more “troll farm” debunking

Russian “Troll Farm” Indictment Shredded By Journalist Who First Profiled It In 2015
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Feb 21 2018

Following Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three entities behind a Russian “troll farm” said to have meddled in the 2016 Pindo election, admittedly with zero impact, two people familiar both with the ads purchased by Russians on Facebook and with the “troll farm” in question have refuted Mueller’s narrative over the course of four days. Things don’t seem to be going well for the Russia investigation, which started out with serious claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and has been reduced to CNN diving through the garbage of a Russian troll farm. Adrian Chen, the staff writer for the NYT who first profiled the indicted Russian troll farm in 2015, sat down with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, where he proceeded to deflate Mueller’s big scary indictment to nothing. He tweeted:

Chen links to a WaPo article which profiles Russian journalists who also investigated said troll farm.

A brief review. The former FBI director has assembled a “dream team” of investigators for his Special Counsel probe and concluded that 13 Russians and 3 entities tried to meddle in the election after an entire year of investigation. Those efforts had zero impact on the election. Facebook’s VP of ads is on record saying:

I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.

The same FB Exec noted that most of the ads were purchased after the election. Suggesting that the real, underlying narrative is one of MSM propaganda, he was then made to walk back his comments and apologize for his “uncleared thoughts.” CNN is rooting around in the trash outside the troll farm. Because of this, Obama and Congress slapped sanctions on Russia, evicted two diplomatic compounds, and launched several Congressional investigations over. But at least the MIC is happy, while the stock of Boeing has never been higher.

BA stock

an interesting study of the jeremy newmark affair

A Tangled Web of Religion in Politics
Laura Stuart, Islam 21C, Feb 20 2018


Some may say that the political arena is no place for religious sensibilities, but now and again religion does raise its head. I am a Muslimah who recently joined the Labour Party, not because I believe any political party can solve society’s ills but because I had hopes that life in Britain could be better than it is now and that we can act to pursue such an aim. In this instance, there emerged a person of upstanding and fair character, a man who seemed to want to make our society more equal and just. Such was Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds of thousands thought the same and they too joined the Labour party with the same hopes and the same desire to get Jeremy Corbyn elected. Such was the shock of the establishment elites at the prospect of a leader who seemingly did not believe in working for the benefit of the few to the detriment of the many that all manner of dark arts were and are being employed to ensure he never reaches the seat of power. There are some very wealthy people happy enough to make money in this country that minimises the taxes they pay by means of various offshore activities. It is people such as these who do not want a man with a vision of a more egalitarian society in power. Then there are the foreign policy interests. It seems likely that the Israeli state is particularly interested in ensuring that Britain has a leader who will turn a blind eye to clear injustice. For this reason, “Israel” suddenly and unexpectedly sent its top man Mark Regev to our shores. This was once the post of Ambassador became vacant after the then-ambassador was reportedly left vulnerable to blackmail from his frequent late night visitors to his official residence. Most Muslims will know Mark Regev as the man who regularly appeared on their television screens justifying the bombing of civilians in their homes, the raining down of phosphorus on the population of Gaza, and even the slaughtering with missiles of innocent children on the beach. Regev’s main objective seems to be to mobilise various established Israel lobby groups and newer astro-turfed Israel advocacy groups to stop Corbyn ever becoming Prime Minister. His arrival coincided with a coordinated attack on the Labour party and its leadership. If we had thought “by way of deception thou shalt do war” was just a slogan, evidence suggests such a war exists within our political arena with a controlled and biased mainstream media also trying to sabotage Corbyn’s chances. Of course, if anyone in the party were to suggest that there was a particular demographic engaging in these sinister plots they would be deemed an anti-Semite. This is not a battle that anyone using logic can win.

Prime amongst pro-Israel groups within the Labour Party is the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and last week its leader, one Jeremy Newmark, suddenly hit the Jewish media headlines, and not in a good way. These headlines referred to events of some years back and the timing of these revelations might be seen as somewhat Machiavellian in nature, all of which may become clearer in the days and weeks to come. What is clear now is that despite the fact that the MSM has always been more than happy to report on unproven allegations made against Corbyn supporters in the Labour party, including myself, they have yet to report on this story. What happened? It is alleged that during the time he was in his previous job as CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), an umbrella group and charity for other Jewish groups, Jeremy Newmark engaged in fraudulent cheating on his expenses. Rather than being sacked, Newmark was ‘allowed to resign’ from the charity for reasons of ill-health though his ‘ill-health’ did not prevent him from standing as the Finchley & Golders Green constituency Labour Party Candidate in the 2017 General Election, or from presently holding the position of Labour Councillor in Borehamwood. But it is from a religious standpoint that the circumstances around this resignation make for interesting reading. Despite having allegedly taken thousands of pounds by means of massively inflated expenses, the JC reports, the decision by the Trustees of the charity to conceal Newmark’s wrongdoings was taken on the principle of Lashon Hara. Of course we have similar principles against speaking ill of people in Islām, but at what point does the principle of not speaking ill of someone become a cover-up of their crime? Is it not understandable that despite their claimed desire to adhere to the principle of Lashon Hara, some trustees of the JLC might be subject to accusations of engaging in a massive cover-up? This is made worse by the fact that Mr Newmark has had his character called into question on two previous occasions: once in a court case where the judge rejected his evidence as untrue, and then in a JC article last year claiming Mr Newmark left an Israeli taxi driver with an unpaid bill of £3k. When the alleged decision to cover up the misdemeanours of Jeremy Newmark was taken, no consideration seems to have been given to the possibility that he might go on to cause harm to others. Is this how Jewish leaders protect their community?

This alleged cover-up is all the more alarming when one notes who was involved: Vivian Wineman, at that time President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Stephen Pack, at that time President of the United Synagogue, and even Sir Mick Davies, the CEO of the Conservative Party. All these, plus other prominent community leaders, are named in the JC article. Even now, despite JLM promising that there will be an investigation and that they will take advice on the findings, there are people within the Jewish community who insist that only a person with no connection to the community should be allowed to preside over the investigation. Those of us who are familiar with ‘Israeli justice’ (surely an oxymoron) know that rarely if ever do they find themselves guilty. I am sure that in allowing Mr Newmark to stand down on the grounds of ill-health instead of being sacked, with three months full salary plus expenses, they believed they were acting for the good of themselves and the community, and one can imagine how these worthies comforted themselves by telling themselves and others a nice story that by not exposing Jeremy Newmark to public humiliation, they were acting out of the noble principle of Lashon Hara. Until days ago, as well as being the ex-CEO of the JLC, Newmark was also the leader of the pro-Zionist JLM, whose members have been involved, along with other Israel supporters, in some Machiavellian smearing and denouncing of a number of Jeremy Corbyn supporters within the party for anti-Semitism. Suspected tactics include the use of sock-puppet accounts to spy on members’ social media accounts. Many people were horrified by the findings of the recent al-Jazeera documentary, The Lobby. This documentary resulted from al-Jazeera undercover filming of Zionist parliamentary lobby groups attempting by nefarious means, to influence British politics. Members of LFI, JLM and other Israel lobby groups were exposed in various ways, including the use of a £1m slush fund, the purpose of which has never been explained. Joan Ryan, MP for Enfield North, was filmed falsely accusing a party member of anti-Semitism. Shai Masot, a senior staff member of the Israeli embassy, was shown expressing his wish to ‘bring down’ a government minister seen as problematic to Israel. Light relief was provided by another JLM member seen threatening to use ‘Krav Maga’ on Jackie Walker. None of this has been fully investigated by either the Conservative or the Labour party, and no explanation for the various plots, including those of the State of Israel agent Shai Masot, has been given.

Likewise last summer we had the case of Pritti Patel, who seemed in the process of being groomed by the Israeli government as a possible future leader of the Conservative Party. Ms Patel’s activities whilst on holiday in Israel included clandestine meetings with senior Israeli political figures, all the way up to and including Netanyahu himself. Ms Patel, too, was given the opportunity to resign rather than be sacked, for what many felt were traitorous activities. She remains an MP, and there is little doubt that sometime in the future,such an ambitious lady try to make a comeback and probably succeed. After all, recall Sir Liam Fox, who after a brief period on the back benches following the embarrassing exposure of his illicit involvement with Israeli doings only a few years ago, is already back as Sec State for International Trade. It seems that when it comes to working for the benefit of the “Jewish State”, there is little accountability for wrongdoing and little evidence of any integrity, propriety or shame from those politicians who are exposed and compromised. Nor is there any appetite from our mainstream media or from our political parties to spend any time or effort in investigating any dodgy deeds that involves potential damage to our relationship with the Jewish state. It is no secret that many Corbyn supporters who have been targeted and denounced for “anti-Semitism” are also activists for Palestinian rights, and looking at the profiles of those accused on the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism website, it is noteworthy that 13 out of 39 accused Labour members happen to be Muslim. The website even contains a page especially dedicated to Muslims and Anti-Semitism, which alleges that Anti-Semitism is increasing among British Muslims. I am pretty sure that what they are really complaining about is not any hatred of Jewish people, but rather increasing frustration and dismay at the situation in Palestine. The Jeremy Newmark cover-up by some leading lights within the Jewish community is surely very damaging for that community. That Mr Newmark remains a Labour councillor and is as yet unsuspended from the Labour party is also damaging to the Labour Party and to its General Secretary, Iain McNicol, especially when so many other Labour members have been suspended for so much less. As well as the damage done by these disgraceful happenings to the Jewish community, to the Labour Party and to the wider British community, should we not also be concerned as Muslims? As Muslims we have a commitment to justice whoever it is for or against, and not be afraid of the smears of slanderers. Allāh says (4:135):

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort or refuse, then indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do.

The Prophet set the standard for the rest of the world to follow when establishing justice and rights independent from the power, tribal or national loyalties that the world was then steeped in. It would be a shame if Muslims were to leave this guidance and opt for a politics without their religion.

this jewish charade of ‘socialism’ is grotesque

Labour expels Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Feb 21 2018

Greenstein & co outside the hearing in Brighton on Sunday (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

The Labour Party on Sunday expelled prominent Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein for what it claimed was online abuse, but Greenstein says the real reason was that he has spoken out against the Israel lobby. Greenstein is vice-chair of a group set up to combat what it calls a “witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel.” Corbyn has been constantly attacked by right-wingers and Israel lobbyists with claims that Labour is now “institutionally anti-Semitic,” based on exaggerated and frequently fabricated allegations. Although the disciplinary panel that expelled Greenstein claims it was not because of his views, a Labour Party document seen by EI suggests otherwise. Written on behalf of the party’s National Executive Committee by party lawyer Thomas Ogg, the main thrust of the document is that Greenstein should be expelled for using the term “Zio,” and also for a blog post he wrote criticizing Louise Ellman, a Labour MP with a long history of supporting Israel. The article, written months after his suspension in 2016, described Ellman as an “apologist for Israel’s occupation forces” and a “supporter of Israeli child abuse.” During a 2016 Parliamentary debate, Ellman had strongly defended the IOF’s practice of night-time detention of Palestinian children. The IOF habitually detains and tortures Palestinian children, imprisoning them without credible trial. The abuse has included sexual violence and rape threats and other forms of torture according to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, B’Tselem and Defense for Children International-Palestine. This systematic abuse is cause for such concern that more than twenty congress critturs have co-sponsored a bill to outlaw aid to Israel being used for the military detention, abuse and torture of Palestinian children. However, according to Ogg, the blog post was “an attempt to shame Ms Ellman,” using “provocative, inaccurate and offensive” language, and was therefore grounds for expulsion.

The “offensive” language Ogg points to is Greenstein’s contention that Ellman is a “supporter of Israeli child abuse.” Ogg claims this phrase is inaccurate, despite the fact Ellman was clearly speaking in defense of the detention practices of the IOF, which has a well-documented track record of abusing Palestinian children. Ellman’s defense of the IOF is no surprise. She is a vice-chair of LFI and a former chair of JLM, each with intimate ties to the Israeli embassy. One of those Greenstein is accused of verbally abusing is Ella Rose, a former Israeli embassy officer who is now director of the JLM. Rose was herself the subject of a complaint by party members last year after she was caught on camera stating that her critics should “die in a hole” and saying she could “take” one of them down in hand-to-hand combat. Yet the same party bureaucracy that expelled Greenstein treated Rose with kid gloves, closing the matter without disciplinary action, a result one complainant called a “whitewash.” The procedure of suspending and eventually expelling Greenstein also appears to lack due process. In the document, Labour’s lawyer admits:

All of the charges relate to conduct after Mr Greenstein’s suspension from the Labour Party on Mar 18 2016.

In other words, the National Executive Committee suspended Greenstein first, then sought out evidence later. As EI reported at the time, in the suspension letter Greenstein received he was told only that it related to “comments you are alleged to have made.” Greenstein asked to see the allegations against him, but his request was denied, as was his request to know who his accusers were. The party’s disciplinary unit apparently did however manage to leak vague allegations of “anti-Semitism” to hostile right-wing media. The lawyer’s 22-page document, which Greenstein says was provided to him less then two days before his hearing, formed the outline of the case against him on Sunday. That document was in turn based on a larger 189-page bundle of supporting evidence. A lot of time and effort was clearly expended on removing Greenstein from the party. Although the insinuations apparently leaked to the press were all about Greenstein’s supposed anti-Semitism, the document mostly drops that allegation to concentrate on alleged online abuse. But the party’s lawyer concedes in the document that it was not a case about “whether Mr Greenstein is an anti-Semite.” Greenstein’s expulsion, along with the upcoming hearing against Marc Wadsworth, are thought by many activists to be the prelude to a new attempt to expel Ken Livingstone when his current suspension expires in April. Momentum is the grassroots Labour group established to support Jeremy Corbyn. Greenstein criticized the Labour bureaucracy for attacking him and other prominent activists on the left for alleged abuse, while refusing to take action on abuse of the left from the right of the party. Led by general secretary Iain McNicol, the party bureaucracy has also refused to take any action against Jeremy Newmark, who stepped down as chair of the JLM this month after the Jewish Chronicle revealed he was accused of defrauding a Jewish charity of tens of thousands of dollars. Last week, McNicol told Labour members demanding Newmark’s suspension that the revelations were a “private matter” for Newmark.

Then They Came for Tony Greenstein
Gilad Atzmon, Feb 19 2018

Following the outrageous expulsion of AZZ extraordinaire Tony Greenstein from the Labour Party, the equally vindictive Labour Against The Witchhunt (LAW) published this embarrassing tweet:

According to LAW’s logic, Greenstein should have been vindicated due to the fact that he is:

  1. a Jew
  2. a Rabbi’s son
  3. the offspring of holocaust survivors.

The above tweet is no doubt a glimpse into the morbid universe of Jewish privilege. If Greenstein’s line of defence is built upon him being Jewish, a Rabbi’s son and blood relation to Holocaust survivors, where does it leave the rest of the British working class? How many John Smiths can hide behind the blood of their Jewish mother, their rabbi papa or their holocaust credentials? As if the situation isn’t funny enough, the banal minds at LAW decided to quote Martin Niemoller. Considering that Greenstein is a dedicated witch-hunter himself, approved by the ultra-Zionist BoD and Jonathan Freedland, the Yesha Guardian’s prime hasbara merchant, Niemoller’s poem needed a bit of a tweak, which I was happy to provide:

First, Tony Greenstein came for Israel Shamir, and I did not speak out, because I was not Israel Shamir. Then Tony came for Deir Yassin Remembered and I did not speak out, because I was not from Deir Yassin Remembered. Then Tony came for  Richard FalkJohn MearsheimerSamir Abbed RabboMakram Khoury MachoulAlison WierNahida IzzatNorman FinkelsteinKen O’KeefeOren Ben DorPaul EisenGreta Berlin, Lauren Booth, Gabi WeberIan Donovan, Gerry Downing, Laura Stuart, Socialist Fight and many others and I did not speak out, because this confirmed everything I had to say about the corrosive impact of the Jewish solidarity spin. Then they came for Tony Greenstein and everybody was laughing with satisfaction except myself, because I pretend to be an empathic goy.

pushing the envelope slightly, ” insurge” is nafeez ahmed & friends

Pindostan is protecting Daesh to expand occupation & weaken rivals
Steven Chovanec,, Feb 20 2018

Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council of the SDF

The dominant view of the Pindo-led coalition against Daesh, Operation Inherent Resolve, is that its fundamental goal is the defeat of Daesh. And so, in the wake of the routing of Daesh from Iraq and Syria, the core justification for an ongoing Pindo military presence in Syria is ensuring that no post-mortem Daesh insurgency arises. That Pindostan is unequivocally opposed to Daesh is simply taken for granted. Yet a closer look at the history of Pindo involvement shows that counter-terrorism has been a lesser concern relative to geopolitical and strategic goals. Whenever the goals of expanding territorial control or weakening rivals conflicts with the goal of opposing Daesh, the entity was either ignored or even empowered in pursuit of these more paramount concerns. In some ways, by providing a pretext for extended military operations on foreign soil, and by helping to diminish the military might of the Syrian regime and its allies, some coalition officials have seen Daesh as a potentially beneficial phenomenon to the wider ends of weakening the Syrian state and opposing Iranian influence in the Levant. In 2015, Daesh executed an unprecedented advance in Syria. Audio leaks would later surface of then Sec State Jackass Kerry explaining that the Obama administration saw this expansion as beneficial to the Pindo position. Seeing that this could be used to pressure Assad, the threat of state-collapse was something to be “watched” and “managed,” rather than deterred. Kerry said:

We were watching and we know that this was growing. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, that Assad would then negotiate.

Yet this was not simply a case of exploiting events that were entirely out of control. At this time, Obama’s regional allies had been providing support to Jihadis including Daesh for years. CIA oversaw and was well aware of these policies. As Kerry’s observations suggest, the motive was that with “Daesh growing in strength,” CENTCOM would be able to “manage” this development, while the expansion of Daesh would mean that “Assad would then negotiate.” This all changed when Russia intervened, and regime change looked like an dwindling prospect. Awkwardly, Russia was “carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the Pindo-led coalition has done in a month” while also targeting Daesh oil tankers, something the Pindo-led coalition was reluctant to do, to the point that large convoys of oil trucks carrying Daesh oil were able to operate efficiently and in broad daylight. The embarrassing contradictions of the “anti-Daesh” campaign were becoming difficult to explain away. Instead of being “degraded” or “destroyed”, Daesh was actually expanding during the bulk of the anti-Daesh campaign. Durham University’s Dr Christopher Davidson, one of the world’s leading scholars in Mid-East affairs, has explained:

Daesh was effectively on the same side as the West, especially in Syria, and in all its other warzones was certainly in the same camp as the West’s regional allies. Moreover, on a strategic level, its big gains had made it by far the best battlefield asset to those who sought the permanent dismemberment of Syria and the removal of Nouri Maliki in Iraq. The trick was trying to find the right balance between being seen to take action but yet still allowing Daesh to prosper.

Citing a prophetic 2008 RAND report, Davidson explains that the “illusory campaign that would eventually need to be waged against Daesh” would therefore mainly consist of “the establishment of certain red lines” along a “contain and react approach.” This would “involve deploying perimeters around areas where there are concentrations of transnational Jihadis” while making sure to limit any action to only “periodically launching air/missile strikes against high-value targets.” In other words, Russia’s intervention essentially called Faschingstein’s bluff. Seeing this, and also seeing Syria increasingly in a position to reclaim those territories that Daesh had been so effective at denying them, it appeared that it was time to start getting serious about putting an end to the Caliphate. In terms of its proven effectiveness at weakening the militaries of Syria and Hezbollah, and of draining the resources of Syria’s sponsors, gaining maximum strategic benefit from Daesh’s eradication would depend not only upon handing over administration of retaken territories to proxies on the ground, but also on ensuring that its guns were primarily being pointed towards Syria and Iran. While Daesh was indeed fought on certain fronts where it sat upon lucrative energy resources and vital infrastructure, its fighters frequently operated away from allies and toward the front-lines of rivals. For example, during Daesh’s 2015 surge, whose “threat” towards the SAA was to be “managed” by CENTCOM as leverage, they successfully encircled and besieged Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zor, important strategically because of its concentration of energy resources, housing the country’s single largest oil deposit, the al-Omar fields.

The only effective force fighting Daesh for the West was the YPG/SDF, who were concentrated along the country’s northern borders. Therefore, the Pindo sphere of influence that was to be carved from the decline of Daesh was geographically limited to the territory adjacent to this region. Since the important Deir ez-Zor resources were therefore in reach, it was imperative that the SAA did not persevere against Daesh and find themselves in a position to take them before the SDF were able to. It is perhaps not very surprising that an apparent coalition attack on SAA positions in Deir ez-Zor occurred only months after Daesh began besieging the city, killing three soldiers and wounding another thirteen. CENTCOM’s bombings effectively assisted the Daesh advance at the expense of Assad’s forces. While CENTCOM vehemently denied responsibility for the attack, according to the SOHR in MI6 land, the jets that carried out the attack were “likely to be from the coalition.” While this could admittedly be chalked up to a one-off mistake, it was not the only attack of its kind. Almost a year later, as the Syrian government was still holding out against the siege, coalition warplanes launched a much larger and sustained attack, dropping over a dozen airstrikes that reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers while wounding at least a hundred others. The attack was a major boost to Daesh, as one British journalist described it:

In the immediate aftermath, Daesh swarmed forward and cut the city in half.

This further tightened the noose around the SAA while directly threatening their airborne supply line. Faced this time with undeniable facts and eager to distance themselves from their own obvious strategic gain, CENTCOM admitted culpability but denied it was anything more than a mistake. The media quickly accepted these denials, overlooking major inconsistencies that remained. For instance, the official report revealed that CENTCOM had misled the Russians about the location of the intended strike, ignored intelligence reports saying SAA were being targeted, and circumvented normal targeting procedures before the action was taken, downgrading the intelligence requirements needed to launch the strike. Gareth Porter pointed out “irregularities in decision-making consistent with a deliberate targeting of Syrian forces.” One possible explanation pointed towards the open hostility that top Pentagon officials had expressed towards a ceasefire deal agreed upon days earlier, which collapsed in the wake of the attack. The officials rejected cooperation with the Russian military. A further possible explanation was provided by the director of HRW. In language not very different from Kerry’s and seemingly in agreement with him, he wrote on Twitter:

What is certain is that for those committed to weakening Syria’s progress against Daesh in the much coveted north-eastern sphere of influence, the coalition bombings securely tipped the balance of forces against the SAA, who only managed to survive due to Russian air power. The strategic dimension of this is that as long as most of Deir ez-Zor was occupied by Daesh, not SAA, the option to retake it remained open. If Syria reestablished its control, taking the area would not be possible for Pindostan without a full declaration of war. Within this political dynamic, the only way to make sure that the area remained in reach of the coalition was by ensuring that Daesh remained in control and prevented further Syrian expansion. And while conventional pundits would routinely dismiss the occurrence of such strategic considerations, they plainly did take place. The Pindo defense establishment thought process was best described by former DCI Morell. Specifically advocating the killing of Iranians and Russians operating in Syria, Morell said:

We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price. I want to put pressure on Bashar, I want to put pressure on the Iranians, I want to put pressure on the Russians to come to that diplomatic settlement covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say we did this, but you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.

Indeed, these were the very possibilities being discussed among the highest policy planning bodies within the administration. Kerry himself requested on multiple occasions that Pindostan launch missiles at “specific regime targets” in order to “send a message” to Assad to “negotiate peace.” Like Morell, Kerry suggested that Pindostan would not have to acknowledge the attacks, but that Assad “would surely know the missiles’ return address.” The strategic benefits afforded from Daesh were perhaps best described by Thomas Friedman in the NYT, who explained that Pindostan did not want to defeat Daesh straight away, writing:

Pindostan’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord … that would also ease Assad out of power. Therefore, since Daesh’s goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies … We could simply back off fighting territorial Daesh in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. If we defeat territorial Daesh in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.

One way was to leave an open corridor for Daesh fighters to escape through, in areas where Pindo-backed forces were battling the group. This under-reported aspect of Obama’s official policy toward Daesh has quietly been kept in place during the Trump administration. Prior to the battle in Mosul, top Daesh leaders were reportedly able to flee the city and find their way into Syria. As the battle was waged, regular Daesh units also apparently had open access to a similar escape route. Sources described seeing hundreds of fighters fleeing Mosul and entering Syria, heading towards Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. The strategic rationale was alluded to by the Toad foreign minister, when he told the media:

If Daesh were forced out of Mosul, they were likely to go on to Syria.

The Iraqi commander in charge of the operation would confirm that this indeed had happened. Citing intelligence information he received, the commander said that militants “were fleeing Mosul to Syria along with their families.” Not long after this, Daesh launched an offensive in Deir ez-Zor. The Guardian reported:

The attackers are primarily reinforcements coming over the border from Iraq’s Anbar province. They broke through government lines, splitting its territory in half and taking control of the area where the WFP’s airdrops landed.

A year later, now into the Trump administration, the campaign against Daesh in Tal Afar ended in little over a week. Heralded as a testament to the strength of the enemies of Daesh, it soon became clear that the victory was only made possible by a major Daesh retreat. Maj-Gen Najim al-Jobori, commanding the battle, told reporters:

Significant numbers of fighters were able to slip through a security cordon. There was an agreement. Some of those retreating turned themselves in, while others fled to Turkey and Syria.

Source: NYT

The report is notable given evidence previously reported that elements of Iraqi Kurdish authorities had ties to Daesh in relation to the facilitation of oil sales. Later in Syria, the situation came to a head when the SAA marched eastward and finally broke the three-year-long siege in Deir ez-Zor, placing the surrounding oil fields within their reach at a time when the SDF were also marching closer. The NYT recounted:

A complex confrontation is unfolding, with far more geopolitical import and risk … Daesh is expected to make its last stand not in Raqqa but in an area that encompasses the borders with Iraq and Jordan and much of Syria’s modest oil reserves, making it important in stabilizing Syria and influencing its neighboring countries. Whoever lays claim to the sparsely populated area in this 21st-century version of the Great Game will not only take credit for seizing what is likely to be Daesh’s last territory in Syria, but also will play an important role in determining Syria’s future and the postwar dynamics of the region.

It was within this context that another agreement was struck ending the battle for Raqqa:

The SOHR confirms that this agreement has happened. The SOHR received information from knowledgeable and independent sources confirming reaching a deal between the International Coalition and the SDF in one hand; and the Daesh organization in the other hand. The deal stipulated the exit of the remaining members of the Daesh organization out of al-Raqqah city.

It was later revealed that the agreement included some 50 trucks, 13 buses, 4,000 evacuees and all of the fighters’ weapons and ammunition. A high-level participant in the negotiations blew the whistle. Brig-Gen Talal Silo, a former SDF commander who acted as spox for Pindostan’s leading partner in the fight against Daesh and who has since defected to Turkey, provided even more damning data apparently confirming that specific end-destinations were included within these kinds of agreements:

Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families, all but 500 of whom were fighters. A Pindo commander approved the deal at a meeting with an SDF commander. The Pindo commander came back with the agreement of the Pindo administration for those terrorists to head to Deir al-Zor. According to the Pindos, the SAA could reach Deir ez-Zor in six weeks, but when they proceeded faster than expected, the Pindos wanted the SDF to begin negotiations with Daesh. They wanted a swift end to the Raqqa battle so the SDF could move on towards Deir al-Zor.

The Daesh evacuees protected under the CENTCOM-approved agreement were to head towards Daesh-controlled areas “where the SAA and pro-Assad forces were gaining ground.” Here, they would “prevent the regime’s advance.” The BBC corroborated this, tracking the convoy to one of these very areas. Reuters also reported:

The front at Deir ez-Zor turned into a major base for Daesh militants after the Pindo offensive drove them out of Raqqa.

Newsweek observed:

The deal boosted the fight against the forces of Pres Assad.

Brig-Gen Silo claimed that CENTCOM and the SDF had made similar deals on at least two other occasions, corroborating a Syrian dissident and human rights activist who earlier claimed that a similar agreement had been reached during the battle for Mosul. In terms of providing “a swift end to the Raqqa battle” and allowing the SDF to “move on towards Deir Ezzor,” the deal was a success. Days later, the SDF captured the al-Omar fields, Syria’s largest. But according to Elijah Mangier:

Pindostan preceded Russia to the oil and gas Omar oilfield … Daesh then delivered al-Omar to the Kurds without any resistance.

To validate this, an SDF spox noted:

Our forces managed to liberate the oil fields without any noticeable damage.

Indeed, according to the SOHR:

The advance achieved by the SDF, in which they entered al-Omar oilfield and took control of it, came after a counter-attack by Daesh that kept the SAA away of the outskirts and the vicinity of the field.

It was a tight race, as at the time “government forces were two miles away from the fields.” The remaining oil fields and surrounding countryside east of the Euphrates were swept up by the SDF along similar lines, with Daesh voluntarily agreeingto evacuate the areas. SOHR’s sources further clarified:

Daesh prefer handing over the organization-held areas to the SDF, instead of handing them over to the Shi’ite militia, in order to prevent the regime forces from advancing towards these areas.

Elijah Mangier reported at the time:

Pindo-backed forces advanced in north-eastern areas under Daesh control, with little or no military engagement. Daesh pulled out from more than 28 villages and oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates River, surrendering these to the SDF following an understanding reached with them.
This deal was an effective way to prevent the control by the SAA. Pindostan seems determined to hold on to part of the Syrian territory, allowing the Syrian Kurds to control north-east Syria, especially those areas rich in oil and gas.

The lines between Russia and Pindostan were therefore defined by the Euphrates. The SDF occupied the land to the east, the SAA to the west. As Daesh approached its final demise, Pindostan established new rules of engagement, announcing it would not allow Syria or its allies to cross into its zone of control. Pindostan also announced it would continue its occupation of north-eastern Syria indefinitely, even after Daesh is gone. Pindostan currently has at least ten small-scale military bases within the country. According to Joshua Landis:

The overall strategy is aimed at thwarting economic recovery and inter-connection within the region, in an attempt to hurt Iran and Assad. Pindostan’s main instrument in gaining leverage is the SDF and the areas they have conquered in northern Syria. By promoting Kurdish nationalism in Syria, Pindostan hopes to deny Iran and Russia the fruits of their victory, keeping Damascus rule weak and divided. Partition of the country serves no purpose other than to stop trade and prohibit a possible land route from Iran to Lebanon, beggar Assad and keep Syria divided, weak and poor. By denying Damascus access to north Syria, controlling half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land, Pindostan will be able to keep Syria poor and unable to finance reconstruction, which suits short-term Pindo objectives because it protects Israel and will serve as a drain on Iranian resources, on which Syria must rely as it struggles to reestablish state services and rebuild as the war winds down.

Yet with such an approach in mind, the defeat of Daesh posed a dilemma. Battling Daesh was the figleaf under international law that Pindostan relied on to legitimize its military operations on foreign soil without Syria’s consent. With Daesh gone, even this shaky argument does not hold. The Pindos were therefore caught between a rock and a hard place. It is perhaps not a surprise then that they have for months been effectively safeguarding a Daesh contingent pocketed within SDF-controlled areas along the northern border with Iraq. Indeed, November, December, January and February OIR reports register that virtually no airstrikes have been conducted in this area since at least mid-Nov 2017, only elsewhere along the eastern banks of the Euphrates, “near Abu Kamal” (here for easier viewing). By preventing Russia and Syria from crossing the Euphrates to finish fighting Daesh, and by refusing to attack it in these areas, CENTCOM has essentially protected Daesh from a full territorial defeat in Syria. In that sense, it is extremely worrying that Mad Dog Mattis has told reporters that Pindostan will plan to stay in Syria and “keep fighting as long as they want to fight,” because “the enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet.” There is also another incentive. Much like the ‘open corridor’ policy, Pindostan has announced “it will not carry out strikes against Daesh’s last remaining fighters as they move into areas held by the Assad regime in western Syria.” This has prompted even Pindo-backed opposition fighters to suspicions:

Their own side could be allowing small pockets of Daesh fighters to survive so they can attack and weaken the regime and its main backer in the region, Iran.

All of these polices have in one way or another been justified under the need to “protect civilians,” yet even within the bounds of official narrative, even if all of what has been presented here is disregarded, this is still problematic. Charles Dunlap, professor of law at Duke University, commented:

War is the moral hazard of inaction. Since the end result of these Pindo policies allows Daesh to survive, the notion that they (the policies) save civilians isn’t really valid. The Daesh fighters who might have been killed lived on to butcher civilians at a later time.

Unfortunately, thanks to the evolution of Pindo military strategy, Daesh will continue to have the opportunity to do so.

fuck this, oy vey, allah

further reflections on the munich ‘security’ conference

The Munich Security Conference and Germany’s return to world power politics
Peter Schwarz, WSWS, Feb 21 2018

The interventions of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the Munich Security Conference reveal what the central task of a future grand coalition government will be: namely, the return of Germany to militarism and great power politics, which led in the last century to two world wars and the most terrible crimes in human history. At the 2014 Munich conference, the CDU’s von der Leyen and the SPD’s Steinmeier announced the end of military restraint. Steinmeier stated at the time:

Germany must be ready to engage in foreign and security policy earlier, more decisively and more substantially. Germany is too big just to comment on world politics from the sidelines.

Von der Leyen is now coming forward to implement this policy. She boasted:

We have assumed responsibility … in Ukraine, the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank and Germany’s military missions in Iraq, Syria and Mali.

At the same time, she announced a comprehensive programme of rearmament that will double German military spending within a few years, and indicated her determination to deploy the new weapons, saying:

Building up capabilities and structures is one thing. The common will to actually use the military force when circumstances require is another.

Gabriel struck a similar tone, saying:

Europe needs a joint projection of power around the world. As the only vegetarian, we will find it damn hard in a world of carnivores. We need to face the beginning of a new Asian era, and the challenges of a far more uncomfortable and dangerous world. Our coalition agreement provides for massive investment in foreign, security and development policy. At the heart of the incoming government’s foreign policy will be a comprehensive concept of interconnected security.

Looming over the Munich Security Conference were intensifying tensions between Pindostan & Eurostan along with war threats against NK, Iran, Russia and China. Key speakers such as Conference chair and founder Wolfgang Ischinger, and UN Sec-Gen Guterres warned that the world has never been so close to nuclear conflict since the end of the Cold War. Germany’s ruling class is reacting to this crisis as it has done throughout its history: by sabre-rattling, rearming and developing mad great power plans. Gabriel declared that the member states of the EU had to “develop strategies and instruments” to assert their interests in Africa and the region “from Eastern Europe to Central Asia.” He threatened Russia, China and Pindostan, declaring that “no one should try to divide the EU.” The German government is relying on close cooperation with France and invoking European unity so as to obscure the true nature of its great power plans. Von der Leyen opened the conference with her French colleague Florence Parly, who also presented a comprehensive rearmament program, proclaiming:

We have made a political move to create an army of Europeans! Germany and France are ready to jointly continue the European project, and we invite all Europeans to move forward!

The rhetoric invoking Europe has nothing to do with unification of the continent in the interests of its inhabitants. It is an expression of the German desire to dominate Europe in order to act as a world power. The European heads of government are so divided that some refused to sit together on a podium, which drew complaints from Munich Conference chairman Ischinger. The Munich Security Conference triggered a militaristic frenzy in the media and political parties. The German newspapers are full of reports of how “neglected” and “under-resourced” the army is. The generals feel their power growing once again. Harald Kujat, former inspector general of the army, spoke on Deutschlandfunk and sharply criticised the responsible politicians. He described the state of the army as a “tragedy” and called for a “course correction.” He noted that the defence minister had announced “an arms program of €130b by 2030” and complained:

Unfortunately nothing has happened so far.

Even the bloodthirsty language of the past is returning. When EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker demanded in Munich that Europe “strive for global political capability,” the German press enthusiastically seized on the term. An article in Die Zeit was titled “More capabilities for world politics, please!” while the FAZ wrote:

Europe must become more capable in world politics.

The term comes with considerable historical baggage. “World politics” was the slogan under which, in the two decades before WW1, the German Empire embarked on a course of imperialist expansion which inevitably led to conflict with Britain and Pindostan, uniting landowners, industrialists and the petit bourgeoisie behind a programme of naval rearmament. In his Long Road to the West, Heinrich August Winkler wrote:

When Germany, to which the foundation of the empire had already given half-hegemonic status on the European continent, decided to pursue world politics, this led to defensive efforts by the major powers affected by this.

“World politics” was also directed against the enemy within, the working class and the rapidly growing Social Democracy, at that time still Marxist. Winkler quoted from a letter written by Rear Adm Tirpitz in 1895:

Germany has to advance to world politics, not least because the great new national task and the associated economic gain is a strong palliative against educated and uneducated Social Democrats.

Today, it is the SPD in alliance with the CDU and CSU that is carrying out “world politics,” with all the consequences that entails: internal and external rearmament, social spending cuts, the cooption of the media by the state, Internet censorship and the strengthening of the far right in the form of the Alternative for Germany. There is no resistance to this in the Bundestag, including from the so-called opposition. The Free Democrats and the AfD, whose deputies and officials include numerous ex- and reserve officers, are fully on the side of the military. The Greens are attacking the new grand coalition from the right. Tobias Lindner, the Greens’ defence policy spokesman, accused the defence minister on Deutschlandfunk of not doing anything to solve the army’s problems, saying:

The army is lacking highly complex weapon systems! What about the ships? What about the planes?

The Left Party supports the revival of great power politics. Stefan Liebich, Left Party representative on the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed enthusiasm for Gabriel’s speech. He told the broadcaster Phoenix that rethinking and reorienting Germany’s relationship with Pindostan was long overdue, saying:

We are a sovereign country with our own interests, which very often coincide with the interests of Pindostan, but sometimes do not.

Within the SPD, proponents and opponents of the grand coalition are avoiding the issue. The proponents are not addressing it because they do not want to stir up opposition. In its sales pitch promoting the SPD’s participation in the government to party members, who are currently voting on the coalition agreement, the party executive did not once mention foreign policy or the army. The opponents of the grand coalition avoid the topic because they agree with Gabriel on this question. The Socialist Equality Party is the only political tendency that rejects great power politics and militarism and seeks to mobilise workers and youth in opposition to them. We reject the grand coalition and call for new elections. The coalition agreement shows what monstrous plans a grand coalition would pursue. At the same time, it raises many more questions. We demand the publication of all of the secret agreements and arrangements reached by the SPD, the CDU/CSU and their military and foreign policy advisers in the course of months of closed-door coalition talks. How is the doubling of the military budget to be financed? Is Germany planning to purchase nuclear weapons? Are there similar agreements with France and NATO? The fight for new elections is the first step in countering the ruling class conspiracy that is preparing a historic catastrophe. The SEP is carrying out an intensive campaign in the working class and at schools and universities to expose the ruling elite’s machinations and build, together with its sister parties in France and Britain, a powerful socialist movement against war, dictatorship and capitalism.

a diabolical fabrication by the NYT

NYT exploits Parkland tragedy to escalate anti-Russian campaign
Andre Damon, WSWS, Feb 21 2018

Less than four days after the Parkland school shooting, the NYT has found a way to turn a national tragedy that claimed the lives of 17 high school students into an opportunity to escalate its unrelenting campaign of anti-Russian propaganda, involving the continuous bombardment of the public with reactionary lies and warmongering. Against the backdrop of a major escalation of military tensions between the two countries, the NYT seized upon the DoJ indictment of Russian nationals over the weekend to claim that Russia is at “war” with Pindostan. Now, the NYT has widened this claim into an argument that Russia somehow bears responsibility for social divisions over the latest mass shooting in Pindostan. Its lead headline Tuesday morning blared:

Florida School Shooting Draws an Army Ready to Spread Discord

According to the NYT, Russian “bots,” or automated social media accounts, sought “to widen the divide” on issues of gun control and mental illness, in order to “make compromise even more difficult.” Russia sought to exploit “the issue of mental illness in the gun control debate,” and “propagated the notion that Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman” was “mentally ill.” The absurd claim that Russia is responsible for the existence of social divisions in Pindostan is belied by the shooting itself, which is a testament to the fact that Pindo society is riven by antagonisms that express themselves, in the absence of a progressive outlet, in outpourings of mass violence. The aim of this campaign is to target anyone who would criticize the underlying social causes of the shooting, such as the violence of Pindo society, the non-existence of mental health services, or even the social psychology that gives rise to mass shootings, as a “Russian agent” seeking to “sow divisions” in Pindo society. The NYT lead is based entirely on a “dashboard” called Hamilton 68 created by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy (AFD), whose lead spokesman is Clint Watts, the former CIA agent and censorship advocate who declared in November that social media companies must “silence” sources of “rebellion.” Without naming any of the accounts it follows, Hamilton 68 claims to track content tweeted by “Russian bots and trolls.” But most of the trends leading the dashboard are news stories, many posted by Russia Today and Sputnik News, that are identical with the trending topics followed by any other news agency. Thus, Hamilton 68 provides an instant NYT headline generator: Any major news story can be presented as the result of “Russian bots.”

The NYT is making its claims about “Russian meddling” with what is known in the law as “unclean hands.” That is, the NYT practices the very actions of which it accuses others. Here is not the place to deal with the long and bloody history of Pindo destabilization campaigns and their horrific consequences in Latin America and the Middle East, or to review the fact that many Pindo journalists serving abroad had dual functions, as reporters and as agents. But it is worth noting that particularly in recent decades and under the auspices of Editorial Page editor James Bennet, there has been a remarkable integration of the NYT with the major operations of the intelligence agencies. This is particularly true with regard to Russia, in regard to which the NYT acts as an instrument of foreign policy misinformation, practicing exactly what it accuse the Kremlin of. Take, for example, the so-called political dissident Alexei Navalny. This proponent of extreme nationalism and xenophobia, with deep ties to Russia’s fascistic right, and extensive connections to the CIA, has been championed by the NYT as the voice of social dissent in Russia. Despite his miniscule support within Russia, Navalny’s activities generate front-page headlines in the NYT, which has mentioned him in over 400 separate articles. Another example is the NYT’s promotion of the “feminist” rock band Pussy Riot, which makes a habit of getting themselves arrested by taking their clothes off in Russian Orthodox churches, and whose fate the NYT holds up as a horrific example of Russian oppression. The very name “Pussy Riot,” which in typical usage is not even translated into Russian, expresses the fact that this operation aims to influence Pindo rather than Russian public opinion. In 2014, the NYT met with members of Pussy Riot at their editorial offices, and have since extensively promoted the group, having mentioned it in over 400 articles. The term “anti-Putin opposition” is mentioned in another 600 articles. The logic of the NYT’s campaign was expressed most clearly by its columnist Thomas Friedman, the personification of the pundit as state intelligence mouthpiece whose career was aptly summed up in a biography titled Imperial Messenger. In a column published on Feb 18 and entitled “Whatever Trump is Hiding is Hurting All of US Now,” Friedman declares a “code red” threat to the integrity of Pindo democracy, writing:

At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller, leveraging several years of intelligence gathering by the FBI, CIA and NSA, has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups, all linked in some way to the Kremlin, for interfering with the 2016 Pindo elections. Pindostan needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.

This “defense,” according to Friedman, means we must “bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin, the best defense of all.” In other words, war. The task of all war propaganda is to divert internal social tensions outwards, and the NYT’s campaign is no different. Its aim is to take the anger that millions of people feel at a society riven by social inequality, mass alienation, police violence, and endless war, and pin it on some shady foreign adversary. The NYT’s claims of Russian “meddling” in the Parkland shooting set the tone for even more hysterical coverage in the broadcast evening news. NBC News cited Jonathan Morgan, another collaborator on the Hamilton 68 project, who declared:

Russia is really interested in sowing discord amongst Pindos. That way we’re not focused on putting a unified front out to foreign adversaries.

The goal of the ruling class and its media accomplices is to put on “a unified front” through the suppression of social opposition within Pindostan. Along these lines, NBC added:

Researchers tell us it’s not just Russia deploying these attacks on social media. Many small independent groups are trying to divide Pindos and create chaos.

Who are these “small independent groups” seeking to “create chaos”? By this, they no doubt mean any news or political organization that dares question the official line that everything is fine in Pindostan, and that argues that the horrendous levels of violence that pervade Pindo society are somehow related to social inequality and the wars supported and justified by the entire Pindo political establishment. It is worth noting that these claims were made on same day that Fox News ran a story alleging that Michael Moore, the director of Bowling for Columbine, a film that related the 1999 Columbine High School massacre to US wars abroad, had attended an anti-Trump demonstration allegedly set up by Russia. As WSWS has repeatedly warned, the targets of this campaign are left-wing, antiwar and progressive web sites, political organizations and news outlets, and by extension the freedom of the press and freedom of expression of the entire Pindo public. In the name of providing a “unified front” to “foreign adversaries,” the conditions are being created for the criminalization and banning of political dissent.

NYT’s Charles Blow blames Russia for the fall in Black voter turnout
Fred Mazelis, WSWS, Feb 21 2018

In a predictable but revealing op-ed article, NYT columnist Charles Blow has weighed in on last week’s indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three companies on charges of meddling in the 2016 Pindo elections. According to Blow, the alleged Russian trolls attacked the “Black vote” in particular. He claims that “young Black activist-minded voters” were targeted by the Russians and convinced in significant if indeterminate numbers, to “lay down one of the most powerful political tools they have, thereby ensuring an amplification of their own oppression.” To make his case, Blow uncritically quotes from the federal indictment itself, charging:

Defendants and their co-conspirators … began to encourage minority groups not to vote in the 2016 presidential election or to vote for a third-party presidential candidate.

Let us pause and consider the implications of the remarkable claim by Blow that choosing not to vote or voting for a third party constitutes “ensuring an amplification of their own oppression.” The NYT and the rest of the major capitalist media wax indignant over alleged Russian election meddling, declaring it an attack on “Pindo democracy,” but democracy ostensibly includes the right to vote for a third party in the relatively rare event that one manages to obtain ballot status, including the Green Party and its 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein. Yet Blow, citing the federal indictment, calls urging people to vote for a third party an attack on the right to vote! He is in favor of voting rights, as long as the ballots are cast for the right candidates. Blow warns the Black Pindos against the Russian policy of “nudging them toward an apathy built on anger.” A decision not to choose between the two candidates of the ruling class is an illegitimate display of “apathy.” The text of the federal indictment mentions social media appeals saying:

Don’t vote for the lesser of two devils!

What Blow condemns as apathy is in many cases a conscious political decision, but in so far as it threatens the political monopoly of two corporate controlled right-wing parties, Blow deems it illegitimate, if not treasonous. Even if one assumes that all of the charges in the indictment are true, a doubtful assumption given the vast and well-documented capacity of the FBI to fabricate and lie, the idea that Putin or his trolls are needed to suppress voter turnout in Pindostan is preposterous. Even in the most bitterly contested presidential elections, barely 50% of the population votes. Among Black Pindos the percentage of abstention has been in this range, and it has been far higher in non-presidential years. Vast numbers of working people have concluded that they have no choice within the two-party system, that it is a sham, that it represents the rich and only the rich. The ability of the corporate establishment and financial aristocracy to dictate the policies of government on all levels by bribing politicians and buying elections was enshrined into law by the notorious Citizens United decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 2010. On top of its billions in campaign donations and ads, the ruling class ensures its monopoly of the political system by throwing up enormous obstacles in the path of socialist or independent candidates, including restrictive ballot access laws that make it virtually impossible for candidates who are not enormously wealthy to get on the ballot in many of the most populous states. Left-wing candidates opposed to the two-party monopoly are routinely marginalized by the media and excluded from election debates. As Lenin explained over a century ago in words that need not be altered:

Democracy under capitalism is democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich. The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representative of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament.

Confronting corrupt candidates of the ruling class in both parties, is it any mystery that millions of voters chose not to cast ballots in 2016? Russian sources are supposed to have spent a measly $15m. For every one vote that alleged Russian meddling may have influenced, there were undoubtedly at least 100 voters who needed no reminder of the role of Clinton, the favored candidate of Wall Street and the CIA, and the broken promises, escalating militarism and rising inequality of the Obama years. Trump was able to exploit disgust with the Demagogs to obtain the necessary level of abstention among working-class voters both Black and White to win the electoral vote. Many Black Pindos were well aware of the role of the Clintons in the “welfare reform” and law-and-order hysterics during Bill Clinton’s two terms in the White House, which increased mass incarceration to record levels. Five years ago the Supreme Court invalidated the most crucial provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, enabling nine Southern states to change voting procedures without federal approval. This set in motion a whole series of efforts to chip away at voting rights that were won in generations of struggle against Jim Crow segregation. In recent years, the number of states demanding photo identification as a condition for voting has increased to 18. Demagogs and their supporters such as Blow have been virtually silent about real attacks that have disenfranchised millions of voters. Their concern is not the right to vote, but the defense of the utterly anti-democratic two-party system of Pindo capitalism. So naked is Blow’s obeisance to the political status quo that he feels obliged to cover his tracks by admitting that both fellow author and purveyor of racialist politics Michelle Alexander and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick denounced Hillary Clinton. Not wanting to attack these figures, he winds up with this argument:

In making their electoral choices, Black folks had unwanted hands on their back, unethical and illegal ones.

Notwithstanding this double-talk, the aim of Blow’s column is very clear. Any workers and youth who fight against the stranglehold of the capitalist two-party system are at best unwitting dupes of the “revisionist” power Russia or other foreign actors singled out as enemies of Pindo imperialism. They have been warned. There is a political logic to this neo-McCarthyism. Those who persist in their un-Pindo activity, those who look for alternative news sources and fight to break from the parties of big business, the Demagogs in particular, are guilty of disloyalty and will be dealt with accordingly. Just as pioneer socialist Eugene Debs was sent to prison 100 years ago for opposing WW1, so today the label of treason can and will be pinned on those who resist the bipartisan war preparations of the ruling class. Blow’s column shows the reactionary role of racial identity politics. He calls the alleged Russian meddling “a racialized crime.” This highlights the role of identity politics in cultivating a constituency in the upper middle class for imperialist war abroad and repression at home.

the unbearable boredom of “ukraine fatigue” in action (or inaction)

EU scraps border projects as ‘Ukraine fatigue’ grows
Olena Vasina, Reuters, Feb 20 2018

Krasnoilsk, on the border with Romania, Nov 17 2017

KIEV – The EU is shutting down a border checkpoint scheme with Ukraine, deepening doubts about Kiev’s ability to deliver reforms in return for billions in European aid. The project to upgrade six Ukrainian checkpoints on the EU’s eastern frontier was launched in 2014. The scheme aimed to help integrate Ukraine’s economy with those of its EU neighbours by building or modernising checkpoints at crossings with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. According to the EU, the projects were designed to cut border crossing times and improve customs procedures. They foundered after a series of delays, missteps and cost overruns involving local officials and contractors, according to internal Ukrainian government correspondence, and correspondence between the EC and the Kiev authorities provided by a source at a government body. In a statement to Reuters, an EU spox said:

Following our assessment we concluded that the projects could not be finalised in time. The 6 projects are now in the process of being closed, and the unspent money reimbursed.

One senior European diplomat who is involved in dealing with Ukraine said:

There is a certain Ukraine fatigue. People are exasperated by the lack of reform, especially on corruption. Things have stalled.

As of the end of 2017, none of the six checkpoint projects had been completed, even though the EU was providing €29.2m in funding. The State Fiscal Service (DFS), the tax and customs authority which oversaw the projects on the Ukraine side, said in a statement that reasons for the delays included staff changes at the service along with the long time taken to issue contract tenders and win approval for changes to plans. Roman Nasirov, a former DFS head who took over in May 2015, said in an interview that the checkpoints projects had been complicated by the fact that Ukraine could not at times afford the required co-financing. He made the comments to Reuters shortly before he was dismissed on Jan 31 for reasons unrelated to these projects. The biggest contract, for two of the checkpoints, was awarded to Energomontazhventiliatsia, a firm that specialises in installing ventilation units and had no track record of winning government construction tenders, according to an online registry of state contracts. Speaking to Reuters in October, Energomontazhventiliatsia’s finance director Serhiy Romanenko blamed obstructive Ukrainian and EU officials for the failure to complete the two checkpoints on the Romanian border. He said:

The Dyakivtsi and Krasnoilsk checkpoints are 80% to 85% completed, but as of today we have not received a single penny.

Energomontazhventiliatsia declined further comment this month. The DFS said it had not paid Energomontazhventiliatsia because it had not provided the DFS with documents proving that the work had been completed. Court documents show the ventilation firm filed and lost a lawsuit last year against the DFS for non-payment of money it says is owed for work on the checkpoints. They did not give any reason for the ruling. The DFS confirmed to Reuters that the contractor had lost the suit but gave no further details. The internal correspondence among agencies involved in the projects, seen by Reuters, describes the problems. A DFS official wrote on Mar 12 2017 in a memo to colleagues:

The implementation of the projects according to the timetable has not been carried out properly, which in the near future will lead to the failure of the projects.

A DFS official who wished to remain anonymous provided a copy of this memo to Reuters on condition that the author of the document not be identified. The office of Pres Poroshenko did not respond to a request for comment on the EU’s decision to shut down the projects, and the potentially negative effect this could have on Ukraine’s image abroad. A DFS spox said the service did not know why Energomontazhventiliatsia won the tender. The Krasnoilsk border crossing with Romania was to have been completed by the end of 2016, according to a schedule the DFS sent to Reuters. When a Reuters reporter visited it in Nov 2017, the site consisted of unfinished buildings surrounded by rubbish and building materials. At the existing Ustilug crossing with Poland, only a trench has been dug. At others, on the Slovak and Hungarian borders, pipes and metal piles stuck out of the ground where buildings were to have been constructed. In a tender conducted in Jul 2015, DFS awarded the contract to build the Krasnoilsk and Dyakivtsi checkpoints to Energomontazhventiliatsia, the firm which specialises in installing ventilation systems in completed buildings. The firm has won no other state contracts for principal construction work, according to the state procurement database.

Uzhhorod, on the border with Slovakia, Nov 16 2017

In March last year, the authorities charged the then DFS chief Nasirov with embezzlement, accusing him of helping a lawmaker deprive the state of ₴2b ($71m) in tax revenue linked to a gas deal. Nasirov denies the charge, which is unrelated to the checkpoints. The case is ongoing. Nasirov was released on bail, must wear an electronic bracelet and is not allowed to leave the Kiev region. Nasirov remained DFS chief until the end of last month, when the cabinet voted to dismiss him on the grounds that he had allegedly obtained British citizenship. Ukraine does not allow Ukrainian officials to have dual citizenship. Nasirov has denied becoming a British citizen. By Mar 2016, EU officials monitoring progress on the checkpoints on the Romanian border were starting to raise concerns. Ingrid Bucsa, a senior administrator with the joint EU-Ukraine programme in charge of the projects, wrote to Nasirov after the DFS had asked for a two-fold increase in the construction price. The DFS also wanted some of the work shifted to a second phase that had yet to be approved. The management of the joint programme on the Romanian side rejected both requests, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters. It also said the DFS has been adopting changes without seeking approval from the joint programme, adding it would not foot the bill for this. The letter, the copy of which had been translated from English into Ukrainian, said:

The management structures of the programme are extremely concerned about the current situation and the slow progress in the full implementation of the project.

A year later, the problems persisted, according to the Mar 2017 memo from the senior DFS official to colleagues. This DFS memo said DFS officials knew Energomontazhventiliatsia’s work did not comply with the approved plan, but had failed to stop this and instead wrote to Energomontazhventiliatsia encouraging it to accelerate construction. Energomontazhventiliatsia declined comment.

some maps that are up to date – not animated gifs cos those are from 2015

If you want to see the gifs, you can see them in glowing color and continuous animation in this 2015 Newsweek article, but later maps by schoolboy genius Thomas van Linge are behind this subscription wall, In the maps below, which are both up to date, his Tall Rifat is South Front’s Tel Afrit and his Darat Izza is their Dar Taizzah.



an absolutely textbook piece of evidence-based argument from caitlin (no mere mystic, she)

Russia Conspiracy Theorists Have Failed To Meet Their Burden Of Proof
Caitlin Johnstone,, Feb 21 2018

Dec 23

Feb 17

The establishment Russia narrative is soul-wiltingly dull. Oh hey, a shocking shocking bombshell revelation about something Russia did, everyone freaks out, then people actually look into the nature of the allegation and it turns out it’s nothing. Lather, rinse, repeat. An interminable addition of zeros, day after day after day after day. Boring. One of the very few interesting specks of light on this scene has been Aaron Maté and his unusual knack for convincing promulgators of the establishment Russia narrative to debate him, shining a big spotlight on just how weak the argument is. I celebrated in December when he beat down “Collusion” author Luke Harding like Mike Tyson vs Bruno Mars, and he recently had a more low-key but equally revealing interview with John Feffer. Like Harding, Feffer based his debate on the assumption of a “pattern” of allegations about the Russian government and its supposed support for the 2016 Trump campaign, which taken individually are all poorly substantiated and easily debunked, but taken together create the illusion of a solid argument in a debate tactic known as a Gish gallop fallacy. Named for a Young Earth creationist who made abundant use of the tactic, a Gish gallop is designed to overwhelm the opposing side with a deluge of weak points that are difficult to dispute in their entirety in a real-time dialogue. The MSM Russia narrative is made entirely of such individually weak arguments. Russiagate is one giant Gish gallop. Maté employed the same strategy as he did with Harding, stopping and pointing out the individually weak points in Feffer’s arguments like the absence of evidence for the DNC hack and the unsubstantiated claims by the Dutch intelligence community, which forced Feffer to change tactics in a very interesting way I’d like to highlight here. Read the transcript of the interview and do a search for the word “counter.” It starts popping up after a few exchanges, always in the same way and always from Feffer. I’ll list their occurrences here:

I have to say that the evidence is far more compelling than the counter-argument which is we don’t know, or it could be a fat guy sitting on a couch somewhere.

Well, you keep bringing up all these sources that you don’t really have much faith in, but frankly, what is the counter-narrative? Who exactly hacked into the DNC?

It’s been challenged, but I find the narrative that’s been put forward to be honestly more convincing than the counter-narrative.

So, yes, there is evidence; if you think that the evidence is robust or not is up to you. I personally think it’s far more robust than any of the counter-narratives that have been put forward, which have absolutely no bearing in reality.

Do you see what Feffer is doing here? He is trying to shift the burden of proof off of the party that is making the claim. The whole debate could be accurately summed up as Maté sitting there pointing out the unsubstantiated nature of each of Feffer’s claims, and Feffer trying to turn it around by saying there’s no proof of Maté’s “counter-narrative” either. This is plainly fallacious. The power establishment which lied about Iraq, lied about Libya, lied about Vietnam, and is currently lying about Syria is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt that it is telling the truth about Russia and its new cold war escalations with that country. It most certainly carries the burden of proof, and it has most certainly failed to meet that burden. From the false Nayirah testimony to the Gulf of Tonkin incident to “Saddam has WMD” to “Gaddafi’s troops are taking Viagra for rape” to the Bana Alabed psyop, there is an abundance of publicly available evidence that the power establishment will unhesitatingly lie to the public to manufacture consent for war, and the mainstream media will unhesitatingly help them. You do not need to dip into tinfoil hat territory to see this. This is publicly available information. The empire has every incentive to lie in order to manufacture support for escalations which hobble the Russia-China tandem, and has an extensive history of doing so. It isn’t up to us to come up with a perfect “counter-narrative” for how that happened behind the opaque wall of deep state secrecy. That’s an argument from ignorance. It isn’t up to us to prove a negative, it is up to them to prove their positive claim. Prove the DNC hack, prove that the troll farm had ties to the Russian government and an intention of disrupting the election, provide proof of any Trump-Russia collusion whatsoever. That has not happened. At all. There is currently no convincing reason to believe that this isn’t another “Saddam has WMD” and there is every reason not to. Iraq was an absolutely unforgivable crime against humanity, and it is everyone’s duty to prevent the empire from ever being given that trust again. World-threatening escalations keep mounting between two nuclear superpowers and this evidence-free narrative is being used to justify it. In a post-Iraq invasion world, this is simply unacceptable. The burden of proof is on the people promoting Russia conspiracy theories, and they have failed to meet this burden. Until the mountain of proof needed in a post-Iraq invasion world is provided, that’s all that really needs to be said.