apology to dr ali al-attar

It has come to my notice that among the news items that have I posted on Niqnaq were five entries that mentioned Dr Ali Al-Attar of Washington, DC. On one occasion, I thoughtlessly copied a headline that called Dr Al-Attar “a shady physician,” without intending to endorse the judgment evident in the story itself. For this, I offer Dr Al-Attar my sincerest apology. I apologise unreservedly for any disparagement or libel inadvertently caused to Dr Al-Attar. I have deleted the entries concerned.

iran’s view of ‘shedgate’ fiasco

Tehran: Mossad’s stolen doc claims absurd; WMDs against what we stand for
Sputnik News, Jul 19 2018

The Iranian UN Mission has officially denied Israeli claims that Mossad had managed to obtain thousands of secret documents from a warehouse in Tehran which allegedly proved that Iran violated the nuclear deal. According to the NYT, a spox for the Iranian mission said:

Iran has always been clear that creating indiscriminate WMDs is against what we stand for as a country, and the notion that Iran would abandon any kind of sensitive information in some random warehouse in Tehran is laughably absurd. It’s almost as if they are trying to see what outlandish claims they can get a Western audience to believe.

The Iranian mission’s response follows claims in pindo media about a daring Mossad operation this past winter to steel thousands of nuclear weapons program-related documents from a warehouse in the Iranian capital in January. Israel claimed its agents stole some 50,000 pages of information, as well as over 160 compact discs containing videos and other materials. The documents served as the basis for Netanyahu’s April PowerPoint presentation, in which he accused Iran of “lying” about its suspended nuclear weapons program. Iran lambasted Netanyahu’s presentation, and insisted the documents were fakes. In May, Pres Trump withdrew Pindostan from the JCPoA on Iran’s nuclear program, vowed to reintroduce sanctions and to add new pressure against the country. The JCPoA’s other signatories, including Russia, China, and the European powers, have been looking for ways to salvage the deal ever since. Tehran warned that it might pull out of the JCPoA if its interests weren’t met. In May, the IAEA said that it had “no credible” evidence that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon after 2009, and considered the issue “closed” since 2015. Russia has consistently stated that Moscow has seen no evidence that Iran was working on a nuclear bomb. Israel is widely believed to possess between 80 and 400 nuclear warheads, but has never officially or admitted or denied having them. Tel Aviv is not a signatory of the NNPT.

the russian view of skripal evolves towards international litigation

Russia to Regard Britain’s Move to Classify Poisoning Cases as Harboring of Criminals
Sputnik News, Jul 19 2018

If Britain classifies the Salisbury and Amesbury cases, Moscow will interpret it as an attempt to hide the masterminds and perpetrators of these crimes, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Russia intends to exert political pressure on the British side in Skripal case, Ambassador Yakovenko said on the eve of the ambassadors’ meeting:

These are reports in the media, no official statements of the British side, unfortunately. I want to hear from Scotland Yard, from the Foreign Office. Many versions in the newspapers are not confirmed at the official level. The embassy has repeatedly asked the British Foreign Ministry to confirm various versions, but hasn’t received any substantive answers. I intend to meet with the new head of the British Foreign Ministry, Jeremy Hunt, and discuss bilateral relations and the Skripal case. I was just informed at the embassy that I received a letter from the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, where the new Foreign Minister sends me greetings, and I plan to resume my offer to meet with Foreign Minister Hunt and discuss Russian-British relations. I did not get such a meeting with the previous minister Johnson. I think he did not have the opportunity to operate on certain data.

On Mar 4 2018, the Skripals were found unresponsive on a bench at a shopping mall in the British town of Salisbury after they were exposed to what Britain experts claimed was the A234 nerve agent. British PM May rushed to the conclusion that it was “highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” an accusation vehemently rejected by Moscow, which called it “absurd.” Sergei Lavrov signaled Moscow’s readiness to provide assistance in the probe, while at the same time stressing that Russia hadn’t been provided with any specific facts proving its involvement in the Skripals’ alleged poisoning. London has refused to cooperate with Russia on the case, or provide samples of the substance allegedly used against the Skripal family.

Russian Envoy: OPCW Doomed Unless Move to Expand Its Attributive Powers
Sputnik News, Jul 15 2018

MOSCOW – The OPCW is doomed unless the decision to expand the organization’s powers by allowing it to attribute responsibility for chemical attacks is reconsidered, Russia’s envoy to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin told Sputnik. Shulgin said:

It was adopted by a minority. We have made it clear that we will not execute it and will do everything possible to rectify the situation. If the situation cannot be fixed, the days of the OPCW are numbered, at least as far as its truly universal character is concerned. It is necessary to change a lot in the work of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, to ensure that the Fact-Finding Mission in the use of chemical weapons is staffed on the basis of the principle of fair geographical representation, so that there are representatives of all regions and not only representatives of the Western group from those countries that are knowingly hostile to the legitimate Syrian authorities and to Pres Assad. Russia will by any means fight attempts to expand the OPCW’s powers by giving it the right to attribute blame for chemical weapons attacks. Any attributive functions in the OPCW, delegating to the Technical Secretariat functions of identifying perpetrators behind the use of chemical weapons, is a direct encroachment on the UNSC’s prerogative. We have submitted a list of written questions, expecting to receive some clear answers the following day. Unfortunately, we received no answers even on the following day. A feeling that the mission is guided by some sort of double standards in its work grew stronger. The FFM appears to have trusted Syrian armed militants implicitly, but seems extremely skeptical of any information provided by the Syrian government and the Russian military. Russia decided to send the questions in writing after it became clear during the special briefing that the mission representative could not answer on the spot. The FFM obediently types everything that the representatives of the Western group suggest. We will seek a radical change in the situation in the Technical Secretariat. It was promised in two or three weeks, but no one can say anything precise, I was told on Jul 13. We will demand a comprehensive review. We will pay attention to inconsistencies & gaps in the conduct of such an investigation. The truth must be established…

The envoy pointed out that the report did not mention that the OPCW mission which, was about to set out for Syria to look into the incident had to stay in Beirut so as not be hit by the strikes. On Jul 6, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission said in a report that the investigators found no traces of nerve agents in the environmental samples or samples collected from alleged casualties of April’s reported chemical weapons attack in Douma. At the same time, OPCW experts said they had found traces of organic substances containing chlorine, along with explosive residues. The FFM pledged to continue its work to draw final conclusions. FUKUS launched over 100 missiles at various targets in Syria a week after an alleged chemical attack in Douma on Apr 7, which they blamed on the Syrian government. The Syrian government refuted the allegations.

more infectious skripal madness

For profit, it’s better never to come to any plausible end. I saw this and this. How do you like it? Poor soul Dawn perfumed herself, despite ammonia smell, BOTH wrists. What about Yulia, Sergei, Nick Bailey, Charley, doorknob ????? On perfume bottle, they think it was a hit group of 6 assassins with a woman who took the key role. Too complicated, my husband said. 6 men could simply kidnap him, kill him, and leave him in the street with empty pockets. Nobdy ever would learn what had happened. – Tatyana, Craig Murray Comments

Detectives IDENTIFY the Russian Novichok assassins
Alexander Robertson, Daily Mail, Jul 19 2018

Police have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, it was revealed today. Officers believe a team of Russian assassins were sent to Britain to murder the former Kremlin double agent back in March and are hunting up to six suspects. It is understood the kill team have been recorded on CCTV as they carried out their mission in Salisbury, with their movements cross-checked with records of people entering Britain at that time. It comes as an inquest opens today into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died this month after supposedly coming into contact with the same batch of Novichok. Detectives believe the mother-of-three found a discarded bottle containing Novichok, three months after it had been disposed of by the attackers. The nerve agent was hidden in a perfume bottle, suggesting one of the assassins may have been a woman, and that Ms Sturgess sprayed the deadly substance onto her wrists after finding it in a park. Her partner Charlie Rowley was left fighting for his life after also being contaminated by the chemical weapon. It is understood mother-of-three Ms Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent the Skripals came into contact with. Investigators are working to the theory that the substance was in a discarded perfume bottle found by the couple in a park or somewhere in Salisbury city centre. Mr Rowley says that after finding the bottle, Ms Sturgess sprayed Novichok straight on to her both of her wrists, the source said. The Metropolitan Police, who are leading the investigation, declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the investigation told the PA:

Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time. They are sure they are Russian.

According to reports from pindo natsec boxtops, police have recovered grainy CCTV images of persons who inadvertently killed Dawn. Counter-terror cops are closing in on identifying the suspects, thought to be from Mr Skripal’s former employers, the GRU. Both he and his daughter, as well as Det Sgt Nick Bailey of Wiltshire Police, made miraculous recoveries after being on the brink of death. All three were treated at Salisbury General Hospital, where Charlie is now being cared for. The perfume bottle could support the theory that a woman was involved in the initial hit by up to six people against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on Mar 4. Ms Sturgess’ inquest will be opened today in Salisbury and the hearing is expected to be adjourned to allow police inquiries to continue. On Wednesday, a fingertip search of Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury was carried out. The park and other locations in Salisbury and nearby Amesbury were cordoned off last month after the exposure of the couple to the nerve agent. Searches of properties could last months after 400 items were recovered, officers warned, while waste and litter will be removed as part of the sweep of public areas. Last week counter-terrorism detectives revealed they had found a small bottle containing Novichok at Mr Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. They are trying to establish where the container came from and how it came to be in his house. A team of international experts from the OPCW was called in to independently verify this. They have finished collecting samples which will now be analysed at two OPCW labs before the results are reported back to Britain. Public Health England said the risk to the public remains low but it continued to “strongly advise” not to pick up any unknown “strange items” such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

Russian assassin who carried perfume bottle ‘was a WOMAN who took key role in six-strong poison hit team’
Mark Duell, Emine Sinmaz, Daily Mail, Jul 18 2018

A female assassin was part of the Russian military intelligence agency believed to have carried out the deadly nerve agent attack in Britain, it was claimed today. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died last week, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, is fighting for life in hospital after they found the Russian nerve agent in Amesbury, near Salisbury. Mr Rowley’s brother Matthew said yesterday the couple last month picked up a perfume bottle in a park containing the nerve agent and sprayed it on themselves. The perfume bottle lead supports the theory that a woman was involved in the initial hit by up to six people against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on Mar 4. An intelligence source told the Daily Mirror:

It makes sense that a female officer may have been part of the team, playing a key role.

Mr Rowley, 47, said yesterday:

All I know, all Charles has said so far, is that it was a perfume bottle or an aftershave bottle, and they picked it up in a park, and they sprayed themselves with it. I’m going to talk to Charles later, and I’m trying my best to get the truth out of him about where he got it from, where it came from, what make it was. It was nine days before they got ill that they picked it up. He’s not very healthy. It’s still 50/50, and his mental health has gone down as well.

The Novichok is thought to have been left behind by the would-be assassins who targeted former Russian spy Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia four months ago. Yesterday, the Russian agency thought to have meddled in the 2016 pindo presidential elections was accused of being responsible for the attack on the Skripals. Detectives believe it was carried out by the GRU, the agency that Mr Skripal served in for about 15 years, and are “closing in on identifying the individuals they believe carried out the operation,” according to the NYT. The GRU is said to be behind many contentious Russian acts, including interfering in the 2016 pindo election. Mr Skripal was a senior officer in the GRU until he was jailed for 13 years for spying for the British in 2006. He was freed in a spy swap in 2010 and settled in Britain. Mrs Sturgess’s son Ewan Hope called on Trump to raise his mother’s death with Putin during their Helsinki meeting. He said:

I don’t share Donald Trump’s politics and I’ll never be a supporter of his, but I would like him to raise Mum’s case with the Russian president.

Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess died after spraying nerve poison that smelled of ammonia from a perfume bottle onto both wrists, her boyfriend reveals
James Fielding, Daily Mail, Jul 17 2018

Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess died after spraying perfume laced with the nerve agent onto both her wrists, her boyfriend, who was also exposed to the deadly substance, has revealed. Charlie Rowley, who is in a critical but stable condition in hospital, made the admission to his brother during an emotional phone conversation yesterday evening. The couple collapsed a few hours apart on Jun 30 at Mr Rowley’s flat, in Amesbury, Wiltshire. They are believed to have stumbled upon the same batch of Novichok used to try to assassinate Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in nearby Salisbury in March. Charlie is unable to remember where exactly he and his partner found the perfume bottle, but it is understood to be near Salisbury city centre, close to the spot the Skripals fell ill. Mother of three Dawn died on Jul 8. Police admitted that she had been exposed to a far greater dosage than Sergei and his daughter. Matthew Rowley, who lives in Warminster, told Mail Online:

My brother told me that he remembered that Dawn had sprayed the perfume on both her wrists. He doesn’t recall much of what happened afterwards but that particular detail is stuck in his mind. He also mentioned that he vaguely recollects there being an odd ammonia-type smell from the perfume. We don’t know yet if he had direct contact with the nerve agent like Dawn appears to have done or whether it was after he had touched her. At the moment he’s still very ill, he’s not out of the woods yet. I’ve asked him where he and Dawn picked up the bottle of perfume. Was it in Elizabeth Gardens or somewhere else in Salisbury? But he just cannot remember yet. His memory has been affected by this but day by day he’s beginning to remember more.

Counter-terror police found a small bottle they believe contained the Novichok at Charlie’s flat in Amesbury, seven miles north of Salisbury, last week. Officers have cordoned off the section of Salisbury where they believe the couple originally stumbled upon the container. Matthew said his younger brother was “beside himself with grief” at the loss of Dawn. He said that he raged: “They’ve killed my girlfriend, they’ve killed my girlfriend” during their phone call yesterday. Matthew said:

Charlie is slowly regaining his strength and he’s now conscious and able to speak but only in small sentences. He’s been told that Dawn has died and he is very, very angry as you’d expect. When I spoke to him yesterday he was shouting “They’ve killed my girlfriend! They’ve killed my girlfriend!” I tried to console him and said that he needed to try and keep as strong as possible so he can recover. He woke up last Wednesday and at first he could barely lift his head off the pillow but slowly and surely his strength is improving. I try and speak to him most days and he’s getting the best possible treatment. The police are guarding him closely at the moment. There has been talk of possibly relocating Charlie to a safe house, like Skripal and his daughter, when he’s able to leave hospital but nothing has been decided on yet.

According to reports from pindo natsec boxtops, police have recovered grainy CCTV images of persons of the possible Kremlin-backed assignation squad who inadvertently killed Dawn. Counter-terror cops are closing in on identifying the suspects, thought to be from Mr Skripal’s former employers, Russia’s military intelligence service the GRU, the agency that Mr Skripal served in for about 15 years. Both he and his daughter, as well as Det Sgt Nick Bailey of Wiltshire Police, made miraculous recoveries after being on the brink of death. All three were treated at Salisbury General Hospital, where Charlie is now being cared for. The perfume bottle could support the theory that a woman was involved in the initial hit by up to six people against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on Mar 4. British officials are “closing in on identifying the individuals they believe carried out the operation,” according to the NYT. The GRU is said to be behind many contentious Russian acts, including interfering in the pindo presidential election. Mr Skripal was a senior officer in the GRU until he was jailed for 13 years for spying for the British in 2006. He was freed in a spy swap in 2010 and settled in Britain. A Scotland Yard spox said:

The investigation into the Salisbury attack remains ongoing and we’re not prepared to discuss any lines of enquiry at this stage.

obama’s shuck & jive

Obama boasts: “I’m surprised how much money I got”
Barry Grey, WSWS, Jul 19 2018

The corporate media has overwhelmingly praised Barack Obama’s speech in Johannesburg on Tuesday at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, calling it an “impassioned” defense of democracy, tolerance, equality and the liberal capitalist world order established after WW2. The reports have singled out Obama’s muted and indirect criticisms of Donald Trump’s “strongman politics” and the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” who are “caught in a lie and just double down and lie some more.” No notice is being taken in the press reports of two points in the rambling, 90-minute address that exposes Obama’s boundless cynicism and hypocrisy. In a cliché-ridden speech that deplored the “explosion of inequality” and argued for “inclusive capitalism,” Obama evidently departed from his written text to gently rib members of the ‘new elite’, saying:

Some even supported Barack Obama for the POTUS, and by virtue of my status as a former head of state, some of them consider me as an honorary member of the club. (Laughter.) And I get invited to these fancy things, you know? They’ll fly me out.

Later, in the midst of a call to rein in the “excesses of capitalism” so that “rich people are still rich” but they’re “giving a little bit back,” he evoked more laughter and applause from his audience when he said, in a jocular voice:

I should add, by the way, right now I’m actually surprised by how much money I got! And let me tell you something! I don’t have half as much as most of these folks, or a tenth, or a hundredth! There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it’s enough.

At this point, the video camera panned the rostrum to show a broadly smiling and clapping Cyril Ramaphosa, the recently elected president of South Africa, who parlayed his posts at the head of the country’s trade unions into lucrative slots on corporate boards and a fortune estimated at $675m. Obama may be surprised at his recent entry into the pindosi financial oligarchy, but it’s not for lack of effort on his part to “join the club.” Even before he left the White House in Jan 2017, Obama and Michelle were plotting the means to cash in on their services rendered to the rich and the filthy rich during their eight years in office. That period was distinguished by two major records: the first two-term presidency to preside over uninterrupted war for its entire duration, and the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in pindosi history. Since leaving office, the Obamas have garnered a $65m book deal, and Obama is making an estimated 50 speeches a year before corporate and Wall Street audiences at about $400k a clip. It has been estimated that the couple is on course to rapidly amass a fortune of $242m, outdoing the Clintons, who up to now have managed to cash in to the tune of only $75m. Meanwhile, they have been photographed frolicking on the yachts and private islands of billionaires such as Richard Branson in the company of multi-millionaire Hollywood celebrities and media moguls such as Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey.

This in-your-face corruption was perfectly at home amidst the fat-cat dignitaries of the African National Congress who hosted Tuesday’s event. Mandela himself remains admired and even beloved by ordinary South Africans and millions of poor and oppressed around the world. That is because of the courage and self-sacrifice he evinced when he played a leading role in the struggle against the hated apartheid regime, for which he spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island. He is, however, honored by world imperialism and the South African bourgeoisie, white and black, because of the central role he played in channeling the mass revolt against apartheid behind the aspiring black bourgeoisie, and the guarantee he gave to the IMF that an ANC regime would uphold capitalist property relations and protect the interests of foreign capital. The result of a quarter-century of “black empowerment” has been the creation of a narrow but infinitely corrupt and grasping black elite that has presided over an increase in social inequality to unprecedented levels and, if anything, a worsening of poverty. In paying tribute to Mandela and hailing his successor Ramaphosa, Obama discreetly omitted mention of the fact that South Africa is officially the most unequal country on the face of the earth, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line, an official jobless rate of 27%, and a youth unemployment rate of 50%.

In his speech, following a potted history of democratic progress in the 20th century which failed to mention the single event most responsible for whatever social and political gains were achieved internationally, the socialist revolution of Oct 1917 in Russia, Obama deplored the “explosion of inequality” over recent decades and criticized the indifference of the “new elite” to the consequences of their policies for working people. He could, of course, have pointed to Ramaphosa, sitting a few feet away. In 2012, as a 9% shareholder in the Lonmin mine in Marikana, the current South African president and former head of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa had demanded that the authorities take action against the “plainly dastardly criminal acts” of striking miners. The call was carried out when security forces gunned down the strikers, in the worst massacre since the mass murder carried out by the apartheid regime at Sharpeville and Soweto. 34 miners were killed and 78 were wounded. Or Obama could have looked in the mirror. Typical of Obama’s speeches, Tuesday’s address criticized reactionary and anti-democratic policies as though Obama himself had no part in their implementation. Thus, Obama denounced the rapid growth of inequality, while gliding over his own multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and “quantitative easing” policies, which were designed to pump up the stock market and further enrich the oligarchy. Nor did he note the wage-cutting impact of his auto bailout, which imposed a 50% across-the-board cut in pay for new-hires; his support for the Detroit bankruptcy, which launched a nationwide attack on public-employee pension benefits; or his health care “reform,” which has increased out-of-pocket cost and reduced services for millions or workers. He attacked escalating press censorship in one breath and in the next supplied the pretext for Internet censorship:

The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise. Social media, once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity, has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories.

But it is a fact that his administration prosecuted more reporters for leaking classified information than any previous administration, and he spearheaded the persecution of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Obama’s supposed commitment to democracy and the rule of law is belied by his own record of defending the perpetrators of torture, maintaining the Guantanamo prison camp, overseeing abductions and detention without due process, defending mass domestic surveillance and expanding drone assassinations, including against pindo citizens. In his speech, he criticized the war against immigrants, making no acknowledgment of his own role in preparing it, including the deportation of more immigrants than all previous administrations combined, 2.7 million. The central contention of his speech was advanced in the following sentence:

On Mandiba’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads, a moment in time in which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world.

This sentence contains two huge lies. The second is the claim that “citizens around the world” will have any say in the policies pursued by the various capitalist governments. The first is the claim that Obama’s empty and demagogic call for a “kinder and gentler” capitalism represents a fundamentally opposed and viable alternative to the far-right policies of Trump and similar right-wing populist regimes and parties around the world. The reality is that Trump’s policies of war, social counter-revolution and authoritarianism are an extension of the policies of the Obama administration, in a somewhat more extreme form. On these issues, the entire ruling elite and all of its parties are united, whatever the specific foreign policy questions over which they are presently brawling.

not a lot of MSM coverage for this

Fascist assault on British union leader Steve Hedley
Julie Hyland, WSWS, Jul 19 2018

The brutal assault on Steve Hedley, Asst Gen Sec of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, by fascist thugs Saturday is an outrage. Hedley and his partner Bridget were among several people ambushed by supporters of jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson. The RMT leader was a key speaker at a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) event Saturday, organised by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) as a counter-protest to a far-right demonstration by Robinson’s supporters in central London. Witnesses say Hedley and others from his union were targeted after the rally by a mob while they were drinking in the Westminster Arms pub. Pictures and video show Hedley bleeding heavily from a bandaged head wound. His Facebook account reports that Bridget was hit with a chair by one of the assailants and had to be admitted to hospital with problems breathing. At least one other person was cut on the head by a broken bottle. Reports are thin, but it appears their assailants have still not been apprehended. The RMT leader and his partner, however, were amongst 12 people arrested and held for several hours by police. The right-wing mob was apparently able to vanish into thin air despite a massive police presence on the day. But it is typical of events staged by the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) or Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), which brings together the rump of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the English Defence League (EDL) and various neo-Nazis. Photographs and videos show Robinson supporters lashing out at counter-protestors with wooden sticks, kicking police horses and at one point menacingly surrounding a bus driven by a woman in a hijab, bringing traffic to a halt. Had workers or left-wing supporters behaved in such a way, they would have been kettled, beaten by police and arrested. In contrast, the Metropolitan Police have repeatedly treated the aggressive display by fascists in central London over the last weeks with kid gloves, including on the day of the royal wedding.

All the more disturbing, then, is the muted response of SUTR and its supporters to the attack on Hedley. Among those backing the protest, although not in attendance, were Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. To date neither has publicly condemned the assault on Hedley. Neither has Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite his condemnation the previous day of racism and fascism during mass protests against Trump. Hedley reports that Corbyn telephoned “asking how we were.” Nothing more. Many of the featured speakers at the SUTR event are silent. A statement on the SUTR website lists only RMT Gen Sec Mick Cash, and two representatives of SUTR as condemning the violence. A report on the protest by Socialist Worker reduces the assault on Hedley to a single line. Likewise the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant), of which Hedley was a member until 2013. Robinson was jailed on May 25 for contempt of court. He was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court for live-streaming a fascistic rant against “Muslim paedophiles” and “Muslim rapists” during the concluding stage of a child-grooming trial. His portrayal as a “free speech” martyr is a calculated attempt by sections of the political elite to cultivate a far-right movement along the lines of Germany’s AfD and France’s Rassemblement National, the réincarnation of the National Front. Organised by Make Britain Great Again, the neo-fascist rally on Jul 14 included representatives from the above, as well as anti-Muslim Australian Liberty Alliance, Swedish Democrats, the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Belguim’s Vlaams Belang. It was compered by former Breitbart London editor and UKIP adviser, Raheem Kassem, while UKIP leader Gerard Batten denounced Muslim “rapists” as followers of a “paedophile.”

If Batten felt able to speak so provocatively, it is because the rally had the support and financial backing of extremely wealthy and influential figures in the Pindo and British elite. Among the financiers of Robinson’s English Defence League (EDL), from which he has since resigned, was Alan Ayling, then database team manager at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in whose £500k Barbican flat it was founded in 2009. The neo-fascist terrorist, Anders Behring Brevik, who murdered 77 mainly young members of Norway’s social democratic youth movement in Jul 2011, cited Ayling as one of his inspirations. At the weekend, it was disclosed that Robinson’s backing goes much higher, to the notorious neocon Faschingstein-based think tank, the Middle East Forum. The MEF is headed by Daniel Pipes, a political representative of the extreme-right in the pindo political establishment and one of the primary cheerleaders of pindo military regime change in the Middle East. The MEF boasts that it is “helping Robinson in his moment of danger” by funding “his legal defence,” “bringing foreign pressure” on the British government for his release and “sponsoring and organising the second ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ gathering in London on Jul 14.” Sam Brownback, the pindo ambassador for international religious freedom, has also lobbied the government for Robinson’s freedom. On Sunday, the day after the assault, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon went on LBC Radio to demand Robinson’s release from prison, describing him as the “backbone of this country” and saying people listening were “going to have to fight to take your country back.” Asked if this was a “call to arms,” he replied, “Absolutely.”

Leading elements of the British government do not require “foreign pressure” to side with the far-right. On Friday, Steve Bannon hosted a meeting at his five-star Mayfair hotel. Those present included former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Conservative Party think-tank The Bow Group, founded by Geoffrey Howe and with a membership reading like a roll-call of the Thatcherite right. Boris Johnson and Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, leading figures in the pro-Brexit campaign and potential leadership challengers to PM May, have also both met up with Bannon, who over the weekend echoed Trump’s barely disguised call for Johnson to replace May as prime minister. Given Robinson’s sponsorship by such figures, and the preferential treatment of his supporters by the Metropolitan Police, the SUTR’s convening of a counter-protest to “take back the streets”, with scant regard for stewarding, is politically criminal adventurism. In the end, the STUR could only muster 3,000 people, half the number assembled by the fascists as the Labour “luminaries” backing them did nothing practically to mobilise anyone. It is only luck that the event did not end the same terrible way as a similar SWP-conceived stunt, with the death of teacher and activist Blair Peach at the hands of the police during Anti-Nazi League (ANL) protests in 1979.

The SUTR, and Hedley himself, can repeat as often as they like the declaration “No Pasaran!” (They shall not pass), but politically they repeat the tragedy of the betrayed 1936-39 Spanish revolution in which the fascists conquered power. The opportunist politics of the SUTR diverts the necessary fight against fascism from tackling its source in the decaying capitalist system into support for the Labour and trade union bureaucracy, that has created the conditions for the growth of the far right. There was a time when a fascist assault on a trade union leader would have been met with mass strikes. No one even suggests this today. Abbott and McDonnell sign their names to the STUR protest, knowing it commits them to nothing, just as Corbyn makes routine denunciations of racism, while presiding over a party in which the Blairite right which was responsible for bailing out the banks, inaugurating austerity and backing the criminal invasion of Iraq, continues to pull the strings. As for the trade unions, their silence on the fascist attack on one of their own leaders is of a piece with their complete indifference to their members, which has seen them preside over a historic decline in wages and living standards. It is under these conditions that right-wing forces can exploit political confusion. Just as Trump owes his position to the fact that the Demagog Party’s Hillary Clinton was considered as bad, if not worse, by sections of the population, likewise in Europe where the social democrats and their pseudo-left apologists are correctly seen as hostile to the working class, the right-wing seek to fill the vacuum. Central to the defeat of fascism is breaking the political stranglehold on the class struggle imposed by the Labour and trade union bureaucracy and the building of a mass revolutionary socialist movement.

the CIA = resident evil

The “treason” charge against Donald Trump
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Jul 19 2018

Amid the continuing hysteria and denunciations directed at Donald Trump over his meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin, the NYT published a front-page article Wednesday titled, “The word treason enters the debate.” The article was written by the Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, author of two books, one a hagiographic work on Obama titled “The Call of History” and the other a Cold War-style demonization of Putin called “Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution.” Baker provides an unintentionally revealing exposure of the sharp shift to the right by what once passed for Demagog Party and establishment media liberalism. Noting that the treason charge stemmed from Trump’s appearing to take “Putin’s word over that of Pindostan’s intelligence agencies on Russian election meddling,” Baker writes:

Mr Trump was being accused not only of poor judgment but of treason, and not just by fringe elements and liberal talk show hosts, but by a former Director of Central Intelligence. In a presidency without precedent, mark another moment for the history books. While the accusation of treason has been thrown around on the edges of the political debate from time to time, never in the modern era has it become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way.

For Baker, it seems that the “modern era” must a be a short one indeed. Moreover, it would appear that he was not informed that a highly relevant piece was appearing the same day on the inside pages of the NYT: an obituary for John Stormer, the author of a book written in 1964 titled “None Dare Call It Treason.” The book, which played a prominent role in Thug candidate Barry Goldwater’s failed presidential bid, summed up and expanded upon the narrative that had been developed by the extreme right wing of pindo politics, associated for a time with Sen Joseph McCarthy, that the government had been largely taken over by Communist agents and “dupes” who were running it in the interests of the Kremlin. The book’s title page carried a blurb reading:

1964 is a year of crisis and decision. Will Pindostan continue to aid the communist enemy, to disarm in the face of danger, to bow before communist dictators in every corner of the earth? The decision is yours.

This paranoid style is finding undeniable echoes from within the Demagog Party and the NYT itself. Just two days earlier, the newspaper’s ineffable foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman described Trump as “an asset of Russian intelligence,” and issued a similar call to arms:

My fellow Pindos, we are in trouble and we have some big decisions to make today.

Last year, the same Friedman used his column to address an open letter appealing to the military officers in the Trump administration to remove the president by means of a palace coup. The chief authority cited by Baker for his treason article is former DCI John Brennan, whom he describes as “one of Trump’s most vocal critics.” Brennan denounced Trump’s behavior in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.” The idea that Trump is an agent of the Kremlin has as much credibility as similar charges leveled more than half a century ago by the likes of McCarthy, Stormer and the John Birch Society against Eisenhower and Kennedy. The fact that the Demagog Party is resurrecting a narrative associated with the most right-wing elements of the pindo political spectrum has ominous implications. It can only serve to sow political disorientation among the pindo creeple and lay the groundwork for an extremely reactionary and dangerous turn by the capitalist pindo state.

What is the content of Trump’s “treason”? What is the charge endlessly repeated by the television anchors and talking heads in tones of shock and outrage, the same media stooges who either pass over in near-silence or provide justifications for the Trump administration’s torture of child refugees on the Mexican border, its war crimes in Syria and Iraq and its support for a genocidal war against the people of Yemen? It is that Trump has failed to accept the unsupported word of “the intelligence community.” Brought forward as authorities on this supposed “high crime” are a trio of ex-intelligence chiefs who are now fattening their bank accounts as “security and intelligence analysts” for the television networks: Brennan, Hayden and Clapper. What unlikely guardians of the truth! As DCIs and DNIs, all of them oversaw torture, “black sites,” “extraordinary rendition” and drone assassinations, as well as other crimes carried out behind the backs of the pindo sheeple. Brennan sought to prevent the exposure of CIA torture by ordering the hacking of the Senate intelligence committee’s computers by CIA spooks. Clapper is a perjurer, who lied to Congress by denying that the NSA, which he also headed, was collecting data on pindosi citizens, a lie exposed by the revelations of Edward Snowden. And Hayden, who was also a chief of the NSA, initiated massive domestic spying programs.

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of history must question the current glorification of these agencies as defenders of democracy against the “traitor” Trump. In any democratic society, the secret police and intelligence forces of the capitalist state have always been regarded with the greatest of suspicion. Nowhere is this truer than in Pindostan. Indeed, so great was the suspicion of the CIA that its founding charter barred it from conducting operations within Pindostan itself, based on the recognition that its secretive activities took place outside of the parameters of the law, both national and international. Dubbed “Murder Inc” for its organization of assassinations, it also engineered coups against democratically elected governments that installed savage dictatorships from Iran and Guatemala to Turkey and Greece and countries throughout Latin America. As for the FBI, its record is littered with judicial frame-ups, provocations and murders. The agency conducted a virtual war against the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement and every section of the pindo left, flooding organizations with thousands of spies and agent-provocateurs. These agencies are largely responsible for the twin lies that have been utilized to justify the last quarter century of pindo foreign policy based on unending wars of aggression: “WMDs” and the “GWOT.” That expressing skepticism as to the veracity and integrity of the CIA, FBI and NSA can be branded as treason represents a stark warning of the dangers of a US police state.

The other “treasonous” act was the attempt to diminish tensions with Moscow. While Trump views Russia through the prism of his transactional “Pindostan First” foreign policy, the predominant factions within the pindo ruling establishment and Faschingstein’s vast military and intelligence apparatus are so committed to the preparation for a military confrontation aimed at carving up and colonizing the Russian federation that no letup can be tolerated. These are the interests expressed by the Demagogs, the consummate party of Wall Street and the CIA. It is unwilling and unable to oppose Trump from a progressive, not to mention left-wing, standpoint because it is the defender of the interests of finance capital and the Jeff Bezoses of this world. The terms “left” and “right” have ceased to have any real significance within the context of bourgeois politics in Pindostan. The neo-McCarthyite politics embraced by the Demagogs express the shift by the entire ruling establishment and its warring factions toward reaction and the destruction of the basic social and democratic rights of the broad mass of working people. That the same dynamic prevails among the pseudo-left organizations orbiting the Demagog Party was made clear by the reaction of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) to the uproar over the Helsinki summit, where it declared, “Trump managed to look like a dupe of one of the most transparently evil people on the planet.” All of these political tendencies, reflecting the interests of the more privileged layers of the upper middle class, are being pushed sharply to the right by the upsurge in class struggle in Pindostan and internationally and the threat of a revolutionary social explosion.

it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck while everyone on the train is being totally homophobic.

Russiagate Is Like 9/11, Except It’s Made Of Pure Narrative
Caitlin Johnstone, Jul 19 2018

The last few days have been truly amazing. I didn’t even write an article yesterday; I’ve just been staring transfixed by my social media feeds watching liberal Pindos completely lose their minds. I can’t look away. It’s like watching a slow motion train wreck, and everyone on the train is being really homophobic. I’ve been writing about Russiagate since it started, and I can honestly say this is the worst it’s ever been, by far. The most hysterical, the most shrill, the most emotional, the most cartoonishly over-the-top and hyperbolic. The fact that Trump met with Putin in private and then publicly expressed doubt about the establishment Russia narrative has sent some political factions of Pindostan into an emotional state that is indistinguishable from what you’d expect if Russia had bombed New York City. This despite the fact that the establishment Russia narrative consists of no actual, visible events whatsoever. It is made of pure narrative. I don’t even know where to start. Everyone has been completely mad across the entire spectrum of what passes for Pindostan’s political “left” today, from the usual suspects like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and their indistinguishable Never-Trump Thug allies, all the way to supposedly progressive commentators like Cenk Uygur and Shaun King. Comparing this pure narrative non-event to Pearl Harbor is now commonplace and mainstream. I just watched Senator Richard Blumenthal stare right into the camera and refer to the hypothetical possibility of future Russian cyber-intrusions as “this 9/11 moment.” Blumenthal told CNN while demanding a record of Trump’s meeting with Putin at the Helsinki summit:

We are in a 9/11 national emergency because our country is under attack, literally. That attack is ongoing and pervasive, verified by objective and verifiable evidence. Those words are, again, from the director of National Security. And this 9/11 moment demands that we do come together.

Nothing about the establishment Russia narrative is in any way verifiable, and the only thing it has in common with 9/11 is the media coverage and widespread emotional response. 9/11 had actual video footage of falling towers. You could go visit New York City, look at the spot where those towers used to be, and see them not being there anymore. You could learn the names of the people who died and visit their graves and talk to their family members. Exactly how it happened is a matter of some debate in many circles, but there is no question that it happened. There was an actual event that did happen in the real world, completely independent of any stories people tell about that event. Russiagate is like 9/11, but with none of those things. It’s like if 9/11 had all the same widespread emotional responses, all the same nonstop mass media coverage, all the same punditry screaming war, war, war, except no actual event occurred. The towers were still there, everyone was still alive, and nothing actually happened apart from the narrative and the emotional responses to that narrative. Russiagate is 9/11 minus 9/11.

This is what I’m talking about when I say that whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Whoever controls the stories that westerners are telling each other has the power to advance concrete agendas which reshape global geopolitics without any actual thing even happening. Simply by getting a few hand-picked intelligence agents to say something happened in a relatively confident way, you can get the entire media and political body advancing that narrative as unquestionable fact, and from there advance sanctions, new military operations, a far more aggressive Nuclear Posture Review, the casting out of diplomats, the arming of Ukraine, and ultimately shove Russia further and further off the world stage. As we discussed last time, the current administration has actually been far more aggressive against Russia than the previous administration was, and has worked against Russian interests to a far greater extent. If they wanted to, the international alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies could just as easily use their near-total control of the narrative to advance the story that Trump is a dangerous Russia hawk who is imperiling the entire world by inflicting insane escalations against a nuclear superpower. They could elicit the exact same panicked emotional response that they are eliciting right now using the exact same media and the exact same factual situation. They wouldn’t have to change a single thing except where they place their emphasis in telling the story. The known facts would all remain exactly as they are; all that would have to change is the narrative. Public support for Russiagate depends on the fact that most people don’t recognize how pervasively their day-to-day experience is dominated by narrative. If you are intellectually honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that you think about Russia a lot more now than you did in 2015. Russia hasn’t changed any since 2015; all that has changed is the narrative that is being told about it. And yet now the mass media and a huge chunk of rank-and-file America now view it as a major threat and think about it constantly. All they had to do was talk about Russia constantly in a fearful and urgent way, and now pindo liberals are convinced that Vladimir Putin is an omnipotent world-dominating supervillain who has infiltrated the highest levels of the pindo government.

If humanity is to pull up and away from its current path toward either ecological disaster, nuclear armageddon or Orwellian dystopia, we are necessarily going to have to change our relationship with narrative. As long as the way we think, vote and organize can be controlled by the mere verbiage of the servants of power, our species will never be able to begin operating in a sane and wholesome way. If all it takes to make us act against our own interest is a few establishment lackeys speaking a few words in a confident tone of voice, if mere authoritative language can hypnotize us like a sorcerer casting spells, we are doomed to slavery and destruction. So stop staring transfixed by the narratives, and begin looking at the behavior and motives of the people advancing them instead. Stop staring at the movie screen they’re constantly drawing your attention to, turn around in your theater seat, and look at the people who are running the projector. The way out of this mess is to begin ignoring the stories we’re being hypnotized with and start critically examining the people who are conducting the hypnosis. Ignore the stories and stare with piercing eyes at the storytellers. The difference between the official narrative and the actual reality of this world is the difference between fiction and fact. Evolve beyond.

bibi calls israel “a rising global force”

Leaked Netanyahu Tape: We Made Trump Cancel The Iran Deal
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jul 19 2018

On Tuesday an Israeli television channel aired leaked video footage it obtained exclusively showing Netanyahu boasting that he had personally convinced Trump to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. The statements were made at a small dinner event where he addressed senior members of his Likud party. The video, aired by Israel’s Kan News, shows Netanyahu enthusiastically praising his and Likud leadership’s efforts, saying:

We convinced the pindo president and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement. And we didn’t give up.

According to a translation of the prime minister’s words by The Times of Israel he further agrees that “the Iranian regime” will “disappear with the help of God,” in the words of one of his supporters, to which Netanyahu adds:

You said it. From your mouth to God.

The Times of Israel presents the rest of the short clip’s contents as follows:

The prime minister then begins to speak about the Iranian regime, “not the Iranian people, I have nothing against them,” before he is interrupted by an unidentified person off-screen who says, “It will disappear with the help of God.” Netanyahu says in response as the clip ends: “You said it. From your mouth to God.” Netanyahu does not explain in the video aired by Kan how he convinced Trump to exit the deal. Trump had vowed to scrap what he assailed as the “worst deal ever” before becoming president.

The Israeli broadcaster that obtained the footage said it was filmed two weeks ago. When early this week the NYT published the Israeli account of how a daring Mossad operation deep inside Iran netted what are said to be tens of thousands of secret Iranian nuclear documents in an “Ocean’s 11”-style heist, we noted the NYT story appeared to be a propaganda victory lap of sorts, meant to further bolster Israeli intelligence’s reputation and far-reaching abilities abroad.

Netanyahu unveiled the stolen cache of about 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs in a television address that the said proved the existence of an illegal and ongoing secret program to “test and build nuclear weapons” called Project Amad. Just days after the colorful and prop-laden Netanyahu presentation, Trump announced he would follow through on prior threats to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA. Observers noted at the time that Netanyahu’s address had a single audience in mind in the person of Donald Trump during the very week the White House was intensely mulling a final decision over whether to finally pull the plug on the JCPoA.

While it appears Netanyahu had his April televised presentation in mind when he says in the clip “I had to stand up against the whole world,” there is also little doubt that his personal appeals to Trump on the issue were even more direct and persistent. Other signatories to the deal brokered in 2015 under the Obama administration have vowed to stick by it, which include Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, even as the White House threatens punitive measures against any country that continues to do business with Iran. Earlier this summer it was confirmed that a high level joint Pindo-Israeli “working group” under the oversight of John Bolton has been meeting for months with the goal of facilitating regime change in Tehran. As Axios reported:

Israel and Pindostan formed a joint working group a few months ago that is focused on internal efforts to encourage protests within Iran and pressure the country’s government.

So it’s very clear that Netanyahu has the White House’s ear on Iran (though this is no surprise). Meanwhile, Netanyahu has posted to his official Twitter account a clip of Trump saying that Putin is a “Bibi fan.” The statement came in a Fox News interview following Trump’s summit and press conference with Putin.

In the uploaded clip, Trump said of Putin:

We came to a lot of good conclusions … a really good conclusion for Israel, something very strong. He’s a believer in Israel. He’s a fan of Bibi, and really helping him a lot, and will help him, which is good for all of us.

Netanyahu posted the interview segment with the commentary in Hebrew:

I will continue to strengthen Israel as a rising global force.

Likely, Netanyahu will continue his boasting about his personal intervention and impact with the White House both in public and in private, so more such revelatory footage will probably surface in the coming months.

something tells me CNN is due for some changes at the top

CNN Uses Discredited “Hamilton 68” Website To Claim #WalkAway Campaign Hijacked By Russian Bots
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jul 18 2018

A viral movement featuring Demagogs who have left their party under the hashtag #WalkAway was just relegated to Russian Bot status by CNN, which published op-ed by David Love on Tuesday uncritically citing propaganda website “Hamilton 88” as evidence that Russia, not an organic movement, is fueling the hashtag’s popularity.

#WalkAway has also now been connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots, and it is now the seventh most popular Russia-influenced hashtag as of this writing, according to the website Hamilton 68, which tracks Russian influence on Twitter

The Walk Away campaign was launched by New York hairstylist Brandon Straka in late May, who created a Facebook page and posted a video explaining what the movement is about.

It is my sincere hope that you will join me in this campaign and that we may start a movement in this country, which not only encourages others to walk away from the divisive left, but also takes back the narrative from the liberal media about what it means to be a conservative in Pindostan. It is up to all of us to make our voices heard and reclaim the truth. The Demagog Party has taken for granted that it owns racial, sexual, and religious minorities in Pindostan. It has encouraged groupthink, hypocrisy, division, stereotyping, resentment, and the acceptance of victimhood mentality. And all the while, they have discouraged minorities from having independent thought, open dialogue, measured and informed opinion, and a motivation to succeed.

Hamilton 68, meanwhile, is run by The Alliance for Securing Democracy and funded by Pindostan and NATO states. It claims to track Russian bots, however it’s impossible to verify their claims, as the group does not disclose their methodology, yet anti-Trump politicians and pundits alike repeat its claims uncritically. On their advisory council are NeverTrumpers Bill Kristol and David Kramer, the guy John McCain sent to London to meet with Christopher Steele and bring back the discredited Trump-Russia dossier.

As we concluded when we initially profiled the platform and the organization behind it, the online tool is lacking in any semblance of scientific data-driven analysis, and its conclusions are thus meaningless. It exists to give gullible audiences the illusion that a data analysis driven tech tool produced via a “bipartisan” think tank has meticulously and objectively proven the “there’s a Russia connection lurking behind every corner” conspiracy theory.

The dashboard more often targets hugely popular independent news sites like Robert Parry’s Consortium News, The Federalist, Breitbart and WikiLeaks. As the NYT noted in September:

Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25% ‘had a primary theme of anti-Pindostanism.’

Of course, it’s impossible to know what, according to the site’s designers, “anti-Pindostanism” means, but it no doubt involves articles which are critical of pindo foreign policy. This means that if a WaPo or Reuters article, for example, highlights “staggering” Iraqi civilian deaths under pindo coalition bombings, that article would likely register as “anti-Pindostan” by the platform and its creators. By such methods, the WaPo, Reuters, and numerous independent sites are brought under suspicion alongside RT News and Sputnik. But “anti-Pindostan” could also simply mean any article produced by a site that Hamilton 68’s creators don’t like. Again, the data is meaningless. With virtually every recent controversial topic which has made headlines pitting conservatives against leftists, Hamilton 68 will claim, absent any evidence, that “Russia” is pushing the conservative side of the argument. Earlier this year, Hamilton 68 was behind claims by Rep Adam Schiff that Russian bots were behind a campaign to release a memo created by the House Intel Committee GOP majority. On Jan 23, public interest in the memo from the majority of the intelligence committee had been high, as evidenced by the demand to #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. When the hashtag went viral, Schiff had a theory that it wasn’t the American public that was interested in abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Nope, it was Russians! Secret Russian bots were trying to make it look like Americans were interested in FISA abuse against a Trump campaign affiliate. When Schiff advanced his theory that it was Russian bots, not Pindos, who cared about FISA abuse, he received typical friendly media coverage. But when Twitter and Facebook refuted the claim, media outlets either downplayed it or pretended it didn’t matter. Hamilton 68’s claim, later refuted by Twitter and Facebook, formed the entire basis of Schiff’s theory that it was Russian bots, not real Pindos, who wanted to learn about FISA abuse by the FBI. Asked to respond to Hamilton 68’s claim, Twitter responded:

Because the Hamilton Dashboard’s account list is not available to the public, we are unable to offer any specific context on the accounts it includes. We have offered to review the list of accounts contained in the Dashboard and this offer remains open.

Even BuzzFeed noted the link:

The thing is, nearly every time you see a story blaming Russian bots for something, you can be pretty sure that the story can be traced back to a single source: the Hamilton 68 dashboard.

But even some of the people who popularized that metric now acknowledge it’s become totally overblown. Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main if not only source of information on Russian bots, said:

I’m not convinced on this bot thing.

He also called the narrative “overdone.” Sorry, disillusioned Demagogs, your story is now part of a Russian meddling effort thanks to a highly cited and completely unverifiable propaganda website.

what is his name? mervyn pirvis? pervyn mirvis?

Chief Rabbi Vs Labour Party
Gilad Atzmon, Jul 17 2018

The BBC reports this morning that Britan’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said Labour will be “on the wrong side” of the fight against racism unless it toughens up its anti-Semitism code of conduct. Rabbi Mirvis said Labour’s new anti-Semitism definition sent “an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community.” Apparently the Chief Rabbi is not alone. The JPost reports this morning:

Sixty-eight British rabbis signed an open letter decrying anti-Semitism in the country’s Labour Party and calling on the party to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

Labour has defended its new code as the most “comprehensive” of any party. But one may wonder, why do we need a special definition for anti-Semitism? Is a general and universal denouncement of racism, bigotry and discrimination of all kinds not sufficient? Are Jews somehow special? The new Labour code does endorse the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism and includes behaviours it lists as likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic, yet Jewish critics point out that it leaves out four examples from that definition:

  • Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country;
  • Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour;
  • Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations;
  • Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.

Far from being surprising, Corbyn’s Labour see Israeli criminality as a problem and insists upon the right to criticise the actions of the Jewish State and its lobbies in political, cultural and historical contexts. Rabbi Mirvis attacked the omission of these examples by the Labour and said it was “astonishing that the Labour Party presumes it is more qualified” to define anti-Semitism than the Jewish community. The Rabbi could be slightly confused here. Jews are more than welcome to define anti-Semitism as they like, but the labour party has the duty to define what it regards as an anti-Jewish bigotry in accordance to its own alleged universal values. Mirvis said Labour risked being on the “wrong side of the fight” against racism and intolerance. I would argue however that the Labour Party, Rabbi Mirvis and most British Jewish institutions are on the wrong side of history here. If racism and Bigotry are defined as the discrimination of X for being X, where X = Women, Jew, Black, Muslim, Gay, White etc, then for Britain to move forward and to sustain the spirit of the common law, it must oppose all forms of racism and bigotry all together and equally. To fight racism we need to follow one simple universal guideline rather than looking for the specific demands of one group or another.

Prime minister, British Jews condemn Jeremy Corbyn after Labour rejects anti-Semitism definition
JTA, Jul 18 2018

The leadership of the British Labour Party rejected the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, leading to harsh condemnations from Jewish organizations and politicians across the political spectrum. The IHRA definition has been accepted by governments across the world and is widely endorsed. Last week, a Labour Party committee pointedly decided not to adopt parts of the definition that related to Israel. Those parts define possible anti-Semitism as accusing Jews of “being more loyal to Israel” than their own country; claiming that Israel’s existence is a “racist endeavor”; applying a “double standard” on Israel; and comparing “contemporary Israeli policy” to that of the Nazis. In a two-hour meeting on Tuesday, the Labour’s national executive committee decided to let stand last week’s decision while the party accepted most of the definition. Labour has previously come under fire by Jewish groups for allegedly refusing to combat anti-Semitism by its members. Speaking to the London Jewish Chronicle, one senior Labour source called the decision “utterly pathetic” and a “classic fudge.” Prime Minister Theresa May, who heads the Conservative Party, accused her political rivals of trying to “redefine anti-Semitism.” Quoting Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis, May said the decision sent an “unprecedented message of contempt for British Jews.” Mirvis wrote in a letter to the Labour committee:

It is astonishing that the Labour Party presumes that it is more qualified than all of the above and, in particular, the Jewish community, to define anti-Semitism. Adoption of Labour’s new alternative to the internationally accepted IHRA definition will send an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community. Other groups might also legitimately ask if they will be next in having the prejudice they are subject to defined for them.

In a joint statement, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust condemned the “watered-down definition of anti-Semitism.” The statement said:

This is a sad day for the cause of anti-racism in this country. Labour, for so long a Party that put equality and inclusion at the centre of its values, has today decided to claim that it understands anti-Semitism better than the victims of this vile prejudice and to set its face against the clear views of the Jewish community.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, during the Labour debate over the IHRA definition, national executive committee member Pete Willsman, a close supporter of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, called concerns voiced in an open letter by nearly 70 British rabbis “simply false.” Willsman said he had met an Auschwitz survivor who claimed to have “never seen any anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.” Willsman was also quoted as saying:

Some of the people in the Jewish community are Trump fanatics! I’ll take no lectures from them!

Following the decision, Labour Parliament member Margaret Hodge confronted Corbyn, calling him a “fucking anti-Semite and a racist” and urging him to quit the party. British journalist Kevin Schofield later tweeted that a spokesman for Corbyn has said “action will be taken” against Hodge. Labour member Tal Ofer announced his resignation from the party on Twitter. Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi welcomed Labour’s decision to reject the Israel clauses in the anti-Semitism definition, saying they would only serve to stifle free speech by critics of Israel and supporters of the Palestinians. He wrote in an op-ed for Middle East Eye:

The Labour Party’s new statement, which slams anti-Semitism but defends criticism of Israel, is a huge improvement over the anti-Palestinian policy that preceded it, and should be praised as such.

In 2016, the bipartisan Home Affairs Select Committee accused Labour of creating a “safe space for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people.” In May, Jonathan Arkush, then president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Corbyn holds “anti-Semitic views” that could drive Jewish Britons out of the country if he becomes prime minister. Arkush cited Corbyn’s defense in 2013 of an anti-Semitic mural, among other issues.