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Article submission: British accusations against Russia not only unproven, but absurd!

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British accusations against Russia not only unproven, but absurd!

The British government claims to have overwhelming evidence of Russia’s responsibility in the Salisbury poison attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter. In his Washington Post article of March 14, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went so far as to claim that there was “only [one] plausible conclusion: that the Russian state attempted murder in a British city, employing a lethal nerve agent banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention”. He even connected this with Russia “covering up” the alleged use of “the nerve agent sarin against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017” by Syrian forces. In a separate statement, the Foreign Secretary tells us it is “overwhelmingly likely” that Vladimir Putin personally ordered the attack. What evidence is there to support such serious accusations?

According to the British government (see e.g. Boris Johnson’s article) and the mainstream media, the following elements are sufficient to incriminate the Russian state with near certainty: the weapon used, the motive, Russia’s past record, the lack of another explanation.

Use of novichok is no proof of Russian involvement

The nerve agent reportedly used in the attack, named novichok, was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. The fact that Russian stockpiles of novichok were destroyed under supervision of UN bodies after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has seen no reason for suspecting any country of continuing to store this deadly agent does not seem to bother the incriminators. Of course, it can be speculated that Russia may have kept the weapon secretly, as does Vil Mirzayanov, the Russian scientist who revealed the existence of the project in 1992 and has lived in the US since 1995.

Boris Johnson has announced that over the last ten year Britain has gathered evidence of Russia creating and storing novichok. We are given no detail of what kind of evidence this may be. It could turn out to be nothing more than isolated, unsubstantiated claims made by Mirzayanov and other opponents of the Russian government.

Not only Russia, but other former members of the Soviet Union, or the US, could have secretly stored or recreated the poison. In 1999 US defence officials helped Uzbekistan dismantle a former Soviet facility which had tested chemical weapons such as novichok. Samples, as well as the knowledge required to produce the nerve agent, are highly likely to have become available to countries other than Russia.

Did Russia have a motive?

Russia supposedly had an obvious motive. The argument goes as follows: Sergei Skripal, while still officially working for the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, had been secretly recruited by the British MI6, and handed over to his new paymasters the names of all Russian agents he knew to be working in the West. Even after serving a few years in a Russian prison and being allowed to emigrate to the UK as part of a spy swap, he would have remained on an official Russian hit list for his act of treason. His murder would serve as a deterrent towards any other Russian agent who may consider switching sides. And to make things even clearer to would-be defectors, the attack would leave some kind of signature pointing to the Russian state as the perpetrator.

On the face of it, the argument sounds reasonable. However, it makes no sense to consider motives as evidence for doing something if we ignore counter-motives, i.e. reasons for refraining from doing it. Suppose you are in your doctor’s waiting room and have been sitting there for quite some time when suddenly an elderly lady, who arrived there just before you, collapses and is rushed to hospital. You had never seen her before. Now imagine the police later suspect some foul play and discover that the incident allowed you to have your own waiting time shortened by ten or fifteen minutes. You had a clear motive for harming the poor lady. Luckily for you, it then occurs to the investigators that your motive for doing so (saving a few minutes of your time) pales into insignificance compared with the reasons that would have held you back, such as the idea of spending years in jail, not to mention your moral conscience or feelings of human compassion.

In other words, motivation is the result of weighing out costs and benefits.

Putin had a clear motive… for NOT doing it

In the case of the Salisbury attack, the foreseeable costs to Russia, and more specifically to President Putin, are enormous. The Russian government spends considerable effort trying to convince the world that it firmly abides by the rule of law, especially international law and agreements between states. Its own statements, as well as the foreign-policy analyses appearing in the Russian state-owned media, all go towards highlighting Russia’s perceived superiority to the US in terms of respect for international law. Such efforts have greatly intensified in the context of the renewed tensions with the West over the last few years.

Russia’s current leaders believe in ending the current US-dominated unipolar world and are striving to recover some of the influence over world affairs that was lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union. This requires having allies, not only state allies, but also Russia-friendly organizations and individuals within states. Any damage to Russia’s international reputation does considerable harm to such prospects.

President Putin himself cultivates the image of a highly principled, responsible and law-abiding person – not that anyone would guess by reading the Western mainstream media! Whatever Russia’s state representatives and media may argue, the Salisbury attack has put many weapons in the hands of Putin’s detractors. In this light, it is absolutely inconceivable that Russia’s president ordered the attack himself. Boris Johnson’s personal accusation not only shows his total misunderstanding of the Russian leadership, but is also utterly irresponsible on the part of Britain’s top diplomat.

(…to be continued!)

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High-ranking Ukrainian official reports on US interference in Ukraine

It is not usually the case that an American media outlet tells the truth about Ukraine, but it appears to have happened here.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Hill committed what may well have been a random act of journalism when it reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Hill.tv’s reporter John Solomon that the American ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting.

Normally, all things Russia are covered by the American press as “bad”, and all things Ukraine are covered by the same as “good.” Yet this report reveals quite a bit about the nature of the deeply embedded US interests that are involved in Ukraine, and which also attempt to control and manipulate policy in the former Soviet republic.

The Hill’s piece continues (with our added emphases):

“Unfortunately, from the first meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, [Yovanovitch] gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute,” Lutsenko, who took his post in 2016, told Hill.TV last week.

“My response of that is it is inadmissible. Nobody in this country, neither our president nor our parliament nor our ambassador, will stop me from prosecuting whether there is a crime,” he continued.

Indeed, the Prosecutor General appears to be a man of some principles. When this report was brought to the attention of the US State Department, the response was predictable:

The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.” 

“We have seen reports of the allegations,” a department spokesperson told Hill.TV. “The United States is not currently providing any assistance to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), but did previously attempt to support fundamental justice sector reform, including in the PGO, in the aftermath of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. When the political will for genuine reform by successive Prosecutors General proved lacking, we exercised our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer and redirected assistance to more productive projects.”

This is an amazing statement in itself. “Our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer”? Are Americans even aware that their country is spending their tax dollars in an effort to manipulate a foreign government in what can probably well be called a low-grade proxy war with the Russian Federation? Again, this appears to be a slip, as most American media do a fair job of maintaining the narrative that Ukraine is completely independent and that its actions regarding the United States and Russia are taken in complete freedom.

Hill.TV has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for comment.

Lutsenko also said that he has not received funds amounting to nearly $4 million that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was supposed to allocate to his office, saying that “the situation was actually rather strange” and pointing to the fact that the funds were designated, but “never received.”

“At that time we had a case for the embezzlement of the U.S. government technical assistance worth 4 million U.S. dollars, and in that regard, we had this dialogue,” he said. “At that time, [Yovanovitch] thought that our interviews of Ukrainian citizens, of Ukrainian civil servants, who were frequent visitors of the U.S. Embassy put a shadow on that anti-corruption policy.”

“Actually, we got the letter from the U.S. Embassy, from the ambassador, that the money that we are speaking about [was] under full control of the U.S. Embassy, and that the U.S. Embassy did not require our legal assessment of these facts,” he said. “The situation was actually rather strange because the funds we are talking about were designated for the prosecutor general’s office also and we told [them] we have never seen those, and the U.S. Embassy replied there was no problem.”

“The portion of the funds, namely 4.4 million U.S. dollars were designated and were foreseen for the recipient Prosecutor General’s office. But we have never received it,” he said.

Yovanovitch previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia under former presidents Obama and George W. Bush, as well as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan under Bush. She also served as ambassador to Ukraine under Obama.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who was at the time House Rules Committee chairman, voiced concerns about Yovanovitch in a letter to the State Department last year in which he said he had proof the ambassador had spoken of her “disdain” for the Trump administration.

This last sentence may be a way to try to narrow the scope of American interference in Ukraine down to the shenanigans of just a single person with a personal agenda. However, many who have followed the story of Ukraine and its surge in anti-Russian rhetoric, neo-Naziism, ultra-nationalism, and the most recent events surrounding the creation of a pseudo-Orthodox “church” full of Ukrainian nationalists and atheists as a vehicle to import “Western values” into a still extremely traditional and Christian land, know that there are fingerprints of the United States “deep state” embeds all over this situation.

It is somewhat surprising that so much that reveals the problem showed up in just one report. It will be interesting to see if this gets any follow-up in the US press.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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Palestinian court’s life sentence for American wrongly called “hate”

US Media spins it as Palestinian “hate” without giving the complicated history of this region its full perspective.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On December 31, Fox News gave a very pro-Israeli spin by promoting this article as “hate on display.” What happened was that a Palestinian court gave an American with dual Palestinian citizenship a life sentence in prison for “selling land to a Jew.” Here is what the Fox News report said, in part (emphasis added):

An American-Palestinian dual national reportedly was sentenced Monday to life in prison with “hard labor” for trying to sell land to Israelis – extending an incarceration that has already drawn the ire of the U.S. ambassador.

A Palestinian court convicted Issam Akel, who has been held since Oct. 10, of “attempting to sever parts of Palestinian land and annex it to a foreign state,” Reuters reported, citing a judiciary spokesperson.

Palestinians are said to be concerned with land sales in the so-called occupied territories due to alleged fears Israelis will purchase property to further efforts to solidify control of the region.

Akel’s family told Reuters on Monday it was not aware of the verdict or sentence against him. But his plight previously has drawn criticism from U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

A Palestinian judiciary spokesperson told Reuters that Akel’s life sentence also includes “hard labor,” although he can appeal the verdict.

The emboldened sentence contains the core of the problem, though, even though Fox has tried to “hide” this very legitimate claim.

What most Americans do not realize in a clear manner is that the “Palestinian Territories” as such are not distinct from the land that is understood as sovereign territory of Israel. The average American may be led to believe that the two areas are distinct, and that the Palestinians are mad at Israel for Israel having the most and the best land, while the Palestinians are in a terrible area.

But in reality, it is worse than that. The Palestinians have two regions under their jurisdiction, but that jurisdiction gets heavy pressure from Israel, even though both Palestinians and Israelis receive aid from the United States. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Israelis keep starting settlements in Palestinian lands. This is sort of an “invasion by encroachment” that, ironically is also the same sort of subject that gets brought up in the United States concerning its own open southern border.

Source: Wikipedia.com

Although the US gives aid to Palestine, the American government is heavily committed to Israel, despite Israel’s exceedingly bad record of treatment of the Palestinians. In 2011, for example, the US vetoed a draft resolution to condemn all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as illegal.

This is the same as if Mexico or Honduras began building settlements in Texas and New Mexico and the Americans in the area could do nothing about it.

At times, various US leaders, like VP Joe Biden, have softly spoken against it, but to date no American leader has simply and unequivocally condemned this practice as just plain wrong.

The level of political resentment between the two sides has been almost constant since 1948 when Israel was carved out of British Palestine and 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes, never to be allowed to return. Again, picture this in the USA, where for example, the cities of El Paso and Brownsville get overrun by migrants and the Americans who have lived there for generations suddenly cannot get into their own homes. Not only are their homes not accessible, the migrants live in them now.

The Palestinian situation and response is not any better. With such financial depravity caused by forced eviction, and the hot tempers that are honestly often exacerbated by Islamic ideas of revenge, many Muslim Palestinians consider it honorable to take out their bitter enemies, the Jews, while the Christian Palestinians quietly support the ferocity of the militants because they were wronged, too.

It is probably not a stretch to propose the notion that the strife in this region has been carefully nurtured by the US and even maybe by other powers, for reasons that fill the speculative and often anti-Semitic pages and newspapers in the world. It is certainly an easy bit of incendiary rhetoric to say that having dealings with Jews is like dealing with the devil.

However, the real issue underneath all of this is a refusal to really solve the problem. There is no logistical reason why the problems in Palestine and Israel cannot be solved in a manner mutually beneficial to everyone involved. But this fight is egged on by passion, and to be sure, Fox News’ eye-catching “Hate on Display” was no help at all.

As for the American Palestinian, his actions are easily seen as a betrayal to the beleaguered Palestinian Authority, and his sentence is in response to their territory literally being sold out to a group of people who is illegally squeezing the Palestinians harder and harder. The US use of the new buzzword “hate” is irresponsible here, and it represented a slap in the face of a suffering people, while offering no solution.

 

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