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TBR News Juy 29, 2014

Jul 29 2014

The Voice of the White House

 

Washington, D.C. July 29, 2014: “I read on various legitimate Internet news sources that the US claims to have ‘proof’ of Russian rocket attacks on Ukrainian targets.

The pictures have been ridiculed by the Russians and further information from official American sources that state much of their information comes from the social networks such as Twitter, Tweet and Facebook are so entertaining that I felt it necessary to comment on them.

Any nation’s intelligence agencies that bases serious accusations of misconduct on anything emanating from the social networks must be a combination of utter stupidity and contempt for their public’s intelligence.

I do not doubt for an instant that Russia has been, clandestinely, supplying weaponry to the breakaway elements in eastern Ukraine but I doubt if they are firing missiles into that country and I find it impossible to believe that Putin would encourage the shooting down of a commercial plane.

The evidence of weight would indicate that the Ukrainians themselves shot down this plane, on purpose and to embarrass their enemies.

Hysterical utterances from official Washington about sanctions and so on are designed to cover up American knowledge of this murderous activity on the part of their soi disant ally, the Ukraine.

While it is true that the US can cause economic injury to Russia, Russia, in turn, is capable of doing far more against American economic interests.

Note that the EU is very careful not to unduly annoy Putin.

If the neocons in the State Department and the CIA are not successful in recovering the strategically important Crimea, perhaps they might turn their anger on an easier target like North Korea or even Nigeria.

            After all, the latter has much valuable oil deposits. Perhaps we could send in troops to protect Nigeria’s freedom-loving people?”

 

 

US Faces Intel Hurdles in Downing of Airliner

 

July 26, 2014

by Ken Dilanian AP Intelligence Writer

AP

 

ASPEN, Colo. A series of unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the limits of U.S. intelligence gathering even when it is intensely focused, as it has been in Ukraine since Russia seized Crimea in March.

Citing satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings, U.S. intelligence officials have been able to present what they call a solid circumstantial case that the plane was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

But they have not offered proof of what they say is their strong belief that the separatists obtained the sophisticated missile system from the Russian government. And they say they have not determined what, if any, involvement Russian operatives may have had in directing or encouraging the attack, which they believe was a mistaken attempt to hit a Ukrainian military aircraft

Moscow angrily denies any involvement in the attack; on Saturday the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of waging “an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies.”

U.S. officials said they still don’t know who fired the missile or whether Russian military officers were present when it happened. Determining that will take time, they said, if it’s possible at all. As one put it, “this isn’t ’24,'” referring to the TV series that often exaggerates the speed and capabilities of the American spying machine.

            On Friday, a U.S. intelligence official noted that intelligence agencies had been “heavily involved” in tracking the flow of weapons from Russian to Ukrainian separatists, and that “available intelligence points to Russia as the source of the SA-11 that downed” the jetliner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Intelligence rarely meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to convict in a U.S. court, said Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“We know what happened,” he said in an interview while attending the Aspen Security Forum. “Russia is responsible for the shootdown of the jet, regardless of a few of the finer details we have yet to determine.”

The Malaysian airline investigation illustrates the challenges facing the $80 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence apparatus, which is spread thin as it grapples with an increasingly unpredictable world.

In the weeks after Russian troops took over the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March, U.S. intelligence agencies ramped up collection in the area, adding satellite and eavesdropping capability, said current and former U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss classified information.

But spy satellites orbit the Earth and therefore don’t offer persistent, hovering surveillance the way drones do. The U.S. does not appear to have captured an image of the missile being fired, officials say, although sensors detected the launch and analysts were able to determine the trajectory.

Had an imagery sensor on a low orbiting satellite captured the launch, it could have produced intelligence-rich photos of plumes of smoke and the launch vehicle, said David Deptula, a retired Air Force general and expert on intelligence systems. A company called Skybox Imaging has been able to shoot short bursts of full motion video from its satellites, so presumably the military also has that capability.

But weapons can be hidden from satellites. Although U.S. analysts said they knew that tanks and other heavy weaponry were flowing from Russia to the separatists, officials said they were unaware that the separatists possessed working SA-11 missiles, which can hit aircraft flying at high altitudes, until after the passenger jet was shot down.

Credible human sources are the holy grail of intelligence gathering, but the CIA, which has a medium-sized station in Kiev, was not in a position to recruit informants quickly among the separatists in what is essentially a war zone, officials said.

What the CIA did instead was to step up its cooperation with Ukrainian intelligence, despite concerns that the Ukrainian service is penetrated by the Russians. Key portions of the intelligence cited by U.S. officials as showing that separatists were responsible for bringing down the plane were provided by the Ukrainians, including intercepts of conversations that were verified by U.S. analysts.

Officials said social media postings available to analysts in the U.S. have also helped. The Russian ministry slammed that line of evidence gathering, contending “the Washington regime is basing its contentions on anti-Russian speculation gathered from the Internet that does not correspond to reality.”

In recent days, journalists have been able to interview separatist fighters in Eastern Ukraine, some of whom acknowledged responsibility for the downing. In a report Thursday, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted a separatist who would not give his name as saying that he was told his unit had shot down a Ukrainian military plane, only to discover the bodies of civilians.

The CIA is gathering its own first-hand reports, officials said, but they have not shared them.

U.S. officials are loathe to discuss the fruits of the National Security Agency’s formidable eavesdropping capabilities, so it’s not known whether the NSA picked up any conversations among Russian officials suggesting Russian complicity. Even if the agency had such evidence, officials would be unlikely to alert the Russians by revealing it publicly, one senior U.S. official said.

However, officials say, the Russian military and intelligence agencies are extremely disciplined and well aware of U.S. electronic monitoring, which makes them a tough target.

U.S. officials have not expanded in public on the case they made in a briefing to reporters Tuesday about the passenger jet.

But on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. has “new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine,” and that “Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions.”

U.S. officials said the information came from satellites and other technical means, not human sources.

 

Ex-Israeli Security Chief Diskin: ‘All the Conditions Are There for an Explosion’

 

Interview Conducted by Julia Amalia Heyer

 

July 24, 2014

REUTERS

 

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Yuval Diskin, former director of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, speaks of the current clash between Israel and the Palestinians, what must be done to achieve peace and the lack of leadership in the Middle East.

 

SPIEGEL: Mr. Diskin, following 10 days of airstrikes, the Israeli army launched a ground invasion in the Gaza Strip last week. Why now? And what is the goal of the operation?

Diskin: Israel didn’t have any other choice than to increase the pressure, which explains the deployment of ground troops. All attempts at negotiation have failed thus far. The army is now trying to destroy the tunnels between Israel and the Gaza Strip with a kind of mini-invasion, also so that the government can show that it is doing something. Its voters have been increasingly vehement in demanding an invasion. The army hopes the invasion will finally force Hamas into a cease-fire. It is in equal parts action for the sake of action and aggressive posturing. They are saying: We aren’t operating in residential areas; we are just destroying the tunnel entrances. But that won’t, of course, change much in the disastrous situation. Rockets are stored in residential areas and shot from there as well.

SPIEGEL: You are saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressured to act by the right?

Diskin: The good news for Israel is the fact that Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz are not very adventurous. None of them really wanted to go in. None of them is really enthusiastic about reoccupying the Gaza Strip. Israel didn’t plan this operation at all. Israel was dragged into this crisis. We can only hope that it doesn’t go beyond this limited invasion and we won’t be forced to expand into the populated areas.

SPIEGEL: So what happens next?

Diskin: Israel is now an instrument in the hands of Hamas, not the opposite. Hamas doesn’t care if its population suffers under the attacks or not, because the population is suffering anyway. Hamas doesn’t really care about their own casualties either. They want to achieve something that will change the situation in Gaza. This is a really complicated situation for Israel. It would take one to two years to take over the Gaza Strip and get rid of the tunnels, the weapons depots and the ammunition stashes step-by-step. It would take time, but from the military point of view, it is possible. But then we would have 2 million people, most of them refugees, under our control and would be faced with criticism from the international community.

SPIEGEL: How strong is Hamas? How long can it continue to fire rockets?

Diskin: Unfortunately, we have failed in the past to deliver a debilitating blow against Hamas. During Operation Cast Led, in the winter of 2008-2009, we were close. In the last days of the operation, Hamas was very close to collapsing; many of them were shaving their faces. Now, the situation has changed to the benefit of the Islamists. They deepened the tunnels; they are more complex and tens of kilometers long. They succeeded in hiding the rockets and the people who launch the rockets. They can launch rockets almost any time that they want, as you can see.

SPIEGEL: Is Israel not essentially driving Palestinians into the arms of Hamas?

Diskin: It looks that way, yes. The people in the Gaza Strip have nothing to lose right now, just like Hamas. And this is the problem. As long as Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, things were going great for Hamas. But then the Egyptian army took over and within just a few days, the new regime destroyed the tunnel economy between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, which was crucial for Hamas. Since then, Hamas has been under immense pressure; it can’t even pay the salaries of its public officials.

SPIEGEL: All mediation attempts have failed. Who can stop this war?

Diskin: We saw with the most recent attempt at a cease-fire that Egypt, which is the natural mediator in the Gaza Strip, is not the same Egypt as before. On the contrary, the Egyptians are using their importance as a negotiator to humiliate Hamas. You can’t tell Hamas right now: “Look, first you need to full-stop everything and then we will talk in another 48 hours.”

SPIEGEL: What about Israel talking directly with Hamas?

Diskin: That won’t be possible. Really, only the Egyptians can credibly mediate. But they have to put a more generous offer on the table: the opening of the border crossing from Rafah into Egypt, for example. Israel must also make concessions and allow more freedom of movement.

SPIEGEL: Are those the reasons why Hamas provoked the current escalation?

Diskin: Hamas didn’t want this war at first either. But as things often are in the Middle East, things happened differently. It began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. From what I read and from what I know about how Hamas operates, I think that the Hamas political bureau was taken by surprise. It seems as though it was not coordinated or directed by them.

SPIEGEL: Netanyahu, though, claimed that it was and used it as a justification for the harsh measures against Hamas in the West Bank, measures that also targeted the joint Hamas-Fatah government.

Diskin: Following the kidnapping of the teenagers, Hamas immediately understood that they had a problem. As the army operation in the West Bank expanded, radicals in the Gaza Strip started launching rockets into Israel and the air force flew raids into Gaza. Hamas didn’t try to stop the rockets as they had in the past. Then there was the kidnapping and murder of the Palestinian boy in Jerusalem and this gave them more legitimacy to attack Israel themselves.

SPIEGEL: How should the government have reacted instead?

Diskin: It was a mistake by Netanyahu to attack the unity government between Hamas and Fatah under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel should have been more sophisticated in the way it reacted. We should have supported the Palestinians because we want to make peace with everybody, not with just two-thirds or half of the Palestinians. An agreement with the unity government would have been more sophisticated than saying Abbas is a terrorist. But this unity government must accept all the conditions of the Middle East Quartet. They have to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and recognize all earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

SPIEGEL: The possibility of a third Intifada has been mentioned repeatedly in recent days, triggered by the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.

Diskin: Nobody can predict an Intifada because they aren’t something that is planned. But I would warn against believing that the Palestinians are peaceful due to exhaustion from the occupation. They will never accept the status quo of the Israeli occupation. When people lose hope for an improvement of their situation, they radicalize. That is the nature of human beings. The Gaza Strip is the best example of that. All the conditions are there for an explosion. So many times in my life I was at these junctions that I can feel it almost in my fingertips.

SPIEGEL: Three of your sons are currently serving in the Israeli army. Are you worried about them?

Diskin: And a fourth is in the reserves! I am a very worried father, but that is part of it. I defended my country and they will have to do so too. But because real security can only be achieved through peace, Israel, despite its military strength, has to do everything it can in order to reach peace with its neighbors.

SPIEGEL: Not long ago, the most recent negotiations failed — once again.

Diskin: Yes, and it’s no wonder. We have a problem today that we didn’t have back in 1993 when the first Oslo Agreement was negotiated. At that time we had real leaders, and we don’t right now. Yitzhak Rabin was one of them. He knew that he would pay a price, but he still decided to move forward with negotiations with the Palestinians. We also had a leader on the Palestinian side in Yasser Arafat. It will be very hard to make peace with Abbas, but not because he doesn’t want it.

SPIEGEL: Why?

Diskin: Abbas, who I know well, is not a real leader, and neither is Netanyahu. Abbas is a good person in many respects; he is against terror and is brave enough to say so. Still, two non-leaders cannot make peace. Plus, the two don’t like each other; there is no trust between them.

SPIEGEL: US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to mediate between the two.

Diskin: Yes, but from the beginning, the so-called Kerry initiative was a joke. The only way to solve this conflict is a regional solution with the participation of Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt. Support from countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and maybe Turkey would also be necessary. That is the only way to consider all the demands and solve all problems. And we need more time, at least five years — and more to implement it step-by-step.

SPIEGEL: Why isn’t Netanyahu working toward such a compromise, preferring instead to focus on the dangers presented by an Iranian nuclear bomb?

Diskin: I have always claimed that Iran is not Israel’s real problem. It is this conflict with the Palestinians, which has lasted way too long and which has just intensified yet again. The conflict is, in combination with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the biggest security risk for the state of Israel. But Netanyahu has made the invocation of an existential threat from Iran into his mantra, it is almost messianic. And of course he has derived political profit from it. It is much easier to create consensus about the Iranian existential threat than about an agreement with the Palestinians. Because there, Netanyahu has a problem with his electorate.

SPIEGEL: You have warned that the settlements in the West Bank may soon become irreversible and that it will make the two-state solution impossible.

Diskin: We are currently very near this point of no return. The number of settlers is increasing and already a solution to this problem is almost impossible, from a purely logistical standpoint, even if the political will were there. And this government is building more than any government has built in the past.

SPIEGEL: Is a solution to the conflict even possible anymore?

Diskin: We have to go step-by-step; we need many small successes. We need commitment on the Palestinian side and the acceptance of the Middle East Quartet conditions. And Israel must freeze at once any settlement activity outside the big blocks of settlements. Otherwise, the only possibility is a single, shared state. And that is a very bad alternative.

SPIEGEL: Mohammed Abu Chidair, the teenager murdered by Israeli right-wing extremists, was recognized as being a victim of terror. Why hasn’t Israel’s security service Shin Bet been as forceful in addressing Israeli terror as it has with Arab terror?

Diskin: We invested lots of capabilities and means in order to take care of this issue, but we didn’t have much success. We don’t have the same tools for fighting Jewish extremism or even terrorists as we have when we are, for example, facing Palestinian extremists. For Palestinians in the occupied territories, military rule is applied whereas civilian law applies to settlers. The biggest problem, though, is bringing these people to trial and putting them in jail. Israeli courts are very strict with Shin Bet when the defendants are Jewish. Something really dramatic has to happen before officials are going to take on Jewish terror.

SPIEGEL: A lawmaker from the pro-settler party Jewish Home wrote that Israel’s enemy is “every single Palestinian.”

Diskin: The hate and this incitement were apparent even before this terrible murder. But then, the fact that it really happened, is unbelievable. It may sound like a paradox, but even in killing there are differences. You can shoot someone and hide his body under rocks, like the murderer of the three Jewish teenagers did. Or you can pour oil into the lungs and light him on fire, alive, as happened to Mohammed Abu Chidair…. I cannot even think of what these guys did. People like Naftali Bennett have created this atmosphere together with other extremist politicians and rabbis. They are acting irresponsibly; they are thinking only about their electorate and not in terms of the long-term effects on Israeli society — on the state as a whole.

SPIEGEL: Do you believe there is a danger of Israel becoming isolated?

Diskin: I am sorry to say it, but yes. I will never support sanctions on my country, but I think the government may bring this problem onto the country. We are losing legitimacy and the room to operate is no longer great, not even when danger looms.

SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes feel isolated with your view on the situation?

Diskin: There are plenty of people within Shin Bet, Mossad and the army who think like I do. But in another five years, we will be very lonely people. Because the number of religious Zionists in positions of political power and in the military is continually growing.

 

            About Yuval Diskin

 

            Yuval Diskin was the director of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet between 2005 and 2011. In recent years, he has become an outspoken critic of the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

US retreats post-haste from Libya

 

July 29, 2014

by mkbhadrakuma

 

        The closure of the American embassy in Libya was probably overdue, as that country has descended into anarchy. The wheel has turned full circle since the Western invasion of Libya three years ago under the NATO flag, pushing the agenda of ‘regime change’.

            From wherever he is, the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi must be watching with glee that the Europeans and Americans who hunted him down are themselves now running away in panic, fearing the prospect of butchery and sudden death, while the NATO cannot be of any use anymore. In any case, NATO has its hands full, busy mobilizing in the Black Sea and the Baltic states.

But amidst the avalanche of media accounts on the evacuation of Americans from Tripoli yesterday, what arrests the mind and compels it to think is the graphic report by ABC News giving the inside track on how the evacuation actually took place. Of course, it wasn’t from the rooftop of the American embassy in Tripoli in helicopters, but nonetheless this is indeed high drama — with F-16 fighter aircraft, drones, a naval destroyer and rapid reaction force on deployment.

One doesn’t know quite whether to laugh or cry in such moments of mixed feelings. Most certainly, the ABC report doesn’t convey an elegant picture of the superpower in retreat. To be sure, this spectacle will hurt President Barack Obama politically and will become a signpost in world politics, especially international security.

Unsurprisingly, Obama — or V-P Joe Biden — is nowhere to be seen or heard and state secretary John Kerry is left to carry the can of worms. That is, perhaps, a prudent decision by the White House, carefully taken. And Kerry scrambled to announce that this won’t be “permanent” retreat from Libya. Sure thing, this can’t be a permanent retreat. Wherever there is oil in the Middle Eastern sands, America has to be there.

But the real sophistry lies somewhere else — in Kerry’s claim, here, that the Americans as such are not the targets of the free-wheeling Libyan militia.

            Now, that’s a white lie. Forgot the grotesque killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in the pin-pointed 2012 Benghazi attack on the CIA station by killers it only had trained to kill?

In fact, the Obama administration is playing safe lest the Benghazi attack — which still haunts Hillary Clinton’s political future and already capped Susan Rice’s expected surge in the Obama cabinet at that time — repeats itself. Conceivably, Libya could figure in a big way in the 2016 presidential election in the US.

But then, that will be more as the stuff of polemics and grandstanding by the American politicians. The big question is why the searing experiences in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan aren’t compelling a rethink of the ABC of the US’ regional policies in pushing the agenda of ‘regime change’ in foreign countries. The US needs a serious self-introspection here.

Syria has been destroyed and it could soon be Ukraine’s turn — and in both cases it is the US’ interference in these countries’ delicately poised internal dynamic on the basis of geopolitical calculations and cold-hearted self-interests, albeit camouflaged as something else, which led to the bloody upheaval.

Libya becomes particularly important, because radical islamists are tasting victory there and they are potentially part of the global project of the Caliphate. It may not be the blood of Westerners that is reddening the Libyan sands, but human blood nonetheless — and the cry of the ‘jihad’ in Libya will resonate all across the Middle East — and even beyond.

Suffice to say, it is the Western policies that are the breeding ground for ‘jihadism’ today. Wherever Americans go in the Muslim world to establish their hegemony, ‘jihadis’ follow. The point is, the demons that the US-led NATO let loose in Libya to destroy the Gaddafi regime are coming for the Americans now. It’s quintessentially a replay of Afghanistan and Iraq.

A second issue concerns the role of the NATO as a global security organization, which Washington is promoting. The western alliance was in a triumphalist mood over the ‘victory’ in Libya in 2011. and the way NATO handled the war was projected as “a new model” (here). In retrospect, NATO has so much blood on its hands and the touted gains are highly dubious, to say the least. As the NATO prepares for the summit in September in Wales, Libya is presenting itself as a ’stimulant’ to make western statesmen rethink the alliance’s future. But, can they cope with such an intellectual, moral challenge?

However, a much larger question also arises here. The US’ diplomatic retreat from Libya becomes hugely symbolic. It presents the picture of a superpower in disarray, retreating in fear and trepidation. To be sure, the Taliban won’t have to look far to know what to to next if they are serious about scuttling the upcoming US military bases in their country — simply, lob a missile or two into the American embassy compound in Kabul.

Furthermore, this unseemly spectacle from the Libyan deserts of Obama’s men and women beating the retreat is not going to help make the US’ pivot to Asia any more convincing as a strategy in the sceptical eyes of the Asia-Pacific countries.

Pray, why should, for example, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi take seriously the lavish invitation extended to his government last week by the US assistant secretary of state Nisha Desai Biswal for India to play a “vital role” in the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia — or even take seriously what she lauded rhetorically as Washington’s “strategic bet on the consequential role of Asia’s 4.3 billion people in the 21st century”? (here).

The really good thing from the Indian perspective is that the Obama administration’s Libyan retreat has sailed into view just days ahead of the US-India Strategic Dialogue in Delhi. It cannot be lost on the policymakers in Delhi that India’s strategic autonomy and its capacity to navigate an independent course in the contemporary world keeping its national priorities of development in full perspective is not a debatable foreign-policy ideal anymore, but has become a compelling necessity today.

 

 

A New Wave of Wacko Evangelicals Swept GOP Primaries—and Could Win Several Seats in Washington

 

Mega churches fuel a dangerous new wave of political activism.

 

July 25, 2014 

by CJ Werleman 

AlterNet

A Southern Baptist Pastor claiming dangerous and crazy things like the notion that there is a homosexual plot to sodomize children, and that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Muslims is so common that it barely registers as newsworthy these days. What should be catching the attention of even the most jaded news editors, however, is that a Southern Baptist Pastor who actually said exactly these aforementioned things has just won his GOP primary race, has just won his GOP primary race, for a seat in the U.S. Congress. Say hello to Tea Party Republican Jody Hice.

In the coming 2014 election, Hice will be the official Republican nominee to replace outgoing Georgia Congressman Paul Broun. Hice believes gay people have a secret plot to seduce and sodomize America’s sons, thinks same-sex marriage is akin to bestiality and incest, and compares abortion to the genocide waged by Hitler. Broun (R-GA) has endorsed Hice, which is unsurprising given it was Broun who once claimed, “Evolution and embryology and the big Bang theory are all likes straight from the pit of Hell.”

Pastor Hice has a long history of delivering hateful and homophobic laden sermons from the pulpit. He has struck out at those who oppose harmful “gay conversion therapy,” and by banning it “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that in reality they are not.”

If Pastor Hice were an anomaly, this would be the start and end of this story. Unfortunately for those who cherish America’s secular traditions, he’s not. Alarmingly, he is one face in a sea of evangelical Christian faces swept to primary electoral victories this year on the back of religious conservative activism, and by that I mean political activism drummed up by the success and growth of America’s mega-churches.

While polls show a decline in America’s religiosity, and with millennials shunning the religious enthusiasm of their parents, the mega-church movement is neither dying nor slowing. A 2013 report shows that churches with weekly attendances of 2,000 or more grew in 46 states.

“With each passing year, mega-churches are more in both number and size and the ones at the top of the list are larger than the ones at the top of the list in previous years,” Warren Bird, director of research and intellectual capital development for Leadership Network, told The Christian Post.

According to Bird, there are currently 1,650 established mega-churches in the country, many of which draw a sizeable percentage of young adults. And now these asylums for the easily led are being led to the altar of radical theocratic, political ideals – and its sponsor – the Republican Party.

In a number of GOP primary races, candidates with close ties to a mega-church have upset their more fancied establishment opponents. Including Pastor Hice, four candidates with mega-church backing have won decisive primaries.

“People generally like their pastor, and in politics it’s always good to be liked by voters,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.

Another mega-church supported candidate to triumph is Oklahoma Representative James Lankford, who recently won a primary in the special election to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.

Lankford is a graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who believes life begins at the moment of fertilization. From 1996 to 2009, Lankford was the student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and was the program director for the largest Christian camp in the U.S. Indeed, Jesus camp comes to Washington.

The Republican National Committee said it was Lankford’s visibility among evangelicals that helped him defeat his much-favored opponent. Notably, should Lankford win in November, he will become the only full-time religious leader in the U.S. Senate.

In North Carolina’s 6th District, Baptist Mark Walker defeated the highly regarded son of one that state’s most powerful politicians by more than 6,000 votes in a GOP runoff. The RNC said it was Walker’s leadership role at Lawndale Baptist Church, which has a membership of several thousand that proved decisive.

Walker is considered such a religious extremist that even his Tea Party colleague and primary opponent called him an extremist, which is like al-Qaeda calling ISIS radical. Walker’s Democrat Party rival warns, “Walker’s extremism has blinded him from the issues that matter…Mark Walker will be a voice only for the most extreme segment of our society.”

In Alabama, the 4,000-member congregation of Briarwood Presbyterian Church propelled Gary Palmer to victory in a GOP runoff in Alabama’s 6th District, to replace retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus. After securing the nomination, Palmer thanked those who helped his campaign become a success.

“This entire campaign was built on prayer, sustained by prayer and tonight was delivered by prayer,” he said.

All of the above is more of what we have seen in this country for the past three decades: Christian dogmatism used to hail and marshal the mystical inerrancy of the free market and the benevolence of unregulated capitalism. The evangelicals of these mega-churches have been used as reliable ballot box lever pullers for our corporate overlords since the election of Ronald Reagan.

If these hapless radicals in prayer have tuned in at any stage since 1980, they’ll realize they’re unlikely to receive what they hope for in return for their vote.

In his political tome What’s the Matter With Kansas, Thomas Frank writes that the trick by the rich to dupe the predominantly working and middle class Christian right into voting for their political party never wears off.

“Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote stand tall against terrorism; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.”

For the Republican Party, the growth of the nation’s mega-churches, allows them an opportunity to perform the same trick to a new audience.

 

Israel’s Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve

 

July 25, 2014

by David Axe  

Reuters

 

Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system is more like an iron sieve. It fails to destroy all but a few of the rockets that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups fire at Israeli communities. But Israel’s early-warning civil-defense systems have proved highly effective.

The radar-guided Iron Dome missile, meant to intercept and smash incoming rockets in the seconds before they strike their targets, works just a small fraction of the time, according to a detailed analysis carried out by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Ploughshares Fund.

Ted Postol, a physicist at the university and an expert in missiles and missile defenses, has found evidence that only about 5 percent of Iron Dome engagements result in the targeted rocket being destroyed or even sufficiently damaged to disable its explosive warhead. In the other 95 percent of cases, the interceptor either misses entirely or just lightly damages the enemy munition, allowing the rocket’s intact warhead to continue arcing toward the ground.

Postol based his conclusion on a careful analysis of amateur videos and photos of Iron Dome interceptions over the past three years. He admitted that most of his data is from a previous round of fighting in 2012. “The data we have collected so far [for 2014], however, indicate the performance of Iron Dome has not markedly improved,” Postol wrote on the website of the nonprofit Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Richard Lloyd, another weapons expert, has also run studies that call into question Iron Dome’s high success rate. Other military analysts support his findings, though the Israeli government dismisses them, as it does the Postol study. An Israeli spokesman told the BBC, “The system saves lives.”

It should go without saying that guiding a missile to strike a particular spot on another missile is a very, very difficult achievement. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency likens rocket-on-rocket interceptions to “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”

The Israeli military, having spent billions of dollars on the system, appears to be exaggerating Iron Dome’s success rate. “Since the beginning of the operation, more than 1,260 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel,” the Israeli Defense Forces said on July 16, nine days into the latest spasm of violence pitting the Jewish state against Palestinian militias.

“Approximately 985 rockets hit Israeli territory and 225 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defense system,” the IDF stated, “with an overall success rate of 86 percent.”

Postol rejected that assessment. “The Israeli government is not telling the truth about Iron Dome,” the physicist asserted. Postol said if Iron Dome has such a high success rate, the Israeli government should release all the data it has.

When it comes to analyzing the effectiveness of missile defenses, Philip Coyle, who ran weapons testing at the Pentagon under the Clinton administration, told MIT’s Technology Review, Postol’s is “the best work that anybody has done outside the bowels of the Pentagon.”

Israel deployed the first Iron Dome missile battery in 2011. Each battery consists of a command post, a radar array and several launchers, each with 20 missiles. The United States has contributed more than $1 billion to Iron Dome’s development in exchange for access to the technology.

There is a lot of money – and credibility — invested in the system’s success.

Israel has so far purchased nine Iron Dome batteries from the manufacturer Rafael — and plans on buying several more. Each Iron Dome missile reportedly costs somewhere between $40,000 and $100,000, compared to less than a $1,000 apiece for the militants’ Qassam rockets.

The Israeli government has said the key point is not the cost but preventing Israeli deaths.  “When we work, we do it to save lives,” Major Shay Kobninsky, a military Iron Dome commander, said in an official release.

“Every rocket intercepted would have hit populated areas,” the IDF added on its official blog. But Postol insisted that Iron Dome has not saved any lives. The fact that the Palestinian rockets kill so few Israelis — just two civilians have died in the recent attacks — is due to what Postol calls “civil-defense efforts.”

“Israel’s low casualty rate from Hamas rockets,” Postol wrote, “is largely attributable to the country’s well-developed early-warning and quick-sheltering system for citizens under imminent rocket attack.” Military radars and infrared sensors detect rocket launches the instant they happen. Air-raid sirens alert civilians to head for underground bunkers.

Iron Dome, Postol added, “appears to have had no measurable effect on improving the chances of Israelis escaping injury or death from Hamas artillery rocket attacks in Israel.”

By the time a rocket enters Iron Dome’s 40-mile engagement zone, it’s already arcing downward toward its target. One way or another, a part, or in some cases all, of the rocket is going to strike the ground. Iron Dome must strike an incoming rocket head-on to wreck its warhead and minimize the rocket’s destructive potential.

“If the Iron Dome interceptor instead hits the back end of the target rocket, it will merely damage the expended rocket-motor tube, basically an empty pipe, and have essentially no effect on the outcome of the engagement,” Postol asserted. “The pieces of the rocket will still fall in the defended area; the warhead will almost certainly go on to the ground and explode.”

Israel is not alone in pouring vast sums of money into ambitious missile-defense systems. The United States spends around $10 billion annually on a wide range of rocket interceptors that, like Iron Dome, have performed poorly in tests and combat.

Both countries want to be able to shoot down anything their enemies fire at them. But if Iron Dome is any indication, the technology just isn’t ready.

 

 

Chinese hackers obtained info on Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system – report

 

July 29, 2014

RT

 

In a raid seeking information related to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, Chinese hackers infiltrated the databases of three Jewish defense contractors.

In addition to taking information on the Iron Dome, the attackers were also able to nab plans regarding other projects – including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, ballistic rockets, and “detailed schematics and specifications” for the Arrow III missile interceptor.

According to independent journalist Brian Krebs, the intrusion occurred between 2011 and 2012 and was carried out by China’s infamous “Comment Crew” – a group of cyber warriors linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In May, the United States charged five members of this group with cyber espionage against American computer networks. The hackers reportedly infiltrated US systems in order to “steal information that would provide an economic advantage” for Chinese companies, including “Chinese state-owned enterprises.”

Although it’s unclear exactly how much data the hackers were able to obtain, Maryland-based intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services (Cyber ESI) identified more than 700 documents that were stolen. The real number is believed to be much higher.

Speaking to Business Insider, University of California researcher Jon Lindsay said the intrusion could signal that the Chinese are interested in learning more about missile defense – which is considered notoriously difficult to become proficient in – but it could also be an extension of Beijing’s typical cyber espionage practices.

“The Chinese style of espionage is more like a vacuum cleaner than a closely-directed telescope,” Lindsay said. “They go after a lot of different kinds of targets — the leaders in any particular industry.”

As the news outlet speculated, Chinese interest in the Iron Dome could have been triggered by the missile shield’s success during Israel’s battle with Hamas in 2012. Krebs noted that Israel claims the Iron Dome has intercepted one-fifth of the 2,000-plus rockets fired their way in the most recent outbreak of violence.

Regarding the hack, one of the Israeli defense firms involved declined to say whether any of its partners in the US were alerted to the security breach, which is notable considering that Congress has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to Tel Aviv in Iron Dome funding.

“At the time, the issue was treated as required by the applicable rules and procedures,” Eliana Fishler, a spokesperson for the defense firm Israel Aerospace Industries, said to Krebs. “The information was reported to the appropriate authorities. IAI undertook corrective actions in order to prevent such incidents in the future.”

Meanwhile, CyberESI CEO Joseph Drissel explained that much of the stolen information was restricted by the US State Department.

“Most of the technology in the Arrow 3 wasn’t designed by Israel, but by Boeing and other U.S. defense contractors,” he told Krebs. “We transferred this technology to them, and they coughed it all up. In the process, they essentially gave up a bunch of stuff that’s probably being used in our systems as well.”

Of course, the US has accused Beijing of this type of espionage before, even outside of the five Chinese officials charged in May. As RT reported in June, American cyber security company CrowdStrike said that one unit within the PLA has been linked to seven years of hacking against the US aerospace industry. This information was shared with US intelligence agencies as well as the Justice Department.

For its part, China has consistently denied allegations of hacking, often claiming that it is subject to numerous cyber attacks from the United States.

 

 

 

As fighting continues in east Ukraine, U.S. releases images said to implicate Russia

 

July 27, 2014

by Carol Morello and Karen DeYoung

Washington Post

 

KIEV, Ukraine — Rebels and government troops fired on each other’s positions Sunday in a strategically important city in eastern Ukraine, sending residents into bomb shelters, as Washington released images that it said prove Russia is shooting across the border into Ukraine to support separatists.

At least 13 civilians were reported killed in the fighting around Horlivka, an industrial city of almost 300,000 people about 30 miles from the rebel bastion of Donetsk. According to a resident reached by telephone, parts of the city are without water or electricity, grocery stores are empty, and rebels and residents are fleeing.

The Ukrainian military denied targeting civilians and said the pro-Russian rebels were to blame for the damage and casualties. The military accused the rebels of firing into residential neighborhoods.

The battle in Horlivka is part of a major push by the military to isolate and eventually oust the rebel fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. It would be a huge symbolic and strategic victory.

As the fighting raged, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked briefly on the phone. According to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement, they discussed the need for an “immediate” cease-fire in Ukraine. The State Department said that during the short call, Kerry urged Lavrov “to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict. He did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict.”

As the ground war in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist forces and government troops has escalated, the war of words and images between Russia and the West has reached a fever pitch.

The Obama administration on Sunday released grainy surveillance photographs that it said were evidence that Russia has fired artillery rounds from its side of the border on Ukrainian military units.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, charged Sunday that the United States is getting most of its intelligence on the Russian military from social media and suggested that it turn to more “trustworthy” information, the news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Konashenkov denied U.S. statements last week that Russia, after first decreasing the number of its troops deployed along the Ukraine border, has increased their ranks to at least 15,000. Regular international inspections under the Open Skies Treaty, he said, “have not registered any violations or undeclared military activity on the part of Russia in the areas adjacent to the Ukrainian border.”

Under the international treaty, member governments regularly conduct overflights, after providing advance notice, of neighboring countries. Although such flights were common in the early days of the Ukraine conflict, it is unclear whether any have been conducted recently.

Konashenkov said similar inspections of “Ukrainian armed forces’ active combat actions in the areas adjacent to the Russian border” would register a “high concentration of Ukrainian troops, armaments and military equipment that regularly shell Russian settlements and have already killed and injured our citizens there.”

The State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, both of which distributed the photographs to journalists Sunday, did not indicate the source of the images, which were labeled with the imprint of Digital Globe, a commercial satellite and aerial-imaging company.

The high-altitude images released Sunday “provide evidence that Russian forces have fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces, and that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine,” according to labels on the pictures provided by the U.S. government.

The most recent photograph, taken Saturday, shows what are described as “blast marks” from rocket-launcher fire on the Russian side of the border and “impact craters” inside Ukraine.

A photograph labeled as having been taken Wednesday shows a row of vehicles described as “self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units, on the Russian side of the border, oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine.” On the other side of the border, “the pattern of crater impacts near the Ukrainian military unit indicates strikes from artillery fired from self-propelled or towed artillery, vice multiple rocket launchers,” the label says.

The Obama administration has said that direct Russian participation in Ukraine, along with Moscow’s failure to use its influence on the separatists to allow international inspectors access to the site of the July 17 Malaysian airliner crash inside separatist territory, should lead to increased sanctions against Russia.

A team of forensic experts and investigators that arrived Sunday in Donetsk had planned to head to the crash site, but the visit was called off for safety reasons.

Sunday marked the third day of the Ukrainian army’s assault on rebels in Horlivka. Some residents said shelling began shortly after dawn and continued intermittently throughout the day.

Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said troops are not carrying out air or artillery strikes against civilians. He blamed the attacks on rebels, who he said are trying to frighten residents and discredit the army by posing as government troops.

A video taken Sunday in Horlivka showed large plumes of gray smoke rising from several places in the city.

A resident named Viktor, a 32-year-old engineer who asked that his last name not be published because of the precarious situation, said he watched from his sixth-floor balcony as army troops and rebels exchanged fire. He said he saw rockets launched from a rebel position answered by return fire a few minutes later.

The weapons fire ignited the local energy company’s office, struck a supermarket on the ground floor of an apartment building and destroyed a building housing the kitchen of the local hospital, he said.

Viktor described an eerie emptiness in Horlivka. Traffic, he said, is mostly just a few speeding cars that appear to be driven by rebels. Residents who live in houses are spending nights in their basements, he said, while apartment dwellers have retreated to abandoned Soviet-era bomb shelters that smell of sewage.

A lot of people have left,” Viktor said. “But my mother is here, and I can’t leave her.”

 

DeYoung reported from Washington. Karoun Demirjian in St. Petersburg and Alex Ryabchyn in Kiev contributed to this report.

 

 

Ukraine’s political crisis may lead to disintegration of its statehood – experts

 

July 25, 2014

by Tamara Zamyatina

ITAR/TASS

 

MOSCOW, July 25. /ITAR-TASS/. The West-encouraged Maidan in downtown Kiev – a symbol of Ukraine’s desire for integration with the European Union – has led the country to a power vacuum, economic collapse and a full-scale civil war, say Russian experts polled by ITAR-TASS.

The ruling coalition in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, broke up on Thursday, and parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk tendered his resignation.

Maidan is the name for downtown Kiev’s Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests. The words “Maidan” and “Euromaidan” are used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine that started when then-President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the association deal with the European Union last year.

“The factor of anarchy is taking effect in Ukraine. The Ukrainian statehood keeps fading. The process was triggered by a state coup organized on Maidan by European integration supporters with US approval on February 22 this year, when President Viktor Yanukovych was illegally removed from power,” Mikhail Delyagin, the director of the Globalization Problems Institute, told ITAR-TASS.

“Power institutions in Ukraine are more and more replaced by oligarchic influence groups. Private states are established in the country. This is well seen by the example of Dnepropetrovsk Region Governor Igor Kolomoisky, who owns industrial assets, a bank, mercenary battalions and buys the political system,” he said.

“These influence groups cannot solve social tasks by definition, because this is within the competence of state power institutions,” the expert said.

            Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigns from post of Ukrainian prime minister “The loss of statehood and sovereignty by Ukraine is explained by the West’s huge influence upon the country’s domestic and foreign policy pursued by invisible foreign specialists and military experts,” Delyagin said.

“In these conditions, the legitimacy of elections to the Verkhovna Rada, scheduled for October, will be determined not by the Ukrainian people but by the US Department of State, as it was during the recent presidential elections,” he said.

“The new Verkhovna Rada will be worse and more radical than the previous one, as its aim will be support for President (Petro) Poroshenko in his urge to spare no shells for destruction of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics,” the analyst said.

“The scenario to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s resignation are quite logical events, as Ukraine’s parliament did not approve the government’s draft laws. Poroshenko needs his own majority coalition in the Verkhovna Rada, and he will get it,” Center for Political Technologies (CPT) Director-General Igor Bunin told ITAR-TASS.

Yatsenyuk’s resignation on Thursday automatically means the resignation of the entire Ukrainian government. But the cabinet members will continue fulfilling their duties until a new coalition is formed in the Rada.

Earlier Thursday, the parliament did not support the government’s bill on 2014 budget sequestration, as well as a draft law on reforming the country’s gas transportation system.

“The problem of the Kiev authorities is not in organizing new parliamentary elections, but in the inability to conduct reforms in the interests of society, rebuild their corrupted mentality, when agreements are reached not in power institutions but on the sidelines and in bathhouses,” Bunin said, adding that the authorities apparently do not show any urge to make Ukraine a unified state.

“The war-struck Ukrainian state is trying to pretend that everything in the country is proceeding in the normal mode – there are debates in the Verkhovna Rada, flights of aircraft above Ukraine have not been terminated, and an association agreement with the European Union is being prepared for ratification,” CIS Countries Institute Director Konstantin Zatulin told ITAR-TASS.

“In reality, the breakup of the majority coalition in parliament and the resignation of premier Yatsenyuk are elements of the Ukrainian statehood’s agony,” Zatulin said.

“The elections to the Verkhovna Rada, scheduled for fall, have a rather odious hidden motive. The country’s Supreme Court is considering the issue of banning the activity of Ukraine’s Communist Party, whose faction in parliament was dissolved the day before. It means that the new parliament will have no communists, representatives of the Ukrainian East or Party of Regions deputies,” the expert said.

“Punishment of political opponents means that Ukraine, contrary to the opinion of Kiev’s friends in Washington and Brussels, is going further away from the principles of democracy. Instead of an attempt to consolidate society in Ukraine, the country sees the victory of the temptation to eliminate opponents at any cost – by both military and political means,” Zatulin said.

“By fall, a social and economic collapse will start in Ukraine. The country will have no funds to pay wages to public sector workers and military, problems will deteriorate in the sphere of the housing and communal services and the population will begin protests,” he said.

“This will be the prologue of further disintegration of the Ukrainian statehood,” Zatulin said.

“Ukraine’s statehood is teetering on the brink of breakup. The Kiev authorities apparently do not have an economic strategy. The continuing military operation in the country’s east is destructive for Ukraine,” Vyacheslav Nikonov, a deputy of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, told ITAR-TASS.

“Nevertheless, the United States is pushing the Kiev authorities toward a war with their own nation to the bitter end. This is a dead-end,” Nikonov said. “Premier Yatsenyuk realized that the path chosen by Kiev leads to a deadlock and was the first to leave the sinking ship.”

 

 Crisis in Ukraine

 

Violent anti-government protests, which started in November 2013 when Ukraine suspended the signing of an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia, resulted in a coup in February 2014.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and reunified with Russia in mid-March 2014. Crimea’s example apparently inspired residents of Ukraine’s southeastern regions who did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions to regain control over them. The operation has claimed hundreds of lives, including civilian.

Western-leaning billionaire businessman and politician Petro Poroshenko won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine set by the provisional Kiev authorities propelled to power during the February coup. He was sworn in and took office June 7.

Poroshenko signed the association deal with the EU on June 27, on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels. Poroshenko, dubbed “the chocolate king” because his structures control Ukraine’s Roshen confectionery manufacturer, had funded anti-government protests that led to February’s coup.

 

A Tale of Three Aircraft Tragedies

 

Russia Bashing: Hatred, Hysteria and Humbug

 

by Brian Cloughley 

 

“A civilian jet airliner shot down by US Navy surface to air missiles on 3 July 1988 as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz at the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, it was destroyed by the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished.”

The captain of the ship that killed 290 innocent people was given a high military decoration by the United States of America “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during his period in command.

The following report about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 sums up the attitude of the great majority of the west’s media and political administrations to the disaster in Ukraine. It is from a British newspaper that I used to respect, the Independent, which announced that “The 192 bodies found after the Flight MH17 plane crash have been bundled into black body bags and unceremoniously loaded into large refrigerated train cars, bound, it is understood, for the rebel heartland.” The paper didn’t have a reporter anywhere near the place, and shifted its shaky ground a bit when stating that “the bodies were reportedly moved by Ukraine’s emergency services who were working for the rebels under duress on Sunday.” It had to inject that “under duress” bit, but couldn’t avoid admitting that experts from official Ukrainian emergency services were involved.

If the bodies had been dealt with in the way the Independent claimed then of course there would be reason for disgust and condemnation. But it didn’t happen that way. The bodies were not “bundled” into body bags, nor were they “unceremoniously” loaded into the refrigerated wagons. But lots of media outlets followed the same propaganda line. The UK Daily Mail, which is admittedly a joke of a newspaper, screamed that “pro-Russian rebels left the victims’ bodies to decay for several days in body bags dumped around the crash site before eventually allowing them to be taken by train to Kharkiv airport.” Absolute rubbish.

According to Euronews, to which (with Al Jazeera, AFP, AP, Reuters and the BBC) I increasingly have recourse in order to obtain unbiased accounts of world affairs, it wasn’t like that at all. It reported that “the Ukrainian government announced that it had reached an agreement on the removal of bodies with representatives of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, the pro-Russian rebels who control the territory around the crash site” and that “International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) inspected the train before it departed. The train was made up of refrigerated wagons to preserve the remains of the victims.” The BBC recorded that “the remains . . . have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons,” and that “Dutch experts examined some of the 196 bodies kept in refrigerator wagons in Torez, some 15 km away from the crash site. ‘I think the storage of the bodies is of good quality,’ team leader Peter van Leit said after the inspection.” There was no drama about these reports — because there was no drama.

But it’s essential for the US-dominated west to manufacture anti-Russian fantasies, and the Independent (and other hate-Putin fraternities) recounted that there were “reports from the crash site of the rebels blocking investigations and even allowing the bodies to be looted.” There were no verified first-hand reports of any such thing, of course, but then there was a bit of embarrassment when a western reporter at the crash site, a particularly nauseating little fragment of filth called Colin Brazier, of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, was shown on camera removing personal items from the luggage of a dead passenger. (Why does Murdoch come in to almost everything that is slimy and disgusting?)donate now

It wasn’t exactly looting, of course, because no doubt Mr Brazier was well-equipped with personal items, but it must have been a little sad and upsetting for the relatives of victims to see on Murdoch television the set of keys and the toothbrush that he displayed. Make no mistake : the western media was at its most energetic — and hypocritical — in presenting the hideousness of the shooting-down of Flight MH17.

There is hypocrisy in the fact that western media castigated people — without evidence — for “looting” baggage while a strolling player of international television enjoyed a ghoulishly morbid dabble in suitcase contents. It must be pointed out that if local hooligans were acting as claimed by western media — forbidding entry of foreigners to the crash site — then how did the toothbrush-plucking Mr Brazier manage to get there for Sky News in order to titillate the world with displays of a dead person’s keys? Make no mistake : there are plenty like Brazier. And his only mistake was to misjudge audience reaction. An equally abominable Australian journalist, Phil Williams, was also pictured poking around in the belongings of the dead. There’s no limit to the depths to which these people will plunge. But it’s all in what they think is a good cause — the pillorying of Putin, the man who is trying to do his best for the citizens of his country which has lots of oil and gas and other goodies and thus presents an economic threat to Washington.

The ghoulish manufactured reportage about the aircraft’s flight recorders was another example of western media hysteria. The headlines fairly shrieked propaganda nonsense such as “Flight’s Black Box ‘Found and En Route’ to Moscow for Investigation.” But of course the two recorders were not on the way to Russia. They were found and handed over to officials of Malaysia Airlines, as was right and proper. No western reporter checked out the original story in spite of its being denied by the Russian government. Why should they? — They had got the headlines, and people believed their lies. The rebels handed over the recorders to Malaysia Airlines simply because they didn’t trust the Ukrainians not to interfere with them. But this wasn’t the sort of news that is acceptable to Russia-bashers.

The tsunami of malevolent anti-Russian propaganda surged on and still surges, thanks to such as the US Secretary of State John Kerry who is rarely at a loss for an intriguing declaration. (Remember his pronouncement of 2010 that “Syria will play a very important role in achieving a comprehensive peace in the region and in putting an end to the five decades of conflict that have plagued everybody in this region.”) He did his bit to whip up hatred by announcing that there was “extraordinary circumstantial evidence” showing that the missile that destroyed MH17 was “a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists.” But five days later, as reported by Associated Press, “intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the US had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.”

Kerry then jumped on the body bandwagon and declared on NBC that “What’s happening is really grotesque. There are reports of drunken separatist soldiers unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks, removing both bodies, as well as evidence, from the site.”

            What proof had he for saying that anyone was “unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks”? Or that the missile system had been transferred from Russia? The word “circumstantial” in relation to evidence means “indirect, inferred or conditional.” It is used by international political conmen like Kerry to make us believe they have proof about something they want us to believe. And the western media go out of their way to help them.

            There was even more hysteria whipped up by the media which shrieked that it had taken far too long to collect the bodies — four days — and that this was absolutely scandalous. Does anyone remember the bombing of Pan American Airways flight 103 in 1988? The plane exploded and fell out of the sky onto Lockerbie in southern Scotland, killing 259 people. As the Guardian newspaper later reported “Search teams would comb through much of the 2,190 square kilometres of the county with the help of helicopters, airplanes and even spy satellites. But they would be unable to locate the bodies of seven of the passengers, as well as about 10 per cent of the plane. And in some cases they may have arrived too late: 10 years after the catastrophe, the chief pathologist reported that two of the passengers had suffered serious but not fatal wounds. Possibly they froze to death on the ground before the search teams found them in a forest four days later.” Four days later. There was no media frenzy about that four day gap. Why was there media mania about the four days taken to find the MH17 bodies? — Because there is a well-orchestrated campaign of vindictive anti-Russian propaganda.

            The West thinks they’ve got Putin at last. The Sochi Winter Olympics were a great success, to the great vexation of governments in Washington, London, Warsaw and some other capitals, and the plebiscite in Crimea in which its citizens voted without a single instance of bloodshed to rejoin Russia (yes — rejoin; not a word you’ll have seen much in western papers), was similarly infuriating. But now there’s a chance to imply that Putin is responsible for everything that’s wrong in Ukraine, and especially the destruction of MH17, there is mega-lip-smacking in the corridors of conspiracy.

            As noted above, many western newspapers and other media squealed and screeched about how terrible it was that the MH17 bodies were “ bundled into black body bags and unceremoniously loaded into large refrigerated train cars” — but at the site of the Lockerbie disaster “the first corpses were brought to the town hall, but people ordinary villagers, just as in Ukraine then started bringing them to the hockey stadium because it was the only place large and cool enough to store so many bodies.” There was no “ceremony” in Lockerbie. How could there be in any such circumstances? But the Putin-bashers seize on anything and everything that they think could whip up hatred of Russia. The “pro-Russia separatists” are guilty of everything that’s nasty.

            Then Kerry leapt on the next bandwagon and pronounced that “it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists.”

Many of us remember the months before the US went to war on Iraq in 2003 when another US Secretary of State made similar pronouncements. We should remember that the then incumbent of that office declared “we have first hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.” He announced a lot more baloney about “rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents” —and so on — and there was not a scrap of proof or truth in any of it.  It was all lies.

            Why should we believe John Kerry’s rabble-rousing proclamations about anything to do with the stricken MH17? Where is his proof?

            Sure, many of the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine are vicious horrible people. Their cause might be reasonable but some of their actions are barbaric. Many are former members of the Ukraine army. They are the Taliban of Ukraine’s tribal areas. But their political leader Alexander Borodai said they had moved the bodies “out of respect for the families” because “we couldn’t wait any longer because of the heat and also because there are many dogs and wild animals in the zone.” That is an entirely practical reason, and would any of the ignorant and spiteful western critics have acted differently in such circumstances?

            Borodai denies that the rebels shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight, but of course he would, wouldn’t he? Just as the government of Ukraine denies having done it.

            So there must be a totally independent international inquiry into this ghastly disaster. It should be an investigation on the same lines and with the same terms of reference as the independent inquiry that took place following the shooting-down of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988. Or does my memory play tricks? Surely there must have been a full independent inquiry into that atrocity, as demanded, now, about MH17, by President Obama who has demanded a “a rapid and credible investigation” ? Or perhaps there wasn’t.

            Do you remember that international crime? It involved “a civilian jet airliner shot down by US Navy surface to air missiles on 3 July 1988 as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz at the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, it was destroyed by the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished.”

There was no attempt to find bodies after Iran Air 655 smashed into the waters of the Persian Gulf. There were no toothbrushes to be brandished by the squalid morbid media — and nor was there an independent inquiry. The captain of the ship that killed 290 innocent people was given a high military decoration by the United States of America “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during his period in command.

            It’s OK for the US to shoot down an Iranian airliner and kill 290 people — there’s never been an apology to the Iranian people for that war crime — but when there’s an opportunity to claim, to shriek, to propagandise at cyclone-level, that a disaster has occurred in which there just might be the tiniest chance to blame Russia, then there is clamour for investigation.

            Of course there must be an investigation. And let it take into account exactly where Washington stood in regard to the first rebellion in Ukraine, against the elected government, and precisely what it did to foment it. Let the whole gutter-gobbing sleazy tale be told. Let the culprits who killed the 298 innocent people on board MH17 be brought to justice. But without anti-Russian hysteria. Or western humbug. The hatred, of course, will remain.

 
U.S. sales to Russia have only risen since sanctions imposed

 

July 28, 2014

by John Moritz

McClatchy Washington Bureau 

 

WASHINGTON — In the months since the United States imposed sanctions on Russian businesses and close associates of President Vladimir Putin’s, an odd thing has happened: U.S. exports to Russia have risen.U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed.

The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis. Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions. Robert Kahn, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the rise in exports was evidence that Russian companies were stockpiling goods with the expectation that future sanctions would prevent U.S. companies from selling to their country.

The first round of sanctions, placed by President Barack Obama on March 6, targeted primarily individuals close to Putin and those linked to the invasion and annexation of Crimea. The most recent round, imposed earlier this month because of alleged Russian assistance to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine, was broader, including Gazprombank, the financial wing of Russia’s state-owned and largest natural gas company, along with energy companies Novatek and Rosneft.

The Obama administration said Monday that new sanctions were likely to be announced this week.Toughening sanctions could hurt American exports of machinery for the production of oil and gas _ crucial to Russia’s economic growth. Kahn predicted that the sanctions against Gazprombank and the other energy companies will cut into the stockpiling effect and might send Russia’s economy into a recession. “It affects quite powerfully their own ability to develop their (oil and gas) infrastructure for export,” Kahn said. Other trade specialists said the figures didn’t necessarily show a consistent trend.

With the Russian market for U.S. products relatively small _ just $5.1 billion total in the first five months of the year _ a slight increase in sales of a few big-ticket items, such as cars and airplanes, can drive trade-figure percentage increases higher.“If you take Boeing, they are tens of millions of dollars” per aircraft, said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington research center. “One order . . . makes a lot of difference.” Boeing delivered eight jets to Russian airlines this year through June.

The total price of civilian aircraft and parts sent to Russia this year through May was $1.39 billion. The types of planes purchased by Russian airlines, from the 737 and 777 families, cost $76 million to $320 million each last year, according to Boeing. Exports of cars and trucks, which totaled more than $1.2 billion last year, were up 95 percent in March, April and May compared with the previous three months. While in recent years automotive sales have risen in the spring, the increase is usually smaller. This year’s growth during the March through May period was 90 percent higher than last year’s.General machinery accounted for another $1 billion in exports in the first five months of the year, with sales fluctuating on a monthly basis.

 Sales of mining and oil and gas field machinery made up the largest portion, amounting to $227 million. To increase production in order to fill export demands _ in May, Putin signed a 30-year pipeline agreement with China that reportedly could be worth $400 billion in new gas sales _ Russia has looked to fracking and drilling within the Arctic, both processes that require more advanced equipment such as that used at American drilling sites.John Webb, the director of Russian and Caspian energy for IHS, a Colorado-based industry consulting and data company, said investment from U.S. energy companies that included Exxon Mobil and Halliburton had played a key role in the development of Russian offshore and shale oil fields.

Russia has a limited number of plants that manufacture the heavy-duty rigs, he said. “The potential rig shortage is a key factor,” Webb said of Russia’s ability to meet demand for oil and natural gas.In the wake of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine earlier this month, Congress has called for sanctions on specific sectors of Russia’s economy in an effort to squeeze the economy more. Last week, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Carl Levin, D-Mich. _ the chairs, respectively, of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees _ asked Obama to impose sanctions on Russia’s energy and financial sectors.“We understand and strongly support your efforts to coordinate the imposition of sanctions with our key European allies in order to ensure their maximum intended effect, and we encourage further cooperation in pursuit of this goal,” read the letter, which also called for the administration to consider labeling the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic a terrorist organization.Expanded sanctions are likely to face opposition from many business groups.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for one, argues that imposing sanctions that are tougher than those that European nations are willing to impose would hurt U.S. businesses without doing much to undercut the Russian economy. “The fact that the United Sates accounts for less than 5 percent of Russia’s international commerce will limit the sanctions’ impact on Russian policy,” Myron Brilliant, the head of international affairs at the Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.The European Union is Russia’s largest trading partner, supplying 41 percent of the country’s imports and receiving 52 percent of its exports, a total that amounted to almost $450 billion last year.

Leslie Beyer, the president of the Houston-based Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association, said there was concern among American companies that further sanctions would decrease access to important Russian markets. “The impact of unilateral sanctions would be felt acutely within the service, supply and manufacturing sector of the U.S. energy industry,” Beyer said in an email. “Obstruction to ongoing operations would hinder domestic job growth and simply open the door to foreign competitors.”While exports to Russia have been rising since new sanctions were implemented, imports have steadily fallen, lowering the U.S. trade deficit with Russia by 40 percent. “We are watching developments closely to determine what impact, if any, there will be to our ongoing business and partnerships in the region,” Boeing said in an emailed statement. “We won’t speculate on the potential impact of sanctions or any other potential government actions.” 

 

 

Study: Religious children are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality

 

July 29, 2014

by Annie Waldman

BBC News

 

Washington, DC -If you expose your child to Moses, Muhammad or Matthew the Apostle, are they at a disadvantage?

According to new research from Boston University, young children with a religious background are less able to distinguish between fantasy and reality compared with their secular counterparts.

In two studies, 66 kindergarten-age children were presented with three types of stories – realistic, religious and fantastical. The researchers then queried the children on whether they thought the main character in the story was real or fictional.

While nearly all children found the figures in the realistic narratives to be real, secular and religious children were split on religious stories. Children with a religious upbringing tended to view the protagonists in religious stories as real, whereas children from non-religious households saw them as fictional.

Although this might be unsurprising, secular and religious children also differed in their interpretation of fantasy narratives where there was a supernatural or magical storyline.

“Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional,” wrote the researchers.

“The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.”

Some commentators believe these findings show that religious children use their specific background to explain the magical elements of fantasy stories.

“By relating seemingly impossible religious events achieved through divine intervention (eg, Jesus transforming water into wine) to fictional narratives, religious children would more heavily rely on religion to justify their false categorisations,” writes Shadee Ashtari for the Huffington Post.

This blurring of reality and fantasy, even for children, is not always a good thing, says notable atheist blogger Hemant Mehta.

“Religion blurs the lines between fact and fiction. You only hope kids exposed to it figure it out soon enough,” he writes for Patheos.

In a provocative fashion, Mehta says that the study could be viewed as “evidence for those who believe religious indoctrination is a form of mental child abuse.”

But not all commentators saw this study as critical of a religious rearing.

“This study proves a benefit of religion, not a detriment, because research shows how imaginative and fictional thinking, fantasy play, aid in the cognitive development of children,” writes Eliyahu Federman in USA Today. “Raising children with fantastical religious tales is not bad after all.”

Although Federman believes that religion can sometimes lead to harmful thinking particularly within the world of science, it can hardly be viewed as a hindrance for developmental growth.

“Those claiming that belief in religious stories harms children should be interpreting research and science correctly,” he says.

“Not only is there benefit in allowing children to think imaginatively without forcing them into the mindset of perceived reality, but according to at least one study, raising children with religion also increases self-esteem, lowers anxiety, risk of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and dangerous sexual behaviour.”

But other commentators found that the implications of the research should not be taken so seriously.

“Are we really going to say that kids who are taught to believe the Bible is true are somehow developmentally delayed because they’re more likely, at age 5 or 6, to believe fantastical things?” writes Jenny Erikson for the Stir.

“Flip side to this equation could be that secular kids are taught to lose their sense of wonder and imagination at an earlier age than their Bible-believing friends.”

Prosblogion’s Helen De Cruz says that while there may be some truth to the results, what the study really shows is that the religious children know their Bible stories.

“The Bible characters are presented to them as historical, so of course they would be more likely to judge them as historical than children who didn’t hear about these characters,” she writes.

She says the subject deserves further study before drawing conclusions. For instance, would children exposed to scientific study at a young age be more inclined to believe pseudoscientific claims? Would Christian children be more likely to believe miracle narratives from other religions?

Only at that point could such inquiries be more than just fuel for a media-hyped religion debate, she contends.

 

 

Washington, D.C., October 9, 2008: “This heavily-suppressed story about the Iranian ship laden with highly radioactive waste, bound for the eastern end of the Mediterranean, is typical of how the government sits on inconvenient stories. They imposed a silence on the Forward Base Falcon disaster and have not posted all the U.S.dead in Iraq and now we have the interrupted saga of the MV Iran Deyanat being blocked from all regular media sites. The story, cut off initially by a dismissive article in late September in the ‘Long War Journal,’ a “very friendly government (DoD) entity” was renewed by an article by Brian Harring at the beginning of October. It then got a tremendous reading around the world…in the millions…but never a word in our controlled press, or government-controlled sites like ‘Wikipedia’ basically controlled in toto by the CIA.

On August 21st, 2008, the Iranian MV Iran Deyanat, a 44468 dead weight tonnage carrier. that is  owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) – a state-owned company run by the Iranian military that was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for its false manifests and traffic in forbidden nuclear materials, was seized by Somali pirates to be held for their usual ransom.

The ship had set sail from Nanjing, China, July 28, 2008  

The Old Nanking Port of Nanjing is the largest inland port in China, yearly reaching 108.59 million tons in 2007. The port area is 98 kilometers (61 mi) in length and has 64 berths including 16 berths for ships with a tonnage of more than 10,000. Nanjing is also the biggest container port along the Yangtze River; in March 2004, the one million container-capacity base, Longtan Containers Port Area opened, further consolidating Nanjing as the leading port in the region.

 During her stay at Nanjing,  the MV Iran Deyanat was loaded primarily with eight cargo containers, lined with lead and with electronic locks. The 20 ft containers are  8’ wide, and carry a load of 48,060 lb per container. This special container cargo had a total load of 384,480 pounds which consisted of packaged of nuclear waste that originated at the Tianwan 1&2 Atomic plants from Jiangsu Province (built in 2007) Once the radiation death of many of the pirates (16) became known, reporters attempting to contact responsible officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State were told these officials refused to comment on any of the implications of the cargo. The ship’s manifest was falsified but the deadly cargo was supposed to be headed for Rotterdam and an unspecified “German client.”  

  Much of the story was covered in a London Times article which was subsequently removed from that paper’s archive and the initial story was tailored by the ‘Long War Journal,’ a website with close connections to the Department of Defense and the CIA. It tended to dismiss the entire question of a radioactive cargo and instead, discussed unspecified chemicals.

  Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain Combined Maritime Forces,  said the U.S.-led coalition patrolling the Gulf of Aden “does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region,”

    Russia said it will soon join international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast.However, it will conduct its operations independently, RIA-Novosti news agency reports Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky as saying . “We are planning to participate in international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast, but the Russian warships will conduct operations on their own,” he said.

     Russian nationals are frequently among the crews of civilian ships hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast, notes RIA-Novosti.

    At the beginning of June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat “acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”

   The American media has given no coverage of any kind to this incident,

   Russian sources have disclosed that when American Naval personnel, attached to the U.S. Fifth Fleet,  finally boarded the MV Iran Deyanat and took all of her crew, including the Iranian captain, into what was called “protective custody,” and while the opened cargo container containing Chinese atomic waste was being sealed and decontaminated, the bridge and the captain’s quarters were thoroughly searched.  An “intensive” interrogation of the initially recalcitrant captain plus documents obtained from his safe showed a truly horrifying picture to the trained naval intelligence people.

   The Deynant was not the only cargo ship to load containers of radioactive waste at Nanjing; and  two others had preceded her July, 2008 visit. The problem is that the captain did not know either the names of the two Iranian -controlled ships nor their destinations.

     His destination was the eastern end of the Mediterranean but it now appears that the ship was not intended to be blown up. Instead, the eight cargo containers were to be taken to the Israeli port of Haifa on the Mediterranean. Haifa is the largest of Israel‘s three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and cargo ships. Annually, 22 million tons of goods pass through the port..In 2007, the U.S. DHS’ CBP initiated a joint security agreement with Israel whereby U.S. agents, working with Israel, would develop and install programs to protect the ports from terrorist attacks..

    CBP’s Container Security Initiative, (CSI), is a cooperative effort with host country governments to identify and screen high-risk shipments before they leave participating ports. More than 80 percent of all cargo containers destined for U.S. shores originate in or are transshipped through 55 CSI ports in North, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

    CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade posed by the potential for terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI proposes a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United States.

 

    The initiative seeks to:

 

   Identify high-risk containers. CBP uses automated targeting tools to identify containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism, based on advance information and strategic intelligence.

 

  Prescreen and evaluate containers before they are shipped. Containers are screened as early in the supply chain as possible, generally at the port of departure.

  Use technology to prescreen high-risk containers to ensure that screening can be done rapidly without slowing down the movement of trade. This technology includes large-scale X-ray and gamma ray machines and radiation detection devices.

    If a cargo container ship sails from another port that has the U.S. –controlled CBP system, and does not stop at another port enroute, it is able to enter another port equipped with the CBP system and unload its cargo without interference.

    Let us say that a mythical ship, the Extreme Venture, picks up a cargo at an approved port and sails off to another port that is also approved. Again, if a country or entity wanting to take a dangerous cargo to the same port, it need only paint out its name, change its radio call signs, and using the methodology instituted by the U.S., enter, for example, the port of Haifa a day in advance of the real Extreme Venture. Having passed all the approved requirements, it can enter the harbor, proceed to an assigned dock, unload its containers onto waiting trucks and sail out of the harbor without let or hindrance. And the next day when the real Extreme Venture arrives, one can expect that the security people would be in a state of frenzy. By that time, the fake Extreme venture has put yet another name on her bows and stern, run up another flag and using shipping information easily available on the internet, become another innocent cargo ship among many.

    The American view, known to several other countries, is that as both the United States and Israel have been at the forefront of violent verbal attacks against, and threats of violence to, Iran, they are now the prime targets of what, at the worst case scenario, could amount to a commercial delivery of least 16 containers of deadly radioactive material, mixed with high explosives.

    One of the largest cargo container ports in America, Long Beach, California, has DHS inspection teams at work on a round the clock basis but because of the huge volume of traffic, only 2% of the cargo containers can be checked thoroughly at any given time. This means that should another Iranian cargo container, sailing under a false flag and with a false manifest, dock at Long Beach and offload her deadly cargo, there is a 98% chance that it could avoid any kind of inspection, be loaded onto waiting trucks and shipped to destinations all over the United States.

    It is extremely doubtful if the Bush administration would attack Iran but because they have been in loud support of an even louder and more threatening Israel, our useless President, [fully responsible for the deliberate removal of  vital controls over the American banking industry that has caused the boom-and-bust we are now paying for,] has, by his loud but empty threats against Iran, put millions of Americans at potential risk of a terrible death by radiation poisoning.

   This explains the stunned silence on the subject of the Deyanat affair and the tight blackout imposed on any news of her or the purpose of her cargo of powdered death.”

 

A Voice from the Past


            Washington, D.C., October 9, 2008: “This heavily-suppressed story about the Iranian ship laden with highly radioactive waste, bound for the eastern end of the Mediterranean, is typical of how the government sits on inconvenient stories. They imposed a silence on the Forward Base Falcon disaster and have not posted all the U.S.dead in Iraq and now we have the interrupted saga of the MV Iran Deyanat being blocked from all regular media sites. The story, cut off initially by a dismissive article in late September in the ‘Long War Journal,’ a “very friendly government (DoD) entity” was renewed by an article by Brian Harring at the beginning of October. It then got a tremendous reading around the world…in the millions…but never a word in our controlled press, or government-controlled sites like ‘Wikipedia’ basically controlled in toto by the CIA.

On August 21st, 2008, the Iranian MV Iran Deyanat, a 44468 dead weight tonnage carrier. that is  owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) – a state-owned company run by the Iranian military that was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for its false manifests and traffic in forbidden nuclear materials, was seized by Somali pirates to be held for their usual ransom.

The ship had set sail from Nanjing, China, July 28, 2008 

The Old Nanking Port of Nanjing is the largest inland port in China, yearly reaching 108.59 million tons in 2007. The port area is 98 kilometers (61 mi) in length and has 64 berths including 16 berths for ships with a tonnage of more than 10,000. Nanjing is also the biggest container port along the Yangtze River; in March 2004, the one million container-capacity base, Longtan Containers Port Area opened, further consolidating Nanjing as the leading port in the region.

 During her stay at Nanjing,  the MV Iran Deyanat was loaded primarily with eight cargo containers, lined with lead and with electronic locks. The 20 ft containers are  8’ wide, and carry a load of 48,060 lb per container. This special container cargo had a total load of 384,480 pounds which consisted of packaged of nuclear waste that originated at the Tianwan 1&2 Atomic plants from Jiangsu Province (built in 2007) Once the radiation death of many of the pirates (16) became known, reporters attempting to contact responsible officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State were told these officials refused to comment on any of the implications of the cargo. The ship’s manifest was falsified but the deadly cargo was supposed to be headed for Rotterdam and an unspecified “German client.” 

  Much of the story was covered in a London Times article which was subsequently removed from that paper’s archive and the initial story was tailored by the ‘Long War Journal,’ a website with close connections to the Department of Defense and the CIA. It tended to dismiss the entire question of a radioactive cargo and instead, discussed unspecified chemicals.

  Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain Combined Maritime Forces,  said the U.S.-led coalition patrolling the Gulf of Aden “does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region,”

    Russia said it will soon join international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast.However, it will conduct its operations independently, RIA-Novosti news agency reports Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky as saying . “We are planning to participate in international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast, but the Russian warships will conduct operations on their own,” he said.

     Russian nationals are frequently among the crews of civilian ships hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast, notes RIA-Novosti.

    At the beginning of June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat “acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”

   The American media has given no coverage of any kind to this incident,

   Russian sources have disclosed that when American Naval personnel, attached to the U.S. Fifth Fleet,  finally boarded the MV Iran Deyanat and took all of her crew, including the Iranian captain, into what was called “protective custody,” and while the opened cargo container containing Chinese atomic waste was being sealed and decontaminated, the bridge and the captain’s quarters were thoroughly searched.  An “intensive” interrogation of the initially recalcitrant captain plus documents obtained from his safe showed a truly horrifying picture to the trained naval intelligence people.

   The Deynant was not the only cargo ship to load containers of radioactive waste at Nanjing; and  two others had preceded her July, 2008 visit. The problem is that the captain did not know either the names of the two Iranian -controlled ships nor their destinations.

     His destination was the eastern end of the Mediterranean but it now appears that the ship was not intended to be blown up. Instead, the eight cargo containers were to be taken to the Israeli port of Haifa on the Mediterranean. Haifa is the largest of Israel’s three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and cargo ships. Annually, 22 million tons of goods pass through the port..In 2007, the U.S. DHS’ CBP initiated a joint security agreement with Israel whereby U.S. agents, working with Israel, would develop and install programs to protect the ports from terrorist attacks..

    CBP’s Container Security Initiative, (CSI), is a cooperative effort with host country governments to identify and screen high-risk shipments before they leave participating ports. More than 80 percent of all cargo containers destined for U.S. shores originate in or are transshipped through 55 CSI ports in North, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

    CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade posed by the potential for terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI proposes a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United States.

 

    The initiative seeks to:

 

  • Identify high-risk containers. CBP uses automated targeting tools to identify containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism, based on advance information and strategic intelligence.
  • Prescreen and evaluate containers before they are shipped. Containers are screened as early in the supply chain as possible, generally at the port of departure.
  • Use technology to prescreen high-risk containers to ensure that screening can be done rapidly without slowing down the movement of trade. This technology includes large-scale X-ray and gamma ray machines and radiation detection devices.
  • If a cargo container ship sails from another port that has the U.S. –controlled CBP system, and does not stop at another port enroute, it is able to enter another port equipped with the CBP system and unload its cargo without interference.

    Let us say that a mythical ship, the Extreme Venture, picks up a cargo at an approved port and sails off to another port that is also approved. Again, if a country or entity wanting to take a dangerous cargo to the same port, it need only paint out its name, change its radio call signs, and using the methodology instituted by the U.S., enter, for example, the port of Haifa a day in advance of the real Extreme Venture. Having passed all the approved requirements, it can enter the harbor, proceed to an assigned dock, unload its containers onto waiting trucks and sail out of the harbor without let or hindrance. And the next day when the real Extreme Venture arrives, one can expect that the security people would be in a state of frenzy. By that time, the fake Extreme venture has put yet another name on her bows and stern, run up another flag and using shipping information easily available on the internet, become another innocent cargo ship among many.

    The American view, known to several other countries, is that as both the United States and Israel have been at the forefront of violent verbal attacks against, and threats of violence to, Iran, they are now the prime targets of what, at the worst case scenario, could amount to a commercial delivery of least 16 containers of deadly radioactive material, mixed with high explosives.

    One of the largest cargo container ports in America, Long Beach, California, has DHS inspection teams at work on a round the clock basis but because of the huge volume of traffic, only 2% of the cargo containers can be checked thoroughly at any given time. This means that should another Iranian cargo container, sailing under a false flag and with a false manifest, dock at Long Beach and offload her deadly cargo, there is a 98% chance that it could avoid any kind of inspection, be loaded onto waiting trucks and shipped to destinations all over the United States.

    It is extremely doubtful if the Bush administration would attack Iran but because they have been in loud support of an even louder and more threatening Israel, our useless President, [fully responsible for the deliberate removal of  vital controls over the American banking industry that has caused the boom-and-bust we are now paying for,] has, by his loud but empty threats against Iran, put millions of Americans at potential risk of a terrible death by radiation poisoning.

   This explains the stunned silence on the subject of the Deyanat affair and the tight blackout imposed on any news of her or the purpose of her cargo of powdered death.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cleb texting

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