in Gaza under siege (including friends who are going with lack of medical care or no food).

I think of my friend Munther sentenced to six months for simply speaking out and joining peaceful demonstrations against the colonial racist settler regime. I think of the many Tamimi family members in jail (including Ahed and her mother Nariman). So many friends paid a price simply for being decent conscientious human beings.

I also think of so many good people helping others, donating, giving of themselves (and also paying a price). I think of every person joining demonstrations. We do know of thousands of demonstration not just in Palestine but around the world and simple acts of bravery and of decency in the face of so much cruelty. There are so many candles in the darkness it is amazing.

Politicians and the media may chose to ignore that light and may even turn things onto their heads. They even sometimes describe those who are going about destroying lives and lights as if they are beacons of democracy. Like in other colonial ventures, they vilify natives and anyone who stands with them while claiming “shiny cities on the hills”, “manifest destiny”, “God’s Chosen” and more.

We look with dismay as governments and supranational entities like the Zionist movement continue to spread lies to set-up populations to support wars that only elites profit from. Nationalism (e.g. America first), fascism, racism, and Zionism are but a few of the epidemics sweeping across our world. But I do not let these bring me down. Life and humanity will triumph.

I lived six decades which is a lot more than many people and having traveled in over 40 countries and put myself in many unpleasant situations, I have seen so much and done so much already. I published over 150 scientific publications and several books (and I have two more on the way) and helped build institutions (the last of which is

My best model is my uncle Sana who died in 1970 when he was 27 years old (younger than my son now). He taught me much about service to others, dedication to knowledge (he was the first Palestinian Zoologist), being objective and not too encumbered with societal and religious beliefs and optimism that was infectious and leads to action. I learned from his writings and his work much more after his death than before.

I learned that what does not kill you makes you stronger. I learned to always be a student of knowledge and now I read a book every week or two. I learned that you do not need religion to be a good person. I learned humility and that death is not to be feared. Learned that we make heaven and hell with our own hands here on earth (plenty of examples of hell made by the US, my adopted country, in places from Korea to Vietnam to Syria to Yemen).

Ahed Tamimi and children like her, my uncle and so many others taught me that our choices are not between being safe and unsafe but between being relevant to our society and being a mediocre selfish person going with the flow. The former path is not the “easy” path but the one that gives meaning to our lives and it is where true happiness lies. The latter path of mediocrity is a sad path akin to being a “living dead” from a horror movie!!

There is only one earth and our fate is interconnected and is now threatened like never before. We all need to make choices.

Ahed Tamimi and the Pathology of the Israeli Mind

« Nous voyons l’espoir dans leurs yeux » Par Mazin Qumsiyeh

Lama Nachman (a Palestinian girl) kept Stephen Hawking Talking with Assistive Tech

When YouTube recently terminated our video channel for a period of time, I began researching how and why this may have happened. The result is my detailed report on how Israel and its partisans work to censor the

I discovered a disturbing reality. Numerous projects work to flood social media with pro-Israel propaganda, while blocking facts Israel dislikes. The projects utilize Israeli soldiers, students, American teens and others, and range from infiltrating Wikipedia to influencing YouTube.

Some work out of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. – the IDF says it is scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies to recruit

The force of decency awakens in the USA?

[But will it be enough to stop the mad men running the country and their puppet masters in Tel Aviv?]

Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Founder, and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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Chasing Phantoms: Did the Novichok Program Exist?

“We Don’t Even Know if a Novichok Program Existed!”

by John Pilger - RT via ICH

March 18, 2018

“Skripal case is a carefully-constructed drama”  

Poisoned Pool: Press Echoes Empty UK Allegations Against Russia in Skripal Mystery

Fact and Fantasy in Britain's Chemical Poisoning Allegations Against Russia

by Roger Annis - A Socialist In Canada

March 16, 2018

Thomas Walkom’s March 16 column in the Toronto Star suggests a breath of fresh air amidst the torrent of anti-Russia propaganda being waged by British Prime Minister Theresa May and her NATO allies concerning the alleged chemical poisoning in England on March 4 of two former Russian nationals.

The column is headlined ‘No evidence Vladimir Putin was behind UK assassination’. Alas, while the headline suggests a factual and balanced account to follow, the column falls short.

(Update: See below the weblink to the new and revealing article by UK writer Craig Murray.)

Walkom writes,

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, one of the few British politicians who does not assume a deliberate Russian plot, has said the attack could have occurred because Moscow ‘negligently lost control’ of the toxin.” 

This is a polite interpretation of Corbyn’s statement.

British PM Theresa May accuses Russia in the UK Parliament
of chemical poisoning attack
In The Guardian on March 15, Corbyn writes,

“Theresa May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the attack in Salisbury, given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture. Either this was a crime authored by the Russian state; or that state has allowed these deadly toxins to slip out of the control it has an obligation to exercise.”

So here we have the story being narrowly framed from the start. Is the May/Corbyn ‘either/or’ scenario the only plausible one? What evidence does May and Corbyn present that would lead us to rush into accepting the narrow parameters of their interpretations? None. We are to ‘trust them’, meaning to trust the police and military officials supposedly in charge of gathering evidence.

Corbyn writes that he supports the UK’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats. He goes on to repeat his call for a ‘Magnitsky Act’ to be introduced in Britain which, as already done in the U.S. and Canada, would give the British government greater powers to sanction “human rights abusers, along with a wider crackdown on money laundering and tax avoidance”.

But isn’t this the same government which is selling arms to Saudi Arabia and marching in lockstep with the United States in every single warlike initiative being taken against Russia? How can anyone with antiwar sentiments propose increasing the powers of such a government?

Such blind trust is all the more galling in light of the new study by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies which makes a grim and catastrophic estimate that 2.4 million Iraqi people have died as a result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S., with the full backing and participation, let us recall, of the British government and military. Where is the outrage and uproar over that finding? What kind of society ignores such numbers while simultaneously engaging in an uproar over the illnesses of three people in England on March 4?

The Real News Network and guest Stephen Cohen have argued a false interpretation of Corbyn’s remarks in an interview broadcast on March 16. Cohen argues,

[Corbyn] said Theresa May has no evidence, and yet she’s prepared to ratchet up already a bad relationship with Russia based on this.” 

But Corbyn does, indeed, say there is evidence:

“Either this was a crime authored by the Russian state; or that state has allowed these deadly toxins to slip out of the control it has an obligation to exercise.”

A reader of Corbyn’s statement in The Guardian was led to comment,

“British justice is the best in the world. It has no need of evidence. Just right wing hysteria.” 

Another reader commented,

“What an absolute crock of shit. These MPs are playing a very dangerous game. These constant warnings about a Russian threat to Britain only reveal their own resistance to a proper investigation and a rush to judge the situation before all the facts and evidence can be collected.”

A third commenter wrote frankly,

“Anyone who believes what the government and intelligence services are telling us is an idiot.”

Walkom writes, “Britain has wisely asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate.” But that is misleading. Britain has precisely avoided the route of the OPCW until now.

According to OPCW protocols, Britain should have taken its evidence and accusations to the OPCW and requested an investigation. But as of March 15, no samples of the poison that allegedly sickened Sergei and Yulia Skripal and a policeman on March 4 have been delivered to the OPCW, still less to Russia. Instead, Britain and its closest allies have embarked upon an unprecedented propaganda barrage, issuing ultimatums to the Russian government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out some days ago already the discrepancies in Britain’s claimed interest in an OPCW investigation.

Right beside Thomas Walkom’s March 16 column on the op-ed page of the Toronto Star appears a pro-war rant against Russia by Marcus Kolga of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa. What an embarrassment for such a rant to appear in a newspaper laying claim to a liberal history and outlook.

Sadly, the Star op-ed editor’s choice is entirely in line with what the newspaper’s cross-town rival Globe and Mail has been publishing and the state-run CBC has been airing.

* Of a type developed by liars, by Craig Murray, published on his website, March 16, 2018

Johnson's Tragic Gymnastics Attempt to Somersault Salisbury Questions

Boris Johnson Attempt to Refute My Sources on Porton Down the Most Hilarious Fail  

by Craig Murray

18 Mar, 2018

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a statement to refute my report from well-placed FCO sources that the British government continually re-uses the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” because its own scientists refused government pressure to say the nerve agent was made by Russia.

And as getting even agreement to “of a type developed by” was bloody, the government has to stick to precisely that rather odd choice of phrase.

This is the official British Government statement:

“We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to.
The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”.

Which is perhaps the most hilarious fail in the history of refutation.

The BBC sprung that statement on me during a live interview on Radio 5 last night. They also sprung on me a statement by the Israeli Embassy and were attempting to lead me into accusing Israel of the attack. But even the BBC interviewer, Stephen Nolan, was flummoxed by the rubbish he had been given from the FCO. Here is an extract from that part of the interview:

Stephen Nolan: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have said to us tonight:
“We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”.
Well, you’ve already covered that Craig and you are zoning in on the fact that they are saying “developed by Russia”, they are unable to say whether it’s made – well they are not saying whether it was actually manufactured in Russia or the source of it or whether it was from Russia, right?”
Craig Murray: Yes, exactly. No-one doubts that the Russians had the idea of making these things first, and worked on developing the idea. It has always been doubted up till now that they really succeeded. The Iranians succeeded under OPCW supervision some time ago and the chemical formulae were published to the whole world twenty years ago. So many states could have done it. The “of a type developed by Russia” thing means nothing, undoubtedly.

You can hear the whole interview here beginning about 5 minutes in.

Camps and Colonies: Steps to Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Palestine: The Camps and the Colonies

by Tim Anderson - AHT

March 18, 2018

As Apartheid Israel proceeds with its ethnic cleansing of Palestine, financed and armed by the imperial powers, Palestine’s camps and Israel’s colonies (‘settlements’) remain the focus of much day to day colonial violence.

There is no need to waste too much time over the character of Israel. The Adalah group within Israel, for example, has documented more than 65 laws that make Israel a racist state (Adalah 2017).

The most recent authoritative report from the UN, by US lawyers Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley (2017), makes it clear that Israel is indeed an ‘apartheid state’ and, therefore, a crime against humanity.

They conclude that:

“the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict partially generated by its own actions”.

Meantime, people in the camps maintain a strong community spirit, which drives them to resist; while fanaticism and self-interest amongst the often immigrant new colonists encourages them to make regular forays, destroying Palestinian crops and trees, and participating seizures of nearby Palestinian lands.

The camps all date from the years after ‘The Catastrophe’ of 1948, when Jewish colonists got the green light to take over a large part of the ‘British Mandate’ of Palestine. Camp families are mostly those evicted from their lands by that violent event. The ‘colonies’, for their part, represent steady incursions into West Bank lands, after the 1967 war.

Israelis and Jewish populations today are encouraged to believe that, in the colonial manner, military conquest entitles Israel to Arab lands. The zionist state illegally occupies Lebanese and Syrian, as well as Palestinian lands.
On a recent visit to Palestine’s West Bank I had the opportunity to observe the camps and the colonies. First of all, it is obvious that the Israeli state pretends to own it all. At the border Israeli officials do not even want to acknowledge that outsiders might be entering ‘Palestine’; nor do they want to hear that anyone might want to visit Ramallah, Nablus or Hebron, the major Palestinian cities. The mere mention of these names incurs suspicion. The Palestinian Authority itself - established in 1994 and recognised by at least 40 governments as a fledgling state – so far only functions as a municipality under Israeli control.

Zionist storm troops make regular raids on any part of the Palestinian territory, but particularly the camps, most often to make arrests, mostly of young men. Raids are also signals of zionist power and are sometimes even used just as training exercises. Ali, a young man in Dehaisheh camp, now part of the southern suburbs of Bethlehem, told me the history of this camp.

Dehaisheh was created in 1950, to house the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by ‘1948 Israel’. They did not resettle, as they imagined they would be going back soon. They kept their house and land title deeds and keys. A UN agency later helped them build mostly 3 x 3 metre concrete box-dwellings. After the 1967 war, when Israeli troops took control of the West Bank, these camps were policed heavily. They were seen as hotbeds of resistance and were denied access to books (which they had to hide, and often bury) as well as to normal freedoms of movement and association.

The camp communities remain distinct to those of the municipality and the village. Ali says that for three generations they have had ‘no privacy and no property’. They had no individual titles to land. In their little box houses, which could only expand upwards, those next door could hear everything, from the bathroom to intimate moments.

Yet these conditions also meant that camp communities developed a strong collective spirit, with little crime and no voting, instead common consensus agreements. That spirit reinforced their resistance to the colonists. The presence of these strong values was confirmed to me by Naji and Amal, experienced Palestinian activists who do not live in the camps.

The camps contain various groups and political parties but, in Deheisheh, they kicked out religious sectarians, such as those of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Israelis were already skilfully fomenting divisions between Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins.

Around 2016 a new Israeli commander (‘Captain Nidal’) began a wave of terror on the southern West Bank camps. He told them that instead of killing youth he would ‘teach them a lesson’ they would not forget. From there began a wave of ‘knee-capping’ (shooting in the knee, to cripple), which has been widely reported (Hamayel 2016; Hass 2016; Ashly 2017). ‘Ali’ told me that over 200 young men in the camps have been crippled in this way.

Dehaisheh youth began a library/reading group, but that came to an abrupt end, Ali says, when 22 year old Raed al Salhi was shot dead (Benoist 2017) and 9 others were imprisoned.

By contrast, there is a strange air of normality in Arab cities like Ramallah, in the middle of a countryside of fences, walls and storm troops. Unlike Jerusalem, which is a heavily policed ‘mixed’ zone, life in Ramallah goes on with little day to day Israeli presence. Yet they come at night. There has been widespread international coverage of the arrest of young Ahed Tamimi, and many of her family members in Ramallah; but such arrests are an everyday occurrence, affecting thousands of families.

Each major Palestinian city these days encompasses a few ‘camps’ and is surrounded by several colonies, mostly on the surrounding hill tops. The entire West Bank is fractured with these colonies and their no-go zones, roads and fences.

People hear a lot about the recent separation wall, which annexes all of what was supposed to be the ‘international city’ of Jerusalem to ‘1948 Israel’. Yet there are also dozens of walls throughout the West Bank, protecting the colonies, their associated army bases, linked lands and feeder roads. These colonies also line the Jordan River and indeed all perimeter areas of the West Bank. There are more kilometres of walls and fences protecting colonies throughout the West Bank than there are in the infamous separation wall.

An impressive sign on the outskirts of Ramallah declares, in Hebrew, Arabic and English: ‘This Road leads To Area ‘A’ Under the Palestinian Authority The Entrance For Israeli Citizens Is Forbidden, Dangerous To Your Lives And Is Against The Israeli Law’ [exact punctuation]. This is all a show of deference, of course.

Israeli troops make regular night-time raids on all Palestinian cities and towns. But special attention is paid to the camps. Troops raided Balata camp, just south of Nablus, the day before I visited Nablus. They killed a young local man in custody, the day I arrived in Jericho. Elsewhere the resistance sniped at Israeli troops, as the zionist government announced plans to criminalise criticism of the Israeli military.

Ali says heavily armed Israeli troops invade Dehaisheh about two times every week. Nevertheless this camp remains strong and cohesive. When Israeli lawyers offered Ali some money to buy his family land in ‘1948 israel’, he refused. It is not just the land, he said; it is about culture and identity.

Israel sometimes recognises historic Palestinian land title, but often does not. Land is seized in a variety of ways. It can be bought, compulsorily acquired for infrastructure such as separation walls and roads or simply taken without notice. Amal’s family land on the outskirts of Ramallah was seized without notice, for the perimeter land and fences of a new colony outside Ramallah. Land is also stolen through punitive demolitions. In a peculiarly colonial form of collective punishment, homes and lands are taken from the families of those convicted of resistance activities.

Ali wants international support, but resents western aid agencies which come to Palestine, pretending to help communities with their own ideas of ‘empowerment’. He recalls a young European woman preaching to experienced Palestinian mothers about ‘how to be a good mother’. Some of the women laughed, finding it hard to believe. ‘We are not helpless victims, we are people with a strong culture’, Ali said.

Ethnic cleansing has advanced substantially in recent decades, despite the withdrawal from Gaza and Israel’s 2006 defeat in south Lebanon at the hands of Hezbollah. To that extent some limits have been imposed, by the Resistance, on the expansion of ‘Greater Israel’. Israel would have annexed large parts of southern Lebanon by now, were it not for Hezbollah.

However the West Bank is under serious threat. In the late 1960s the plan of Yigal Allon called for annexation of 40% of the West Bank, and control of the Jordan River (Reinhart 2006: 51). Israel’s Labor Party broadly backed that idea, in contrast to the extreme right which has always wanted it all. Now Israel controls about 60% of the West Bank, choking it with walls and fences. The territory is almost cut in half. One consequence of this expanded ethnic cleansing has been to mark a definitive end to any ‘two state solution’.

Dr. Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He researches and writes on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. He has published dozens of articles and chapters in academic journals and books, as well as essays in a range of online journals. His work includes the areas of agriculture and food security, health systems, regional integration and international cooperation.


Adalah (2017) ‘The Discriminatory Laws Database’, 25 September, online:

Ali (2018) interview with this writer at Dehaisheh camp (Bethlehem), Occupied Palestine, February [‘Ali’ is a pseudonym, to protect him from Israeli reprisals. The Israeli parliament is currently trying to pass a law which would criminalise criticism of the Zionist military. Already such criticism serves as grounds for interrogation and possible imprisonment.]

Amal (2018) interviews with this writer at Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, February

Ashly, Jacyln (2017) ‘How Israel is disabling Palestinian teenagers’, Al Jazeera, 21 September, online:

Benoist, Chloé (2017) ‘Raed al-Salhi, another Palestinian life of promise snuffed out by Israel’, Middle East Eye, 8 September, online:

Falk, Richard and Virginia Tilley (2017) Palestine - Israel Journal of Politics, Economics, and Culture; East Jerusalem Vol. 22, Issue 2/3, 191-196; also available here:

Hamayel, Mohammad (2016) ‘Israeli military practice kneecapping against Palestinians’, Press TV, 29 August, online:

Hass, Amira (2016) ‘Is the IDF Conducting a Kneecapping Campaign in the West Bank?’, Haaretz, 27 August, online:

Naji (2018) interview with this writer at Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine, February

Reinhart, Tania (2006) The Road Map to Nowhere, Verso, London

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Bard Weighs In on Russia

Shakespeare said it best

by William Blum - Anti-Empire Report

March 15, 2018

Much ado about nothing. That’s the “Russian interference” in the 2016 American election.

A group of Russians operating from a building in St. Petersburg, we are told in a February 16 US government indictment, sent out tweets, Facebook and YouTube postings, etc. to gain support for Trump and hurt Clinton even though most of these messages did not even mention Trump or Clinton; and many were sent out before Trump was even a candidate.

The Russian-interference indictment is predicated, apparently, on the idea that the United States is a backward, Third-World, Banana Republic, easily manipulated.

If the Democrats think it’s so easy and so effective to sway voters in the United States why didn’t the party do better?

At times the indictment tells us that the online advertising campaign, led by the shadowy Internet Research Agency of Russia, was meant to divide the American people, not influence the 2016 election. The Russians supposedly wished to cause “divisiveness” in the American people, particularly around controversial issues such as immigration, politics, energy policy, climate change, and race.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” said Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the inquiry. “We must not allow them to succeed.”

Imagine that – the American people, whom we all know are living in blissful harmony and fraternity without any noticeable anger or hatred, would become divided! Damn those Russkis!

After the election of Trump as president in November 2016, the defendants “used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

The indictment also states that defendants in New York organized a demonstration designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, defendants and their co-conspirators, organized another rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President”.

Much of the indictment and the news reports of the past year are replete with such contradictions, lending credence to the suggestion that what actually lay behind the events was a “click-bait” scheme wherein certain individuals earned money based on the number of times a particular website is accessed. The mastermind behind this scheme is reported to be a Russian named Yevgeny Prigozhin of the above-named Internet Research Agency, which is named in the indictment.

The Russian operation began four years ago, well before Trump entered the presidential race, a fact that he quickly seized on in his defense.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote on Twitter

“The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Point 95 of the Indictment summarizes the “click-bait” scheme as follows:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

Although there’s no doubt that the Kremlin favored Trump over Clinton, the whole “Russian influence” storm may be based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in US social networks.

Here’s some Real interference in election campaigns

[Slightly abridged version of chapter 18 in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; see it for notes]

Philippines, 1950s:

Flagrant manipulation by the CIA of the nation’s political life, featuring stage-managed elections with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavy financing of candidates, writing their speeches, drugging the drinks of one of the opponents of the CIA-supported candidate so he would appear incoherent; plotting the assassination of another candidate. The oblivious New York Times declared that “It is not without reason that the Philippines has been called “democracy’s showcase in Asia”.

Italy, 1948-1970s:

Multifarious campaigns to repeatedly sabotage the electoral chances of the Communist Party and ensure the election of the Christian Democrats, long-favored by Washington.

Lebanon, 1950s:

The CIA provided funds to support the campaigns of President Camille Chamoun and selected parliamentary candidates; other funds were targeted against candidates who had shown less than total enchantment with US interference in Lebanese politics.

Indonesia, 1955:

A million dollars were dispensed by the CIA to a centrist coalition’s electoral campaign in a bid to cut into the support for President Sukarno’s party and the Indonesian Communist Party.

Vietnam, 1955:

The US was instrumental in South Vietnam canceling the elections scheduled to unify North and South because of the certainty that the North Vietnamese communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, would easily win.

British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:

For 11 years, two of the oldest democracies in the world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths to prevent Cheddi Jagan – three times the democratically elected leader – from occupying his office. Using a wide variety of tactics – from general strikes and disinformation to terrorism and British legalisms – the US and Britain forced Jagan out of office twice during this period.

Japan, 1958-1970s:

The CIA emptied the US treasury of millions to finance the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections, “on a seat-by-seat basis”, while doing what it could to weaken and undermine its opposition, the Japanese Socialist Party. The 1961-63 edition of the State Department’s annual Foreign Relations of the United States, published in 1996, includes an unprecedented disclaimer that, because of material left out, a committee of distinguished historians thinks “this published compilation does not constitute a ‘thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions’” as required by law.

The deleted material involved US actions from 1958-1960 in Japan, according to the State Department’s historian.

Nepal, 1959:

By the CIA’s own admission, it carried out an unspecified “covert action” on behalf of B.P. Koirala to help his Nepali Congress Party win the national parliamentary election. It was Nepal’s first national election ever, and the CIA was there to initiate them into the wonderful workings of democracy.
Laos, 1960:

CIA agents stuffed ballot boxes to help a hand-picked strongman, Phoumi Nosavan, set up a pro-American government.

Brazil, 1962:

The CIA and the Agency for International Development expended millions of dollars in federal and state elections in support of candidates opposed to leftist President João Goulart, who won anyway.

Dominican Republic, 1962:

In October 1962, two months before election day, US Ambassador John Bartlow Martin got together with the candidates of the two major parties and handed them a written notice, in Spanish and English, which he had prepared. It read in part:

“The loser in the forthcoming election will, as soon as the election result is known, publicly congratulate the winner, publicly recognize him as the President of all the Dominican people, and publicly call upon his own supporters to so recognize him. … Before taking office, the winner will offer Cabinet seats to members of the loser’s party. (They may decline).”

As matters turned out, the winner, Juan Bosch, was ousted in a military coup seven months later, a slap in the face of democracy which neither Martin nor any other American official did anything about.

Guatemala, 1963:

The US overthrew the regime of General Miguel Ydigoras because he was planning to step down in 1964, leaving the door open to an election; an election that Washington feared would be won by the former president, liberal reformer and critic of US foreign policy, Juan José Arévalo. Ydigoras’s replacement made no mention of elections.

Bolivia, 1966:

The CIA bestowed $600,000 upon President René Barrientos and lesser sums to several right-wing parties in a successful effort to influence the outcome of national elections. Gulf Oil contributed two hundred thousand more to Barrientos.

Chile, 1964-70:

Major US interventions into national elections in 1964 and 1970, and congressional elections in the intervening years. Socialist Salvador Allende fell victim in 1964, but won in 1970 despite a multimillion-dollar CIA operation against him. The Agency then orchestrated his downfall in a 1973 military coup.

Portugal, 1974-5:

In the years following the coup in 1974 by military officers who talked like socialists, the CIA revved up its propaganda machine while funneling many millions of dollars to support “moderate” candidates, in particular Mario Soares and his (so-called) Socialist Party. At the same time, the Agency enlisted social-democratic parties of Western Europe to provide further funds and support to Soares. It worked. The Socialist Party became the dominant power.

Australia, 1974-75:

Despite providing considerable support for the opposition, the United States failed to defeat the Labor Party, which was strongly against the US war in Vietnam and CIA meddling in Australia. The CIA then used “legal” methods to unseat the man who won the election, Edward Gough Whitlam.

Jamaica, 1976:

A CIA campaign to defeat social democrat Michael Manley’s bid for reelection, featuring disinformation, arms shipments, labor unrest, economic destabilization, financial support for the opposition, and attempts upon Manley’s life. Despite it all, he was victorious.

Panama, 1984, 1989:

In 1984, the CIA helped finance a highly questionable presidential electoral victory for one of Manuel Noriega’s men. The opposition cried “fraud”, but the new president was welcomed at the White House. By 1989, Noriega was no longer a Washington favorite, so the CIA provided more than $10 million dollars to his electoral opponents.

Nicaragua, 1984, 1990:

In 1984, the United States, trying to discredit the legitimacy of the Sandinista government’s scheduled election, covertly persuaded the leading opposition coalition to not take part. A few days before election day, some other rightist parties on the ballot revealed that US diplomats had been pressing them to drop out of the race as well. The CIA also tried to split the Sandinista leadership by placing phoney full-page ads in neighboring countries. But the Sandinistas won handily in a very fair election monitored by hundreds of international observers.

Six years later, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s specially created stand-in for the CIA, poured in millions of dollars to defeat Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas in the February elections. NED helped organize the Nicaraguan opposition, UNO, building up the parties and organizations that formed and supported this coalition.

Perhaps most telling of all, the Nicaraguan people were made painfully aware that a victory by the Sandinistas would mean a continuation of the relentlessly devastating war being waged against them by Washington through their proxy army, the Contras.

Haiti, 1987-1988:

After the Duvalier dictatorship came to an end in 1986, the country prepared for its first free elections ever. However, Haiti’s main trade union leader declared that Washington was working to undermine the left. US aid organizations, he said, were encouraging people in the countryside to identify and reject the entire left as “communist”.

Meanwhile, the CIA was involved in a range of support for selected candidates until the US Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the Agency to cease its covert electoral action.

Bulgaria, 1990-1991 and Albania, 1991-1992:

With no regard for the fragility of these nascent democracies, the US interfered broadly in their elections and orchestrated the ousting of their elected socialist governments.

Russia, 1996:

For four months (March-June), a group of veteran American political consultants worked secretly in Moscow in support of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign. Boris Yeltsin was being counted on to run with the globalized-free market ball and it was imperative that he cross the goal line. The Americans emphasized sophisticated methods of message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging, direct-mailing, etc., and advised against public debates with the Communists.

Most of all they encouraged the Yeltsin campaign to “go negative” against the Communists, painting frightening pictures of what the Communists would do if they took power, including much civic upheaval and violence, and, of course, a return to the worst of Stalinism.

Before the Americans came on board, Yeltsin was favored by only six percent of the electorate. In the first round of voting, he edged the Communists 35 percent to 32, and was victorious in the second round 54 to 40 percent.

Mongolia, 1996:

The National Endowment for Democracy worked for several years with the opposition to the governing Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRR, the former Communists) who had won the 1992 election to achieve a very surprising electoral victory. In the six-year period leading up to the 1996 elections, NED spent close to a million dollars in a country with a population of some 2.5 million, the most significant result of which was to unite the opposition into a new coalition, the National Democratic Union. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, the NED drafted a “Contract With the Mongolian Voter”, which called for private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment.

The MPRR had already instituted Western-style economic reforms, which had led to widespread poverty and wiped out much of the communist social safety net. But the new government promised to accelerate the reforms, including the privatization of housing.

By 1998 it was reported that the US National Security Agency had set up electronic listening posts in Outer Mongolia to intercept Chinese army communications, and the Mongolian intelligence service was using nomads to gather intelligence in China itself.

Bosnia, 1998:

Effectively an American protectorate, with Carlos Westendorp – the Spanish diplomat appointed to enforce Washington’s offspring: the 1995 Dayton peace accords – as the colonial Governor-General. Before the September elections for a host of offices, Westendorp removed 14 Croatian candidates from the ballot because of alleged biased coverage aired in Bosnia by neighboring Croatia’s state television and politicking by ethnic Croat army soldiers.

After the election, Westendorp fired the elected president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, accusing him of creating instability. In this scenario those who appeared to support what the US and other Western powers wished were called “moderates”, and allowed to run for and remain in office. Those who had other thoughts were labeled “hard-liners”, and ran the risk of a different fate.

When Westendorp was chosen to assume this position of “high representative” in Bosnia in May 1997, The Guardian of London wrote that

“The US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, praised the choice. But some critics already fear that Mr. Westendorp will prove too lightweight and end up as a cipher in American hands.”

Nicaragua, 2001:

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was once again a marked man. US State Department officials tried their best to publicly associate him with terrorism, including just after September 11 had taken place, and to shamelessly accuse Sandinista leaders of all manner of violations of human rights, civil rights, and democracy. The US ambassador literally campaigned for Ortega’s opponent, Enrique Bolaños. A senior analyst in Nicaragua for Gallup, the international pollsters, was moved to declare:

“Never in my whole life have I seen a sitting ambassador get publicly involved in a sovereign country’s electoral process, nor have I ever heard of it.”

At the close of the campaign, Bolaños announced:

“If Ortega comes to power, that would provoke a closing of aid and investment, difficulties with exports, visas and family remittances. I’m not just saying this. The United States says this, too. We cannot close our eyes and risk our well-being and work. Say yes to Nicaragua, say no to terrorism.”

In the end, the Sandinistas lost the election by about ten percentage points after steadily leading in the polls during much of the campaign.

Bolivia, 2002:

The American bête noire here was Evo Morales, Amerindian, former member of Congress, socialist, running on an anti-neoliberal, anti-big business, and anti-coca eradication campaign. The US Ambassador declared: “The Bolivian electorate must consider the consequences of choosing leaders somehow connected with drug trafficking and terrorism.” Following September 11, painting Officially Designated Enemies with the terrorist brush was de rigueur US foreign policy rhetoric.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs warned that American aid to the country would be in danger if Mr. Morales was chosen. Then the ambassador and other US officials met with key figures from Bolivia’s main political parties in an effort to shore up support for Morales’s opponent, Sanchez de Lozada. Morales lost the vote.

Slovakia, 2002:

To defeat Vladimir Meciar, former prime minister, a man who did not share Washington’s weltanschauung about globalization, the US ambassador explicitly warned the Slovakian people that electing him would hurt their chances of entry into the European Union and NATO. The US ambassador to NATO then arrived and issued his own warning. The National Endowment for Democracy was also on hand to influence the election. Meciar lost.

El Salvador, 2004:

Washington’s target in this election was Schafik Handal, candidate of the FMLN, the leftist former guerrilla group. He said he would withdraw El Salvador’s 380 troops from Iraq as well as reviewing other pro-US policies; he would also take another look at the privatizations of Salvadoran industries, and would reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba. His opponent was Tony Saca of the incumbent Arena Party, a pro-US, pro-free market organization of the extreme right, which in the bloody civil war days had featured death squads and the infamous assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

During a February visit to the country, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, met with all the presidential candidates except Handal. He warned of possible repercussions in US-Salvadoran relations if Handal were elected. Three Republican congressmen threatened to block the renewal of annual work visas for some 300,000 Salvadorans in the United States if El Salvador opted for the FMLN. And Congressman Thomas Tancredo of Colorado stated that if the FMLN won, “it could mean a radical change” in US policy on remittances to El Salvador.

Washington’s attitude was exploited by Arena and the generally conservative Salvadoran press, who mounted a scare campaign, and it became widely believed that a Handal victory could result in mass deportations of Salvadorans from the United States and a drop in remittances. Arena won the election with about 57 percent of the vote to some 36 percent for the FMLN.

After the election, the US ambassador declared that Washington’s policies concerning immigration and remittances had nothing to do with any election in El Salvador. There appears to be no record of such a statement being made in public before the election when it might have had a profound positive effect for the FMLN.

Afghanistan, 2004:

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, went around putting great pressure on one candidate after another to withdraw from the presidential race so as to insure the victory for Washington’s man, the incumbent, Hamid Karzai in the October election. There was nothing particularly subtle about it. Khalilzad told each one what he wanted and then asked them what they needed. Karzai, a long-time resident in the United States, was described by the Washington Post as “a known and respected figure at the State Department and National Security Council and on Capitol Hill.”

“Our hearts have been broken because we thought we could have beaten Mr. Karzai if this had been a true election,” said Sayed Mustafa Sadat Ophyani, campaign manager for Younis Qanooni, Karzai’s leading rival. 
“But it is not. Mr. Khalilzad is putting a lot of pressure on us and does not allow us to fight a good election campaign.”.

None of the major candidates actually withdrew from the election, which Karzai won with about 56 percent of the votes.

The Cold War Forever

On March 7 British police said that a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, a city southwest of London. The police said that Skripal had been “targeted specifically” with a nerve agent. Skripal was jailed in Russia in 2006 for passing state secrets to Britain. He was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap.

Because nerve agents are complex to make, they are typically not made by individuals, but rather by states. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the Skripal case had “echoes” of what happened to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB Operative who British officials believe was poisoned in London by Russian agents in 2006, becoming the first victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.

Before he died, he spoke about the misdeeds of the Russian secret service and delivered public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin was behind his unusual malady.

Because of this the Skripal poisoning looks like an open-and-shut case.

But hold on. Skripal was sent to Britain by the Russian government eight years ago in an exchange of spies. Why would they want to kill him now, and with Putin’s election coming up? And with the quadrennial football (soccer) World Cup coming up soon to be played in Russia. Moscow is very proud of this, publicizing it every day on their international television stations (RT in the US). A murder like this could surely put a serious damper on the Moscow festivities.

Boris Johnson has already dropped a threat:

“Thinking ahead to the World Cup this July, this summer, I think it would be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way and we would certainly have to consider that.”  

It was totally predictable.

Because political opposition is weak, and no obvious threat to the ruling United Russia Party, what would the government gain by an assassination of an opposition figure?

So if Russia is not responsible for Skripal’s poisoning, who is? Well I have an idea. I can’t give you the full name of the guilty party, but its initials are CIA.

US-Russian Cold Wars produce unmitigated animosity. As but one example, the United States boycotted the Olympics that were held in the Soviet Union in 1980, because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union then boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Ideology and Evolution

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet recently declared:

“I think we are pro-capitalism. The New York Times is in favor of capitalism because it has been the greatest engine of, it’s been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we’ve seen.”  

The man is correct as far as he goes. But there are two historical factors that enter into this discussion that he fails to consider:

Socialism may well have surpassed capitalism as an anti-poverty program and engine of progress if the United States and other capitalist powers had not subverted, destabilized, invaded, and/or overthrown every halfway serious attempt at socialism in the world. Not one socialist-oriented government, from Cuba and Vietnam in the 1960s, to Nicaragua and Chile in the 1970s, to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Haiti and Venezuela in the 2000s has been allowed to rise or fall based on its own merits or lack of same, or allowed to relax its guard against the ever-threatening capital imperialists.

Evolution: Social and economic systems have evolved along with human beings. Humankind has roughly gone from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. There’s no reason to assume that this evolution has come to a grinding halt, particularly given the deep-seated needs of the world in the face of one overwhelming problem after another, most caused by putting profit before people.

U.S. Grand Jury Indictment, February 16, 2018
New York Times, February 16, 2018
Mueller Indictment - The “Russian Influence” Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme,” Moon of Alabama, February 17, 2018
The Independent (London), March 6, 2018
Huffington Post, February 27, 2018

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to is provided.

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