Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Hollywood-Pentagon Entertainment Nexus

Hollywood, DC – Sean Stone Doc. ft. Oliver Stone, Jay Dyer 

by Jay Dyer - RT (via 21C Wire)

March 18, 2018 

The film and television industries may be America’s go-to source of escapism and entertainment, but the glossy magazine covers documenting celebrity meltdowns and box-office predictions serve as a convenient distraction from some of the lesser known connections tying together Hollywood and the nation’s national security establishment.

In this two-part series, Watching the Hawks’ Sean Stone is joined by a variety of Hollywood insiders in exploring the entertainment industry’s institutional embrace of Washington, DC’s military-industrial complex.

Part 1


Part 2

Jay Dyer is the author of the best selling title, Esoteric Hollywood: Sex, Cults and Symbols in Film from Trine Day. Focusing on film, philosophy, geopolitics and all things esoteric, JaysAnalysis and his podcast, “Esoteric Hollywood,” investigates the deeper meanings between the headlines, exploring the hidden aspects of our sinister synthetic mass media matrix.

READ MORE HOLLYWOOD NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Hollywood Files


Facebook Blusters Against Cambridge Collusion Charges, Threatens Legal Action

Facebook insists that Cambridge Analytica didn't "breach" data, but "misused" it, and they're willing to sue anyone who says otherwise

by Cory Doctorow - Boing Boing

March 20, 2018

Yesterday's bombshell article in the Guardian about the way that Cambridge Analytica was able to extract tens of millions of Facebook users' data without their consent was preceded by plenty of damage control on Facebook's part: they repeatedly threatened to sue news outlets if they reported on the story and fired the whistleblower who came forward with the story.

It's been more than a year since The Intercept reported that Cambridge Analytica paid mechanical turks to take a personality quiz, and then exploited a Facebook loophole to extract the personal information of 30,000,000 users who were Facebook friends with the people who filled in the quiz.

What's new here is that a whistleblower has come forward with the backstory of the hack, and more details, including a revised estimate of the number of user records Cambridge Analytica breached: 50,000,000.

The whistleblower is a young Canadian data-scientist named Christopher Wylie who worked for Canada's Liberal Party and the UK Liberal Democrats before being recruited into Cambridge Analytica; Wylie then went to work for Facebook, who have just suspended him for talking to the press about Cambridge Analytica's abuse of Facebook data and Facebook's complicity in that abuse.

Wylie had been working on a PhD on fashion trend forecasting when he encountered the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, and Steve Bannon, who charmed Wylie with his ability to discourse over ideology; his ability to draw parallels between intersectional feminism and the grievance politics of Trump's white racist base; and his Breitbartian philosophy that "politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture" -- in other words, fashion forecasting as a key component of political campaigning.

Hilariously, Wylie says he helped trick Bannon into hiring the company by opening a fake office in Cambridge, England, which they would relocate London employees to when Bannon came to visit, to convince Bannon that they had the intellectual heft to which Bannon aspires. Wylie said that Bannon especially valued input from queer people because he saw them as cultural leaders (he ascribes Bannon's affinity for Milo Yiannopoulos to this belief).

Wylie refutes many of the claims made about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica about which information they had, when they had it, and how they used it, making them out to be liars -- at a key moment in which the companies and their industries are coming under close political scrutiny and public disrepute (if politics are downstream from culture, they're in serious trouble).

And through it all, Wylie and I, plus a handful of editors and a small, international group of academics and researchers, have known that – at least in 2014 – that certainly wasn’t the case, because Wylie has the paper trail. In our first phone call, he told me he had the receipts, invoices, emails, legal letters – records that showed how, between June and August 2014, the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users had been harvested. Most damning of all, he had a letter from Facebook’s own lawyers admitting that Cambridge Analytica had acquired the data illegitimately.

Going public involves an enormous amount of risk. Wylie is breaking a non-disclosure agreement and risks being sued. He is breaking the confidence of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

It’s taken a rollercoaster of a year to help get Wylie to a place where it’s possible for him to finally come forward. A year in which Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of investigations on both sides of the Atlantic – Robert Mueller’s in the US, and separate inquiries by the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, both triggered in February 2017, after the Observer’s first article in this investigation.

It has been a year, too, in which Wylie has been trying his best to rewind – to undo events that he set in motion. Earlier this month, he submitted a dossier of evidence to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the National Crime Agency’s cybercrime unit. He is now in a position to go on the record: the data nerd who came in from the cold.

You can find out what data Cambridge Analytica has on you; as you read this, keep in mind that much of the reputed efficacy of Cambridge Analytica comes from their own marketing, and even if it's true, remember that the efficacy of attentional weapons regresses to the mean.

The Cambridge Analytica Files [Carole Cadwalladr/The Guardian]

Facebook suspends former Cambridge Analytica contractor [Donie O'Sullivan and Sherisse Pham/CNN]

Both Facebook And Cambridge Analytica Threatened To Sue Journalists Over Stories On CA's Use Of Facebook Data [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

Libya's Day Zero: The Other Mideast Anniversary

Libya: The True Face of 'Humanitarian Intervention'

by Daniel Kovalik - RT

March 20, 2018
Seven years ago today, NATO began its “humanitarian bombing” of Libya. While “humanitarian bombing” is an oxymoron, many believe that a country is not truly advancing human rights if it’s not bombing another back to the Stone Age.

As an initial matter, it must be said that while the UN had authorized a NATO fly-zone over Libya to protect civilians – all civilians, by the way – there was never authorization for the full-scale invasion which was carried out and which quickly became aimed at regime change. Therefore, the NATO operation which actually took place was illegal.

What’s more, the Libyan invasion did more to undermine human rights than it did to protect them. According to Amnesty International’s most recent report on Libya, there are now three rival governments vying for power in the country along with various militias, smugglers and other sundry armed groups. As Amnesty International explains, all participants in the armed conflict in Libya “carried out indiscriminate attacks in heavily populated areas leading to deaths of civilians and unlawful killings. Armed groups arrested and indefinitely detained thousands of people. Torture and other ill-treatment was widespread in prisons under the control of armed groups, militias and state officials.” And, to top it all off, slaves are being sold in public markets in Libya – something not seen in the world for over a century.
And this is the aftermath of an intervention which, we were told, was supposed to improve human rights in Libya. Indeed, the intervention was spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice – three self-described warriors for human and women’s rights. Instead, they became three ushers of the Apocalypse. In addition, Italy and France, which also helped lead the charge for invasion, had their own reasons for intervening in Libya. For his part, French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to be singularly focused on killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who allegedly gave him €50 million for his presidential campaign – a claim which was just coming to light and to which Gaddafi was the chief witness.

While Gaddafi certainly was no saint, he was a much better leader for his country than many of those the West supports, such as the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the death squad state of Colombia or the coup government in Honduras. Indeed, Muammar Gaddafi, at the urging of his son, Saif, was attempting to democratize Libya at the time of the invasion, and the pair were willingly accepting the help of the US’s National Democratic Institute to do so!

In addition, Gaddafi had taken Libya from being the least prosperous country in Africa to the being the most prosperous by the time of the NATO operation. Thus, as one commentator explains, before the intervention,

“Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.”

Moreover, one of the main reasons, we were told, that NATO needed to intervene in 2011 was to save Benghazi from imminent harm from the government forces of Gaddafi. However, Hillary Clinton’s own internal emails show that her team recognized that any humanitarian problems confronting Benghazi had passed by the time of the NATO bombing.

For example, Clinton’s assistant, Huma Abedin, in an email dated February 21, 2011 – that is, just a mere four days after the initial anti-government protests broke out in Libya – explains that the Gaddafi forces no longer controlled Benghazi and that the mood in the city was indeed “celebratory” by that time.

Then, on March 2, just over two weeks before the bombing began, Harriet Spanos of USAID sent an email describing “[s]ecurity reports” which “confirm that Benghazi has been calm over the past couple of days.”

Indeed, as explained to me by Khaled Kaim, Gaddafi’s last foreign minister, who I recently met in Venezuela, he personally urged US representatives at the UN Security Council to hold off the planned bombing raid for one hour so that UN observers on the ground could confirm his claim that Benghazi was not under threat.

Of course, his pleas were ignored. Kaim’s warnings that the impending invasion of Libya would only unleash more chaos and terror on the world were also disregarded.

Meanwhile, Benghazi is now the site of a grave humanitarian crisis and a hotbed for terrorists post-intervention. Again, Amnesty International writes that,

“[a] number of mass graves were uncovered in Benghazi between February and October [2017]. On at least four occasions, groups of bodies were found in different parts of the city with their hands bound behind their backs, and in some cases blindfolded with signs of torture and execution-style killing.”

In addition, during the early part of 2017, one armed faction laid siege to an apartment complex in the Ganfouda area of Benghazi, “cutting off all supplies to the area, including food and water, and had trapped civilians and wounded fighters [of another faction] without access to medical care and other basic services.” And, when the same faction broke the siege by launching an armed assault on this area, it engaged in “indiscriminate” killings, with fighters from the faction posing for photos with the dead bodies.

And yet, where are the self-proclaimed defenders of human rights for Libya and Benghazi now? Where are their cries for humanitarian intervention? Of course, all of those responsible for this absolute disaster have moved on and remain silent about the tragedy they have wrought in that country.

Of course, the intervention in Libya was not truly about human rights, just as other similar Western interventions in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have not been about either human rights or even fighting terror. And indeed, these interventions have only undermined human rights and further spread terror. In the case of Libya, the predictable havoc unleashed there has spread to neighboring states such as Niger, Tunisia, Mali, Chad and Cameroon. In addition, the refugee crisis created by the chaos unleashed by the NATO intervention in Libya is undermining the stability of all of Europe.

One can only conclude from this that the West, and especially the United States, is hell-bent on spreading instability throughout the world, despite its pretending to accomplish the very opposite. Indeed, the US continues to bomb Libya periodically in an effort to at least contain the very forces of chaos it helped unleash there.

In chaos, Western countries and their transnational corporations see opportunity for more domination and more profits. As with Little Finger in Game of Thrones, they see chaos not as a pit, but as a ladder. In the case of countries like Libya, the West goes in and bombs it to oblivion and then brings in companies which charge that country to rebuild it. And the West is not shy about this grisly strategy for money-making.

Indeed, as the New York Times explained in an article just after the NATO operation ended with the brutal killing of Gaddafi – an article accompanied by a photo of an oil terminal in Misurata, Libya, on fire and with black smoke billowing out –

“Western security, construction and infrastructure companies that see profit-making opportunities receding in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned their sights on Libya… Entrepreneurs are abuzz about the business potential of a country with huge needs and the oil to pay for them, plus the competitive advantage of Libyan gratitude toward the United States and its NATO partners.
"A week before Colonel Qaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, a delegation from 80 French companies arrived in Tripoli to meet officials of the Transitional National Council, the interim government. Last week, the new British defense minister, Philip Hammond, urged British companies to “pack their suitcases” and head to Tripoli.”

But what is good for such corporations is not good for the rest of us. Simply put, the world cannot afford another war which wreaks havoc on entire regions of the globe, ushering in massive human misery and environmental destruction in its wake. As King Pyrrhus might have said, another “victory” like the one in Libya may be the undoing of us.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Killing the Caretaker: Who Wants to Assassinate a Man Without Enemies?

Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?

by Ramzy Baroud - Palestine Chronicle

March 20, 2018

On March 13, while on his way to the besieged Gaza Strip, two 33-pounds bombs targeted the convoy of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Hamdallah was visiting Gaza, through the Israeli border checkpoint, Erez, to open a large sewage treatment plant that, if allowed to operate regularly, will make life easier for hundreds of thousands of Gazans, who have endured a perpetual Israeli siege since 2006.

The Prime Minister's visit was also seen as another important step in the reconciliation efforts between the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah - led by PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, in the Occupied West Bank - and Hamas, led by former Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyeh, in Gaza.

Although reconciliation efforts have, for years, been half-hearted at best, the latest round of talks between both groups led to a breakthrough in Cairo last October. This time, Palestinians were told that the two factions are keen on establishing unity, ending the siege on Gaza and revamping the largely dormant Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) institutions.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were to join the PLO at some point in the future, leading to the formulation of a unified Palestinian political program.

And, perhaps, this keenness at ending the rift has led to the attempt on Hamdallah's life.

But who is Rami Hamdallah?

Hamdallah, 60, was chosen by Abbas to serve in the current post in June 2013, despite the fact that he was not a member of Fatah. He took over from Salaam Fayyad who served for six years, focusing mostly on state-building in a region that is still militarily occupied by a foreign power.

Hamdallah, though not a particularity controversial figure, has been a follower of Abbas and committed to his agenda. He is a political moderate by Palestinian standards, and it was through his strong ties with powerful Fatah figures like Tayeb Abdul Rahim and Tawfik Tirawi – who served under late PA leader, Yasser Arafat, and Abbas respectively – that allowed him to claim the post and keep it for nearly five years.

Last October, Hamdallah led a delegation of Fatah PA officials to Gaza to “end the painful impacts of divisions and to rebuild Gaza brick by brick.”

Since Israel destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure and thousands of homes in the summer of 2014, Gaza – already reeling under a hermetic siege and the impact of previous wars - has been in ruins. Hamdallah’s visit rekindled hope among Gazans, and all Palestinians, that respite is on the way.

Hamas’ insistent attempts to break from its isolation seemed to be finally bearing fruit.

Abbas’ party, too, moved forward with the unity arrangements, although for its own reasons. Fatah has been dysfunctional for years, and the imminent exit of Abbas, 83, has opened up intense rivalry among those who want to succeed the aging leader.

Supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, who was shunned by Abbas years ago and is currently based abroad, would like to see him back in a position of power.

The United States and Israel are following these developments closely. They, too, have favorites and are vested in the future of Fatah to sustain the current status quo as long as possible.

Those who want Hamdallah dead are likely not targeting the Prime Minister for his own ideas or policies per se, but for what he represents, as the moderate leader capable of achieving a long term understanding with Hamas.

Killing Hamdallah also means ending or, at least, obstructing the unity efforts, discrediting Hamas, and denying Abbas and his leadership the necessary political capital to secure his legacy.

Hamas’ main enemy in Gaza are the Salafi Jihadist groups who are unhappy with Hamas’ politics and what they see as a too moderate style of Islamic governance.

Of course, there are those in Fatah, including Abbas’ own office, who accused Hamas of trying to kill Hamdallah. Hamas did more than deny the accusations, but, within one day of the apparent assassination attempt, announced that it had apprehended suspects behind the explosion.

It would make no sense for Hamas to kill Hamdallah. The group has worked tirelessly to engage the PA, as life in Gaza has become truly unlivable. Their leadership and reputation has suffered as a result of the failed efforts to end the siege.

Moreover, as Amira Hass noted, Hamas,

“[C]ould not have any interest in attacking senior Palestinian Authority officials on their way to inaugurate a sewage treatment plant that residents of the Gaza Strip have long awaited.”

Hamas, in turn, accused the Israel intelligence of the assassination attempt. The group’s spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, claimed that “same hands” that gunned down Mazen Fakha in March 2017 and Tawfiq Abu Naim in October are behind the attempt on Hamdallah’s life. He was referring to Israel, of course.

The timing of the bombing of Hamdallah’s convoy was quite interesting as well, as it came barely a few hours after a meeting at the White House regarding Gaza. The meeting, chaired by leading pro-Israel officials in Washington, including Jared Kushner, was dubbed as a “brainstorming session” on how to solve the Gaza crisis.

“The Palestinian Authority, furious over the Trump administration’s actions in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv, and cutting aid for Palestinian refugees, refused to attend,” reported the New York Times.

One, however, should not undermine the seriousness of the remaining disagreements between Hamas and Fatah.

Perhaps the main point of conflict is over Hamas’ fighting force. Hamas refuses to compromise on the issue of armed resistance, and Abbas insists on the dismantling of Hamas’ armed group, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

But these disagreements are hardly strong enough reason to kill Hamdallah, the last hope for an end to the rift and easing the blockade on Gaza.

Although Hamdallah survived, the bombing achieved some of its objectives. A senior PA official told AFP that “Abbas decided no members of Hamdallah’s government would travel to Gaza in the short term ‘due to the security problems.’”

While this might not be the end of reconciliation, it could possibly be the beginning of the end.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

15 Years After: Remembering Shock and Awe

Remembering Shock and Awe

by Andy Worthington

March 20, 2018

Exactly 15 years ago, the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq began, with huge support from the British government led by Tony Blair, based on lies that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and constituted a direct threat to the West.

It was a day of profound shame and disgrace that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (at the very minimum) and that has had lasting and horrendous repercussions - the destabilization of Iraq itself, the torture that first surfaced in the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004, massacres like those at Fallujah (also in April 2004) and the prisons - Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper, as well as Abu Ghraib, which "had an incendiary effect on the insurgency", as the Guardian explained in 2014 - leading eventually to the creation of Daesh (Islamic State).

Those responsible for this entire debacle, who, as a result of the war's clear illegality, are therefore guilty of war crimes, include George Bush and Tony Blair, and yet both men are still at liberty.

Israeli Minister Tells Truth About Palestine

US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank 

by Jonathan Cook - CounterPunch

March 20, 2018 
Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state.

“We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.”

Later in Washington, Bennett, who heads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from annexing the West Bank, just as it had with its annexation of the Syrian Golan in 1980.
Photo: http://moty66.ipernity.com
| CC BY 2.0

International opposition would dissipate, he said.

“After two months it fades away and 20 years later and 40 years later, [the territory is] still ours.”

Back home, Israel has proven such words are not hollow.

The parliament passed a law last month that brings three academic institutions, including Ariel University, all located in illegal West Bank settlements, under the authority of Israel’s Higher Education Council. Until now, they were overseen by a military body.

The move marks a symbolic and legal sea change. Israel has effectively expanded its civilian sovereignty into the West Bank. It is a covert but tangible first step towards annexation.

In a sign of how the idea of annexation is now entirely mainstream, Israeli university heads mutely accepted the change, even though it exposes them both to intensified action from the growing international boycott (BDS) movement and potentially to European sanctions on scientific co-operation.

Additional bills extending Israeli law to the settlements are in the pipeline. In fact, far-right justice minister Ayelet Shaked has insisted that those drafting new legislation indicate how it can also be applied in the West Bank.

According to Peace Now, she and Israeli law chiefs are devising new pretexts to seize Palestinian territory. She has called the separation between Israel and the occupied territories required by international law “an injustice that has lasted 50 years”.

After the higher education law passed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his party Israel would “act intelligently” to extend unnoticed its sovereignty into the West Bank.

“This is a process with historic consequences,” he said.

That accords with a vote by his Likud party’s central committee in December that unanimously backed annexation.

The government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control – annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”.

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation programme from “creeping to running”.

Notably, Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being co-ordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure.

But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth.

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time donor to the settlements, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV recently:

“The settlers aren’t going anywhere”.

Settler leader Yaakov Katz, meanwhile, thanked Donald Trump for a dramatic surge in settlement growth over the past year. Figures show one in 10 Israeli Jews is now a settler. He called the White House team “people who really like us, love us”, adding that the settlers were “changing the map”.

The US is preparing to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, not only pre-empting a final-status issue but tearing out the beating heart from a Palestinian state.

The thrust of US strategy is so well-known to Palestinian leaders – and in lockstep with Israel – that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to have refused to even look at the peace plan recently submitted to him.

Reports suggest it will award Israel all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians will be forced to accept outlying villages as their own capital, as well as a land “corridor” to let them pray at Al Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As the stronger side, Israel will be left to determine the fate of the settlements and its borders – a recipe for it to carry on with slow-motion annexation.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has warned that Trump’s “ultimate deal” will limit a Palestinian state to Gaza and scraps of the West Bank – much as Bennett prophesied in New York.

Which explains why last week the White House hosted a meeting of European and Arab states to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US officials have warned the Palestinian leadership, who stayed away, that a final deal will be settled over their heads if necessary. This time the US peace plan is not up for negotiation; it is primed for implementation.

With a Palestinian “state” effectively restricted to Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe there – one the United Nations has warned will make the enclave uninhabitable in a few years – needs to be urgently addressed.

But the White House summit also sidelined the UN refugee agency UNRWA, which deals with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The Israeli right hates UNRWA because its presence complicates annexation of the West Bank. And with Fatah and Hamas still at loggerheads, it alone serves to unify the West Bank and Gaza.

That is why the Trump administration recently cut US funding to UNRWA – the bulk of its budget. The White House’s implicit goal is to find a new means to manage Gaza’s misery.

What is needed now is someone to arm-twist the Palestinians. Mike Pompeo’s move from the CIA to State Department, Trump may hope, will produce the strongman needed to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission.  

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/
More articles by:Jonathan Cook

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.  

After ISIS: Turkish Allies Make a Mess of Afrin

In Afrin the Turks are Looting and Pillaging with Gunfire 


March 20, 2018

ournalist for the Independent, Patrick Cockburn, returning from Northern Syria says, one of the most peaceful places in the region has turned into a swamp of human misery for the Kurds.

Turkey's military and Islamist rebel groups supported by Turkey took over the Syrian city of Afrin on Sunday. Afrin is a largely Kurdish area that had been under the control of the leftist Kurdish armed group the Popular Protection Unit, known as the YPG. The Turkish offensive forced hundreds and thousands of civilians to flee over two months of brutal fighting. After seizing the city center, jihadist rebels embedded in the Turkish army immediately began looting civilian homes and burning down Kurdish properties.

Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country's recent history. Cockburn's latest book is The Age of Jihad.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Unraveling the Salisbury "Poisoning" Mystery

"No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury" 

by Moon of Alabama

March 19, 2018

There have been some interesting developments in the alleged poisoning case of the British-Russian double-agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter.

The British governments standing on the issue is getting worse as more inconsistencies and doubts on its statements come to light. The international support for its claims is weakening.

On March 4 the Skripals collapsed on a public bench in Salisbury in England after they had visited a pub and a restaurant. They were brought to the local hospital.

A local policemen was probably also affected. (See our previous posts, liked at the end, for many additional details.)

A week later, on March 12, the British government said that a nerve agent was the cause of the incident and accused Russia of being responsible for the act:

Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok—a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Based on this capability, combined with Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations—including against former intelligence officers whom it regards as legitimate targets—the UK Government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act.

Novichok is not a nerve agent but supposedly a group of chemical substances investigated in the Soviet Union for their nerve agent potential. Only recently have some of these substances been synthesized.

Former ambassador Craig Murray reported that the formulation "... a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, ..." was a compromise negotiated between the British government and its chemical weapon specialists in its Porton Down laboratory. Note that the statement does not implicate at all that Russia is involved in the current case.

The British government demanded a Russian response within 24 hours without presenting any evidence of Russian involvement. Russia rightly pointed out that such a demand is in breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) procedures as supervised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and rejected it.

The U.S, Britain, France and Germany issued a common supporting statement which repeated the British formulation:

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.
We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility. We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.

Since then many questions and doubts about the British government's Noviochok drama have been raised. Bit by bit the case is falling apart.

Consider for example this picture which shows Mr. Skripal and his daughter Julia presumably in the pub or the restaurant they visited before they collapsed. Who is the third person, visible in the mirror between them, who took the picture?

Is this third person the former MI6 agent Pablo Miller who once recruited Skripal as British double agent. Pablo Miller who like Sergej Skripal lives in Salisbury and is still his friend? The same Pablo Miller who worked with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele at Orbis to create the 'dirty dossier' about Donald Trump? How much were the Skripals involved in creating the fake stories in the anti-Trump dossier for which the Clinton campaign paid more than $100,000 dollars. Did the Skripals threaten to talk about the issue? Is that why the incident happened?

So far no information about the third person that took the above picture has been coming forward.

On March 16 the British government was still pleased with the success of the drama it constructed from a movie script (video) around the Skripal incident.

The headline and intro of the BBC story are telling: Russian spy: UK government response going to plan so far
Among senior ministers and officials, there's quiet satisfaction that the Russia crisis seems to be going according to plan. Maybe even better.

According to one senior government source, "it's gone at least as well as we'd hoped".

That may end soon.

The London Times reported on March 14th that 40 people in Salisbury needed treatment because of poisoning. A reader's letter to the paper written by "Steven Davies - Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust" disputes that report. The letter seems to say that none of the hospital's patients were effected by "nerve agents" at all:

Sir, Further to your report "Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment", Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only been ever been three patients with significant poisoning.

The wording of the letter is not 100% clear. Does the "no patients" refer to only the 40 the Times mentioned or to all patents including the Skripals? Are the three patients with "significant poisoning" the Skripals and the affected policeman? Commentator Noirette had suggested here that the Skripal case was about food poisoning or a food allergy, not nerve agents. The Skripals had visited a fish restaurant one hour before they were found. The letter points into a similar direction.

I have yet to see a follow up on the letter by any media. Why is there no interview with the doctor? All medical personal involved are astonishingly silent. Since day one there has been no medical update on the health status of the Skripals. Has the government issued a gag order. Why? By writing the above letter Steven Davies, the Salisbury emergency consultant, probably circumvented it.

The UK has since folded on its unilateral demand outside of the OPCW procedures. It has now, as Russia demanded, involved the OPCW and OPCW specialist are expected to visit the British chemical weapon laboratory in Porton Down, which is near Salisbury, to investigate the case.

But the British Foreign office also raised a new accusation against Russia:

The Foreign Secretary revealed this morning that we have information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of Novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson used a less hedged wording:

"We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok," Johnson told the BBC.

 British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - bigger

Craig Murray took the Johnson statement apart. If the UK really had or has such information why did it not, as the CWC demands, inform the OPCW of Russia's potential breach of its obligations? Why is this coming out only now?

The British allies seem to be unimpressed by Boris Johnson's show.

Today the German Foreign Minister tracked back from the common position issued last week:

Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, has described Russia as a "difficult partner", but said the UK poisoning was a "bilateral" issue, indicating that Britain can count on little support from the EU.

Maas spoke ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (19 March)

A common statement after the EU foreign ministers meeting did not blame Russia. It repeated the carefully negotiated wording of the original British accusation but did not endorse the British position:

The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK Government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.
The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years.
The EU welcomes the commitment of the UK to work closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in supporting the investigation into the attack.

The statement is false in that nerve agents have actually been used on European soil over the last 70 years. During the Cold War Britain tested various types of chemical and biological weapons, including nerve agents, on its own population as well as in its colonies and in other countries. Why should we exclude an even more recent use?

The Skripal poisoning case stinks. The British government is obviously not telling the truth about it. It uses the script of a recent spy drama to allege a 'Novichok' attack to implicate Russia and to raise anti-Russian sentiment. Information about the case is evidently held back. The media is mostly complicit.

Foreign countries have noticed that the story stinks and are tracking back on their support.

The people and the British opposition should urgently demand more and better answer from May's failing government. ---

Previous Moon of Alabama pieces on the Skripal case:
March 8 - Poisioned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign
March 12 - Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment
March 14 - Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart
March 16 - The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?

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.

Visit the Palast Investigative Fund store or simply make a tax-deductible contribution to keep our work alive! Alternatively, become a monthly contributor and automatically receive Palast's new films and books when they're released!

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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, 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 palestinenature.org).

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
Join me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/mazin.qumsiyeh.9

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