Category Archives: Uncategorized

when does everybody just dump facebook altogether?

Facebook expands censorship to photos and videos
Mike Ingram, WSWS, Sep 18 2018

A Sep 13 statement by Facebook Product Manager Antonia Woodford titled “Expanding Fact-Checking to Photos and Videos” marks a significant escalation of the company’s censorship efforts. Under the pretense of combating so-called “fake news” and “Russian interference,” the social media giant has spent the last two years assembling an army of censors and established partnerships with 27 so-called fact-checker partners in 17 countries. The partners include AP, AFP, Pagella Politica in Italy, Animal Politico in Mexico, together with fact-checking sites such as Factcheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes.com. At the end of last year, Facebook announced a partnership with the right-wing Weekly Standard, prompting widespread outrage. The role of this latest partnership was highlighted last week when The Weekly Standard flagged an article posted by ThinkProgress with the headline “Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe vs Wade last week.” The article was flagged as false on the preposterous claim that the word “said” in the headline implied a direct quote, rather than the dictionary definition of “indicate”, “show” or “communicate.” The ThinkProgress incident is only the latest indication of the political character of the censorship by Facebook. It is unknown exactly how many posts have been flagged as false by Facebook or its fact-checker partners since the program began two years ago. A false flag will reduce future traffic by 80%, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Now the program is to be expanded to photos and video in a process that was first detailed in March this year. The March statement by VP of Product Management Guy Rosen, headlined “Hard Questions: What is Facebook Doing to Protect Election Security?” announced:

We’re fact-checking photos and videos, in addition to links. We’re starting in France with the AFP and will be scaling to more countries and partners soon.

The global expansion of the censorship campaign to photo and video was announced in the Sep 13 statement. Woodford wrote:

We know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook, so for the last two years, we’ve made fighting misinformation a priority. One of the many steps we take to reduce the spread of false news is working with independent, third-party fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of content. To date, most of our fact-checking partners have focused on reviewing articles. However, we have also been actively working to build new technology and partnerships so that we can tackle other forms of misinformation. Today, we’re expanding fact-checking for photos and videos to all of our 27 partners in 17 countries around the world (and are regularly on-boarding new fact-checking partners).

The statement says that Facebook has “built a machine learning model that uses various engagement signals, including feedback from people on Facebook, to identify false content.” The company then sends photos or videos to fact checkers, “or fact-checkers can surface such content on their own,” Woodford writes. she continued:

Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken.

Based on research conducted since March, Facebook claimed that photo and video “misinformation” falls into three categories:

  1. Manipulated or Fabricated,
  2. Out of Context, and
  3. Text or Audio Claim.

The claim that Facebook is motivated by the need for accurate content was refuted in an analysis presented last month by one of the company’s other “partners,” prominent military think-tank the Atlantic Council. After Facebook announced last month that it had shut down the event page for a counter-protest to a fascist demonstration called by the organizers of last year’s Nazi rally in Charlottesville, during which left-wing demonstrator Heather Heyer was murdered by a right-wing extremist, the company also announced that it had shut down 32 other pages, including ones opposing police violence and defending immigrant rights. The Atlantic Council issued a report which said that the shutdown by Facebook targeted “the left of the political spectrum” and that the pages were an attempt to “infiltrate left-wing Pindo communities.” The report said these pages “sought to promote divisions and set Pindos against one another.” The report stated that events created by “inauthentic” groups “have a very real, organic, and engaged online community,” but concluded:

The intent of inauthentic activity appeared to be designed to catalyze the most incendiary impulses of political sentiment.

It is not so-called “inauthentic” groups that are the catalyst for incendiary political sentiment but the conditions of social inequality, police repression and war confronting millions of people throughout the world. Facebook’s attempt to suppress photo and video postings is an intensification of the company’s attempt to hide the true state of Pindo and world society, and more importantly the mounting opposition to it from the population. Video footage of police killings has been the catalyst for demonstrations across Pindostan. A search in the video section of Google for “police shooting” yields 97 million results. The overwhelming majority of these are either bodycam or witness footage of unarmed victims of police violence. Images of immigrant children sitting in cages after being torn from their mothers’ arms by immigration officers likewise provoke the justified outrage of millions of working people throughout the world. Photographs of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdî, who drowned in the Mediterranean in 2015 after his family fled war torn Syria along with thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe were spread around the world, prompting international outrage. These are the types of “incendiary” images Facebook is seeking to suppress. Over the past two years, Facebook, along with other technology giants such as Google and Twitter have become the self-appointed arbiters of “fake news” and “authoritative content.” Working with the intelligence agencies and both Demagogs and Thugs, the technology giants are seeking to effectively blacklist any viewpoint opposing that of the official political establishment. The main target of this blacklisting is left-wing and in particular socialist viewpoints. WSWS has been in the forefront of the fight against Internet censorship, exposing the conspiracy to censor the Internet beginning with Google’s implementation of new algorithms in Apr 2017 aimed at blocking access to WSWS and other anti-war and progressive web sites. Google’s actions resulted in a 70% drop in search traffic to WSWS. Google was quickly followed by Facebook and Twitter. The latest action by Facebook is a further escalation of this and must be opposed.

novichok: secret weapon in the bosses’ class struggle

Fresh novichok allegations used to escalate anti-Russia offensive
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Sep 19 2018

While the facts remain obscured in the case of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and their alleged role in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the political significance of the story is crystal clear. The novichok scandal is at the centre of the British government’s ratcheting up of diplomatic, economic and military tensions against Russia. According to the May government and its security/police services, Petrov and Boshirov are agents of the GRU, who travelled to London on false passports on Mar 2 with the aim of killing Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. Having taken a cheap hotel in east London for two nights, they carried out reconnaissance during a short trip to Salisbury on Mar 3, then returned the next day to apply nerve agent to the Skripals’ front door. They left the country later that evening. Police say they have found traces of novichok in the London hotel used by the pair. Once again, Russia has rejected any involvement in the Skripal’s poisoning and stated that the latest identifications are the continuation of British fake news. Moscow says the two men are “civilians” and that there is “nothing criminal about them.” Interviewed on Russia Today, Petrov and Boshirov said they are sports nutritionists and travelled to London for a short holiday, planning to spend a few days visiting Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. Their initial visit to Salisbury was, they say, cut short by poor weather, forcing them to return a second time. The tourist narrative has been widely ridiculed, and their explanation for having spent most of their short time in the country to make two relatively brief visits to Salisbury is curious. But this does not make British police claims regarding the pair any less incongruous. If the police narrative is to be believed, two GRU operatives, on a highly dangerous mission, choose some of the cheapest digs in London to stay and made no effort to conceal themselves, their images caught on CCTV footage some 500 m from the Skripal’s home and others showing them stopping to admire stamps and other produce in shop windows.

The fact remains that there is nothing in the evidence presented by the police to justify British government charges that the Skripals were the victims of an operation ordered by Pres Putin. Not only did the apparently deadly novichok fail to kill its intended target, as well as his daughter Yulia and an attending police officer who was also exposed, none of whom have been seen in public for months. These same operatives were apparently careless enough, and the British security clean-up team incompetent enough, to leave a discarded perfume bottle containing the nerve agent either lying around in a park or discarded in a charity bin, where it is said to have been picked up by Dawn Sturgess’ partner Charlie Rowley, months later. Sturgess, who no one claims was ever an intended victim, died tragically in July. Rowley, after apparently recovering, is said now to also be fighting for his life. Above all, there remains the glaring problem that until now, the police narrative was that the Skripals had left their home by 9:15 am on Sunday morning and are not known to have returned. Petrov and Boshirov arrived in Salisbury at 11:48 am. How then were the Skripals to have been poisoned by an apparently deadly and fast-acting nerve agent applied to the door handle of their home? And why was the police officer who found them nowhere near their home also exposed? All the British media are now reporting how passport data uncovered by investigative journalists demonstrates that the pair were GRU operatives. But the original source of this investigation is the Bellingcat research collective. This organisation has form when it comes to anti-Russian provocations, in connection with the downing of the MH17 flight over Ukraine, the continuing conflict in the East of that country and the use of CW in Syria; in short, in every major inflection point in the war drive against Russia.

Bellingcat’s website was set up in 2014 by Eliot Higgins, now a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and Future Europe Initiative. The Atlantic Council is a leading geopolitical strategy think tank. Higgins was one of five authors of an Atlantic Council report on Russia’s role in Syria released in 2016, entitled “Distract, Deceive, Destroy,” which concluded by calling for missile strikes. According to Bellingcat’s own articles, Higgins and the rest of the site’s staff work closely with their “colleagues at the Atlantic Council.” Everything one reads in the media with respect to the Salisbury poisonings must be treated with more than a healthy dose of scepticism. There are clearly multiple hidden motives in play, in what is a strategic geopolitical part of the world. Salisbury is the centre of British military operations. The Salisbury Plain training area is the largest military base in Britain. Just a few weeks before the Skripals were poisoned, a 12,000-strong military exercise was conducted there, hosting forces from 17 nations as part of a series of war games against Russia. Thousands of troops and officers are stationed in the local Tidworth, Larkhill and Bulford barracks and surrounding villages. The Porton Down biochemical warfare laboratories are located nearby. Given its strategic importance, there is no doubt that the intelligence forces of every other significant military power in the world have an established presence in the area. It was revealed in May that Pablo Miller, an ex-MI6 agent with close ties to Sergei Skripal, a turned Russian operative, was living in Salisbury, a fact the government tried to suppress. For the British working class, the most crucial question is not to uncover every intricacy of the dealings between capitalist spies, but to understand to what political ends the British narrative over the Skripal affair is being pursued.

In the current period, British foreign policy has been defined by an increasingly aggressive militarist posture towards Russia. In April, the Skripal affair provided the lynchpin of Britain’s National Security Capability Review, targeted directly against Russia. With NATO and the EU rent by worsening divisions, threatening these two fundamental props of Britain’s position on the world stage, the ruling class is seeking to establish Britain as the head of a new alignment of imperialist powers on a fanatically anti-Russian programme. The war drive also reflects an effort to create a jingoistic outlet for domestic tensions, and provides both a cover for censoring “Kremlin-sponsored” social opposition, and a stick with which to beat recalcitrant figures like Jeremy Corbyn. But this agenda runs up against strong anti-war sentiment in the working class. To proceed with its war plans, a core of anti-Russian sentiment must be created in the population. Information about what happened in Salisbury is therefore being drip-fed to a complicit media to fuel a concerted chauvinist propaganda campaign. The police work is carried out not as a rigorous criminal investigation but as a serialised murder mystery. Pieces of “evidence” that are for the most part vague and contradictory are presented every few weeks, leaving long enough intervals for the official media, which function as propaganda tools, to spin their stories while demanding tougher action against Russia. A case in point is the especially fevered article by Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer, in which she laments and implores:

Russia is mocking us. First the Salisbury attack, then information warfare. Time to wake up. … increasingly, it seems like the government, the intelligence services and the army have been asleep at the wheel; still are asleep at the wheel. … The theatre of war has changed. We haven’t kept up. And the government is in denial. Or paralysis. Or both.

Russia is accused of carrying out “warfare disguised as political theatre.” Cadwalladr even lambasts Boris Johnson for being too soft on the Russian threat. As in Pindostan, where it is the Demagogs leading the demands for economic and military aggression against Moscow, so too in Britain it is the supposedly liberal media that points the way.

total colonel cassad genius, as usual

The population of Idlib and the DMZ
Colonel Cassad, Sep 18 2018

Mr Gary Kasparov, I’m in Northern Lebanon, and write out these lines. Do you agree to come to LIVE here, if Assad is removed? Yes / No, please. I’m really tired of bullies who do not pay for the consequences of their actions.
– (C) Nassim Taleb, in response to accusations by Kasparov that he supports the policies of Syria and Russia in the Syrian war.

In addition to https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4464387.html. The analysis of the real population of Idlib, including fakes, about 3 million residents, as well as the Russian-Turkish deal on the creation of a DMZ.

The population of Idlib.

1. For the record, while all seem to believe that the number of civilians in Idlib close to 3 million, a source in Damascus, who was very reliable in the past, believes the actual number may exceed 1 million.
2. It is assumed that the 3 million civilians living in Idlib. And as the pre-war housing stock and other infrastructure were able to accommodate twice as many people than in the pre-war population? In addition, it can be assumed that housing and infrastructure is now nowhere and close are not at the level of the pre-war conditions/capacity.
3. In fact, 3 in Idlib million currently, compared with 1.2-1.5 million pre-war, a construction boom is expected either (and not war) or the construction of the massive camps in which to accommodate such huge numbers. However, we do not see reliable images of such camps or investment in housing.
4. Note that the assumption that the number of people living in Idlib doubled from the pre-war level, suggests that since the war started no one left the province. It is not credible. If Idlib is now 3 million, where did the almost 7 million refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan come from? Are any of them from Idlib?
5. Despite the fact that I didn’t do mathematical calculations, those are estimates, claim that the maximum number of displaced civilians who used the buses to enter the province from other cities should not exceed 200,000 people. I wish someone proved it was wrong using objective data.
6. Even if the number of people entering the province was twice more than is listed here, and even if we make conservative assumptions about the number who left the province after the war, it is difficult to understand how the number could exceed 1 million by open figures presented above.

On the demilitarized zone.

1. Let’s move on to what, apparently, we already know by Oct 15 will be established area with a width of 9-12 miles. It will not include heavy weapons or extreme elements of the insurgency (rebels associated with AQ). The zone will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces.
2. The first critical point is to note whether this transaction will ensure that the highway that passes through Idlib and connects the north and the south of the country passes under government control. This was one of the strategic goals of Damascus in any operation in Idlib.
3. Damascus approved the deal, providing the highway will be considered as an immediate benefit. The deal will mean a delay in the plan of the state to reclaim “every inch” of its territory. Damascus is wary of the fact that the uprising has turned into a separatist project.
4. Turning to the armed groups in the transaction indicates that the area will not include heavy weapons or HTS/Nusra, but all other armed groups can stay. What we will likely see is a wholesale change of image, rebranding HTS/Nusra to become Ahrar al-Sham, Failaq al-Sham, etc.
5. There are various scenarios: A) Turkey has effective control over HTS/Nusra and therefore the ability to withdraw them from the new zone. B) the group agrees to obey, but rebrands itself and stays. C) Turkey will not be able to fulfill its end of the bargain and HTS/Nusra will remain as it is.
6. Regardless of whether HTS/Nusra disappears just visually or for real, this transaction is based on the assumption that all armed forces will carry out their part of the bargain and adhere to the requirements of Turkey to cease all military operations against the Syrian state from this area.
7. When it comes to Turkey, there is no doubt that Erdogan was able to delay/prevent a military operation in Idlib for the moment. But now he has to make the Idlib train arrive by the time scheduled at the final station. The behaviour of the armed groups in the province now explicitly depends on Ankara.
8. As for Russia, its own military will now officially patrol one area with a NATO member. Putin is patient and will see that this transaction will exacerbate divisions within NATO. All he had to pay for it, is to promise a delay in any military operations in Idlib.
9. Pindostan, of course, is absent in today’s agreement, but nevertheless Faschingstein ascribes to itself the merits of preventing the attack on Idlib by means of pressure on Russia. In fact, Moscow and Ankara are now the leading foreign capitals in the matter of Idlib.
10. Like most of the previous “deals” in Syria, time will tell whether this agreement “demilitarized zones” different from those who preceded it. It’s an obvious assumption in this agreement that Erdoğan will be able to control all these armed people gathered in the province.
11. At the moment, Erdogan has strengthened his legendary status in the Syrian opposition. He personally voted to prevent military strikes against the province, and it will add points to his very high popularity in most opposition.

The status of the Syrian opposition.

1. So far most of the comments regarded the deal as a win for the opposition, as they avoided the danger of an impending attack on the province. But is this deal really is positive for the opposition? Answer: No.
2. Go back to the beginning. This opposition was formed to overthrow the government. The diplomatic language of the Geneva process, called it “political transition,” Nothing less than this was considered acceptable in relation to the government. As of yesterday, time easy avoiding the immediate impact is now seen as a victory.
3. Let’s not forget that from the first days of talks on political transition in Geneva, the only political activity that remained was to attempt to establish a Constitutional Committee. Everything else was postponed. Now that we’ve established the overall status of the opposition, let’s discuss this deal.
4. In fact, this new deal greatly restricts the ability of armed groups to attack the Syrian government. Practically this is no different from any previous transaction freeze/reconciliation. The only difference is that Turkey made a deal with the Russians on their behalf.
5. This transaction creates the preconditions for the elimination of the most fierce fighters within the armed groups. The definition of terrorism will come from the Turkish security services, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. And now Turkey is obliged to remove “terrorists and all heavy weapons” by Nov 10.
6. But the fact that they lost the opposition also lies in the fact that she will be forced to relinquish control over the key highway, which was inaccessible to the Syrian state. Indeed, access to motorways M4 & M5 was one of the strategic objectives of the operation in Idlib. Now the state has received such access, even without a firefight.
7. The armed men inside Idlib will now have to find a goal that is distinct from attacks on the positions of the state or the army. Under this deal, in all likelihood, anti-air defense puts the opposition in even more severe conditions than before the announcement of the transaction.

EHSANI22, the original in English. I recommend to follow the author. This is his second account. He writes about Syria from the end of “zero,” when the war was not yet.

In addition.

1. At the request of Russia, Turkey will increase its contingent, which will focus on addressing the issue of “An-Nusra”.
2. Turkey will attract a large number of UAVs to monitor the actions of the groups raises problems for the implementation of the agreement.
3. Nebenzia in the UNSC said that the plans of the CW provocation of her customers refused and she still could happen, as gas cylinders and personnel who have to apply them are still in Idlib.
An important addition is part of the groups has refused to withdraw from the zone de-escalate and disarm. Among the refused are HTS/Nusra, the Islamic Party of Turkestan, Jaish al-Issa and others. Fighters ready to resist as the SAA and those who come to disarm them, to put an end to the “Syrian revolution.” Erdogan will have to solve this problem in the very near future, as the lack of progress in creating areas of deescalation will actually bury the transaction at the beginning, then Damascus will carry out its offensive, referring to the fact that the Turkish option was tried and didn’t work.

beat the syndrome: the yom kippur challenge

The Yom Kippur Syndrome: A message to Jews from Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon, Sep 18 2018

When the Yom Kippur War broke out 45 years ago I was ten years old. I recall a lot of fear all around me. Israel was my home and it was about to be wiped out. This is what I believed at the time, and this is what everyone around me repeated. We were all certainly caught unprepared. My father was called up by the IAF in the early hours of Yom Kippur (Oct 6 1973). We didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. We didn’t know whether he was alive. In fact, we had good reason to believe he wasn’t. We were very worried. For the adults around me, the first days of the war were a reminder of the Shoah. Israeli leaders Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan as well as the top Israeli military command appeared perplexed and hesitant on TV. Their message was:

The future isn’t clear. We may even witness the destruction of the Third Temple.

Years later, when I became an avid reader of history and military texts, it became clear to me that the collective Shoah dread into which we immersed ourselves was a manifestation of Jewish pre traumatic stress disorder (Pre TSD). We were tormented by a phantasmic fear. Neither the Syrians nor the Egyptian armies had plans to destroy Israel, wipe out the Jewish state or throw the Jews into the sea. Their military objectives were very limited. Neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians wished to expand their military ground operation beyond a few miles into the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Both Arab armies were dependent on Soviet SAMs that severely limited IAF air superiority above the battlefield. The SAM umbrella provided about 10 miles of anti-air cover and the Arab armies had no intent to proceed beyond that safe zone. It took me years to grasp that Israel’s panic during the first few days of the war led to some serious military blunders such as the IDF’s disastrous counter-offensive on Oct 8. This panic was fuelled by projection. Believing that the Arabs were about to throw the Jews into the sea, Israeli generals and cabinet members reacted irrationally and wasted their limited reserve forces in a counter-offensive that failed and cost many Israeli lives. But why did the Israelis believe that the Arabs were about to throw them into the sea? Why did they assume the Arab armies were murderous or possibly genocidal? Why did PM Golda Meir and DM Moshe Dayan believe that the Third Temple was about to be annihilated? Simple: because the Israelis were and still are driven by lethal inclinations towards their neighbours. It was the Israelis who literally pushed the Palestinians into the sea in 1948 into the sea. Israelis were panicking because they were projecting their own symptoms onto the Arabs.

In ‘The Wandering Who’ I elaborate on projection in the context of Jewish ‘pre traumatic stress.’ The principle is simple. The more murderous and sinister one is, the more fearful one becomes of others. Humans tend to attribute their own reasoning and symptoms onto others. Accordingly, the more menacing one is, the more sinister one believes the other to be. Israelis consistently attribute their own racist and barbarian symptoms onto the Palestinians. The possibility that a Palestinian or an Arab would be as merciless as the IDF causes real and total panic for the Israeli. The thought that the Palestinians, for instance, would want to displace a quarter of Israeli citizens and massacre Israelis as the IDF has done to Gaza numerous times must evoke terror amongst Israelis and for a good reason. But this state of collective anxiety is not unique to Israelis. It is embedded in Jewish culture. Basically, Jews are tormented by anti-Semitism because they assume that their own ‘goy hatred’ is echoed by ‘Jew hatred’ from their gentile neighbours. As Martin Heidegger noted in the 1930s, the Jews opposed in the Nazis the racism which they recognized from themselves. Heidegger wrote in his Black Notebooks: the Jewish people, with their talent for calculation, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because “they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest.” In 1973 Israel believed that that the Arabs were out to eradicate them because this is exactly what the Israelis would have liked to do to the Arabs.

Projection is just one aspect of the Yom Kippur war. I guess that, at least from a philosophical perspective, the most interesting aspect of the Oct 1973 War was that it marked a sudden switch from Judeocentric manic ‘hubris’ to melancholia, apathy and depression. Following their outstanding Jun 1967 ‘6-Day War’ military victory, the Israelis developed an arrogant disrespectful attitude toward Arabs and their military capability. Israeli intelligence predicted that it would take years for Arab armies to recover. The IOF didn’t believe that the Arab soldier had the ability to fight, let alone score a victory. But on Oct 6 1973, the Israelis had a devastating surprise. This time the Arab soldier was very different. The IOF strategy that was built on air superiority and fast ground maneuvers supported by tanks was crushed in only a few hours. The Egyptians and Syrians helped by new Soviet ATMs and SAMs managed to dismantle Israeli’s might. In the first days of the war Israel suffered heavy casualties and, as mentioned above, the Israeli leadership and high command were in a state of despair. This type of crisis wasn’t new to the Jews. It is consistently symptomatic of Jewish culture to be ‘surprised’ and overwhelmed by the Goyim’s fierce resilience. The Israeli military fiasco at the first stage of the war was a repetition of a tragic syndrome that is as old as the Jews themselves. Jewish hubris that is driven by a strong sense of choseness and that repeatedly leads to horrific consequences is what I call The Yom Kippur Syndrome. The syndrome can be defined as a repeated chain of events that drive Jewish societies towards an extreme irrational sense of pride, arrogance, self-confidence and blindness toward others and the tragedy that inevitably follows.

On Oct 6, the Israelis realised that they had grossly underestimated their enemies. But it wasn’t the first time such a mistake occurred in Jewish history. Every Jewish disaster is to a certain extent, a repetition of the Yom Kippur Syndrome. In 1920s Berlin, the Jewish elite boasted of its power. Some rich Jews were convinced that Germany and its capital were Jewish-occupied territories. At the time, a few German Jews dominated banking and influenced Germany’s politics and media. In addition, the Frankfurt School as well as other Jewish schools of thought were openly dedicated to the cultural uprooting of Germans, all in the name of ‘progress,’ ‘working class politics,’ phenomenology and cultural Marxism. Then, almost from nowhere as far as German Jews were concerned, a tidal wave of resentment appeared. And the rest is known. But was there really a sudden shift in German consciousness? Should German ‘anti-Semitism’ have come as a surprise? Not at all! All necessary signs had been present for some time. In fact, early Zionists such as Herzl and Max Nordau correctly predicted the inevitable rise of European anti-Jewish sentiments. But Jewish hybris prevented Berlin’s Jewish elite from evaluating the growing opposition around them.

This is the Yom Kippur Syndrome. The same could be said of the Jewish Lobby, AIPAC, Friends of Israel clubs in Britain, the BoD, the three British Jewish papers that declared war on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in the name of British Jewry. These Jewish lobbies and institutions that relentlessly seek influence over Western foreign affairs and the Labour Party in particular: do they grasp the level of resentment and the potential disaster they are bringing on their fellow Jews? Can the Jew recover from the Yom Kippur Syndrome? Can the Jew somehow detect resentment as it grows and amend his or her ways? All it takes is drifting away from chosenness. But once stripped of chosenness what is left of the Jew or for the Jew? This may be the most devastating question and the true meaning of the existential Yom Kippur Syndrome. There is no collective ideological escape for the Jew. Zionism failed to provide the goods, and the so-called ‘anti-Zionists’ have done little other than form their own racially exclusive enclaves of chosenness within the so-called left-overs. The only escape route from the Yom Kippur Syndrome is personal and individual. Try leaving the tribe late in the night. Crawl under the ghetto fence. Dig a tunnel under the ‘separation wall’ if necessary. Once on land of the free, proceed quietly and modestly towards the humane and the universal. Good luck!

jonah goldberg for breakfast

Morning Edition’s Think Tank Sources Lean to the Right
Jordan Holycross, Olivia Riggio, FAIR, Sep 18 2018

Jonah Goldberg (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

When it comes to seeking “expert” opinions on events for its reports, NPR often looks to a trusted roster of think-tank sources. In a study of NPR’s Morning Edition from Feb to Jul 2018, FAIR found that sources from left-of-center think tanks were underrepresented, with right-leaning think tank sources appearing almost twice as often. Out of 129 episodes aired Monday through Friday over the course of six months, researchers and fellows representing think tanks were quoted 144 times. Centrist think tanks were most commonly heard on Morning Edition, with 63 interviews (44% of citations). 51 (35%) of the show’s interviews were with conservative or center-right groups, while 28 (19%) involved progressive or center-left groups. Representatives from two think tanks, the pro-seafood Lobster Institute and the Rich Earth Institute, which promotes turning urine into fertilizer, could not be placed on the political spectrum. Of the 63 right-leaning interviews, we characterized 37 as featuring representatives from conservative groups, such the Heritage Foundation and AEI, while 14 categorized as center-right, like the Cato Institute and Foreign Policy Research Institute. The 28 left-of-center interviews broke down into 16 from center-left think tanks like Prison Policy Initiative and Center on Global Energy Policy, and 12 with progressives like the Women’s Refugee Commission and the  MLK Research and Education Institute. Center-left think tanks were distinguished from progressive think tanks largely on the basis of their corporate underwriting. The contrast between Morning Edition’s use of clearly conservative and clearly progressive think tanks was stark: Analysts from the former appeared more than three times as often as interviewees from the latter.

Journalists are often advised to use caution when citing think tanks in their stories, as  JournalistResource.org urged in a tip sheet for reporters:

Think tanks often provide valuable and impartial policy research. But entrenched conflicts of interest across the political spectrum, and pandering to donors, often raise questions about their independence and integrity.

FAIR has noted (eg 7/13) that the funding think tanks receive from corporations, wealthy foundations and governments often shapes the agendas they push. NPR’s own Ethics Handbook employs a cautionary tone regarding the sourcing of think tanks. It stresses NPR reporters’ responsibility to be aware of such organizations’ conflicts of interest:

Before we put “experts” in our stories, we have to know where their financial support comes from, who’s paid for their latest work and whether they’re doing any lobbying or advocating related to the issue we’re interviewing them about. It’s information that may knock them out of stories and needs to be shared if they stay in.

Contrary to its code of ethics, NPR rarely if ever discloses the financial supporters of think tanks. For example, one of its most-cited think tanks, the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies, receives funding from weapons manufacturers like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. This was not mentioned during a segment (7/13/18) on arms control negotiations between Russia and Pindostan, even though NPR cited two different representatives from the think tank. NPR went further into unethical territory by ambiguously sourcing the Center for Immigration Studies. Although the Center is classified as a white supremacist extremist group by the SPLC, Morning Edition >cited its analysts four times on immigration issues without any mention of its radical and racist ideology. Instead, NPR described the group as one that “advocates for restrictions on immigration” (3/5/18) or “favors stricter immigration enforcement” (4/23/18) or the network chose not to characterize it at all (2/22/18). In one segment, NPR decided to quote CIS director Mark Krikorian (3/5/18), who has made numerous racist claims throughout his career, including his assertion that Haiti is “screwed up” because it “wasn’t colonized long enough.” Over six months, the most cited think tank was the right-wing AEI, with Jonah Goldberg appearing on the air seven times to discuss a range of topics, from his most recent book to Trump’s immigration stance. NPR has long had a fixation with Goldberg (7/13/17), and it’s clear this interest has not waned. Goldberg’s affiliations with the AEI are not mentioned in these interviews. Instead he’s described as a “conservative columnist.” AEI has provided a home for some of the most extreme members of the foreign policy establishment, including John Bolton and John Yoo, as well as giving Charles Murray a base to write the pro-eugenics book The Bell Curve. The centrist think tank Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, along with the right-wing think tanks the Heritage Foundation and the CSIS, followed behind AEI closely as the next most cited.

Curiously, Morning Edition only mentioned the political leanings of any of these think tanks once, when a representative from “the conservative Heritage Foundation” was used to balance an argument by constitutional lawyer Neal Katyal against Trump’s travel ban (4/25/18). ‘Fellows’ from conservative think tanks were given lengthy interviews. Morning Edition (5/15/18) dedicated an entire segment to Arthur Brooks’ opinions on the political climate when he stepped down as the president of the AEI. Likewise, Stephen Moore from the Heritage Foundation gave interviews in three segments, and two fellows from CSIS were each given their own interview. Only once did a left-of-center think tank receive similar attention, when NPR‘s Steve Inskeep (4/13/18) interviewed Ruy Teixeira with the liberal Center for Pindo Progress. The center and right dominated coverage of some of the most-covered topics in the study period. When Trump and Russia were discussed, conservative and center-right analysts appeared seven times, while those from center-left and progressive groups were interviewed only three times. On NK, centrist think tanks monopolized coverage with 15 cites. Analysts from right-wing think tanks commented on NK twice, with progressive and center-left think tanks completely shut out. Right-wing think tanks were often sought out to comment broadly on Trump administration immigration policy, while progressive think tanks were mostly brought in for analysis of specific issues such as food stamp work requirements or the effects of rising sea level on housing markets. According to a PEW Research study, NPR’s audience is generally left of center, with 41% found to be “consistently liberal” and another 26% being “mostly liberal.” Despite this, Morning Edition marginalized viewpoints from left-of-center think tanks. Voices from the non-corporate end of the spectrum were especially left out, with progressive analysts accounting for only 8% of the total, a disappointing statistic from a network that was set up to provide an alternative to corporate-sponsored media.

nimrata the bigot

there is no time left for civil disobedience

Israel kills 6 Palestinians in 24 hours
Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, Sep 18 2018

A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli police near the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday night in an alleged stabbing attempt on the start of the Yom Kippur holiday. Israeli police said that the man charged at a Jewish person, knocking him to the ground, and then ran towards the officers who fired at him while he waved a sharp object. A Palestinian witness told the AFP news agency that “the alleged attacker was not trying to stab anyone, rather ‘defending himself’ from a Jewish civilian.” Palestinian media outlets identified the slain man as Muhammad Yousif Alayan from Qalandiya refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah:

Several gunshots can be heard in multiple videos from the scene:

Other videos show Alayan lying motionless on the street as no attempt is made by Israeli police to administer first aid:

Israeli police published a video including security camera footage of the incident from multiple angles. The video also shows the object, apparently a screwdriver, that Alayan was presumably holding when he was shot. No Israelis were reported injured. Alayan is the third Palestinian to be killed in the course of an alleged stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem this year. Abd’al-Rahman Bani Fadel, 28, stabbed and killed a settler near the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City before he was shot dead by police in March. Last month, Ahmad Mahamid, a 30-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, was shot and killed after attempting to stab police in the Old City. His family said that the stabbing wasn’t politically motivated and that Mahamid was mentally ill. On Sunday, a Pindo man with Israeli citizenship was stabbed and killed by a 16-year-old Palestinian in a West Bank settlement. The Palestinian assailant was shot several times but survived, and is currently being detained in an Israeli hospital. Also on Tuesday, 24-year-old Muhammad Zaghloul al-Khatib al-Rimawi died after being beaten by IOF in his home in the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, IOF killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the span of 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday. Two Palestinians were shot and killed by IOF in northern Gaza on Tuesday. Gaza’s health ministry identified the slain men as Muhammad Ahmad Abu Naji, 34, and Ahmad Muhammad Muhsin Omar, 20. The pair were among hundreds who were protesting against Israel’s blockade, now in its 11th year, near the Beit Hanoun/Erez checkpoint. Protests along Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel have intensified in recent weeks as indirect talks between Hamas and Israel to end the blockade have stalled and Hamas leaders vowed to break the siege by any means necessary. Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern occupied Gaza Strip on Monday night. Gaza’s health ministry identified the slain men as Naji Jamil Abu Assi, 18, and Alaa Ziyad Abu Assi, 21. The IOF claimed that the men were among a group of Palestinians who had approached the Gaza-Israel boundary fence and placed a suspicious object nearby. IOF operate under an apparent shoot-to-kill policy in Gaza’s boundary areas. The exact range of the zone is undeclared but is generally understood to be within 300 m of the Gaza-Israel boundary. IOF have killed nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza so far this year, including approximately 135 shot and killed during Great March of Return protests held along the eastern boundary since Mar 30. Nearly 30 Palestinian children have been killed by IOF during those protests. On Saturday, DCI-P tweeted:

Two Palestinians were killed by IOF during last Friday’s protests, and a 12-year-old child died after being hit on the head by a hard object. The circumstances of his injury remain unclear. Also on Friday an artillery shell fired by IOF hit a school run by UNRWA in eastern Khan Younis.

UNRWA spox Chris Gunness told EI:

A preliminary investigation suggests that a 120 mm anti-tank shell deflected off an adjacent structure and into an UNRWA elementary school. Unexploded ordnance found at the school was removed by the UN Mine Action Group on Tuesday morning. No children were present at the time of the incident, as it occurred during the evening and on Friday, which is a weekend day in Gaza, but it forced the suspension of classes. We are seriously concerned about this incident that could have put hundreds of children at risk if this had occurred during a school day. We call on all parties to respect their obligations under international law, including full respect for the inviolability of UN premises. The damages have been repaired and the school is now functioning once more.

On Monday, UN OCHA announced the release of $1m in funds to procure emergency fuel needed to prevent the collapse of Gaza’s hospitals and water and sanitation facilities and to ensure their operation for another month and a half. UN OCHA’s Jamie McGoldrick stated:

Unfortunately, it comes in the absence of action from the relevant authorities, who have responsibility for the well-being of Gaza’s citizens, or predictable donor support. At least $2m more is needed to ensure the continued operation of life-saving services through the rest of the year. Gaza’s water and sanitation facilities have a near zero stock of emergency fuel, while public hospitals currently have only enough fuel to maintain essential services for a few more weeks, on average, with some facilities facing even greater risks. Sewage is overflowing into streets near a pumping station close to Gaza City. Fuel rationing means that garbage collection is happening only once every five to seven days, leaving 40,000-50,000 tons of trash accumulating on the street, posing associated health risks.

Gaza’s two million residents endure power outages of up to 20 hours per day after more than a decade of siege, multiple IOF assaults and a protracted impasse between the Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank. Humanitarian funding for the West Bank and Gaza has remained critically low as pledges from donor states have decreased year after year, while the Trump administration in Washington has slashed $500m in aid to Palestinians.

Palestinian dies after IOF beat him during home raid
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Sep 18 2018

Muhammad Zaghloul al-Khatib al-Rimawi

A 24-year-old Palestinian man died shortly after he was severely beaten by IOF in his home on Tuesday. Holding Israel responsible for Muhammad Zaghloul al-Khatib al-Rimawi’s killing, prisoner advocacy group Addameer said:

There is a distinct necessity to investigate the circumstances of his death. According to al-Rimawi’s brother, IOF raided al-Rimawi’s family home before dawn. After removing the door to the house, the soldiers attacked the individual’s mother and brought the members of the family into one part of the house. They beat al-Rimawi in a separate room until he was unconscious, and then took him away in that condition. After two hours, his family was informed of their son’s death.

In this video, al-Rimawi’s mother describes how the family could hear the IOF beating her son. At one point they let her into the room to help them find his ID, and she said she saw him collapsed, unconscious and undressed on the floor, before they forced her back out.

Al-Rimawi’s brother said that a soldier carried the unconscious, handcuffed man out of the house over his shoulder. A soldier then called al-Rimawi’s brother and asked if the victim had any illnesses. The brother said al-Rimawi had been healthy. Al-Rimawi’s mother also said her son was not sick apart from getting shot in the leg a year ago near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during confrontations with IOF. She told Quds News Network:

Do not try to fabricate that he was ill. Muhammad was not sick. They killed him.

Al-Rimawi was the third Palestinian to die this year after severe beatings by Israeli soldiers during arrest or inside Israeli prisons, according to Qadura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The two others were Aziz Awisat and Yasin al-Saradih. Addameer stated:

Since 1967, there have been 217 prisoners who have died while under the custody of the occupation. 78 of these were murdered. 7 were killed by gunshots while in prison, 59 were killed due to medical negligence and 73 died as a result of torture.

According to hundreds of testimonies collected by the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 95% of Palestinians who are transferred to Israeli interrogation and detention centers are subject to physical and psychological torture. While advocating for prisoners, Addameer staff continue to face Israeli attacks themselves. IOF arrested Ayman Nasser, Addameer’s legal coordinator, on Sep 9. Nasser, 48, was issued an administrative detention order shortly after, and will be held without charge or trial for at least six months.

IOF have previously arrested Nasser three times, most recently in 2014 when he spent more than a year in detention without charge or trial. Addameer field researcher Salah Hamouri, a French citizen, has been in Israeli detention without charge or trial for more than a year. Last December, Israel released the group’s media coordinator Hasan Safadi, after more than a year and a half in administrative detention. Khalida Jarrar, an MK and activist who sits on Addameer’s board, has also been held without charge for more than a year. Meanwhile, Khader Adnan, a former detainee who previously undertook two prolonged hunger strikes, 66 days in 2012 and 55 days in 2015, has been on hunger strike for more than two weeks to protest his latest arbitrary detention by Israel. Adnan, 40, was arrested on Dec 11, and has been held in administrative detention since.

Adnan said in a message, according to Quds News Network:

The occupation is entirely corrupt, and the right thing to do is to reject and resist it. That is our resistance, even if it is with our empty stomachs.

josh rogin looking very suave & urbane

WaPo Columnist And Trump Admin Team Up On Iran Regime Change
Ben Armbruster, LobeLog, Sep 18 2018

Josh Rogin (Photo: Hudson Inst via Flickr)

It’s starting to look like the Iran regime-change industry is getting a little worried that its efforts to kill the nuclear deal and squeeze Iran’s leaders out of existence isn’t quite working as planned. For instance, Donald Trump’s scheme to pressure Iran by re-imposing oil sanctions will likely produce political blowback at home in the form of higher gas prices. But the latest example of concern comes in the form of a juicy scoop last week by WaPo columnist Josh Rogin. Admin boxtops leaked to Rogin that Treasury Sec Mnuchin is quietly preventing Trump from signing the paperwork necessary to impose sanctions meant to prevent Iran from accessing an international banking transaction system. The move would severely restrict Iran’s ability to do business abroad and add another nail to the coffin of the JCPoA). For years, Rogin has been a sympathetic ear and scribe to Iran deal opponents and their fellow travelers on other foreign policy issues, particularly during his days writing with Eli Lake, a writer who launched his career cheerleading for the Iraq war. Writing together at the Daily Beast and then Bloomberg, Lake and Rogin regularly published joint columns attacking Pres Obama’s negotiations with Iran and their aftermath, with baseless charges meant to undermine the JCPOA. In his recent piece, Rogin not only aired the concerns of the anonymous boxtops about Trump’s Iran policy falling apart. He also cited what he called two “great arguments” for forcing Iran out of the SWIFT bank transaction system, from two boxtops at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Rogin presented no opposing view. Of course, one of those boxtops was FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz, whom reporters have a habit of quoting without telling their readers about his support for regime change in Iran. Rogin didn’t mention Dubowitz’s pedigree either, nor did he offer his readers a quote from an expert saying that kicking Iran out of SWIFT is a bad idea. The move would make saving the nuclear deal more difficult if not impossible, and thereby drive a wedge further between Pindostan & its Euro vassals. Rogin also didn’t even bother to identify his other source, Richard Goldberg, as a staffer at FDD, perhaps understanding that a piece that’s overly reliant on sources from a pro-regime-change and pro-war think-tank might be a bit much. Ironically, Rogin’s story has all the components of the supposed pro-JCPoA “echo chamber” that Iran deal opponents have been whining about. In this case, admin boxtops are clearly working with sympathetic journalists to get their message out and amplify it. As the Trump administration’s anti-Iran policy encounters various obstacles, the regime-change industry has clearly not given up, and it’s enlisting prominent mainstream media outlets to help.

“a blatant falsehood introduced by reuters”

No, the UN Did Not Report China Has ‘Massive Internment Camps’ for Uighur Muslims
Ben Norton, Ajit Singh, The Grayzone Project, Aug 23 2018

Numerous major media outlets, from Reuters to The Intercept, have claimed that the UN has reports that the Chinese government is holding as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in “internment camps.” But a close examination of these news stories, and of the evidence behind them or the lack thereof demonstrates that the extraordinary claim is simply not true. A UNHCR confirmed to us that the allegation of Chinese “camps” was not made by the UN, but rather by a member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN as a whole. That member happened to be the only Pindo on the committee, and one with no background of scholarship or research on China. Moreover, this accusation is based on thinly-sourced reports from a Chinese opposition group that receives funding from foreign governments and is closely tied to exiled pro-Pindo activists. There have been numerous reports of discrimination against Uighur Muslims in China. However, information about camps containing one million prisoners has originated almost exclusively from media outlets and organizations funded and weaponized by the American government to turn up the heat on Beijing. On Aug 10, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination conducted its regular review of China’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The review, which is conducted periodically for all 179 parties to the Convention, has generated a frenzied response by the Western corporate press, one which is uniformly misleading. On the day of the review, Reuters published a report with an explosive headline:

UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.

The claim was feverishly reproduced by outlets such as the NYT and the WaPo to denounce China and call for international action. Even The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan belted out the breathless headline:

One Million Muslim Uighurs Have Been Detained by China, the UN Says. Where’s the Global Outrage?

The impression readers were given was that the UN had conducted an investigation and had formally and collectively made such charges against China. In fact, the UN had done no such thing. The headline of Reuters’ report attributed its explosive claim to the UN, but the body of the article ascribed it simply to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And this committee’s official website makes it clear that it is “a body of independent experts.” What’s more, a look at the OHCHR’s official news release on the committee’s presentation of the report showed that the only mention of alleged re-education “camps” in China was made by its sole Pindo member, Gay McDougall. This claim was then echoed by a Mauritanian member, Yemhelhe Mint Mohamed. During the committee’s regular review of China, McDougall commented that she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in “internment camps.” AP reported:

McDougall did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.

Note that the headline of the AP story is:

UN panel concerned at reported Chinese detention of Uighurs.

This is much weaker than the Reuters headline:

UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.

Video of the session confirms that McDougall provided no sourcing to back up her remarkable claim. This is to say, one Pindo member of an independent UN body made a provocative claim, that China was interning 1 million Muslims, but failed to provide a single named source. And Reuters and the Western corporate media ran with it anyway, attributing the unsubstantiated allegations of one Pindo individual to the UN as a whole. In an email, UNHCR spox Julia Gronnevet confirmed that the CERD was not representative of the UN as a whole. Gronnevet wrote:

You are correct that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an independent body. Quoted comments were made during public sessions of the Committee when members were reviewing State parties.

Thus the UNHRC implicitly acknowledged that the comments by McDougall, the lone Pindo member of an independent committee, were not representative of any finding by the UN as a whole. The report by Reuters is simply false. In addition to this irresponsible misreporting, Reuters and other Western outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps left by McDougall, referring to reports made by so-called “activist group” the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). Conveniently left out of the story is that this organization is headquartered in Faschingstein. CHRD, which receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from unnamed governments, advocates full-time against the Chinese government and has spent years campaigning on behalf of extreme right-wing opposition figures. CHRD is not at all transparent about its funding or personnel. Its annual reports contain notes stating:

This report has been produced with the financial support of generous donors.

But the donors are never named. Publicly available IRS 990 forms filed show that the organization is substantially funded by government grants. In fact, in 2015 virtually all its revenue came from government grants.

CHRD’s 990 form for 2015 discloses that $819,553 of its $820,023 revenue that year (99.94%) came from government grants. A measly $395 came from investments, with another $75 from other sources. According to its 990 form for 2016, CHRD received $859,091 in government grants in that year.

Which government provided these grants is not clear. We did not receive a response to several emailed interview requests sent to the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. However, it appears likely that CHRD could be receiving funding from the NED. A search of the NED’s grants database shows funding from 2014 and 2015 totaling approximately half a million dollars to “support the work of Chinese human rights defenders.” It is not clear if this is a reference to the organization specifically, but the description accompanying the grants matches that of CHRD.

CHRD has used its generous funding to provide grants to opposition activists inside China, bankrolling dozens upon dozens of projects in the country. On its tax forms, CHRD lists its address as the Faschingstein office of HRW, which has long been criticized for its revolving door with the government and its disproportionate focus on designated enemies of Faschingstein like China, Venezuela, Syria and Russia. HRW did not respond to an email inquiring about its relationship with CHRD, whose 990 forms reveal that the board of the organization is a Who’s Who of exiled Chinese anti-government activists. The chair of the group is the Pindostan-based activist Su Xiaokang, who proclaimed that the Chinese public supposedly “wants Pindostan to watch over activists, and is disappointed when Faschingstein fails.” Fellow Pindo-based dissident Teng Biao is a CHRD director who has sarcastically boasted of how the Chinese communist party dubbed him a “reactionary.” CHRD’s secretary is the Pindo academic Perry Link, who has built his public academic reputation on winding up on the Chinese government’s academic “blacklist.” Link testified for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2014, claiming that the Chinese government is threatening academic freedom in Pindostan. In his congressional testimony, Link insisted the Pindosi government should crack down on the Chinese government’s Confucius Institute organization and instead fund its own pro-Pindo Chinese-language programs. Link characterized these as a potential Pindo weapon against the Chinese communist party, arguing:

Chinese-language programs could very arguably do more to blunt the CPC’s advance than the airplane could.

These are some of the pro-Pindostan and anti-Chinese government figures who lead the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. therwise, there is very little publicly available information about CHRD. It appears to largely be the brainchild of its international director, Renee Xia, an opposition activist who has publicly called for the Pindo government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials under the Magnitsky Act. Xia, CHRD’s founder, was a strong supporter of the imprisoned hard-right neocon Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, and she campaigned years for his release. An archived version of the group’s website shows that as far back as 2010, CHRD was vociferously advocating on behalf of Liu, while likening the Chinese government to Nazi Germany. While Liu Xiaobo became a cause celebre of the Western liberal intelligensia, he was a staunch supporter of colonialism, a fan of the most blood-soaked Pindo military campaigns, and a hardcore libertarian. As writers Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong reported in the Guardian in 2010, Liu led numerous Pindo-government-funded right-wing organizations that advocated mass privatization and the westernization of China. He also expressed openly racist views against the Chinese. Liu insisted:

To choose Westernisation is to choose to be human.

He lamented that traditional Chinese culture had made its population “wimpy, spineless and fucked up.” While CHRD described Liu as an “advocate of non-violence,” he practically worshipped Pres Bush 43 and strongly supported the invasion of Iraq as well as the war in Afghanistan. “Non-violence advocate” He was even a fan of Pindostan’s wars in Korea and Vietnam, which killed millions of civilians. CHRD’s most recent China report, the one cited by Reuters and other outlets to give credence to the allegations of Uyghur re-education camps, further highlights the organization’s links to Faschingstein and its compromised impartiality. The most-cited source in the CHRD report, accounting for more than one-fifth of the 101 references, is Radio Free Asia, which along with VoA, RFE/RL, Radio TV Martí and Middle East Broadcasting Networks is operated by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency under the supervision of the State Dept. Describing its work as “vital to Pindo national interests,” its primary broadcasting standard is to be “consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of Pindostan.” Near-total reliance on Faschingstein-linked sources is characteristic of Western reporting on Uighurs and Muslims in China, and the country in general, which regularly features sensational headlines and allegations. In addition to CHRD and RFA, it is common for reports to cite the World Uighur Congress, an organization funded by the NED. At a recent NED event, Max Blumenthal interviewed World Uighur Congress chairman Omer Kanat, who took credit for furnishing many of the claims of internment camps to Western media. Another favorite congressional and MSM source for information about China is the Jamestown Foundation, a neocon think-tank founded during the height of the Cold War by Reagan administration personnel with the support of then-DCI Bill Casey. Former Jamestown board members include Dick Cheney and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The latest incident of misreporting by Reuters is part of a trend of increasingly hostile Cold War-like coverage of China by the Western press that coincides with Faschingstein’s push for conflict with Beijing. In a series of policy statements, the Trump administration has repeatedly identified the “threat” posed by “economic and military ascendance” of China, with Mad Dog Mattis declaring:

Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of Pindo natsec.

Growing anxious about its diminishing global dominance, Pindostan seeks to forestall the rise of of an alternative node of international power. A long-standing component of Pindo imperialism is the use of ostensibly impartial “civil society groups” and “think tanks” to promote narratives in the media supportive of Pindo foreign policy goals. Such stories aim to stir up public outrage and weaponize it to advance imperial ambitions, often under the guise of “humanitarian concern.” This time-tested program is at the heart of the intensifying campaign against China, and as the latest raft of bogus stories demonstrated, the corporate media is eager to play along.

h/t: jason ditz, who provides me with my starting links each morning

Fate of Syria’s Idlib Deal Rests on What AQ Does Next
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Sep 18 2018

Monday’s surprise Turkey-Russia deal on Syria’s Idlib Province, which aims to stop a military invasion of rebel-held territory in return for a demilitarized zone, and rebels withdrawing from that entire area, has a very fast time-frame, with officials hoping to have it in place by mid-October. Russia and Turkey are on board, and Syria seems okay with the deal, but there has yet to be any comment out of al-Qaeda or the other Islamist factions in the area. This could quickly derail any such deal if they refuse to go along with it. The buffer zone is to by 15-25 km, with all heavy weapons withdrawn from the area, and Turkish and Russian forces policing the area. Though the exact location of the zone is not fully defined, it is believed to cut substantially through al-Qaeda’s territory. Turkey is sending more troops into this area, preparing to try to enforce the buffer zone. Syria’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the news, but vowed to continue to fight until the whole country is back under government control.

Fate of Jihadis will make or break Idlib peace plan
Tulay Karadeniz, Dominic Evans, Reuters, Sep 18 2018

ANKARA – The Russian-Turkish agreement to avert a Syrian government offensive against Idlib hinges on the response of Jihadi fighters in the region and could unravel quickly if Moscow and Ankara cannot jointly impose their plan on the Islamist groups. Turkey, desperate to avoid all-out conflict and a humanitarian crisis on its southern border, forged the surprise deal with Russia on Monday to set up a demilitarized zone around Idlib, staving off an imminent attack. Ankara has for months called for a targeted campaign against the Jihadis who control parts of Idlib, instead of a broad offensive against a region which is also home to 3 million civilians and tens of thousands of Turkey-backed rebels. The deal announced in Sochi after talks between Putin and Erdogan gives Turkey the opportunity to put that proposal into effect. However time is short. The two leaders want to set up the demilitarized zone by mid-October. It is not clear how they will enforce their plan to disarm and remove hardline Islamist insurgents. Announcing the deal, Putin said the zone will run along the frontline separating rebel-held Idlib and Syrian government forces. “Radical militants” will withdraw and heavy weapons will be removed from them and other opposition groups, he said. The Russian president did not say how the radical groups would be persuaded to cooperate, or where they might be sent. Turkey has a dozen military posts in the Idlib region and announced last October that it would isolate “terror groups” from “moderate rebels” there. Nearly a year on, it has little to show for its effort, and analysts say it is not clear how Monday’s agreement will change prospects. Metin Gurcan, a security analyst and retired Turkish military officer, said:

I have to say this is a very, very small possibility. The Jihadis would be persuaded only through a show of strength rather than dialogue.

The most powerful rebel force in Idlib is HTS/Nusra, which Putin named as one of the groups which would be targeted by the measures, but neither he nor Erdogan identified which other Islamist fighters could be affected. Turkey said on Tuesday it would discuss the matter with Russia, suggesting that no agreement has been reached. One diplomat who follows Syria forecast that the Sochi deal would only stabilize Idlib for a few months, saying:

It is just a postponement of the question that does not have a crystal clear solution.

Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and analyst with Carnegie Endowment’s European branch,said:

The main problem is the foreign fighters, they have nowhere to go.

Ulgen said Turkey appeared to be pinning its hopes on possible splits among the Jihadis, with Syrian fighters more amenable to disarming than the foreigners. Ulgen said:

The main principle is divide and rule, attempting to separate the different constituencies at the granular level. They may all be Jihadis, but they may have different inclinations in terms of this demilitarization.

An insurgent source in Idlib said:

There are different views emerging within HTS/Nusra over whether to cooperate. Their stance is crucial because once their Shura Council rules on the issue, it wields enough power to impose its will on other Jihadi fighters in Idlib, including foreigners. If there is an agreement between HTS/Nusra and Turkey, the matter will proceed easily.

Ankara designated the group a terrorist organization last month, but the source said there were indications that Turkey and HTS/Nusra could cooperate on the ground, noting the ease with which Turkish military convoys pass through Idlib. The UN Syria envoy has said there are thought to be around 10,000 Nusra fighters in Idlib. There are other Islamist and groups fighting under the FSA banner. With Turkish backing, they are now gathered under the “National Front for Liberation.” Gurcan said the Sochi agreement had granted Turkey a brief respite until the Oct 15 planned implementation, but Russia would not hold back forever from tackling a region it calls a “nest of terrorists.” He said:

Ankara has bought one month, and Russia has given it this time period. However Moscow is doing this for the last time. How is Ankara going to use that one-month period?

Syria’s Idlib spared attack, Turkey to send in more troops
Tulay Karadeniz, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters, Feb 18 2018

ANKARA/AMMAN – Turkey will send more troops into Syria’s Idlib province after striking a deal with Russia that has averted a government offensive and delighted rebels who said it kept the area out of Assad’s hands. The deal unveiled on Monday by Putin and Erdogan will create a demilitarized zone from which “radical” rebels must withdraw by the middle of next month. Damascus also welcomed the agreement but vowed to continue its efforts to recover “every inch” of Syria. Iran said that “responsible diplomacy” had averted a war in Idlib “with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror.” The agreement halted a threatened Syrian government offensive. The UNs had warned such an attack would create a humanitarian catastrophe in the Idlib region, home to about 3 million people. Assad’s plans to recover the north-west of his country have been complicated by Turkey’s role on the ground. It has soldiers at 12 locations in Idlib and supplies weapons to some of the rebels. Erdogan had feared another exodus of refugees to join the 3.5 million already in Turkey, and warned against any attack. In striking the deal, Russia appears to have put its ties with Turkey ahead of advancing the goal of bringing all Syria back under Assad’s rule, at least for now. That goal is also obstructed by the presence of Pindo forces in the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates that is held by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, and at a base near the borders with Jordan and Iraq. Mad Dog Mattis played down any notion the Turkey-Russia agreement had resolved the situation in Idlib, telling reporters at the Pentagon:

Idlib is one of the most complex problems in a complex theater right now. So I’m quite sure it’s not all sorted.

Analysts cautioned that implementation of the deal faced big challenges, notably how to separate Jihadis from other rebels, a goal Ankara has been struggling to achieve. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the “moderate opposition” would keep its weapons and the “region will be cleared of radicals.” Turkey would “make additional troop deployments” and its twelve observation posts would remain. He said:

(This is) very important for the political resolution in Syria. If this had been lost too, there would be no opposition anymore.

FSA boxtop Mustafa Sejari said the deal “buries Assad’s dreams of imposing his full control over Syria.” Yahya al-Aridi, spokesman for the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission, expressed hope that a government offensive was now off the table for good. The Syrian government said it welcomed any agreement that spared blood, and it noted that the deal had a specific time frame, which it did not detail. Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abd’ul-Karim said in an interview with Lebanon’s al-Jadid TV:

I see it as a test of the extent of Turkey’s ability to implement this decision. We do not trust Turkey, but it’s useful for Turkey to be able to carry out this fight to disarm these groups.

Moscow (sic – RB) said:

(The agreement) confirmed the ability of both Moscow and Ankara to compromise in the interests of the ultimate goal of a Syrian settlement by political and diplomatic means.

UN aid chief Mark Lowcock asked during a monthly meeting of the UNSC on Syria:

Is this merely a stay of execution? Or is it the beginning of a reprieve?

The DMZ will be monitored by Russian and Turkish forces, the countries’ leaders said. Neither Russia nor Turkey has explained how it plans to differentiate “radically minded” rebels from other anti-Assad groups. It was also not immediately clear how much of the city of Idlib fell within the zone. Putin said the decision was to establish by Oct 15 a demilitarized area 15 km to 20 km deep along the contact line between rebel and government fighters. Naji Abu Hufaiza, spokesman for the National Front for Liberation, said he did not have details of the agreement, but added that while he saw it as a success for Turkish diplomacy, his group did not trust Russia to uphold it. Idlib is held by an array of rebels. The most powerful is HTS/Nusra. Other Islamists, and groups fighting as the FSA banner, are now gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.” The area is also the last major haven for foreign Jihadis. Putin said that, at Erdogan’s suggestion, by Oct 10, all opposition heavy weapons, mortars, tanks, rocket systems would also be removed from the demilitarized zone. Earlier this month, Putin publicly rebuffed a proposal from Erdogan for a truce when the two met along with Iran’s president at a summit in Tehran.

Syrian government welcomes Idlib deal, will ‘liberate’ whole country
Reuters, Sep 18 2018

BEIRUT – Damascus on Tuesday welcomed a Russian-Turkish deal to create a buffer zone in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib, and vowed to press on with its “war against terrorism” to “liberate” the entire country. SANA cited a Foreign Ministry official as saying:

This agreement was the result of intense discussions between Syria and Russia. The SAR affirms it is pressing on with its war against terrorism until the liberation of the last inch of Syrian land, whether by military operations or local reconciliation.

Russian DM: Israeli Warplanes Caused Shoot-down of Russian Plane Near Syria; 15 Airmen Killed
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Sep 18 2018

The Russian Defense Ministry has issued a statement Tuesday clarifying the fate of an Il-20 plane reported shot down off the coast of Syria the night before. Officials now confirm it was shot down by a Syrian S-200 missile, but that it was the fault of Israeli F-16 warplanes. Four Israeli F-16s attacked Syria’s coastline from offshore, and the defense ministry says the jets used the larger Russian surveillance plane as “cover” during the attack, and when the air defense system tried to target the Israeli attackers, they hit the Russian plane by mistake, killing 15 Russian service members. The IOF insisted this entirely wasn’t their fault, and that Syria is “fully responsible.” In later statements, they blamed Iran and Hezbollah as well, saying that Israel was attacking a weapons factory in Latakia. Russia is clearly not happy, saying they reserve the right to “respond accordingly.” It’s not clear what that will mean, but Russia has repeatedly, publicly warned Israel to stay away from Latakia, and this is likely to do substantial harm to Russia-Israel ties.

IOF blames Damascus for Russia’s Il-20 downing, mourns death of crew
RT.com, Sep 18 2018

Israel has blamed the Syrian government for the downing of the Russian Il-20 military plane in Latakia province, according to an IOF statement. Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Syria, “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident. Israel also put the blame for the “unfortunate incident” on Iran and Hezbollah. It wrote:

Israel expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident. Israel also holds Iran and the Hezbollah terror organization accountable for this unfortunate incident. Overnight, IDF fighter jets targeted a facility of the Syrian Armed Forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it. The IDF and the Russian army have a deconfliction system, which was agreed upon by the states’ leaders, and has proven itself many times over recent years. This system was in use tonight as well. An initial inquiry of the incident suggests:

  1. Extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (Surface to Air missile) fire caused the Russian plane to be hit and downed.
  2. When the Syrian Army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, IAF jets were already within Israeli airspace.
  3. During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.
  4. The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.

Israel will share all the relevant information with the Russian Government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.

Putin: Israeli Air Raid a Breach of Syria’s Sovereignty
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Sep 18 2018

On Monday, Israeli warplanes attacked the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, firing a slew of missiles at the city, and ending up getting a Russian plane shot down. On Tuesday, Putin reacted, terming the attack a breach of Syrian sovereignty. While the downing of a Russian plane and the death of 15 Russian military personnel sparked a lot of anger, Putin seemed willing to absolve Israel, at least for now. He said that a lot of chance circumstances were at play in the incident. That said, Putin was very clear that the violation of Syrian airspace was a problem, and warned Israel not to let the incident recur. That Israel carried out such an attack at all was clearly provocative. Russia, after all, has negotiated with Israel repeatedly on the attacks of Syria, and while all the specifics aren’t public, one of the recurring messages from Russia was to stay away from the Tartus naval base. Monday’s attack was against a city very close to the base.

Russian ‘fake news’ machine going mad, says French envoy to Pindostan
Reuters, Sep 18 2018

PARIS – France’s envoy to Pindostan on Tuesday accused Moscow of spreading fake news after Russia’s Defence Ministry said a French frigate in the Mediterranean had launched missiles on Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry initially said that their plane had been shot down by Israeli warplanes, and that Russian radar had detected rocket launches from the Auvergne. The ministry later said the aircraft had been shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems in what Pres Putin called “tragic and chance circumstances. France’s ambassador to Faschingstein, Gerard Araud tweeted in English:

Russian fake news machine getting mad: accusing the French to have shot down a Russian plane (in fact victim of a Syrian «friend» fire)

French army spox denied that France had been involved in the incident or fired any missiles. Several hours later, Russian media continued to raise the question. Quoting a military expert, TASS said Paris was partly at fault after launching cruise missiles from the Auvergne. France’s presidency, Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry have yet to respond officially to the Russian assertions.

Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane
Darya Korsunskaya, Stephen Farrell, Reuters, Sep 18 2018

MOSCOW/JERUSALEM – Pres Putin said on Tuesday that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria’s seacoast was the result of a series of tragic and chance circumstances. His comments appeared to somewhat defuse a possible crisis involving outside powers that back opposing sides in Syria’s complex civil war, after Russia’s Defence Ministry accused Israel of indirectly causing the incident. The ministry said that while Syrian anti-aircraft had mistakenly shot down the plane of a close ally, Israeli jets flying nearby had put the Russian jet in the path of danger, and it threatened to retaliate over what it called a hostile act. Putin told reporters:

It looks most likely in this case that it was a chain of tragic chance events, because an Israeli aircraft did not shoot down our aircraft. But, without any doubt, we need to seriously get to the bottom of what happened. As for retaliatory measures, they will be aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel and facilities in Syria. And these will be steps that everyone will notice.

A Kremlin statement said:

Pres Putin told PM Netanyahu by phone that IAF had been conducting operations in breach of Syria’s sovereignty. In this case, Russian-Israeli agreements on the prevention of dangerous incidents were not observed. As a result a Russian airplane came under fire from Syria’s anti-aircraft systems. The President of Russia called for the Israeli side to avoid such situations from now on.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, was downed by Syrian government anti-aircraft guns in a “friendly fire” incident. But the ministry said it held Israel responsible because, at the time of the incident, Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria and had only given Moscow one minute’s warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire. Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television:

We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile. As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished.

Netanyahu’s office said that in his conversation with Putin he blamed Syria for the aircraft’s downing but offered “all necessary information” for the investigation into the incident. Amos Yadlin, Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, said on Twitter:

(This could) limit the bid to stop Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the transfers of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

Russian news agencies reported that after the incident, Russian DM Shoigu told Israeli DM Lieberman that Moscow held Israel wholly responsible. Netanyahu’s office said:

In his conversation with Pres Putin, the PM stressed the importance of defense coordination with Russia that had managed to prevent many losses on both sides in the past three years in Syria’s war.