more skripal bullshot

London systematically destroying evidence in Skripal case
RT.com, Apr 19 2018

Britain continues to conceal and destroy evidence relating to the Salisbury incident and has crossed all boundaries in their rhetoric by alleging Pres Putin’s personal involvement, Russia’s UN envoy Vassili Nebenzia has said. Nebenzia told the UNSC session called by Britain on Wednesday to discuss the OPCW report and other developments in the Skripal case:

The British authorities are engaged in the systematic destruction of evidence. Skripal’s pets were killed. No samples were obviously taken. The places attended by the Skripals, a bar, a restaurant, a bench, park ground, etc, are all being cleared, (yet otherwise) people continue to live in Salisbury as if nothing happened.

The envoy also reminded the council members that the Skripals are kept hidden from the public eye ever since the Mar 4 incident. In the meantime, London categorically refuses to provide Russia any access to the investigation, and so far has left 45 out of 47 questions addressed to British authorities about the case unanswered. In a summary of its report, the OPCW didn’t not independently identify the nerve agent used in the Salisbury case nor its origin, but instead only confirmed “the findings of Britain relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury.” Nebenzia noted:

The conclusions made by OPCW were based on samples provided by the British investigators and do not prove London’s claim of Russia’s involvement in the poisoning. The main thing that the report lacks, and what the British side was so eager to see, is the conclusion that the substance used in Salisbury was produced in Russia.

British Ambassador Karen Pierce downplayed the lack of technical evidence and urged the council members to look at “the wider picture which has led Britain to assess that there’s no plausible alternative explanation than Russian State responsibility for what happened in Salisbury.” Extensively using the ‘highly likely’ argument, she once again claimed in her address to the UNSC that only Russia had the “technical means, operational experience and the motive to target the Skripals.” At one point she even claimed:

President Putin himself was closely involved in the Russian CW programme.

Nebenzia replied:

London apparently thinks the Russian President has a hobby of running CW programs in his free time. I don’t know whether you appreciate that you’ve crossed all possible boundaries.

While Britain is yet to produce evidence of Russian involvement in the alleged poisoning of the Skripals, Pindo Ambassador Nimrata Haley once again attacked Moscow during the council meeting, parroting Britain’s narrative. She said:

As we have stated previously, Pindostan agrees with Britain’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the CW in Salisbury. Whether that is in their direct act, or irresponsibly losing control of the agent, which could be worse, our support for our British friends and colleagues is unwavering.

Moscow recommends London not destroy Skripal evidence
TASS, Apr 19 2018

MOSCOW – Russia expects to receive comprehensive answers from both the OPCW and Britain on the poisoning case of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and recommends London to hold off from destroying the evidence, Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She said:

We expect to receive comprehensive answers to our questions. The Russian side is still ready for constructive cooperation with Britain to clarify this very complicated case. We are ready to cooperate in any international legal formats and recommend London to hold off from destroying the evidence. But our list of questions continues to grow. The OPCW report says that the laboratory had only one task: to check whether the biomedical samples contained the nerve agent found by Britain. The answer should have been just ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The laboratory didn’t plan to search for other poisonous agents. The report says that a toxic agent was found in Yulia Skripal’s biomedical samples unchanged, which is strange. Even non-specialists understand that any substances are immediately affected by biochemical processes upon digestion, which leads to their degradation. It is unclear why it didn’t happen in this case. This is a complete mystery.

Chlorine from Germany & smoke bombs from Salisbury found in East Ghouta
RT.com, Apr 19 2018

Containers with chlorine from Germany and smoke grenades produced in Salisbury, UK were found in the liberated territories of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has stated. Zakharova told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday:

In the liberated areas of Eastern Ghouta, Syrian government troops have found containers with chlorine, the most horrible kind of CW, from Germany, and also smoke grenades produced, please pay attention, in the city of Salisbury, Britain.

The findings undermine “the faith in humanness” of some states’ leadership, who “give such orders and make such decisions,” Zakharova added. Prior to the alleged CW incident in Douma, which was used by the FUKUS as a pretext for striking Syria last Saturday, Russia had repeatedly warned about possible provocations by the militants, she said. Moscow had also sent data to the OPCW on CW production facilities in the liberated areas of Eastern Ghouta. Western leaders’ allegations that the Syrian government was behind the Douma attack were based on “open sources” and information on social media, including the reports of so-called civil defense group, the White Helmets. The group is believed to be linked to militants and operates in the areas under their control. The airstrike occurred just ahead of the arrival of an OPCW fact-finding mission tasked with establishing whether any CW attack had taken place. The team of OPCW experts still can’t reach the site of the purported attack, as militants have hampered their work, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

trump has run out of lunches mentally

‘Nobody’s tougher!’ Trump recalls ‘severe fight’ with Russians & ‘absolute precision’ Syria strike
RT.com, Apr 19 2018

Nobody has ever been tougher on Moscow than Donald Trump, as he himself has proclaimed, promising even more sanctions if necessary and highlighting an alleged recent “severe” clash between Pindostan and “Russian troops” in Syria. Trump’s urge to reassure the Pindo media of his “toughness” forced him back to the podium at the end of the joint conference with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Florida on Wednesday. He said:

There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. With the media, no matter what I did, it is never tough enough, because that is their narrative. But Russia will tell you there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump … We will do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it (sic – RB).

To further emphasize his arduous relations with Moscow, Trump reiterated unsubstantiated claims about deadly clashes between Russian and Pindostani troops in Syria. The billionaire president said, without providing further details:

We had a very, very severe… fight in Syria recently, a month ago, with our troops and Russian troops. It is very sad but many people died in that fight. There has been nobody tougher than me.

In March, some media outlets alleged that a number of Russian servicemen were killed in a massive Pindo airstrike on “pro-Assad forces” near the Euphrates River. Mad Dog Mattis could not confirm those claims. Moscow confirmed that “several” Russian citizens were indeed among those killed and injured, but said none of them were active-duty service personnel. While Moscow is doing everything possible not to escalate tensions that could potentially lead to direct confrontation, Faschingstein’s actions continue to destabilize the situation. Trump on Wednesday made clear that the joint FUKUS Apr 14 strike against Syria was aimed not only against Assad, but was also a show of force to Russia. Trump noted during his tirade at the conference about the “tough” approach to Moscow:

And then the other night, we had a strike in Syria which was absolute precision! The unmatched skill of the Pindo military and our great errand boys & gooks was demonstrated to the entire world! Missiles were shot, they tried to knock them down, they weren’t in the least successful! They hit none!

This was in contradiction to the Russian military’s assessment of the low success rate of the FUKUS attack. Russia’s Defense Ministry spox, Maj-Gen Igor Konashenkov, noted that Syrian air defenses had intercepted a total of 71 out of the 103 missiles launched against the country by the FUKUS. According to Moscow, none of the Russian anti-air assets had to be scrambled or activated, since the coalition targeted only low-priority targets outside of Russia’s zone of responsibility, and Damascus managed to repel the attack on its own using the Soviet-era equipment at its disposal.

Iran, Iraq, Syria & Russia hold ‘anti-terrorism’ meeting in Tehran
RT.com, Apr 19 2018

Military and security officials from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia held a meeting in Baghdad on Thursday to coordinate “anti-terrorism” efforts, according to Iran’s Defense Ministry. Defense Minister Gen Amir Hatami said in a statement from the Iraqi capital:

Cooperation in intelligence between the four countries for common aims and anti-terrorism missions has been successful in restoring stability and security, and it should form the basis for future cooperation.

The countries had played an “important role in the defeat” of Daesh in both Iraq and Syria, AFP quoted him as saying. The meeting came on the same day that Iraq said its Air Force carried out a raid on Daesh positions in Syria.

british are kicking out unregistered immigrants – from 70 years ago!

Windrush Generation and The Zionification of the British Sphere
Gilad Atzmon, Apr 18 2018

It shouldn’t take us by surprise when a country that drops bombs on Syria on behalf of Israel engages in Israeli style racist anti immigration anti black policies. A lot has been written about the deep cultural and spiritual bonds between Britain and Zionism. Some have cited the roots of English Christian Zionism. Others point to the Balfour Declaration and its historical background. In 1956 Britain and France joined forces with Israel in an attempt to seize the Suez Canal. By the early 2000s, it was hard to determine where Israel ended and Britain began. Occasionally it seemed the BBC had been reduced to an Israeli propaganda unit. The once respected British newspaper morphed into a Guardian of Judea. Murdoch’s Sky News didn’t leave much room for speculation either. Last week Sky News crudely cut off Jonathan Shaw, the former commander of the British Armed Forces, the second that Shaw went ‘off script’ and suggested that the Syrian regime might not have been behind the Douma ‘gas attack.’ The next day we learned that the British government had again engaged in a  Zion-led immoral interventionist assault on an Arab country based on what seems to be just another false WMD claim.

Not much is left of the British media’s heritage of freedom, tolerance and impartiality. I guess that since the spiritual and cultural continuum between Israel and Britain is well established, we shouldn’t be puzzled that the British media is consumed by the ridiculous fight against anti-Semitism. Jeremy Corbyn, an iconic anti-racist parliamentarian, has been subject to a relentless and biased attack by the Israeli lobby and its stooges within British media and politics. But this is shocking. While Corbyn has been subjected to ceaseless criticism for the alleged ‘anti-Semitic’ sentiments held by a few individuals within his party, the British government and the Home Office have been engaged in institutional racist discrimination against the Windrush Generation, which arrived in Britain between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries. The name is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury on Jun 22 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands in response to post-war labour shortages in Britain. It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush Generation, since many of those who arrived as children travelled on parents’ passports and never applied for travel documents, but they are thought to be in the thousands. Those who lack documents are now being told they need to provide evidence in order to continue working, get treatment from the NHS – or even to remain in the UK.

Britain likes to see itself as a ‘multicultural success story’ but over the last few days we have learned that Britain plans to deport black citizens who have spent their entire lives in the kingdom. Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to Caribbean leaders for the deportation threats. I guess this may suggest that the Zionification of the kingdom is not complete. However if Theresa May is committed to the fight against racism in general, she better cease with the ridiculous antisemitsm frenzy and employ a universal ethical standpoint to fight racism.

British Democracy is Dysfunctional
Craig Murray, Apr 19 2018

A significant proportion of Labour MPs are actively seeking to cause their own party to do badly in forthcoming local elections, with the aim of damaging the leader of that party. To that end they have attacked Jeremy Corbyn relentlessly in a six-week crescendo, in parliament and in the entirely neolib owned corporate media, over the Skripal case, over Syria, and over crazy allegations of anti-semitism, again and again and again. I recall reporting on an Uzbek Presidential election where the “opposition” candidate advised voters to vote for President Karimov. When you have senior Labour MPs including John Woodcock, Jess Phillips, John Mann, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Ruth Smeeth carrying on a barrage of attacks on their own leader during a campaign, and openly supporting Government positions, British democracy has become completely dysfunctional. No amount of posing with leaflets in their constituencies will disguise what they are doing, and every Labour activist and trade unionist knows it. British democracy cannot become functional again until Labour voters have a chance to vote for candidates of their party who are not supporters of the neolib establishment. This can only happen by the removal as Labour candidates of a very large number of Labour MPs. That it is “undemocratic” for party members to select their candidates freely at each election, and it is “democratic” for MP’s to have the guaranteed candidacy for forty years irrespective of their behaviour, is a nonsensical argument, but one to which the neolib media fiercely clings as axiomatic. Meanwhile in the SNP, all MPs have to put themselves forward to party members equally with other candidates for selection at every election. This seems perfectly normal. Indeed every serious democratic system elects people for a fixed term. Labour members do not elect their constituency chairman for life, so why should they elect their parliamentary candidate for life? Why do we keep having general elections rather than voters elect the MP for life? Election of parliamentary candidates for life is in fact a perfectly ludicrous proposition, but as it is currently vital to attempts to retain undisputed neolib hegemony, anybody who dissents from the idea that candidacy is for life is reviled in the corporate and state media as anti-democratic, whereas the truth is of course the precise opposite.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership was a fundamental change in Britain. Previously the choice offered to electors in England and Wales was between two parties with barely distinguishable neolib domestic policies, and barely distinguishable neocon foreign policies. Jeremy Corbyn then erupted onto centre stage from the deepest backbenches, and suddenly democracy appeared to offer people an actual choice. Except that at the centre of power Jeremy did not in fact command his own party, as its MPs were largely from the carefully vetted Progress camp and deeply wedded to neocon foreign policy, including a deep-seated devotion to the interests of the state of Israel as defined by the Israeli settlers and nationalist wing, and almost as strongly wedded to the economic shibboleths of neolibdom. These Labour MPs were, in general, prepared grudgingly to go along with a slightly more social democratic economic policy, but drew the line absolutely at abandoning the neocon foreign policy of their hero Tony Blair. So pro-Pindostan policy, support for bombings and missiles as “liberal intervention” in a Middle Eastern policy firmly aligned to the interests of Israel and against the Palestinians, and support for nuclear weapons and the promotion of arms industry interests through a new cold war against Russia, are the grounds on which they stand the most firmly against their own party leadership, and members. Over these issues, these Labour MPs will support, including with voting in parliament, the Tories any day. I have never voted Labour. I come from a philosophical viewpoint of the liberal individualist rather than of working class solidarity. Labour support for nuclear weapons and other WMD, in the blinkered interest of the members of the General Municipal and Boilermakers’ Union, is one reason that I could not vote Labour. The other is of course that in many cases, if you vote Labour you are very likely to be sending to parliament an individual who will vote with the Tories to escalate the arms race and conduct dangerous and destructive proxy wars in the Middle East. There is an excellent article on Another Angry Voice which lists the only 18 MPs who were brave enough to vote against Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act, which enshrined dogwhistle racism and the hostile environment policy.

Diane Abbott (Labour)
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour)
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru)
Mark Lazarowicz (Labour)
John Leech (Lib Demagog)
Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru)
Caroline Lucas (Green)
Angus MacNeil (SNP)
Fiona Mactaggart (Labour)
John McDonnell (Labour)
Angus Robertson (SNP)
Dennis Skinner (Labour)
Sarah Teather (Lib Demagog)
David Ward (Lib Demagog)
Mike Weir (SNP)
Eilidh Whiteford (SNP)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru)
Pete Wishart (SNP)

5 of the 6 SNP MPs stood against this racism (the sixth was absent) and the current leadership of the Labour Party stood alone against the Blairites and Tories in doing so. The Windrush shame should inspire Labour members to deselect every single one of the Red Tories who failed to vote against that Immigration Act. It is also a measure of the appalling shame of the Lib Dems, of whom only three of their sixty odd MPs opposed it, and who consigned themselves to the dustbin of history through Nick Clegg’s gross careerism and right-wing principles. There is more to say though. This vote is testament to the great deal in common which the SNP have with the current Labour leadership (who also personally consistently opposed Trident), as opposed to with the bulk of Labour MPs. Put another way, Corbyn, Abbot and McDonnell have more in common with the SNP than the Blairites. It is also a roll-call of those MPs who have most consistently stood against the appalling slow genocide of the Palestinians. It is astonishing how often that issue is a reliable touchstone of where people stand in modern British politics. Corbyn’s supporters have slowly gained control of major institutions within the Labour Party. The essential next move is for compulsory re-selection of parliamentary candidates at every election and an organised purge of the Blairites. If the Labour Party does not take that step, I could not in conscience urge anyone to vote for it, even in England, but rather to look very carefully at the actual individual candidates standing and decide who deserves your support.

blobathon

Out of 26 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Zero Opposed
Adam Johnson, FAIR, Apr 19 2018

A survey by FAIR of the top 100 papers in Pindostan by circulation found not a single editorial board opposed to Trump’s Apr 13 airstrikes on Syria. Twenty supported the strikes, while six were ambiguous as to whether or not the bombing was advisable. The remaining 74 issued no opinion about Trump’s latest escalation of the Syrian war. This is fairly consistent with editorial support for Trump’s Apr 2017 airstrikes against the Syrian government, which saw only one editorial out of 47 oppose the bombing (4/11/17). The single paper of dissent from last year, the Houston Chronicle, didn’t publish an editorial on last week’s bombing.

Seven of the top 10 newspapers by circulation, Pindostan Today, WSJ, LA Times, NY Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and WaPo, supported the airstrikes. The NY Daily News and San Jose Mercury News offered no opinion, while the NYT (4/13/18) was ambiguous, mostly lamenting the lack of congressional approval but not saying that this meant the strikes were illegal or unwise Their conclusion isd:

Legislation should…set limits on a president’s ability to wage war against states like Syria.

A complete list of editorials on the airstrikes can be viewed here. Almost every editorial spoke in the same Official, Serious tone that demanded “action” be taken and “international norms” be “enforced.” Some, such as the WSJ (4/16/18), went further, insisting on a wider war against the Syrian regime, Iran and/or Russia in vague but menacing terms. The WSJ insisted:

Barack Obama dealt Mr Trump a bad hand by letting Russia, Iran and China believe they could advance their goals of regional domination without Pindo resistance. In Syria as elsewhere, Mr Trump has to decide if he wants to ratify that Pindo retreat or develop a strategy to stop it.

The mid-market Toledo Blade (4/15/18) punched above its weight class and delivered the most bellicose and jingoistic editorial of them all, with “The West Stands Up”:

Make no mistake, this was a warning to Vladimir Putin as well as Bashar al-Assad. Pindostan and its two long-time vassals redrew the red line (in the sand – RB) that had been obliterated by a failure of nerve by Pindostan & the West generally: There will be cost for your barbarities. But in the larger sense, the West did what it should have done a long time ago. It stood up for decency and international law. It stood up for those who are defenseless. It stood up for itself and for simple humanity, and redeemed some self-respect.

If Assad regime officials find themselves catching up on news from the greater north-west Ohio region, they will surely take heed. None of the top 100 newspapers questioned Pindostan’s legal or moral right to bomb Syria, and all accepted government claims to be neutral arbiters of “international law.” Many editorials handwrung about  a “lack of strategy” or absence of congressional approval, but none so much that they opposed the bombing. Strategy and legal sanction are add-on features, nice but by all accounts, but not essential. The total lack of editorial board dissent is consistent with major papers’ tradition of uniform acceptance of military action. The NYT, the most influential paper in the country, has not opposed a single war from the Persian Gulf to Bosnia to Kosovo to Iraq to Libya to the forever war on Daesh in the past 30 years. The scope of debate among major editorial boards is not if Trump should bomb the Syrian regime, but how much bombing he should undertake and when, roughly speaking, he should maybe get around to letting Congress know.

enter the oz constabulary

Who Is Stalling The OPCW Investigation In Douma?
Moon of Alabama, Ap 129 2018

Why has the fact finding mission of the OPCW not visited Douma? It is being held up by the UN Dept of Safety and Security (UNDSS), which has a say about any movement of UN aligned organizations in areas that might be dangerous. The hold-up seems to be intentional. The UNDSS is led by an Australian natsec officer. On Sunday Apr 8, videos were published of an alleged CW attack in Douma near Damascus. At that time the area was under control of Jaish al-Islam, a Salafi organization financed by the Toads. The various videos from terrorist supporters like the White Helmets were unconvincing. They showed obviously arranged scenes of an alleged barrel bomb and manipulated bodies of dead children that had been moved and decorated with shaving foam to superficially fit the claims of a CW incident. Another video showed people in a hospital being doused with water for no apparent reason. An often quoted opposition news outlet, the SOHR in Britain, denied that a CW attack had happened. It reported on Apr 8 of suffocation after a shelter collapsed due to bombing:

In among the casualties there are 21 civilians including 9 children and 3 women were killed as a result of suffocation caused by the shelling which destroyed basements of houses as a result of the violence bombardment that stopped about an hour ago on Douma area.

The CW incident was likely faked. It suspiciously happened just a few days after Trump had announced the he wanted the Pindo military to leave Syria. A year earlier a similar incident was claimed to have happened after a similar announcement by Trump. Pindostan had responded to the 2017 incident by bombing an empty Syrian airfield. A day after the incident, the Salafi terrorists of Jaish al-Islam gave up and left the area under a ceasefire deal arranged with the help of the Russian military in Syria. The ceasefire deal does not allow the Syrian army to enter the area, only the Russian military police is allowed. Russian military police immediately entered the area and investigated the house where, allegedly, people were killed by CW weapons. They found no evidence that such an event had taken place. The Syrian government asked the OPCW to investigate the case. Many international news teams have since visited the area where the incident allegedly took place. The also visited the field hospital shown in one of the opposition videos. Doctors at that hospital deny that any patient of theirs had been affected by a CW attack. The cases they had seen had breathing difficulties caused by the inhalation of dust thrown up through exploding bombs and artillery. Alleged ‘victims’ shown in the hospital video claim they were paid to perform.

The regime-change shills are denying that any claims of the hospital staff working in the now government controlled Douma could be true. Medics are liars, unless they are controlled by Jihadis. See for example this shoddy propaganda piece by the Guardian: Syrian medics ‘subjected to extreme intimidation’ after Douma attack by Martin Chulov in Beirut and Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul. The piece begins:

The head of the largest medical relief agency in Syria claims that medics who responded to the suspected gas attack in Douma have been subjected to “extreme intimidation” by Syrian officials who seized biological samples, forced them to abandon patients and demanded their silence.

Now look at the picture. It shows SARC personnel. The caption is false. It says:

Medics take a wounded man into hospital in Damascus after rockets were fired in Douma on Apr 7.

The picture is actually from a series published by SANA, headlined:

Injuries among civilians in Jaish al-Islam mortar attacks on Damascus.

The attack was from the terrorists in Douma upon civilians in Damascus, not from the Government upon the people of Douma as the Guardian insinuates. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), founded in 1942, has 1,592 staff and some 6,000 volunteers. It is indeed the “the largest medical relief agency in Syria,” but it is not the one the Guardian describes and quotes:

Dr Ghanem Tayara, the director of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM) said doctors responsible for treating patients in the hours after the Apr 7 attack have been told that their families will be at risk if they offer public testimonies about what took place.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations was founded in 2012, works from Reyhanli in Turkey and claims to have 600 staff. It consists of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which is funded by USAID and lobbies for regime change in Syria, the British-Syrian Medical Society which only works in ‘rebel’ held areas, as well as British and Pindo PO-box ‘charities’ which collect donations. SAMS and UOSSM are said to be Muslim Brotherhood fronts. The Guardian shows a SARC picture in the context of ridiculous claims made by an organization on the side of the Jihadis. The SARC has no relation to that organization. UOSSM is misidentified as the largest relief organization in Syria. Its claims are repeated without doubts by Guardian ‘journalists’ in Turkey and Lebanon to counter interviews and observations made by real journalists on the ground in Douma. The piece and its presentation is bottom fishing by a once reasonable paper. Jonathan Cook has more to say about that shoddy Guardian piece. On Friday April 13 the OPCW fact finding mission arrived in Damascus. The suburb where the alleged incident happened is only a few miles away from the center of Damascus. Journalists and camera teams walk all over the place without any protection and freely interview hospital personal. The OPCW has yet to reach the area. It is relying on the UN Dept of Safety and Security (UNDSS) for intelligence and protection. Yesterday the Dir-Gen of the OPCW, Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat who was earlier Turkey’s Permanent Representative to NATO, issued a statement:

On Apr 16, we received confirmation from the National Authority of the Syrian Arab Republic that, under agreements reached to allow the evacuation of the population in Ghouta, the Syrian military were unable to enter Douma. The security for the sites where the FFM plans to deploy was under the control of the Russian Military Police. The UN Dept of Safety and Security (UNDSS) has made the necessary arrangements with the Syrian authorities to escort the team to a certain point and then for the escort to be taken over by the Russian Military Police. However, the UNDSS preferred to first conduct a reconnaissance visit to the sites, which took place yesterday. FFM team members did not participate in this visit. On arrival at Site 1, a large crowd gathered and the advice provided by the UNDSS was that the reconnaissance team should withdraw. At Site 2, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated. The reconnaissance team returned to Damascus.

It’s important to note that only about 10% of the population of East Ghouta were evacuated, really just the terrorists and their families. Other people stayed, or returned to the now-liberated areas. No other organization reported of recent shots or explosions in Douma. Even the NYT, a staunch defender of the ‘opposition’ in Syria, wonders about the hold-up but does not bother to answer the question:

The fact that journalists had been able to wander around Douma unmolested raised questions about why it was not deemed safe enough for the investigators to visit.

Why were, allegedly, shots fired at the UNDSS team but not on anyone else visiting the area? If, as the terrorist supporters claim, Chlorine was used in the CW attack, the OSCE investigators are unlikely to find any physical evidence of it. Chlorine dissipates and leaves no unique traces in the dead body. Interviews with local witnesses though could be of value. One gets the impression that certain circles fear the the OPCW could reach the area, talk to witnesses and confirm the claims made by doctors in the hospital as well as by many journalists that no CW attack took place. It would expose the attack on Syria as a reckless and unjustified war crime. The leader of the UNDSS is an Australian police commander:

Mr Drennan, who from 2009 served as Deputy Commissioner National Security with the Australian Federal Police, brings to the position an extensive career in policing and law enforcement at the community, national and international levels.

Is it possible that a distinguished Australian police commander delays or prevents the OPCW investigation to protect the UKUS allies?

Here is said “Peter Drennan” re-framing a “poor choice of words” in 2013. Audio accent suggests “distinguished” does not equate to good diction.
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3769571.htm

From Wikipedia: Peter Thomas Drennan (born 1957) has HR experience, a wife and two kids and graduated from the FBI National Executive Institute program.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thomas_Drennan

He appears to have specialized in repackaging the the media message (a HR/PR specialty) http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3598948.htm

An image from 2010 (Drennan on the right) maybe a 1,000-words worth for some?
https://www.canberra.edu.au/monitor/2010/may/20100511-drennan

He may well be a very cautious and dedicated professional doing his job. An opportunist sniper taking out one of his OPCW charges would be world-wide news and career-limiting. This partly explain behaviors, but it also does not remove possible collusion with 3-letter agencies and their partisan agenda.

they give themselves prizes for lying, the scum

The Pulitzer Prize rewards witch-hunting and state propaganda
Eric London, WSWS, Apr 19 2018

On Monday, Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy named the recipients of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. Speaking from Colombia University in NYC, Canedy announced that the WaPo and the NYT jointly won the award in the category of “National Reporting” for their “deeply sourced, relentless” coverage of “Russian interference in the presidential election.” The NYT and the New Yorker won the prize for “Public Service” for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo campaign, which according to the Pulitzer Prize Board spurred a “national reckoning” that “exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators” worldwide. The promotion of the anti-Russia campaign by the NYT and the WaPo and the role of the NYT and the New Yorker in the #MeToo campaign exemplify not journalistic integrity, but its opposite: the effacement of the boundary between objective journalism and propaganda. The media’s role in the anti-Russia campaign has been defined by the totally uncritical manner in which reporters at the NYT and WaPo repeat and amplify the claims of various military and intelligence officials and politicians. The articles cited in the Pulitzer announcement as proof of their “deeply sourced” reporting are not the product of journalistic investigation and fact-finding. They follow a familiar pattern. Statements from the intelligence agencies are presented as fact. They are usually unsourced. The newspapers take these statements they are fed as talking points, repackage them for mass consumption and present the result to the public as “news.” Allegations of Russian “trolls” influencing political opinion, Russian hackers publishing compromising documents about Hillary Clinton, Russian agents blackmailing Trump himself with tapes of adulterous escapades in Moscow hotel rooms, appear in the NYT & WaPo, then filter into the cycle of television news, serving nuclei around which official politics condense. There is no attempt to present serious evidence to back up the allegations. Evidence that contradicts the official narrative is buried or totally ignored. News articles are editorialized in order to produce an effect dictated by unspoken political motives. All political developments are presented within the framework of a previously agreed-upon subtext: Russia is a menace and adversary of Pindostan. Any attempt to question the official story is dismissed as “conspiracy theory” or “fake news.” Through this dishonest method, the NYT & WaPo seek to shift public opinion behind the ruling class’s efforts to prosecute its military and economic interests abroad.

This is not journalism, it is propaganda. It is a primary responsibility of genuine journalists to question the truthfulness of the official state narrative and expose the political implications of its claims. The principle that journalists are independent of and in confrontation with the government gave rise to the conception of the press as the “Fourth Estate.” It was this principle that guided the Pulitzer-winning reporters on the NYT who exposed the criminality of the Nixon administration under the threat of indictment, as well as preceding ones, both Demagog & Thug, by publishing the Pentagon Papers. For this, the NYT won a Pulitzer in 1972. Similarly, the WaPo was awarded a Pulitzer in 1973 for its exposés in the Watergate scandal. The 2017 Academy Award-nominated film The Post, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, portrays the fight by journalists to expose, by publishing the Pentagon Papers, how the government lied about Pindo intervention in Vietnam. Were the WaPo & NYT to come across similar material today, it is a virtual certainty that they would suppress it. The film version of the lead-up to the publication of this material, which the government claimed constituted “state secrets,” would have ended as soon as the government asked the WaPo to withhold publication. That is precisely what the WaPo and NYT did when Edward Snowden approached them with evidence of mass NSA surveillance in 2013. The newspapers refused to publish his revelations, forcing him to turn to the British Guardian. The NYT functions by the credo of its ex-executive editor, Bill Keller, who said:

Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.

The Pulitzer Prize to the NYT and the New Yorker for their promotion of the #MeToo campaign is equally foul. This McCarthyite-style witch hunt was launched with the 2017 “exposure” of Harvey Weinstein by the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. Since then the press, spearheaded by the NYT, has played the role of inciting mob violence in ruining the careers of artists, actors and public figures, basing itself for the most part on sheer allegations. This has been carried out with a degree of subjectivity and zealotry that makes objective reporting impossible. Writers like Farrow, who has long been involved in efforts to ruin the career of his father, Woody Allen, over unproven allegations of sexual assault, do not disclose their personal motivations. The press coverage of the #MeToo campaign has denied the accused any meaningful right to respond to the allegations against them and vilified anyone who questions the veracity of the claims. Efforts are made to present innocent activity such as requests for dates and generally consensual sexual encounters, as equal to rape or sexual assault. The NYT and the New Yorker have transformed themselves into gossip-mills, catering to the emotionally driven and backward mood for vengeance that has taken root among the supporters of identity politics in the upper-middle class. The NYT’s sensational campaign has increased subscriptions and substantially boosted the company’s stock value.

This #MeToo movement has unstated political motivations that are never disclosed. Like the anti-Russia campaign, it is advanced by sections of the ruling elite to achieve their own reactionary objectives. The Demagog Party has developed the campaign to boost its efforts to impose an official framework through which popular opposition to Trump can express itself. The purpose of the Demagog Party’s interventions since Trump’s election has been to divert social opposition and channel it along reactionary lines: above all, behind a foreign policy agenda of expanding Pindo military aggression in Syria and escalating the confrontation with Russia. In line with this, it seeks to consolidate support for a militarist foreign policy among the upper-middle class layers that form the broader base of the Demagog Party by feeding this layer’s obsessive focus on racial and gender politics. The promotion of the #MeToo hysteria serves to obscure the basic class issues motivating the opposition of workers and youth to Trump, counter growing anti-capitalist sentiment, and sow divisions within the working class. The attempt to whip up a witch-hunt atmosphere is also intended to undercut democratic consciousness and support for basic principles of due process, and facilitate broader attacks on democratic rights. The NYT and the WaPo are extreme manifestations of a general process. In Pindostan, the corporate-controlled print media and the network and cable news outlets are not a source of information, but mechanisms through which the financial oligarchy manipulates public opinion. The same applies throughout the world. In Apr 2017, the WSWS exposed the fact that Google had systematically used its algorithms to reduce search traffic to the WSWS and a number of other left-wing and anti-war web sites. This revelation, expanded in a series of articles and statements over the following months, received international attention and even an article in the NYT on Sep 26 2017. The WSWS is the target of censorship by the state and tech companies such as Google and Facebook precisely because it challenges the state narrative and exposes the lies and propaganda used by the ruling class to justify war, state repression and social counterrevolution.

the lights are going out all over europe, and the legions of darkness are on the march

Murdoch’s Times witchhunts academics for questioning government lies
Julie Hyland, WSWS, Apr 19 2018

The Times newspaper has mounted a scurrilous campaign to smear academics questioning the official narrative around the FUKUS military attack on Syria. Under a front-page headline Saturday, Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing pro-war propaganda sheet targeted Professor Tim Haywood (University of Edinburgh), Professor Piers Robinson (University of Sheffield) and Lecturer Tara McCormack (Leicester University) as “Apologists for Assad working in British universities.” All have written on themes of propaganda at times of war, and their work has been cited academically and by research institutions, as well as by major media from the Guardian to the BBC. They have come under attack by the Times because they are founders and/or members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media which states:

The SPM facilitate research and debate with respect to the 2011-present war in Syria and the role of both media and propaganda. In all wars, truth and reality are profoundly contested. There is an urgent need for rigorous academic analysis of media reporting of this war, the role that propaganda has played in terms of shaping perceptions of the conflict and how these relate to broader geo-strategic process within the ME region and beyond. We also aim to provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policy-makers.

So recent is the group that its International Advisory Board, currently consisting of nine academics, is still under development. Its members have, however, written articles and have been involved in social media posts questioning the Pindo-British government’s claim that the Assad regime was behind the CW attack in Douma, which was used to justify Saturday’s military strikes. They have called into question the bona fides of the White Helmets, which is the source of the gas attack charge against the Syrian government. The Times accuses SPM of spreading the “slur” that the White Helmets “fabricated video evidence” of the gas attack as a pretext for western intervention, singling out Hayward for using the hashtag #syriahoax and for tweeting:

Witness statements from civilians and officials in Ghouta raise very disturbing questions.

The Times does not pretend to engage with Hayward’s questions. Substituting smears and hyperbole for evidence and facts, it published an inside splash, complete with photographs and bios of the academics, who are accused of “pushing” a Russian line and trying to “intimidate” other academics. The slanderous editorial brands the academics “Assad’s Useful Idiots,” and it asserts:

It would take an extraordinary degree of credulity, sophistry and ignorance to exculpate Assad of responsibility for the Douma attack, but exactly those characteristics are exemplified by a small group of academics … at respectable institutions that include the universities of Sheffield and Edinburgh. They disseminate material that is wrong, unscholarly and morally odious. They employ pseudo-science and misdirection, in the manner of Kremlin conspiracy theories.

Without presenting any scientific or scholarly sources to back up its charges, the Times denounces the academics as as “Assad apologists” and intones:

This ‘research’ is a stain on the reputation of the institutions which host its authors. A society founded on Enlightenment principles of liberal rights and free expression treats untrammeled academic inquiry as sacrosanct. But this is not inquiry at all. These dogmatic assertions of the unpalatable and indefensible are a violation of the ethos of academic research.

The sinister implications of this statement are clear. Free speech and “liberal rights” must be suspended if Murdoch deems those exercising them expound views that are “unpalatable.” This is the language of dictatorship. To reinforce its demand that the academics should be sacked forthwith, the Times makes a disgraceful parallel between the SPM academics and fascists. It states:

No reputable university would employ a Holocaust denier in a department of history. The universities who unwittingly provide cover for these agents of disinformation and cheerleaders for despotism have a case to answer.

The academics concerned have nothing to retract. The White Helmets, founded by former British Army officer and intelligence operative, turned mercenary, James Le Mesurier, work as an arm of the anti-Assad and Islamist-dominated rebel militias. Funded by the British government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund and USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, they are among a network of Jihadi forces supported by the west to engineer regime change. In December, British Foreign Office boxtops were forced to suspend a multi-million-pound project ostensibly aimed at training a civilian police force in rebel-held Aleppo, Idlib and Daraa provinces. A BBC Panorama investigation called “The Jihadis You Pay For” showed how the FSA Police (FSP) was actually knee-deep in extra-judicial killings and torture. Haywood et al are not the only ones querying the White Helmets. On Monday, Robert Fisk, in an on-the-spot report from Douma, described the White Helmets as “partly funded by the Foreign Office.” He wrote that as the Syrian regime was poised with victory in Douma prior to the western strikes, they had abandoned the area to travel “to the rebel province of Idlib with the armed groups when the final truce was agreed.” Fisk’s report has received barely any coverage in the official media. The academics have rejected the claim that they are “pro-Assad.” Haywood wrote on his blog:

Speaking for myself, I am simply pro getting at the truth. A question thoughtful readers will likely be asking is why the Times has gone to the trouble it has to give such prominence to a small group of critical academics. In the early hours of this morning, as I looked at the front page prepared by the Times, news was coming in of the military attack taking place in Syria. I believe that the legality of that attack under international law stands to be clarified. It was ‘justified’ on the basis of exactly the kind of claims that the academic working group is subjecting to critical assessment.

Robinson said:

The Times is seeking to discredit and stop us from researching what are very important issues. As academics in a democracy, in a free country, it is our job to ask critical questions … to encourage people to read and think about critical opinions and to evaluate.

Under conditions of ever-mounting economic crisis, the major imperialist powers are dragging humanity inexorably towards a third world war, and the powers that be are no longer prepared to countenance critical opinion. All the official media from the Guardian to the Times are parroting government pro-war propaganda. Under the guise of combating “fake news” and “Kremlin trolls,” social media is being censored and closed down. The Times article indicates that this censorship and intimidation is now to be extended to academic research and the campuses. The SPM first came to attention because of material it had posted questioning the official line on the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury last month. The SPM’s briefing paper, “Doubts about ‘Novichoks’,” raised questions as to the provenance of the nerve agent supposedly involved and its origins, and was widely cited. Cornell University’s Professor of Organic Chemistry, David Collum, described it as “the most definitive work” on the novichok nerve agent scandal. Such critical research is considered beyond the pale. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, however, can go on German television and lie through his teeth without fear of censure. Workers and youth must reject the effort of a billionaire oligarch to dictate what can be said at universities and in academic research. Such authoritarian moves are bound up with efforts to militarise the campuses and turn them into centres for government propaganda and adjuncts of Britain’s war machine. Fundamentally, the assault on free academic inquiry is directed against the anti-war sentiment that exists widely amongst students and youth. The International Youth and Students for Social Equality is dedicated to the fight against militarism and censorship and the defence of democratic rights. This necessitates a political struggle against the capitalist profit system that is the source of war and state repression through the building of a socialist and internationalist mass movement of workers and youth.

what a pity that pindostan has no armed left wing

After Syria strikes, drumbeat grows for wider war
Will Morrow, WSWS, Apr 19 2018

In the wake of last weekend’s FUKUS missile strikes on Syria, a campaign is growing in the political & military intelligence establishment for a wider war that would threaten a nuclear conflict with Russia. On Tuesday, Congress critturs attacked the Trump administration for the “limited” nature of the attack and demanded that the White House commit to a more extensive military operation to overthrow the Assad government and confront Iran and Russia. After a private briefing to the Senate by Mad Dog Mattis and JCoS Dunford, Loose Nut Sen Lindsey Graham told reporters:

The administration has no strategy. They seem willing to give Syria to Assad, Russia, and Iran. I think after this strike, Assad believes we’re all tweet and no action. We need a permanent no-fly zone over as much as possible of Syria, and the deployment of more Pindo troops on the ground to partner with Kurdish and Arab anti-Assad forces. Russia and Iran must not be allowed to continue winning the battlefield uncontested.

Demagog Sen Chris Coons criticized Trump’s recent threat to withdraw US troops, telling reporters:

It’s important for us to remain engaged in Syria. If we completely withdraw, our leverage in any diplomatic resolution or reconstruction or any hope for a post-Assad Syria goes away.

The recklessness of the Pindo ruling elite was expressed in an op-ed column published yesterday in the NYT by Susan Rice, who served as ambassador to the UN and then national security adviser under Obama. In the column, Rice categorically opposes any withdrawal of Pindo troops. She calls for the Trump administration to indefinitely maintain its occupation of roughly a third of Syrian territory along the country’s northern and eastern borders with Turkey and Iraq—a region that includes the country’s petroleum resources. This is in line with calls being made in the Pindo media with increasing frequency and openness for a permanent carve-up of the country. Rice writes:

We must help secure, rebuild and establish effective local governance in liberated areas.

These are code words for establishing neo-colonial control over the territory and using it as a base for operations against the Assad regime and Russian and Iranian forces. Dispensing with the fraudulent CW pretext used to justify the FUKUS bombing, Rice points to the aims of such an intervention:

This will allow Pindostan to thwart Iranian ambitions to control territory spanning Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; retain influence in major oil-producing areas, and deny Mr Assad a substantial portion of Syrian territory, pending a diplomatic solution.

This strategy is in basic agreement with an Apr 16 editorial by the WSJ that calls for Trump to establish “safe zones” in northern Syria, both in the Pindo-occupied territory east of the Euphrates River and the border area with Jordan. The newspaper writes:

This wouldn’t threaten Assad’s control over the rest of Syria, but it would send a signal that Pindostan isn’t abandoning the region to Iran and Russia. … In the end, we must accept a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.

What is being discussed is a permanent dismemberment and restructuring of Syria and the entire Middle East, in part to provide Pindo imperialism with a forward staging base for its war preparations against Iran and Russia. An Apr 15 commentary in the WSJ by former Pindo ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker, along with Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, has this advice for future air strike planners:

Up the ante, going after military command and control, political leadership and perhaps even Mr Assad himself … Targets within Iran should not be off-limits, depending on the provocation.

On Tuesday, the NYT published a report based on statements by unnamed boxtops that Mad Dog Mattis had urged Trump to seek congressional approval for the bombing, but was overruled by the president. The article states:

In several White House meetings last week, he underscored the importance of linking military operations to public support, a view Mr Mattis has long held.

In a recent editorial, the NYT similarly stressed the need for Congress to pass legislation authorizing further military operations in Syria and elsewhere. Mad Dog Mattis is widely reported to have advised selecting Syrian targets in such a manner as to minimize the chance of Russian retaliation. What is behind these considerations, both military and political, is the need to prepare for an extended and bloody war that would likely involve large numbers of American troops and lead to military conflict with Russia and/or Iran. This will require a crackdown against anti-war opposition within the US, for which a legal fig leaf of congressional sanction is deemed necessary.
In her NYT op-ed, Rice prescrtibes:

Pindostan must keep avoiding direct conflict with Russia, while not allowing Russia and Iran free rein. We must push back firmly and smartly against Russia, whether with respect to CW or other outrages.

In other words, the CIA must continue to manufacture an endless series of provocations and pretexts in order to justify Faschingstein’s drive to remove Russia as an obstacle to the establishment of Pindo hegemony in the Middle East and all of Eurasia. One such pretext was provided by the release Monday of a joint Pindo-British report charging Russia with vague acts of “cyber-warfare” against the West. Though the document did not provide a single specific charge or piece of evidence against Russia, it has been widely amplified throughout the media in an effort to create an atmosphere of hysteria to legitimize a confrontation with Moscow. The Pindo cable television networks on Wednesday began more prominently featuring reports of the death of Russian investigative journalist Maksim Borodin, whose investigations have included the Russian private military contractor Wagner. Borodin fell from a fifth-floor balcony in Yekaterinburg on Sunday. In typical fashion, prior to any investigation and without any evidence, the media is widely reporting Borordin’s death as the latest in a long line of assassinations supposedly ordered by Putin personally. The intensity of the anti-Russia campaign grows in proportion to the exposure of the official pretexts for the bombing of Syria as lies. Five days after the attack, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the claim that the Assad regime carried out a CW attack in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, while evidence continues to mount that the incident was staged by the Western intelligence agencies to provide a pretext for intervention. The intelligence agencies have been assisted by a corrupt and servile media. A study released yesterday by FAIR, a media watchdog, reveals that of the top 100 newspapers by circulation, not a single editorial board opposed the bombing of Syria.

The Western media’s role as a disseminator of government lies was demonstrated in an interview by Britain’s Sky News with former British Maj-Gen Jonathan Shaw on Apr 13 in the lead-up to the bombing. When Shaw veered off script and questioned what possible motive the Assad government could have in carrying out a CW attack, given that its forces were about to overrun the “rebels” in Douma and a CW attack would likely trigger Western intervention, Sky host Samantha Washington abruptly cut him off mid-sentence and shut down the interview.

damn you, gareth! this is my least favourite theory out of all of them!

An Alternative Explanation to the Skripal Mystery
Gareth Porter, Consortium News, Apr 17 2018

An alternative explanation to the mystery surrounding the poisoning of Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter may involve a possibility that neither the British nor Russian governments want to talk about, as Gareth Porter explores.

Sergei Skripal

For weeks, PM Theresa May and FM Boris Johnson have insisted that there is “no alternative explanation” to Russian government responsibility for the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury last month. But in fact the British government is well aware that such an alternative explanation does exist. It is based on the well-documented facts assertions that:

  1. The “Novichok” nerve agent was synthesized by Soviet scientists in the 1980s
  2. It was sold by the scientist who led the development of the nerve agent to Russian organized crime figures as long ago as 1994, and
  3. was used to kill a Russian banker in 1995.

The connection between the Novichok nerve agent and a previous murder linked to the murky Russian criminal underworld would account for the facts of the Salisbury poisoning far better than the official line that it was a Russian government assassination attempt. The credibility of the May government’s attempt to blame it on Pres Putin has suffered because of Yulia Skripal’s relatively rapid recovery, the apparent improvement of Sergei Skripal’s condition and a medical specialist’s statement that the Skripals had exhibited no symptoms of nerve agent poisoning. The highly independent Russian Anti-Putin newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published a detailed account of how Russian organized crime figures obtained nerve agent in 1994 from Professor Leonid Rink, the head of the former Soviet government laboratory (GITOS) that had synthesized it. The newspaper gleaned the information about the transaction from Rink’s court testimony in the 1995 murder of prominent banker Ivan Kivelidi, the leader of the Russian Entrepreneurs’ Round Table, an organization engaged in a conflict with a powerful group of directors of state-owned enterprises. Rink testified that after the post-Soviet Russian economic meltdown had begun he filled each of several ampoules with 0.25 g of nerve agent and stored it in his own garage. Just one such ampoule held enough agent to kill 100 people, according to Rink, the lead scientist in the development of the series of nerve agents called Novichok (“newcomer” in Russian). Rink further admitted that he had then sold one of the ampoules in 1995 to Artur Talanov, who then lived in Latvia and was later seriously wounded in an attempted robbery of a cash van in Estonia, for less than $1,800. In 1995, some of that nerve agent was applied to Kivelidi’s telephone receiver to kill him, as the court documents in the murder case reveal. Police found that there were links between Talanov and Vladimir Khutsishvili, who had been a board member of Kivelidi’s bank, according to the Kivelidi murder investigation. Khutsishivili was eventually found guilty of poisoning Kivelidi, although it was found that he hired someone else to carry out the poisoning. But that wasn’t the only nerve agent that Rink sold to gangsters. Rink admitted in court in 2007 that he had sold four of the vials to someone named Ryabov, who had organized crime connections in 1994. Those vials were said to have been seized later by the FSB. (This gives Putin the means to murder Skreipal later on – RB)

Leonid Rink

But the investigation of the Kivelidi murder found that vials had also fallen into the hands of other criminal syndicates, including one Chechen organization. Furthermore, Rink testified that he had given each of the recipients of the nerve agent detailed instructions on how it worked and how to handle it safely. The newly-revealed story of how organized crime got control of hundreds of doses of lethal nerve agent from a government laboratory sheds crucial light on the mystery of the poisoning in Salisbury, especially in light of the timeline of the Skripals on the day of the poisoning and their unexpectedly swift recovery. Reports of their activities on Mar 4 show that they were strolling in central Salisbury, dining and visiting a pub for several hours before collapsing on a park bench some time after 4 pm. The announcements of Yulia’s rapid recovery on Mar 28 and that Sergei was now “stable” and “improving rapidly” about a week later appears to be in contradiction with the British insistence that they were poisoned by a Russian government intelligence team. The Novichok-type nerve agent has been characterized as quick-acting and highly lethal. But the official Russian forensic investigation following Kivelidi’s murder, as reported by Novaya Gazeta, concluded that the Novichok did not take effect instantaneously but generally took from one and a half to five hours. The Russian government has now made an official issue of the fact that the nerve agent used in the poisoning proved not to be lethal. In his news conference on Apr 14 Sergei Lavrov said the Swiss Spiez Laboratory, working on the case for the OPCW, had found traces in the Skripals’ blood sample of the nerve agent BZ, which was never developed by Soviet scientists but was in the arsenals of the Pindostan & Britain. Lavrov acknowledged that the lab had also found traces of “A-234,” one of the nerve agents in the Novichok series, “in its initial state and in high concentration.” Lavrov argued that had the assassins used A-234 nerve agent, which he noted is at least eight times more deadly than VX nerve gas, it “would have killed the Skripals.” But if the poisoning had been done with some of the A-234 nerve agent that was sold by Rink to organized crime figures, it probably would not have been that lethal. (Further incriminates Putin! – RB)

Vil Mirzayanov

Vil Mirzayanov, the counter-intelligence specialist on the team that developed Novichok and who later revealed the existence of the Novichok program, explained in an interview with the Guardian that the agent lost its effectiveness. Mirzayanov said:

The final product, in storage, after one year is already losing 2%, 3%. The next year more, and the next year more. In 10-15 years, it’s no longer effective.

Exposure to even a large dose of such a normally lethal poison more than 25 years after it was first produced could account for the apparent lack of normal symptoms associated with exposure to that kind of nerve agent experienced by the Skripals, as well as for their relatively speedy recovery. That lends further credibility to a possible explanation that someone with a personal grudge against Sergei Skripal carried out the poisoning. Also challenging the official British line is a statement by a medical specialist involved in the Salisbury District Hospital’s care for the Skripals revealing that they had not exhibited any symptoms of nerve agent poisoning. Stephen Davies, a consultant on emergency medicine for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Salisbury District Hospital, wrote a letter published in the Times on Mar 16 that presented a problem for the official British government position. Davies wrote:

May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury, and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.

Obviously, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were “patients” in the hospital and were thus included in that statement. The Times made the unusual decision to cover the Davies letter in a news story, but tellingly failed to quote the crucial statement in the letter that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury” or to report on the significance of the statement. To rule out the possibility that Davies intended to say something quite different, this writer requested a confirmation or denial of what Davies had written in his letter from the press officer for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Patrick Butler. But Butler did not respond for a week and then refused directly to deny, confirm or explain the Davies statement. Instead Butler said in an email:

Three people were admitted and treated as inpatients at Salisbury District Hospital for the effects of nerve agent poisoning as Stephen Davies wrote.

When he was reminded that the letter had actually said something quite different, Butler simply repeated the statement he had just sent and then added:

The Trust will not be providing any further information on this matter.

Butler did not respond to two separate requests from the writer for assistance in contacting Davies. The refusal of the NHS Foundation Trust to engage at all on the subject underlines the sensitivity of the British government about nerve agent that didn’t work. There are many individuals in Russia whose feelings about Sergei Skripal’s having become a double agent for MI6, including former colleagues of his, could provide a personal motive for the poisoning. And it is certainly plausible that those individuals could have had obtained some of the nerve agent sold by Leonid Rink that entered the black market. Neither the British government nor the Russian government is apparently eager to acknowledge that alternative explanation. The British don’t want it discussed, because they are determined to use the Salisbury poisoning to push their anti-Russian agenda; and the Russians may be reluctant to talk about it, because it would inevitably get into details of a secret nerve agent research project that they have claimed they closed down in 1992, despite Rink’s testimony in the court case that he was still doing some work for the Russian military until 1994.

this is a great example of jason ditz being overly slow & modest before plodding to the obvious conclusion at the end

UN Security Team Delays Inspectors Entrance to Douma for ‘Safety’
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Apr 18 2018

The UN Dept of Safety and Security (UNDSS) continues to prevent OPCW inspectors from entering Douma for their investigation, citing safety concerns. They have offered no timetable for when the OPCW inspectors will be allowed in. The OPCW inspectors did not visit Monday, and there were many allegations exchanged as to why. Though British officials blamed Russia for the delay, it is now clear that the UNDSS is driving the scheduling. The UNDSS team visited two sites in Douma, but fled both times. In the first case, they claimed there was a large crowd there, and they were concerned about safety. At the second site there was a report of an explosion nearby, and claimed to have come under small arms fire by some unknown faction. No UN workers were injured, though one Syrian was said to have sustained light injuries working in a security capacity. The OPCW inspectors are supposed to look into an alleged CW attack earlier this month. There is no public proof that the CW strike even took place, and a mounting amount of evidence that it didn’t, including notably that from Robert Fisk. Residents within Douma have expressed doubts about there having been any CW strike.

OAN investigators weren’t able to confirm any evidence of a CW attack on Douma. To the extent that investigations are happening, they suggest there was no CW strike. Clearly, Douma was attacked by Syrian forces on that day, and the day prior. Those strikes, however, were evidently purely conventional strikes. There is little to suggest anything else beyond claims from the White Helmets, and cryptic statements from Western nations claiming to have secret proof. Syria and Russia have both denied from the start that the attack took place, and they have believed the OPCW visit would reveal the truth. Russia in particular was pushing for an investigation to take place before any rash action against Syria. Ultimately, FUKUS attacks on Syria happened Friday night. Now it’s still not clear if the OPCW will ever be allowed in, with the Russian UN Ambassador expressing annoyance at new UNSC attempts to determine responsibility for the attack. Ambassador Nebenzia noted this was “futile” since the FUKUS already attacked Syria in the first place. The security pretext is pretty flimsy though. Despite all the UNDSS security concerns, media groups seem to have no problem getting into Douma safely. One of the most egregious examples is a CNN reporter in Douma, handling and even sniffing supposed evidence.

This only adds questions. Can CNN really infiltrate Douma and “investigate” in such a haphazard way while the OPCW can’t even get on site? Moreover, would a CNN reporter really sniff garments she believed were covered in CW on air? Pindostan seems to have been anticipating the OPCW probe not going their way, and is already accusing Syria and Russia of plotting to tamper with the site. There’s no evidence of tampering of any kind. The Pindo suggestion was based on the fact that Russian military police visited the site. The visit, however, was done days ago, and Russia said it was meant to deter the West from attacking Douma and destroying  evidence. Russia also wanted inspectors into the site from day one, which is not true of Pindostan or its vassals. A Russian proposal for such an investigation was voted down at the UNSC, and the FUKUS attacked multiple sites in Syria before the investigation could discredit them. Since the FUKUS already attacked Syria, they have little reason to want the OPCW visit to be successful. They clearly weren’t interested in getting the facts before the strike, and facts that don’t support their narrative could be very embarrassing. Indeed, there is growing speculation that this UNDSS effort to block the inspectors is a relatively transparent effort to prevent the investigation happening now. Indeed, it seems obvious that this is nothing but more an effort by UNDSS to block the inspectors from performing their task in Ghouta until any CW ‘traces’ may plausibly be claimed to have ‘vanished’.