Archive for the ‘Max Blumenthal’ Category

‘Maddow’s Dots May Never Connect’: Left-Wing Author Blasts Trump … – Fox News Insider

Pence Hits Back at Dem Who Accused Him of Health Care ‘Evil’

‘Lose the Fake Robin Hood Shtick’: Bolling Blasts Bernie & Jane Sanders for FBI Probe

While many on the left continue to accuse President Trump and his administration of colluding with the Russians, one well-known progressive thinker said such actions hurt their cause.

Author Max Blumenthal said he’s skeptical of the Russia narrative, remarking that “Rachel Maddow’s dots may never connect.”

Maddow, an MSNBC host, has been one of the president’s top critics in the media when it comes to the Russia narrative.

Blumenthal called Trump the “apotheosis of a failed political establishment,” saying the Russia story is simply a cover for establishment Republicans and progressive Democrats to be able to avoid “do[ing] anything progressive.”

He accused both parties of “scandal-mongering” and criticized the left for abandoning their anti-war ideology just to attack the president.

He and Tucker Carlson discussed how some Democrats have advocated supporting insurgent elements in Syria for the sake of irritating Vladimir Putin.

Blumenthal, the son of former Clinton adviser Sid Blumenthal, warned such behavior on-the-whole will have “long-term consequences for the left in this country.”

Watch more above.

‘If You Work Your Butt Off and Pay Taxes…’: Kid Rock Offers Senate Platform

NAACP Leader: Evangelicals Praying With Trump ‘Theological Malpractice Bordering on Heresy’

Napoleon Dynamite? Watters Quizzes Jersey Beachgoers on Bastille Day

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‘Maddow’s Dots May Never Connect’: Left-Wing Author Blasts Trump … – Fox News Insider

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July 18, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris outrageously calls to ‘keep the number of Muslims down in any society’ – Raw Story

In language eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric of the fascist far right, New Atheist pundit Sam Harris has called for reducing the number of Muslims in society, warning on the January episode of his popular podcast, You cant have too many Muslims in your culture if you want it to remain enlightened.

On his program Waking Up, Harris echoed anti-refugee talking points and proposed figuring out some way to keep the number of Muslims down in any society, whether were honest about this or whether we do this covertly. Clearly its rational to want to do this.

I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? he added. It seems perfectly rational to say, we dont want any more.

Harris made these remarks in an interview with the British pundit and self-styled counter-extremism campaigner Maajid Nawaz. As AlterNets Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed havedocumented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists.

Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris proposal to limit the Muslim population in the West is not irrational; its not even inhuman.

Harris and Nawaz also bashed the left and called for more Western military intervention in the Middle East, despite it being the primary force drivingSalafi-jihadist violence and the refugee crisis.

Well-established history of bigotry

Sam Harris, who identifies as a liberal centrist, has previously said that the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe areactually fascists. He has a long history of anti-Muslim extremism, going so far as to claim we are at warwith Islam.

The popular leader of the so-called New Atheists a right-wing, pro-war segment of the larger secular movement has also openly stated, We should profile Muslimsor anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

The January episode of Harris podcast is not the first time he has flirted with racist talking points. It was soon followed by another episode in April,in which Harris advanced rhetoric that resembles the pseudoscientific race realism of white supremacists. Harris insisted that average IQ differs across races and ethnic groups, implying that people of African descent have lower IQs, while people of European descent are smarter.

Harris, who has also harshly criticized the Black Lives Mattermovement as irrational, staunchly maintains he is not racist, and has gone out of his way to condemn white supremacists. His IQ comments, however, were applauded by white nationalists and the rebranded fascist movement that calls itself the alt-right.

The April episode featured an extended interview with Charles Murray, a notorious right-wingacademic who did secret counterinsurgency work with the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. Murray also helped to create the racist system of mass incarceration, and he successfully campaigned to dismantle welfare programs.

In the January episode, both Harris and Nawaz praised another Murray: the neoconservative British writer Douglas Murray, who wrote a book titledThe Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, which laments that Europe is becoming lesswhite and Christian and calls for far-right anti-immigration policies as an antidote. Harris cited Douglas Murray multiple times, and referred to him as a mutual friend with Nawaz.

What is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society?

Sam Harris has a longtime habit of running away from his own words, accusing critics of taking his extreme statements out of context. This latest episode is no exception. Thus, the timestamps for comments quoted in this article show that they were quoted accurately and in context.

In a segment that begins at 1:11:00 in the January podcast episode, Harris made a lengthy argument for restricting Muslim migration into Western societies, using right-wing talking points drawn from those used to justify racial quotas in immigration centuries ago. Harris said his anti-immigrant bigotry was simply the gut reaction that I know millions upon millions of people are having, in response to attacks by Salafi-jihadist militants.

If you take a community of Muslims from Syria or Iraq or any other country on Earth and place them in the heart of Europe, you are importing, by definition, some percentage, however small, of radicalized people, or people who will be prone to radicalism at some future date where they just decide to start watching too many Anwar al-Awlaki videos, Harris said at 1:11:50. And again, this only happens to Muslims or people who are likely to become Muslim.

Harris went on, at 1:12:26: I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? It seems perfectly rational to say, we dont want any more. We have enough. And certainly increasing the percentage is not a help to anyone who loves freedom of speech and anything else, any of the other liberal values.

Its not worth the trouble, Harris continued. And if we can figure out some way to keep the number of Muslims down in any society, whether were honest about this or whether we do this covertly. Clearly its rational to want to do this.

This is where someone like Robert Spencer would say amen, I would presume, he added, referring positively to a far-right anti-Muslim extremist who was banned from traveling to the U.K. due to comments the British government said incite violence.

This is not an expression of xenophobia, Harris insisted. This is an expression of the implication of statistics and the fact that its only rational not to want to live in a world that looks more and more like Jerusalem at the height of the Intifada.

Nawaz agreed. Yes, he said at 1:13:33. Its not irrational; its not even inhuman, for people to react that way. He then proceeded to attack the political left.

Nawaz added that this xenophobia is natural: Its a very human response. People like familiarity. People like a sense of predictability around their environment and the culture that they expect others to adhere to. He claimed ideologues on the left are in denial about this natural bigotry.

Anti-Muslim double standard

Harris openly acknowledged in the podcast that he maintains a double standard against Muslims. In an attempt to shield himself from accusations of racism, Harris noted at 1:15:04 that if an Indian family moved next door, he would have no problem; he would in fact welcome them.

But if these new neighbors were Muslim, Harris said he would be concerned: What I worry about is bad beliefs.

Harris made it clear that his animus against Muslims is exceptional. He went out of his way to claim that there is an Islamic exceptionalism that Islam has uniquely bad special challenges other religions do not have. Nawaz said yeah in agreement.

Harris then, at 1:22:55, suggested that Germany could accept migrants from Spain and Portugal to be used as labor, but not from Muslim-majority countries.

The fundamental concern is that once you get a sufficient percentage of Muslims in any society, Harris explained at 1:23:09, the character of that community begins to change.

Its just a formula for religious oppression, getting enough Muslims in your society, however they got there originally, Harris continued. You cant have too many Muslims in your culture if you want it to remain enlightened.

Attacking antiracists and shieldings extremists

For holding extreme views like those he expressed on Harris podcast, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading monitor of hate groups in the U.S., has designated Maajid Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist.

The so-called alt-right a rebranding of white supremacy and neo-fascism has viciously attacked the SPLC for documenting its racist machinations. Harris and Nawaz opened the January episode vociferously condemning the SPLC, branding the group as fascist for creating a list of right-wing extremists. Nawaz suggested he would pursue legal action against the group over its criticism of his public statements, and accused the SPLC of defamation.

In the episode, Harris refused to criticize Robert Spencer (not to be confused with white nationalist Richard Spencer), the Islamophobia industry godfather who also appeared on the SPLCs anti-Muslim extremist list. Harris noted that Spencer is unjustly stigmatized, and saidhe does not want to speak ill of him.

Robert Spencer is a far-right fanatic who has advanced a number of outlandish conspiracies, including the myth that former president Barack Obama is secretly Muslim. As the SPLC highlighted in its listing, Spencer has condemned multiculturalism as heresy that will result in denigrating and ultimately destroying the Judeo-Christian West.

Spencer has glowingly endorsed numerous neo-fascist politicians, including the Netherlands Geert Wilders and Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen. He has also recommended the genocidal fantasy novelCamp of the Saints, also a favorite of Donald Trumps chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Amid his calls for fewer Muslims in the West, Sam Harris went out of his way to emphasize to listeners of his podcast that he opposes the term Islamophobia, insisting its very existence is mythical. But as usual, his own words contradict him.

This is Part I of a three-part series on Sam Harris and his allies.Stay tuned for more this week.

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris outrageously calls to ‘keep the number of Muslims down in any society’ – Raw Story

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July 18, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Al-Qaeda Propagandist Employed By CNN To Make Prize-Winning Syria Doc – Mintpress News (blog)

CNN is trying to distance itself from an al-Qaeda propagandist who helped the network create a documentary about the Syrian conflict. The mans ties to the network are just the latest in a series of scandals that have dealt a blow to the networks already tenuous grasp on credibility.

CNN is seeking to distance itself from Bilal Abdul Kareem, pictured here, a known propagandist for al-Qaeda, who was hired to create the networks award-winning documentary, Undercover in Syria. (Photo: Facebook)

ATLANTA CNN has had a difficult few weeks, with scandals ranging from false reporting in order to boost ratings to blackmailing a private citizen who created a meme lampooning the network. As a result, CNN has seen a massive drop in its prime-time ratings, suggesting that its viewership is shrinking amid the controversy.

Now, yet another controversy for the embattled network has come to light in the making of its award-winning Undercover in Syria documentary.

Related:Syrian Social Media All-Stars Spread Pro-War Propaganda In News & Social Media

The documentary revolves around CNN reporter Clarissa Wards undercover trip to extremist-held portions of Aleppo that pushed for Western intervention in Syria last year and placed the blame for the citys suffering on the Russian, Syrian and Iranian governments. After the documentary aired, Ward was invited by then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power to testify on her experiences in rebel-held Aleppo.

However, CNN hired a known member of the terror group al-Qaeda, Bilal Abdul Kareem, in order to obtain the on-the-ground footage used in the documentary and to assist Ward in gaining access to rebel territories, a feat that claimed the lives of other journalists. In addition, the network has recently sought to distance itself from its key source on the ground after the documentary started picking up awards.

Kareem, however, did not plan to have his key role in the making of the documentary go unnoticed. In June, he took to Twitter, writing that the piece I filmed w/ CNN (Undercover in Syria) won Overseas Press Club & Peabody awards but CNN forgot to mention me. But Im smiling!

Included in the tweet was a video of Kareem venting his frustration at the network in which he stated: This Undercover in Syria, you can Google it it won the prestigious Peabody Award, and it won the prestigious Overseas Press Club Award, which are basically the highest awards in journalism for international reporting. Now, [CNN] barely mentioned my name! Im telling you, somehow CNN must have forgotten that I was the one that filmed it, I guess they forgot that.

Given Kareems key role in filming the documentary, the fact that he was hardly mentioned in the Peabody Awards press release is certainly unusual. However, CNN likely didnt forget Kareem, but instead intentionally chose to exclude his name once the documentary gained fame, as Kareem is a known English-language propagandist for Jabhat al-Nusra, otherwise known as the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Kareem was not always an al-Qaeda propagandist. An American citizen from Mount Vernon, New York who later moved to Egypt, Kareem has a background in comedy and theater that proved useful following his hire by Saudi-funded Huda TV and the later creation of his own media group On The Ground News, which has focused on the Syrian conflict.

Bilal Abdul Kareem with the leader of Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo.

Kareem has been actively involved in the Syrian conflict for years. Middle Eastern news outlets, such as Al Arabiya, have stated that Kareem officially joined al-Nusra in 2012 and is known as the extremists publicist. According to reports, Kareem has stated that fighting in Syria is a religious duty, that anti-Assad forces in Syria are the first line of defense in fighting Shiites and that the desire of anti-Assad extremist groups in Syria is the formation of an Islamic state. Kareem has also interviewed Abdullah al-Muhaysini, the Saudi cleric recognized as al-Nusras religious leader, whom he praised as probably the most loved cleric in the Syrian territories today.

In addition, rebels in Syria who spoke to Max Blumenthal of Alternet confirmed that Kareem was a well-known member of al-Nusra and was commonly referred to as the American mujahid. A member of Kataib Thawar al-Sham told Blumenthal that Kareem had made several videos for the official YouTube channel of Jaish al-Fatah, the extremist coalition led by al-Nusra, and stated that Kareem used the alias Abu Osama for that work.

The militia member, who chose to use an alias in his interview with Blumenthal, stated that he himself had aided Kareem in making videos for the al-Nusra-affiliated YouTube channel Knowledge is Key. The videos frequently feature Salafi cleric Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, an ideological leader of extremists in Syria and a co-founder of al-Nusras rebranding into Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

While Kareem has denied being affiliated with al-Qaeda, stating in a Facebook video that I am not, nor have I ever been, nor do I need to be a part of al-Qaeda. I dont have any need for that, Kareems privileged access to al-Nusra members and territory suggests the opposite. Indeed, in the same video where he denies ties to al-Qaeda, Kareem states that the reason he has not faced the same dangers as other journalists in al-Nusra territory is because mutual respect exists between him and the terror group.

Then, last month, Kareem appeared on a special program on al-Muhaysinis Jihads Callers Center, where he was introduced as an American in Syria who is with the rebels and mujahideen. Al-Muhaysini personally welcomed him onto the program, stating: Greetings to our media man, the great innovator, Bilal Abdul Kareem!

With Kareem having been praised by al-Nusras religious leader as our media man just last month, his denial of ties to the group seems disingenuous at best. Kareems extensive ties to the terror group, more than the failing memories of CNN producers, is likely to blame for CNNs decision to largely omit his name from mention regarding the Undercover in Syria documentary.

CNNs confirmed ties with Kareem will only add to the networks growing list of problems in providing the American people with honest journalism.

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet


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Notorious 'New Atheist' Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to 'Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society'
AlterNet
As AlterNet's Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed have documented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists. Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris' proposal to limit …

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet

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RT America — July 07, 2017 RT USA – RT.com – RT

Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 01:49

CNN hires pro-Syrian Al-Qaeda propagandist, erases him from credits Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American living in regions of Syria controlled by the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, has been referred as “our media man” by top Al-Qaeda clerics. So why did CNN hire him to work on an undercover documentary project, then erase him from the credits? “They didn’t care and just wanted to further the regime change editorial line,” says author and investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who joins RT America’s Manila Chan to discuss his research into Kareem.

US coalition ‘looks the other way’ when ISIS takes cities journalist In the past few months, US-backed forces in Syria near At Tanf have attacked Syrian forces while claiming self-defense. Yet, they’ve done little fighting against Islamic State despite the United States only stated objective in Syria being to destroy the group, according to journalist Sharmine Narwani, who says the US has a history of looking the other way when Islamic State captures Syrian cities.

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Anti-Islamist chic Mondoweiss – Mondoweiss

Yesterday on the NPR show Fresh Air, Terry Gross hosted Haroon Moghul, discussing his memoir, How to Be a Muslim. Moghul is charming and intelligent. The book involves his struggle to reconcile a sophisticated American life with the traditional code he grew up with.

Moghul: I wanted to be Muslim, and I wanted to figure out a way to do that on my own terms.

Gross: Its so important for you to challenge the stereotypes that some Americans have of Islam the stereotype of like, you know, terrorism that in order to challenge those stereotypes, does that make it difficult for you to also challenge the parts of Islam that you dont like, you know, the dictators, ISIS?

Moghul: Its like walking a tightrope. How do you be publicly critical of a community and a religion that you love? And at a time when those identities are under attack, what does it mean to be sincerely critical of your own community?

Last year Bernie Sanders said theres a war for the soul of Islam, and no doubt he is right about this. A number of Arab societies have problems with dictators, as Gross points out. But what about the war for the soul of Judaism? Today a great number of Jewish institutions are committed to a militant nationalist ideology, Zionism, that is completely out of step with 21st century pluralist values, an ideology that roughly half of the people under Israels governance reject the non-Jews and that has no other devotees outside the intolerant rightwing Christian community, which ought to tell you something. But both Gross and Sanders remain committed to this traditional code, so they cant interrogate it. It really is much easier to see the mote in someone elses eye than the beam in your own.

The mainstream cant get enough of the anti-Islamist struggle. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and another Muslim woman lately gave testimony to Congress on Islamist oppression. A few days later they were featured on the New York Times op-ed page. The same page that employs a stable of Zionist columnists, and not an anti-Zionist in sight.

There really is something camp about all the anti-Islamist material in these venues. Because its not ours. We have our own crap to deal with militant religious nationalism and theres a war for the soul of Judaism over it but youd never know it from these leading media figures. Terry Gross has never featured Miko Peled or Max Blumenthal or Anna Baltzer or Alice Rothchild Jewish authors who are struggling with their communitys Zionist inheritance. The most important issue in Jewish political culture: swept under the rug. The New York Times cant go near this struggle either. Except to dis anti-Zionists.

Chris Hayes at MSNBC isnt much better, by the way. Hes from the Nation, and he knows the story about Palestine. But even as he brags about being open to rightwing Republicans

he cant find Alice Rothchild or Max Blumenthals phone number. Hayes has never to my knowledge had an anti-Zionist on air to talk about the war for the soul of Judaism. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the top execs at Comcast have Zionist bona fides, David Cohen having raised money for the Israeli army and for the effort to redeem the Jewish land of Israel? But of course. Over at Time Warner, a top exec has served as a speechwriter for Benjamin Netanyahu. No problem!

Speaking of the monoculture, Grosss guest, Haroon Moghul also works for a Zionist institution, the Shalom Hartman Institute. Though Moghul was careful to say hes not a Zionist.

One thing I do for Hartman, however, is I do teach courses on Islam and the Muslim world and share my perspective and Muslim and Palestinian perspectives on the conflict, again, not because I want my audience to necessarily agree with everything Im saying but simply to develop an appreciation for a narrative they may have never encountered. And I say that as someone whos studied the region academically, whos traveled throughout the region and feels deeply invested in the conflict.

Despite his deep investment, Gross asked him nothing about the Palestinian story yesterday. Monocultures are unstable, monocultures can disappear. There are too many oaks in the forests in upstate New York. There used to be too many chestnuts. A squirrel could go from Maine to Florida just leaping from one chestnut to another, it was said. Now theyre almost all gone. The same thing is going to happen to this anti-Islamist chic.

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July 8, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Fraud of the White Helmets. An Impressive Piece of … – Center for Research on Globalization

I actually forced myself to watch the documentaryThe White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that waspromoted asthe story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.

It is overall a very ., so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the rebels as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil.

It has beenreliably reported thatcelebrities like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton really like the White Helmets documentary and have promoted it with the understanding that it represents the truth about Syria, but it is, of course, not the whole story. The film, which was made by the White Helmets themselves without any external verification of what it depicts, portrays the group as heroic, an impartial, life-saving rescue organization of first responders. Excluded from the scenes of heroism under fire is the White Helmets relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of rebel opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground. Because of increasing awareness of the back story, there is now a growing movement to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revoke the Oscar based on the complete and deliberate misrepresentation of what the White Helmets are all about.

Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets havede factobecome a major source of eyewitness news regarding what has been going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists are quite rightly afraid to go. It is all part of a broaderlargely successful rebel effortto manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians.

White Helmets on Netflix (Source: Netflix)

The White Helmets have certainly saved some lives under dangerous circumstances but they have also exaggerated their humanitarian role as they travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. They have consistently promoted tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of thetotally falsebut propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called barrel bombs against civilians.

TheWhite Helmetswere a largely foreign creation that came into prominence in the aftermath of the unrest in Syria that developed as a result of the Arab Spring in 2012. They are currentlylargely fundedby a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including Britain and some European Union member states. The United States has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal hasexplored in some detailthe various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States.

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritterhas describedhow the White Helmets are not actually trained to do the complicated rescue work that they depict in their self-made videos, which have established their reputation by ostensibly showing them in action inside Syria, rescuing civilians from bombed out structures, and providing life-saving emergency medical care. As an expert in Hazardous Materials handling with New York Task Force 2 USAR team, Ritter reports that

these videos represent de facto evidence of dangerous incompetence or, worse, fraud The bread and butter of the White Helmets self-made reputation is the rescue of a victimusually a small childfrom beneath a pile of rubble, usually heavy reinforced concrete The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims.

Ritter also cites the lack of training in hazardous chemicals, best observed in the videos provided by the White Helmets regarding their activity at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th. He notes

As was the case with their rescues of victims in collapsed structures, I believe the rescue efforts of the White Helmets at Khan Sheikhun were a theatrical performance designed to impress the ignorant and ill-informed Through their actionsthe White Helmets were able to breathe life into the overall narrative of a chemical weapons attack, distracting from the fact that no actual weapon existed.

But perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that theyactively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have beennumerous photosof the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group has an excellent working relationship with a number of jihadi affiliates and is regarded by them as fellow mujahideen and soldiers of the revolution.

So by all means lets organize to revoke the White Helmets Oscar due to misrepresentation and fraud. It might even serve as a wake-up call to George Clooney and his fellow Hollywoodsnowflakes. But the bigger take-away from the tale of the White Helmets would appear to be how it is an unfortunate repeat of the bumbling by a gullible U.S. government that has wrecked the Middle East while making Americans poorer and less safe.

A group of moderates, in this case their propagandists, is supported with weapons and money to overthrow a government with which Washington has no real quarrel but it turns out the moderates are really extremists. If they succeed in changing regime in Damascus, that is when the real nightmare will begin for minorities within Syria and for the entire region, including both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which seem intent on bringing Bashar al-Assad down. And the truly unfortunate fact is that the Israelis and Saudis apparently have convinced an ignorant Donald Trump that that is the way to go so the situation in Syria will only get worse and, unless there is a course correction, Washington will again richly deserve most of the blame.

Featured image from The Unz Review

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Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war – Open Democracy

Stop The War march is September 2002 in London. Wikimedia/William M Connelley. Some rights reserved.

Jo Coxs tragically brief career as a Labour MP was cut short by Thomas Mair who, inspired by a far-right ideology, murdered her just over a year ago on 16 June 2016. The Labour MP left behind a husband and two young children aged four and five. During the trial, the MP for Batley and Spen was described by the judge as generous of spirit which was evident in the selfless concern she had for others even when facing a violent death. Brendan Cox described his wife as being driven by a very powerful sense of empathy and so when she would meet people who had a problem, she would be committed to dealing with that problem no matter how difficult or seemingly unsolvable.

Jo Cox was the embodiment of humanitarianism, having worked for several NGOs, most notably Oxfam but also Save the Children and the National Society for the Protection of Children. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, paid tribute to the Labour MPs deep commitment to humanity. This humanitarianism, her compassionate character and appalling murder seem to place Jo Coxs politics beyond criticism. But on how to intervene in Syria, are they?

Labour and Conservative hawks have invoked Jo Coxs memory to generate support for western military intervention in Syria and beyond. These powerful political interests, allied to Syrian rebels, use claims of genocide, human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis as trumps to win political debate and delegitimise opposition to war.

The most notable aspect of Jo Coxs tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria. From the Blairite wing of the Labour party, she worked with neoconservatives and other Conservative hawks to use claims of genocide to support taking humanitarian intervention on the side of the moderate rebels by establishing safe havens, the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel areas and support for the White Helmets.

At the time of her death, Jo Cox was working on a report with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (former principal adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff). This has been posthumously published by the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange asThe Cost of Doing Nothing: The price of inaction in the face of mass atrocities(January 2017). In this report, the Labour MP Alison McGovern, chair of Progress, the Blairite think tank, and Tugendhat argue in support of military intervention: a commitment by all parties to move in this direction would be a fitting legacy for our tireless, brave and humanitarian colleague, Jo Cox.

The report was due to be published on the day of the Chilcot inquiry on 6 July 2016, to counter growing British scepticism about foreign military interventions. The preface of the report was written by Dean Godson, director of Policy Exchange and a prominent British neoconservative. Professor John Bew, a founding member of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, also contributed. This organisation, established in 2005, is the leading think tank in support of military intervention. It also has a history of demonising Muslims.

Conservative hawks tend to emphasise less altruistic motivations for military intervention and can be more explicit about the implications of establishing supposedly humanitarian initiatives such as safe havens. Michael Weiss, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, argued inIntervention in Syria, published in December 2011, for the establishment of a safe area which should not only be used as a base for home-grown rebel military operations but as a political and communications hub for the Syrian opposition. Weiss added: Its role should be tantamount to the one played by Benghazi in helping the Libyan Transitional National Council topple the Gaddafi regime.

While Tugendhat favoured human rights and humanitarian military intervention, he wascritical of the human rights lawsthat constrained the actions of British soldiers, stating that judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed.

Imperialism and humanitarianism have a close historical association, imperialism was often justified as a humanitarian or civilising act.Tugendhat statedthat he and Cox wanted to elevate the role of the military as a force that can change lives for the better. He added: We wanted to show that Britains history of intervention, military and otherwise, is common to both our political traditions and has been an integral part of our foreign and national security policy for over two hundred years.

In the post-Cold War periodwar has become reinvented as humanitarian interventionto make it more palatable to sceptical western public opinion including the leftwing. During the nineties, leftists who had opposed the Vietnam War, the US interventions in Central America, and the nuclear arms race were seduced by human rights and humanitarian arguments for war. Kosovo in 1999 was depicted as the first humanitarian war and a model for future military interventions.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also justified as a humanitarian intervention. The disastrous consequences of that invasion and the exposure of the deceptions and calculations behind the war undermined humanitarian justifications for war. Some humanitarian organisations, most notably Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), became critical of the way powerful western states were using human rights and humanitarianism to justify war and imperialism.

In Afghanistan, NATO used humanitarian aid as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the local population. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, notoriously described NGOs as a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team. Humanitarian NGOs signed Afghanistan: A Call for Security described as agung-ho documentdemanding more robust NATO military action.

The intensification of Britains involvement in the good war in Afghanistan after 2006 was supposed to restore the reputation of the military after the bad war in Iraq.General David Richards, who was head of the British armed forces, reflected on the war in Afghanistan: in practice, we ended up killing a lot of people, destroying lots of bazaars and mosques. We absolutely knew it was not what we were there to do, and would not be helpful.

British public opinion defied cross-party support for the good war in Afghanistan and consistently opposed intervention from the start of the escalation of the war in 2006. The publics reluctance to suffer casualties joined with no-win outcomes to explain why deception and humanitarian arguments had to be deployed to reduce public misgivings.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that deception was used to justify and extend NATOs intervention in Libya 2011. Advocates of humanitarian intervention claimed that President Gaddafis forces, which were advancing on the rebels in Benghazi, would commit genocide against civilians another Srebrenica unless NATO aircraft intervened. In 2017,McGovern and Tugendhatargued that the Libyan intervention almost certainly saved tens of thousands from slaughter by Gaddafi and the current level of violence is nowhere near the genocide he threatened to unleash. The House of Commons supported military intervention on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 MPs to 13 (the latter included Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell).

TheHouse of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report on Libya, in September 2016, found that Gaddafis threat to civilians was overstated. This claim is backed up by academic research that suggests the regime was trying to negotiate and targeted rebels rather than civilians. The FAC argued, by the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.Jack Holland and Mike Aaronsonhave argued that the UKs political objective may well have been the removal of Gaddafi, but it was not astute to openly articulate it as such. President Obama was to describe post-intervention Libya as a shit show.

The Russians and Chinese argue that NATOs deception on Libya is why they are reluctant to support similar humanitarian action in Syria. The chaotic consequences of humanitarian intervention in Libya have underlined the ineffectiveness of military action already apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During her parliamentary career Jo Cox was a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria that urged stronger humanitarian military action in support of moderate rebels and against the Assad regime. Humanitarians often claim to be non-political or above politics. After all, who can be against humanitarianism, saving civilians and opposing “genocide? The key question is: who defines what these terms mean and what are their implications for policy? Compassion has too often been a cover for escalating war.

After all, who can be against “humanitarianism”, saving “civilians” and opposing “genocide”?

Jo Cox allied with Andrew Mitchell former Conservative International Development Secretary and Libya hawk to argue that Syriawas a case of genocide by comparing it to Bosnia and Rwanda. They presented war as a Manichaean struggle between the evil dictator Assad who is perpetrating a genocide on the Syrian people and the moderate rebels: never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again. Innocents are depicted as always the victims of Assad and not of the rebels but the rebels have also carried out atrocities.

The humanitarian proposal of a safe haven was effectively a call for the escalation of NATOs military involvement in Syria and risked a military confrontation with Russia. ForCox and Mitchell, a military component was part of an ethical response, but what was critical was that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission. Safe havens should be created to offer sanctuary from both Assad and ISIS. They argued that preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted. International law should be broken by ignoring Russias and Chinas veto on UN action.

So in December 2015 Jo Cox refused to support British involvement in the bombing of Syria because she thought this military action did not go far enough in support of moderate rebel groups. She opposed an ISIS first strategy because it would alienate moderate rebels. Although Jo Cox thought the invasion of Iraq was Labours darkest hour, she argued that this was because there was no follow up strategy, suggesting that such invasions could be successful. Elsewhere she argued that she opposed the Iraq war because the risk to civilian lives was too high, and their protection was never the central objective. Kosovo and Sierra Leone were successes, she argued, because civilian protection was key.

Jo Cox took a hard line in favour of Syrian peace negotiations aiming at the removal of Assad and a rebel victory rather than a diplomatic compromise that might end the violence. Western intransigence can encourage rebels to hold out on negotiations in hope of a Libyan-style NATO military solution. InFebruary 2016, Jo Cox and the German Green Party MP, Omid Nouripour, rejected US negotiations with Russia of a peace settlement in Syria in favour of a much more muscular European response. They added: the US seems intent on a peace settlement that will be dangerously unbalanced. Such is the determination to secure [a] deal at any cost that they are prepared to offer far too many concessions to Assad and their Russian allies. This undermines the Syrian opposition, who feel betrayed by the international community. It also diminishes the chance for a sustainable peace and relegates the protection of civilians virtually out of the conference room. If we dont stand up for them, nobody will.

Jo Coxs advocacy for the White Helmets in Syria follows from this convergence between humanitarianism and arguments to escalate the war on the side of ‘moderate rebels’ for war. She nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize for their rescue work in Syria and one third of her memorial fund is to be donated to them. The White Helmets appear to be a humanitarian organisation that is above politics and prepared to help Syrian people in distress regardless of their politics. Max Blumenthal, however, has uncovered evidence that the White Helmets are aligned to rebel groups. They were founded by a former British Army officer and are financially backed by western governments.The White Helmets leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and the public relations groups that back them. The British government has, reportedly, been involved inpropaganda campaignsin support of moderate rebel” groups.

The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading.

The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. Proposals for no fly zones, safe havens, humanitarian corridors, humanitarian access seem so reasonable and non-political that they conceal the highly politicised nature of asking NATO to take one side in a civil war, and the threat of escalation.

In 2012, the head of the US military, General Martin Dempsey, estimated that at least70,000 US servicemenwould be required to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Some experts have estimated that about 200,000 troops and perhaps several times that number would be needed for ‘peace enforcement’ in Syria or 300-500,000 for a full-scale invasion. The consequences of deeper military involvement became even more serious after September 2015 when Russian aircrafts were deployed to Syria, raising the prospect of a wider war.

President Obama opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria because it was an act of war that would involve attacking the Syrian air force and destroying its air defences, sophisticated defences designed to protect the country from the Israeli air force. Hillary Clinton, a key US Liberal hawk and then-Secretary of State, admitted privately that to achieve a no-fly zone youre going to kill a lot of Syrians because air defence systems were located in civilian areas. Protecting some civilians means that other civilians will die.

The former UK Foreign Secretary and military interventionist, William Hague, opposed the creation of safe havens which wasimpractical at best dangerous at worst. He argued that in Syria’s fluid battlefields, massive ground forces would be needed to defend any safe area from terrorist infiltration and short-range bombardment. The most thoughtful advocates of this policy, such as my old colleague Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Jo Cox, recognise this. Yet no one can say which country will provide the tens of thousands of troops that would be necessary, and be ready to reinforce them if necessary.

The west did take the side of moderate rebels early on in the Syrian war. In August 2011, after five months of the Syrian uprising, President Obama called for the removal of Assad and a transition to democracy. Together with its allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the west armed the opposition to Assad. At first they provided non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, but from at least 2012 the US was directly involved in training and arming Syrian rebels. The US spent millions of dollars andfailed to create a force of pro-western moderate rebels. In August 2012, the USDefence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagons intelligence arm, reported that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. It is believed that weapons supplied by the west and its allies to ‘moderate’ groups have been seized by more hard-line groups, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.

Syrian rebels have an incentive to provoke state repression in order to generate support for NATO military intervention which can be used to defeat Assad. The danger of local forces allying with western llberal hawks and neoconservatives to bring about military intervention was apparent during the Iraq invasion 2003. Iraqi exiles provided suspect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assured neoconservatives and liberal hawks that an invasion would be easy and popular.

The hawks claimed that the Syrian (and Libyan) uprisings were popular, democratic revolutions which made victory inevitable over President Assad. This encouraged the west to demand his removal from power, to arm rebels and miss opportunities for negotiations that might lead to accommodation. Only with the rise of ISIS and the deeper involvement of Russia has pragmatism won out over ‘wishful thinking’.

The military interventionists argue that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides were the result of the failure of western intervention. This involves the assumption that the simple application of military force will be successful. The key example of success is Kosovo where exaggerated claims of genocide were used to legitimise a humanitarian war in which NATO bombed from 15,000 feet, killed about 500 civilians without any NATO deaths. The effectiveness of military force is undermined by the subsequent failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya involved the use of deception to justify military intervention.

Jo Coxs compassion is not in question: but the consequences of so-called humanitarian military intervention can be catastrophic. These arguments demonise and criminalise the participants in war with the clear implication that, rather than negotiate, these wars should be fought until the enemy is defeated, which is when justice can be imposed. After the invasion of Iraq, David Kennedy, an academic lawyer and human rights activist, wrote inThe Dark Sides of Virtue(2004):

The generation which built the human rights movement focused its attention on the ways in which evil people in evil societies could be identified and restrained. More acute now is how good people, well-intentioned people in good societies, can go wrong, can entrench, support, the very things they have learned to denounce.

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Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war – Open Democracy

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John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy – AlterNet

Andriy Parubiy is one of the most notorious right-wing extremists in Ukrainian politics. A founder of the far-right Social-National Party of Ukraine, whose name and symbols were inspired by Germanys Nazi Party, Parubiy directed the street muscle in Kievs Maidan Square that drove the 2014 U.S.-backed coup against Ukraines democratically elected, Russian-oriented government.

In 2016, just two decades after founding a neo-fascist party that declared at its opening ceremony that it was the last hopeof the white race, of humankind as such, Parubiy leveraged his street cred to rise to the chairman of Ukraines parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

This June 15, two of the most influential Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, held court with Parubiy in Washington. The meeting was just the latest event exposing American support for Ukraines post-Maidan government as a cynical exercise in saber-rattling against Russia with little demonstrable concern for liberal democracy.

During his meeting with Ryan, Parubiy signed a memorandum of understanding emphasizing commitment to the U.S. Congress-Rada Parliamentary Exchange.

I was proud to join Speaker Parubiy to renew our interparliamentary ties with the Rada, Ryan declared in a statement published by his office. This mutually beneficial program fosters closer political, economic, and security relations between our legislatures.

Amid ongoing aggression from Russia, close coordination with the people and government of Ukraine is more important than ever, Ryan added. I appreciate Speaker Parubiys commitment to strengthening this critical partnership.

Sen. John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, likewise met with Parubiy, and said the two had a good meeting.

I’ll always stand for free & prosperous Ukraine, McCain wrote.

Unrepentant fascism

As a far-right leader, Andriy Parubiy played a critical role in pushing for the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 90s. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Parubiy founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, a neo-fascist party that borrowed Nazi ideology and Third Reich imagery like the Wolfsangel, which was its official symbol. The SNPU banned non-Ukrainians and established a violently racist paramilitary group called the Patriot of Ukraine.

Scholar Anton Shekhovtsov noted in a 2011 research paper on the “creeping resurgence of the Ukrainian radical right that, at its founding presentation ceremony in 1995, the SNPU proclaimed, In view of the prospects of mass degradation of people and entire nations, we are the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such. The neo-fascist party added, We must resolutely separate ourselves from the North-Eastern neighbour that is to say, Russia.

Parubiy led the Patriot of Ukraine for several years. As a standard bearer of his countrys ultra-nationalist forces, he forged friendly relations with neo-fascists like Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once inscribed a polemic he wrote with a tribute to Parubiy.

In 2004, Parubiy left the SNPU and its paramilitary wing in an attempt to rebrand himself as a more respectable far-right politician. The record Parubiy left behind, however, left little doubt about his fascist worldview.

Among Andriy Parubiys most memorable published writings is a book called View from the Right, which depicts Parubiy on the cover in a Nazi-style uniform.

Parubiy speaking at a rally in his Nazi-style uniform.

When asked in 2015 if he had reformed his extremist politics, Parubiy insisted his values remained unchanged.

I don’t think he changed his views, explained historian Grzegorz Rossoliski-Liebe in an email to AlterNet. Rather, he said, Parubiy has just adjusted them to his current positions.

Yes, he is a far-right nationalist politician, stressed Rossoliski-Liebe, who is a leading expert on far-right movements in Europe. The scholar noted that he interviewed Parubiy in 2006 for his landmark book on Stepan Bandera, a Nazi-collaborating Ukrainian fascist whose historical legacy has been rewritten by the new Western-aligned government, which lionizes Bandera as a hero.

In thebook, Rossolinski-Liebe noted that Parubiy (also transliterated as Parubii) was the leader of the Society to Erect the Stepan Bandera Monument. Parubiy considers Bandera “the most important person in Ukrainian history,” the historian wrote.

McCains visit with Parubiy this year was not the first time he has junketed to Kiev to pay homage to the countrys far-right forces. During the Euromaidan demonstrations that rocked Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, McCain met with Oleh Tyanhbok, the leader of the Svoboda party who had been expelled from his former party for calling on his countrymen to do battle with the Muscovite-Jewish mafia.

Soon after the meeting, McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy appeared on Maidan Square next to Tyanhbok. Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better! McCain proclaimed before the crowd of thousands.

When Parubiy left the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 2004, the Nazi-style political group did some rebranding of its own. It was renamed Svoboda and changed its symbol in an effort to seem less directly tied to Nazism.

Historian Anton Shekhovtsov warned in his 2011 research paper that the victory of Svoboda in 2009 regional elections seems to attest to the gradual revival of the radical right in Ukraine. He was correct; Svoboda went on to play a key role in Euromaidan and the 2014 coup, and today is an influential force in mainstream Ukrainian politics.

Legitimizing Ukraines rising extremists, damning democracy

Since the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraines democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has lurched far to the right and closer to the West. Extreme right-wing nationalists occupy some of the most powerful roles in the new government, which also adopted a new constitution.

These far-right figures include Vadym Troyan, a leader of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine organization, who became police chief of the province of Kiev under Prime Minister Ansenei Yatsenyuk, a billionaire oligarch. Ukraines interior minister, Arsen Akakov, had personally commissioned neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion, where Troyan served as deputy commander and whose members decorated their helmets with Nazi SS insignia and bore swastika tattoos and flags.

Through the Interior Ministry, Akakov has overseen an online blacklist designed to intimidate journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian terrorists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Called Myrotvorets, or Peacemaker, the online blacklist targeted some 4,500 journalists, including Western reporters like Ian Bateson, whom it dubbed a traitor for receiving accreditation from Russian separatists so he could enter the Donetsk region. In April 2015, Ukrainian writer Oles Buzina and former lawmaker Oleg Kalashnikov were killed after Myrotvorets leaked their personal information.

In the pro-Western Ukraine, Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera are revered as national heroes. Bandera was the commander of the wartime militia the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B), which fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. Despite his OUN-B militias role in the massacre of Jews and ethnic Poles during the war including one of the most brutal pogroms in history in the city of Lvov, where some 7,000 Jews were slaughtered a major boulevard in Kiev has been named for Bandera.

Each year since the Maidan revolution, Bandera has been commemorated in Kiev with a torchlit rally. So have the Ukrainian Cossacks, the authors of countless anti-Jewish pogroms.

Neo-Nazi militias and fascist self-defense units are running rampant in the new Ukraine, menacing local police, smashing communist-era memorials and even overturning elections results. As journalist Lev Golinkin wrote last year in the Nation, It is difficult to imagine any stable administration tolerating three years of such brazen challenges to its monopoly over the use of force, yet nearly all of the far rights actions have gone unpunished.

The second anniversary of the Maidan uprising saw central Kiev overtaken not by the youthful technocrats and hipster reformists lionized in the Western press, but by a cast of characters that journalist Anna Nemtsova described as uniformed militia from nationalist movements, war veterans, and some dubious characters with criminal records. Organized under the banner of the Revolutionary Right Force, the masked men got together and burned down a building they mistook for a local branch of the Russian-owned Alfa Bank.

The U.S. has made some weak attempts to pressure Ukraines government to respect the rule of law in eastern Ukraine and tamp down on corruption. However, McCain’s and Ryans good meeting with Parubiy revealed the extent to which Washington has cast aside any concern for democratic institutions and is willing to overlook open displays of violent Nazism in order to ratchet up the tension on Russias doorstep.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy – AlterNet

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‘Maddow’s Dots May Never Connect’: Left-Wing Author Blasts Trump … – Fox News Insider

Pence Hits Back at Dem Who Accused Him of Health Care ‘Evil’ ‘Lose the Fake Robin Hood Shtick’: Bolling Blasts Bernie & Jane Sanders for FBI Probe While many on the left continue to accuse President Trump and his administration of colluding with the Russians, one well-known progressive thinker said such actions hurt their cause. Author Max Blumenthal said he’s skeptical of the Russia narrative, remarking that “Rachel Maddow’s dots may never connect.” Maddow, an MSNBC host, has been one of the president’s top critics in the media when it comes to the Russia narrative. Blumenthal called Trump the “apotheosis of a failed political establishment,” saying the Russia story is simply a cover for establishment Republicans and progressive Democrats to be able to avoid “do[ing] anything progressive.” He accused both parties of “scandal-mongering” and criticized the left for abandoning their anti-war ideology just to attack the president. He and Tucker Carlson discussed how some Democrats have advocated supporting insurgent elements in Syria for the sake of irritating Vladimir Putin. Blumenthal, the son of former Clinton adviser Sid Blumenthal, warned such behavior on-the-whole will have “long-term consequences for the left in this country.” Watch more above. ‘If You Work Your Butt Off and Pay Taxes…’: Kid Rock Offers Senate Platform NAACP Leader: Evangelicals Praying With Trump ‘Theological Malpractice Bordering on Heresy’ Napoleon Dynamite? Watters Quizzes Jersey Beachgoers on Bastille Day

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris outrageously calls to ‘keep the number of Muslims down in any society’ – Raw Story

In language eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric of the fascist far right, New Atheist pundit Sam Harris has called for reducing the number of Muslims in society, warning on the January episode of his popular podcast, You cant have too many Muslims in your culture if you want it to remain enlightened. On his program Waking Up, Harris echoed anti-refugee talking points and proposed figuring out some way to keep the number of Muslims down in any society, whether were honest about this or whether we do this covertly. Clearly its rational to want to do this. I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? he added. It seems perfectly rational to say, we dont want any more. Harris made these remarks in an interview with the British pundit and self-styled counter-extremism campaigner Maajid Nawaz. As AlterNets Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed havedocumented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists. Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris proposal to limit the Muslim population in the West is not irrational; its not even inhuman. Harris and Nawaz also bashed the left and called for more Western military intervention in the Middle East, despite it being the primary force drivingSalafi-jihadist violence and the refugee crisis. Well-established history of bigotry Sam Harris, who identifies as a liberal centrist, has previously said that the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe areactually fascists. He has a long history of anti-Muslim extremism, going so far as to claim we are at warwith Islam. The popular leader of the so-called New Atheists a right-wing, pro-war segment of the larger secular movement has also openly stated, We should profile Muslimsor anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it. The January episode of Harris podcast is not the first time he has flirted with racist talking points. It was soon followed by another episode in April,in which Harris advanced rhetoric that resembles the pseudoscientific race realism of white supremacists. Harris insisted that average IQ differs across races and ethnic groups, implying that people of African descent have lower IQs, while people of European descent are smarter. Harris, who has also harshly criticized the Black Lives Mattermovement as irrational, staunchly maintains he is not racist, and has gone out of his way to condemn white supremacists. His IQ comments, however, were applauded by white nationalists and the rebranded fascist movement that calls itself the alt-right. The April episode featured an extended interview with Charles Murray, a notorious right-wingacademic who did secret counterinsurgency work with the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. Murray also helped to create the racist system of mass incarceration, and he successfully campaigned to dismantle welfare programs. In the January episode, both Harris and Nawaz praised another Murray: the neoconservative British writer Douglas Murray, who wrote a book titledThe Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, which laments that Europe is becoming lesswhite and Christian and calls for far-right anti-immigration policies as an antidote. Harris cited Douglas Murray multiple times, and referred to him as a mutual friend with Nawaz. What is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? Sam Harris has a longtime habit of running away from his own words, accusing critics of taking his extreme statements out of context. This latest episode is no exception. Thus, the timestamps for comments quoted in this article show that they were quoted accurately and in context. In a segment that begins at 1:11:00 in the January podcast episode, Harris made a lengthy argument for restricting Muslim migration into Western societies, using right-wing talking points drawn from those used to justify racial quotas in immigration centuries ago. Harris said his anti-immigrant bigotry was simply the gut reaction that I know millions upon millions of people are having, in response to attacks by Salafi-jihadist militants. If you take a community of Muslims from Syria or Iraq or any other country on Earth and place them in the heart of Europe, you are importing, by definition, some percentage, however small, of radicalized people, or people who will be prone to radicalism at some future date where they just decide to start watching too many Anwar al-Awlaki videos, Harris said at 1:11:50. And again, this only happens to Muslims or people who are likely to become Muslim. Harris went on, at 1:12:26: I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? It seems perfectly rational to say, we dont want any more. We have enough. And certainly increasing the percentage is not a help to anyone who loves freedom of speech and anything else, any of the other liberal values. Its not worth the trouble, Harris continued. And if we can figure out some way to keep the number of Muslims down in any society, whether were honest about this or whether we do this covertly. Clearly its rational to want to do this. This is where someone like Robert Spencer would say amen, I would presume, he added, referring positively to a far-right anti-Muslim extremist who was banned from traveling to the U.K. due to comments the British government said incite violence. This is not an expression of xenophobia, Harris insisted. This is an expression of the implication of statistics and the fact that its only rational not to want to live in a world that looks more and more like Jerusalem at the height of the Intifada. Nawaz agreed. Yes, he said at 1:13:33. Its not irrational; its not even inhuman, for people to react that way. He then proceeded to attack the political left. Nawaz added that this xenophobia is natural: Its a very human response. People like familiarity. People like a sense of predictability around their environment and the culture that they expect others to adhere to. He claimed ideologues on the left are in denial about this natural bigotry. Anti-Muslim double standard Harris openly acknowledged in the podcast that he maintains a double standard against Muslims. In an attempt to shield himself from accusations of racism, Harris noted at 1:15:04 that if an Indian family moved next door, he would have no problem; he would in fact welcome them. But if these new neighbors were Muslim, Harris said he would be concerned: What I worry about is bad beliefs. Harris made it clear that his animus against Muslims is exceptional. He went out of his way to claim that there is an Islamic exceptionalism that Islam has uniquely bad special challenges other religions do not have. Nawaz said yeah in agreement. Harris then, at 1:22:55, suggested that Germany could accept migrants from Spain and Portugal to be used as labor, but not from Muslim-majority countries. The fundamental concern is that once you get a sufficient percentage of Muslims in any society, Harris explained at 1:23:09, the character of that community begins to change. Its just a formula for religious oppression, getting enough Muslims in your society, however they got there originally, Harris continued. You cant have too many Muslims in your culture if you want it to remain enlightened. Attacking antiracists and shieldings extremists For holding extreme views like those he expressed on Harris podcast, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading monitor of hate groups in the U.S., has designated Maajid Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist. The so-called alt-right a rebranding of white supremacy and neo-fascism has viciously attacked the SPLC for documenting its racist machinations. Harris and Nawaz opened the January episode vociferously condemning the SPLC, branding the group as fascist for creating a list of right-wing extremists. Nawaz suggested he would pursue legal action against the group over its criticism of his public statements, and accused the SPLC of defamation. In the episode, Harris refused to criticize Robert Spencer (not to be confused with white nationalist Richard Spencer), the Islamophobia industry godfather who also appeared on the SPLCs anti-Muslim extremist list. Harris noted that Spencer is unjustly stigmatized, and saidhe does not want to speak ill of him. Robert Spencer is a far-right fanatic who has advanced a number of outlandish conspiracies, including the myth that former president Barack Obama is secretly Muslim. As the SPLC highlighted in its listing, Spencer has condemned multiculturalism as heresy that will result in denigrating and ultimately destroying the Judeo-Christian West. Spencer has glowingly endorsed numerous neo-fascist politicians, including the Netherlands Geert Wilders and Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen. He has also recommended the genocidal fantasy novelCamp of the Saints, also a favorite of Donald Trumps chief strategist Steve Bannon. Amid his calls for fewer Muslims in the West, Sam Harris went out of his way to emphasize to listeners of his podcast that he opposes the term Islamophobia, insisting its very existence is mythical. But as usual, his own words contradict him. This is Part I of a three-part series on Sam Harris and his allies.Stay tuned for more this week.

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Al-Qaeda Propagandist Employed By CNN To Make Prize-Winning Syria Doc – Mintpress News (blog)

CNN is trying to distance itself from an al-Qaeda propagandist who helped the network create a documentary about the Syrian conflict. The mans ties to the network are just the latest in a series of scandals that have dealt a blow to the networks already tenuous grasp on credibility. CNN is seeking to distance itself from Bilal Abdul Kareem, pictured here, a known propagandist for al-Qaeda, who was hired to create the networks award-winning documentary, Undercover in Syria. (Photo: Facebook) ATLANTA CNN has had a difficult few weeks, with scandals ranging from false reporting in order to boost ratings to blackmailing a private citizen who created a meme lampooning the network. As a result, CNN has seen a massive drop in its prime-time ratings, suggesting that its viewership is shrinking amid the controversy. Now, yet another controversy for the embattled network has come to light in the making of its award-winning Undercover in Syria documentary. Related:Syrian Social Media All-Stars Spread Pro-War Propaganda In News & Social Media The documentary revolves around CNN reporter Clarissa Wards undercover trip to extremist-held portions of Aleppo that pushed for Western intervention in Syria last year and placed the blame for the citys suffering on the Russian, Syrian and Iranian governments. After the documentary aired, Ward was invited by then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power to testify on her experiences in rebel-held Aleppo. However, CNN hired a known member of the terror group al-Qaeda, Bilal Abdul Kareem, in order to obtain the on-the-ground footage used in the documentary and to assist Ward in gaining access to rebel territories, a feat that claimed the lives of other journalists. In addition, the network has recently sought to distance itself from its key source on the ground after the documentary started picking up awards. Kareem, however, did not plan to have his key role in the making of the documentary go unnoticed. In June, he took to Twitter, writing that the piece I filmed w/ CNN (Undercover in Syria) won Overseas Press Club & Peabody awards but CNN forgot to mention me. But Im smiling! Included in the tweet was a video of Kareem venting his frustration at the network in which he stated: This Undercover in Syria, you can Google it it won the prestigious Peabody Award, and it won the prestigious Overseas Press Club Award, which are basically the highest awards in journalism for international reporting. Now, [CNN] barely mentioned my name! Im telling you, somehow CNN must have forgotten that I was the one that filmed it, I guess they forgot that. Given Kareems key role in filming the documentary, the fact that he was hardly mentioned in the Peabody Awards press release is certainly unusual. However, CNN likely didnt forget Kareem, but instead intentionally chose to exclude his name once the documentary gained fame, as Kareem is a known English-language propagandist for Jabhat al-Nusra, otherwise known as the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Kareem was not always an al-Qaeda propagandist. An American citizen from Mount Vernon, New York who later moved to Egypt, Kareem has a background in comedy and theater that proved useful following his hire by Saudi-funded Huda TV and the later creation of his own media group On The Ground News, which has focused on the Syrian conflict. Bilal Abdul Kareem with the leader of Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo. Kareem has been actively involved in the Syrian conflict for years. Middle Eastern news outlets, such as Al Arabiya, have stated that Kareem officially joined al-Nusra in 2012 and is known as the extremists publicist. According to reports, Kareem has stated that fighting in Syria is a religious duty, that anti-Assad forces in Syria are the first line of defense in fighting Shiites and that the desire of anti-Assad extremist groups in Syria is the formation of an Islamic state. Kareem has also interviewed Abdullah al-Muhaysini, the Saudi cleric recognized as al-Nusras religious leader, whom he praised as probably the most loved cleric in the Syrian territories today. In addition, rebels in Syria who spoke to Max Blumenthal of Alternet confirmed that Kareem was a well-known member of al-Nusra and was commonly referred to as the American mujahid. A member of Kataib Thawar al-Sham told Blumenthal that Kareem had made several videos for the official YouTube channel of Jaish al-Fatah, the extremist coalition led by al-Nusra, and stated that Kareem used the alias Abu Osama for that work. The militia member, who chose to use an alias in his interview with Blumenthal, stated that he himself had aided Kareem in making videos for the al-Nusra-affiliated YouTube channel Knowledge is Key. The videos frequently feature Salafi cleric Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, an ideological leader of extremists in Syria and a co-founder of al-Nusras rebranding into Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. While Kareem has denied being affiliated with al-Qaeda, stating in a Facebook video that I am not, nor have I ever been, nor do I need to be a part of al-Qaeda. I dont have any need for that, Kareems privileged access to al-Nusra members and territory suggests the opposite. Indeed, in the same video where he denies ties to al-Qaeda, Kareem states that the reason he has not faced the same dangers as other journalists in al-Nusra territory is because mutual respect exists between him and the terror group. https://twitter.com/walid970721/status/873609620346085376 Then, last month, Kareem appeared on a special program on al-Muhaysinis Jihads Callers Center, where he was introduced as an American in Syria who is with the rebels and mujahideen. Al-Muhaysini personally welcomed him onto the program, stating: Greetings to our media man, the great innovator, Bilal Abdul Kareem! With Kareem having been praised by al-Nusras religious leader as our media man just last month, his denial of ties to the group seems disingenuous at best. Kareems extensive ties to the terror group, more than the failing memories of CNN producers, is likely to blame for CNNs decision to largely omit his name from mention regarding the Undercover in Syria documentary. CNNs confirmed ties with Kareem will only add to the networks growing list of problems in providing the American people with honest journalism.

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July 14, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet

AlterNet Notorious 'New Atheist' Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to 'Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society' AlterNet As AlterNet's Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed have documented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists. Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris' proposal to limit …

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July 13, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

RT America — July 07, 2017 RT USA – RT.com – RT

Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 01:49 CNN hires pro-Syrian Al-Qaeda propagandist, erases him from credits Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American living in regions of Syria controlled by the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, has been referred as “our media man” by top Al-Qaeda clerics. So why did CNN hire him to work on an undercover documentary project, then erase him from the credits? “They didn’t care and just wanted to further the regime change editorial line,” says author and investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who joins RT America’s Manila Chan to discuss his research into Kareem. US coalition ‘looks the other way’ when ISIS takes cities journalist In the past few months, US-backed forces in Syria near At Tanf have attacked Syrian forces while claiming self-defense. Yet, they’ve done little fighting against Islamic State despite the United States only stated objective in Syria being to destroy the group, according to journalist Sharmine Narwani, who says the US has a history of looking the other way when Islamic State captures Syrian cities.

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July 9, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Anti-Islamist chic Mondoweiss – Mondoweiss

Yesterday on the NPR show Fresh Air, Terry Gross hosted Haroon Moghul, discussing his memoir, How to Be a Muslim. Moghul is charming and intelligent. The book involves his struggle to reconcile a sophisticated American life with the traditional code he grew up with. Moghul: I wanted to be Muslim, and I wanted to figure out a way to do that on my own terms. Gross: Its so important for you to challenge the stereotypes that some Americans have of Islam the stereotype of like, you know, terrorism that in order to challenge those stereotypes, does that make it difficult for you to also challenge the parts of Islam that you dont like, you know, the dictators, ISIS? Moghul: Its like walking a tightrope. How do you be publicly critical of a community and a religion that you love? And at a time when those identities are under attack, what does it mean to be sincerely critical of your own community? Last year Bernie Sanders said theres a war for the soul of Islam, and no doubt he is right about this. A number of Arab societies have problems with dictators, as Gross points out. But what about the war for the soul of Judaism? Today a great number of Jewish institutions are committed to a militant nationalist ideology, Zionism, that is completely out of step with 21st century pluralist values, an ideology that roughly half of the people under Israels governance reject the non-Jews and that has no other devotees outside the intolerant rightwing Christian community, which ought to tell you something. But both Gross and Sanders remain committed to this traditional code, so they cant interrogate it. It really is much easier to see the mote in someone elses eye than the beam in your own. The mainstream cant get enough of the anti-Islamist struggle. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and another Muslim woman lately gave testimony to Congress on Islamist oppression. A few days later they were featured on the New York Times op-ed page. The same page that employs a stable of Zionist columnists, and not an anti-Zionist in sight. There really is something camp about all the anti-Islamist material in these venues. Because its not ours. We have our own crap to deal with militant religious nationalism and theres a war for the soul of Judaism over it but youd never know it from these leading media figures. Terry Gross has never featured Miko Peled or Max Blumenthal or Anna Baltzer or Alice Rothchild Jewish authors who are struggling with their communitys Zionist inheritance. The most important issue in Jewish political culture: swept under the rug. The New York Times cant go near this struggle either. Except to dis anti-Zionists. Chris Hayes at MSNBC isnt much better, by the way. Hes from the Nation, and he knows the story about Palestine. But even as he brags about being open to rightwing Republicans he cant find Alice Rothchild or Max Blumenthals phone number. Hayes has never to my knowledge had an anti-Zionist on air to talk about the war for the soul of Judaism. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the top execs at Comcast have Zionist bona fides, David Cohen having raised money for the Israeli army and for the effort to redeem the Jewish land of Israel? But of course. Over at Time Warner, a top exec has served as a speechwriter for Benjamin Netanyahu. No problem! Speaking of the monoculture, Grosss guest, Haroon Moghul also works for a Zionist institution, the Shalom Hartman Institute. Though Moghul was careful to say hes not a Zionist. One thing I do for Hartman, however, is I do teach courses on Islam and the Muslim world and share my perspective and Muslim and Palestinian perspectives on the conflict, again, not because I want my audience to necessarily agree with everything Im saying but simply to develop an appreciation for a narrative they may have never encountered. And I say that as someone whos studied the region academically, whos traveled throughout the region and feels deeply invested in the conflict. Despite his deep investment, Gross asked him nothing about the Palestinian story yesterday. Monocultures are unstable, monocultures can disappear. There are too many oaks in the forests in upstate New York. There used to be too many chestnuts. A squirrel could go from Maine to Florida just leaping from one chestnut to another, it was said. Now theyre almost all gone. The same thing is going to happen to this anti-Islamist chic.

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July 8, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Fraud of the White Helmets. An Impressive Piece of … – Center for Research on Globalization

I actually forced myself to watch the documentaryThe White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that waspromoted asthe story of real-life heroes and impossible hope. It is overall a very ., so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the rebels as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil. It has beenreliably reported thatcelebrities like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton really like the White Helmets documentary and have promoted it with the understanding that it represents the truth about Syria, but it is, of course, not the whole story. The film, which was made by the White Helmets themselves without any external verification of what it depicts, portrays the group as heroic, an impartial, life-saving rescue organization of first responders. Excluded from the scenes of heroism under fire is the White Helmets relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of rebel opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground. Because of increasing awareness of the back story, there is now a growing movement to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revoke the Oscar based on the complete and deliberate misrepresentation of what the White Helmets are all about. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets havede factobecome a major source of eyewitness news regarding what has been going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists are quite rightly afraid to go. It is all part of a broaderlargely successful rebel effortto manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians. White Helmets on Netflix (Source: Netflix) The White Helmets have certainly saved some lives under dangerous circumstances but they have also exaggerated their humanitarian role as they travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. They have consistently promoted tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of thetotally falsebut propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called barrel bombs against civilians. TheWhite Helmetswere a largely foreign creation that came into prominence in the aftermath of the unrest in Syria that developed as a result of the Arab Spring in 2012. They are currentlylargely fundedby a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including Britain and some European Union member states. The United States has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal hasexplored in some detailthe various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritterhas describedhow the White Helmets are not actually trained to do the complicated rescue work that they depict in their self-made videos, which have established their reputation by ostensibly showing them in action inside Syria, rescuing civilians from bombed out structures, and providing life-saving emergency medical care. As an expert in Hazardous Materials handling with New York Task Force 2 USAR team, Ritter reports that these videos represent de facto evidence of dangerous incompetence or, worse, fraud The bread and butter of the White Helmets self-made reputation is the rescue of a victimusually a small childfrom beneath a pile of rubble, usually heavy reinforced concrete The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims. Ritter also cites the lack of training in hazardous chemicals, best observed in the videos provided by the White Helmets regarding their activity at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th. He notes As was the case with their rescues of victims in collapsed structures, I believe the rescue efforts of the White Helmets at Khan Sheikhun were a theatrical performance designed to impress the ignorant and ill-informed Through their actionsthe White Helmets were able to breathe life into the overall narrative of a chemical weapons attack, distracting from the fact that no actual weapon existed. But perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that theyactively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have beennumerous photosof the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group has an excellent working relationship with a number of jihadi affiliates and is regarded by them as fellow mujahideen and soldiers of the revolution. So by all means lets organize to revoke the White Helmets Oscar due to misrepresentation and fraud. It might even serve as a wake-up call to George Clooney and his fellow Hollywoodsnowflakes. But the bigger take-away from the tale of the White Helmets would appear to be how it is an unfortunate repeat of the bumbling by a gullible U.S. government that has wrecked the Middle East while making Americans poorer and less safe. A group of moderates, in this case their propagandists, is supported with weapons and money to overthrow a government with which Washington has no real quarrel but it turns out the moderates are really extremists. If they succeed in changing regime in Damascus, that is when the real nightmare will begin for minorities within Syria and for the entire region, including both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which seem intent on bringing Bashar al-Assad down. And the truly unfortunate fact is that the Israelis and Saudis apparently have convinced an ignorant Donald Trump that that is the way to go so the situation in Syria will only get worse and, unless there is a course correction, Washington will again richly deserve most of the blame. Featured image from The Unz Review

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war – Open Democracy

Stop The War march is September 2002 in London. Wikimedia/William M Connelley. Some rights reserved. Jo Coxs tragically brief career as a Labour MP was cut short by Thomas Mair who, inspired by a far-right ideology, murdered her just over a year ago on 16 June 2016. The Labour MP left behind a husband and two young children aged four and five. During the trial, the MP for Batley and Spen was described by the judge as generous of spirit which was evident in the selfless concern she had for others even when facing a violent death. Brendan Cox described his wife as being driven by a very powerful sense of empathy and so when she would meet people who had a problem, she would be committed to dealing with that problem no matter how difficult or seemingly unsolvable. Jo Cox was the embodiment of humanitarianism, having worked for several NGOs, most notably Oxfam but also Save the Children and the National Society for the Protection of Children. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, paid tribute to the Labour MPs deep commitment to humanity. This humanitarianism, her compassionate character and appalling murder seem to place Jo Coxs politics beyond criticism. But on how to intervene in Syria, are they? Labour and Conservative hawks have invoked Jo Coxs memory to generate support for western military intervention in Syria and beyond. These powerful political interests, allied to Syrian rebels, use claims of genocide, human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis as trumps to win political debate and delegitimise opposition to war. The most notable aspect of Jo Coxs tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria. From the Blairite wing of the Labour party, she worked with neoconservatives and other Conservative hawks to use claims of genocide to support taking humanitarian intervention on the side of the moderate rebels by establishing safe havens, the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel areas and support for the White Helmets. At the time of her death, Jo Cox was working on a report with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (former principal adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff). This has been posthumously published by the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange asThe Cost of Doing Nothing: The price of inaction in the face of mass atrocities(January 2017). In this report, the Labour MP Alison McGovern, chair of Progress, the Blairite think tank, and Tugendhat argue in support of military intervention: a commitment by all parties to move in this direction would be a fitting legacy for our tireless, brave and humanitarian colleague, Jo Cox. The report was due to be published on the day of the Chilcot inquiry on 6 July 2016, to counter growing British scepticism about foreign military interventions. The preface of the report was written by Dean Godson, director of Policy Exchange and a prominent British neoconservative. Professor John Bew, a founding member of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, also contributed. This organisation, established in 2005, is the leading think tank in support of military intervention. It also has a history of demonising Muslims. Conservative hawks tend to emphasise less altruistic motivations for military intervention and can be more explicit about the implications of establishing supposedly humanitarian initiatives such as safe havens. Michael Weiss, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, argued inIntervention in Syria, published in December 2011, for the establishment of a safe area which should not only be used as a base for home-grown rebel military operations but as a political and communications hub for the Syrian opposition. Weiss added: Its role should be tantamount to the one played by Benghazi in helping the Libyan Transitional National Council topple the Gaddafi regime. While Tugendhat favoured human rights and humanitarian military intervention, he wascritical of the human rights lawsthat constrained the actions of British soldiers, stating that judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed. Imperialism and humanitarianism have a close historical association, imperialism was often justified as a humanitarian or civilising act.Tugendhat statedthat he and Cox wanted to elevate the role of the military as a force that can change lives for the better. He added: We wanted to show that Britains history of intervention, military and otherwise, is common to both our political traditions and has been an integral part of our foreign and national security policy for over two hundred years. In the post-Cold War periodwar has become reinvented as humanitarian interventionto make it more palatable to sceptical western public opinion including the leftwing. During the nineties, leftists who had opposed the Vietnam War, the US interventions in Central America, and the nuclear arms race were seduced by human rights and humanitarian arguments for war. Kosovo in 1999 was depicted as the first humanitarian war and a model for future military interventions. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also justified as a humanitarian intervention. The disastrous consequences of that invasion and the exposure of the deceptions and calculations behind the war undermined humanitarian justifications for war. Some humanitarian organisations, most notably Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), became critical of the way powerful western states were using human rights and humanitarianism to justify war and imperialism. In Afghanistan, NATO used humanitarian aid as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the local population. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, notoriously described NGOs as a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team. Humanitarian NGOs signed Afghanistan: A Call for Security described as agung-ho documentdemanding more robust NATO military action. The intensification of Britains involvement in the good war in Afghanistan after 2006 was supposed to restore the reputation of the military after the bad war in Iraq.General David Richards, who was head of the British armed forces, reflected on the war in Afghanistan: in practice, we ended up killing a lot of people, destroying lots of bazaars and mosques. We absolutely knew it was not what we were there to do, and would not be helpful. British public opinion defied cross-party support for the good war in Afghanistan and consistently opposed intervention from the start of the escalation of the war in 2006. The publics reluctance to suffer casualties joined with no-win outcomes to explain why deception and humanitarian arguments had to be deployed to reduce public misgivings. There is considerable evidence to suggest that deception was used to justify and extend NATOs intervention in Libya 2011. Advocates of humanitarian intervention claimed that President Gaddafis forces, which were advancing on the rebels in Benghazi, would commit genocide against civilians another Srebrenica unless NATO aircraft intervened. In 2017,McGovern and Tugendhatargued that the Libyan intervention almost certainly saved tens of thousands from slaughter by Gaddafi and the current level of violence is nowhere near the genocide he threatened to unleash. The House of Commons supported military intervention on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 MPs to 13 (the latter included Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell). TheHouse of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report on Libya, in September 2016, found that Gaddafis threat to civilians was overstated. This claim is backed up by academic research that suggests the regime was trying to negotiate and targeted rebels rather than civilians. The FAC argued, by the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.Jack Holland and Mike Aaronsonhave argued that the UKs political objective may well have been the removal of Gaddafi, but it was not astute to openly articulate it as such. President Obama was to describe post-intervention Libya as a shit show. The Russians and Chinese argue that NATOs deception on Libya is why they are reluctant to support similar humanitarian action in Syria. The chaotic consequences of humanitarian intervention in Libya have underlined the ineffectiveness of military action already apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan. During her parliamentary career Jo Cox was a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria that urged stronger humanitarian military action in support of moderate rebels and against the Assad regime. Humanitarians often claim to be non-political or above politics. After all, who can be against humanitarianism, saving civilians and opposing “genocide? The key question is: who defines what these terms mean and what are their implications for policy? Compassion has too often been a cover for escalating war. After all, who can be against “humanitarianism”, saving “civilians” and opposing “genocide”? Jo Cox allied with Andrew Mitchell former Conservative International Development Secretary and Libya hawk to argue that Syriawas a case of genocide by comparing it to Bosnia and Rwanda. They presented war as a Manichaean struggle between the evil dictator Assad who is perpetrating a genocide on the Syrian people and the moderate rebels: never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again. Innocents are depicted as always the victims of Assad and not of the rebels but the rebels have also carried out atrocities. The humanitarian proposal of a safe haven was effectively a call for the escalation of NATOs military involvement in Syria and risked a military confrontation with Russia. ForCox and Mitchell, a military component was part of an ethical response, but what was critical was that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission. Safe havens should be created to offer sanctuary from both Assad and ISIS. They argued that preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted. International law should be broken by ignoring Russias and Chinas veto on UN action. So in December 2015 Jo Cox refused to support British involvement in the bombing of Syria because she thought this military action did not go far enough in support of moderate rebel groups. She opposed an ISIS first strategy because it would alienate moderate rebels. Although Jo Cox thought the invasion of Iraq was Labours darkest hour, she argued that this was because there was no follow up strategy, suggesting that such invasions could be successful. Elsewhere she argued that she opposed the Iraq war because the risk to civilian lives was too high, and their protection was never the central objective. Kosovo and Sierra Leone were successes, she argued, because civilian protection was key. Jo Cox took a hard line in favour of Syrian peace negotiations aiming at the removal of Assad and a rebel victory rather than a diplomatic compromise that might end the violence. Western intransigence can encourage rebels to hold out on negotiations in hope of a Libyan-style NATO military solution. InFebruary 2016, Jo Cox and the German Green Party MP, Omid Nouripour, rejected US negotiations with Russia of a peace settlement in Syria in favour of a much more muscular European response. They added: the US seems intent on a peace settlement that will be dangerously unbalanced. Such is the determination to secure [a] deal at any cost that they are prepared to offer far too many concessions to Assad and their Russian allies. This undermines the Syrian opposition, who feel betrayed by the international community. It also diminishes the chance for a sustainable peace and relegates the protection of civilians virtually out of the conference room. If we dont stand up for them, nobody will. Jo Coxs advocacy for the White Helmets in Syria follows from this convergence between humanitarianism and arguments to escalate the war on the side of ‘moderate rebels’ for war. She nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize for their rescue work in Syria and one third of her memorial fund is to be donated to them. The White Helmets appear to be a humanitarian organisation that is above politics and prepared to help Syrian people in distress regardless of their politics. Max Blumenthal, however, has uncovered evidence that the White Helmets are aligned to rebel groups. They were founded by a former British Army officer and are financially backed by western governments.The White Helmets leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and the public relations groups that back them. The British government has, reportedly, been involved inpropaganda campaignsin support of moderate rebel” groups. The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. Proposals for no fly zones, safe havens, humanitarian corridors, humanitarian access seem so reasonable and non-political that they conceal the highly politicised nature of asking NATO to take one side in a civil war, and the threat of escalation. In 2012, the head of the US military, General Martin Dempsey, estimated that at least70,000 US servicemenwould be required to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Some experts have estimated that about 200,000 troops and perhaps several times that number would be needed for ‘peace enforcement’ in Syria or 300-500,000 for a full-scale invasion. The consequences of deeper military involvement became even more serious after September 2015 when Russian aircrafts were deployed to Syria, raising the prospect of a wider war. President Obama opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria because it was an act of war that would involve attacking the Syrian air force and destroying its air defences, sophisticated defences designed to protect the country from the Israeli air force. Hillary Clinton, a key US Liberal hawk and then-Secretary of State, admitted privately that to achieve a no-fly zone youre going to kill a lot of Syrians because air defence systems were located in civilian areas. Protecting some civilians means that other civilians will die. The former UK Foreign Secretary and military interventionist, William Hague, opposed the creation of safe havens which wasimpractical at best dangerous at worst. He argued that in Syria’s fluid battlefields, massive ground forces would be needed to defend any safe area from terrorist infiltration and short-range bombardment. The most thoughtful advocates of this policy, such as my old colleague Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Jo Cox, recognise this. Yet no one can say which country will provide the tens of thousands of troops that would be necessary, and be ready to reinforce them if necessary. The west did take the side of moderate rebels early on in the Syrian war. In August 2011, after five months of the Syrian uprising, President Obama called for the removal of Assad and a transition to democracy. Together with its allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the west armed the opposition to Assad. At first they provided non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, but from at least 2012 the US was directly involved in training and arming Syrian rebels. The US spent millions of dollars andfailed to create a force of pro-western moderate rebels. In August 2012, the USDefence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagons intelligence arm, reported that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. It is believed that weapons supplied by the west and its allies to ‘moderate’ groups have been seized by more hard-line groups, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. Syrian rebels have an incentive to provoke state repression in order to generate support for NATO military intervention which can be used to defeat Assad. The danger of local forces allying with western llberal hawks and neoconservatives to bring about military intervention was apparent during the Iraq invasion 2003. Iraqi exiles provided suspect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assured neoconservatives and liberal hawks that an invasion would be easy and popular. The hawks claimed that the Syrian (and Libyan) uprisings were popular, democratic revolutions which made victory inevitable over President Assad. This encouraged the west to demand his removal from power, to arm rebels and miss opportunities for negotiations that might lead to accommodation. Only with the rise of ISIS and the deeper involvement of Russia has pragmatism won out over ‘wishful thinking’. The military interventionists argue that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides were the result of the failure of western intervention. This involves the assumption that the simple application of military force will be successful. The key example of success is Kosovo where exaggerated claims of genocide were used to legitimise a humanitarian war in which NATO bombed from 15,000 feet, killed about 500 civilians without any NATO deaths. The effectiveness of military force is undermined by the subsequent failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya involved the use of deception to justify military intervention. Jo Coxs compassion is not in question: but the consequences of so-called humanitarian military intervention can be catastrophic. These arguments demonise and criminalise the participants in war with the clear implication that, rather than negotiate, these wars should be fought until the enemy is defeated, which is when justice can be imposed. After the invasion of Iraq, David Kennedy, an academic lawyer and human rights activist, wrote inThe Dark Sides of Virtue(2004): The generation which built the human rights movement focused its attention on the ways in which evil people in evil societies could be identified and restrained. More acute now is how good people, well-intentioned people in good societies, can go wrong, can entrench, support, the very things they have learned to denounce.

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy – AlterNet

Andriy Parubiy is one of the most notorious right-wing extremists in Ukrainian politics. A founder of the far-right Social-National Party of Ukraine, whose name and symbols were inspired by Germanys Nazi Party, Parubiy directed the street muscle in Kievs Maidan Square that drove the 2014 U.S.-backed coup against Ukraines democratically elected, Russian-oriented government. In 2016, just two decades after founding a neo-fascist party that declared at its opening ceremony that it was the last hopeof the white race, of humankind as such, Parubiy leveraged his street cred to rise to the chairman of Ukraines parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. This June 15, two of the most influential Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, held court with Parubiy in Washington. The meeting was just the latest event exposing American support for Ukraines post-Maidan government as a cynical exercise in saber-rattling against Russia with little demonstrable concern for liberal democracy. During his meeting with Ryan, Parubiy signed a memorandum of understanding emphasizing commitment to the U.S. Congress-Rada Parliamentary Exchange. I was proud to join Speaker Parubiy to renew our interparliamentary ties with the Rada, Ryan declared in a statement published by his office. This mutually beneficial program fosters closer political, economic, and security relations between our legislatures. Amid ongoing aggression from Russia, close coordination with the people and government of Ukraine is more important than ever, Ryan added. I appreciate Speaker Parubiys commitment to strengthening this critical partnership. Sen. John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, likewise met with Parubiy, and said the two had a good meeting. I’ll always stand for free & prosperous Ukraine, McCain wrote. Unrepentant fascism As a far-right leader, Andriy Parubiy played a critical role in pushing for the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 90s. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Parubiy founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, a neo-fascist party that borrowed Nazi ideology and Third Reich imagery like the Wolfsangel, which was its official symbol. The SNPU banned non-Ukrainians and established a violently racist paramilitary group called the Patriot of Ukraine. Scholar Anton Shekhovtsov noted in a 2011 research paper on the “creeping resurgence of the Ukrainian radical right that, at its founding presentation ceremony in 1995, the SNPU proclaimed, In view of the prospects of mass degradation of people and entire nations, we are the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such. The neo-fascist party added, We must resolutely separate ourselves from the North-Eastern neighbour that is to say, Russia. Parubiy led the Patriot of Ukraine for several years. As a standard bearer of his countrys ultra-nationalist forces, he forged friendly relations with neo-fascists like Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once inscribed a polemic he wrote with a tribute to Parubiy. In 2004, Parubiy left the SNPU and its paramilitary wing in an attempt to rebrand himself as a more respectable far-right politician. The record Parubiy left behind, however, left little doubt about his fascist worldview. Among Andriy Parubiys most memorable published writings is a book called View from the Right, which depicts Parubiy on the cover in a Nazi-style uniform. Parubiy speaking at a rally in his Nazi-style uniform. When asked in 2015 if he had reformed his extremist politics, Parubiy insisted his values remained unchanged. I don’t think he changed his views, explained historian Grzegorz Rossoliski-Liebe in an email to AlterNet. Rather, he said, Parubiy has just adjusted them to his current positions. Yes, he is a far-right nationalist politician, stressed Rossoliski-Liebe, who is a leading expert on far-right movements in Europe. The scholar noted that he interviewed Parubiy in 2006 for his landmark book on Stepan Bandera, a Nazi-collaborating Ukrainian fascist whose historical legacy has been rewritten by the new Western-aligned government, which lionizes Bandera as a hero. In thebook, Rossolinski-Liebe noted that Parubiy (also transliterated as Parubii) was the leader of the Society to Erect the Stepan Bandera Monument. Parubiy considers Bandera “the most important person in Ukrainian history,” the historian wrote. McCains visit with Parubiy this year was not the first time he has junketed to Kiev to pay homage to the countrys far-right forces. During the Euromaidan demonstrations that rocked Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, McCain met with Oleh Tyanhbok, the leader of the Svoboda party who had been expelled from his former party for calling on his countrymen to do battle with the Muscovite-Jewish mafia. Soon after the meeting, McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy appeared on Maidan Square next to Tyanhbok. Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better! McCain proclaimed before the crowd of thousands. When Parubiy left the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 2004, the Nazi-style political group did some rebranding of its own. It was renamed Svoboda and changed its symbol in an effort to seem less directly tied to Nazism. Historian Anton Shekhovtsov warned in his 2011 research paper that the victory of Svoboda in 2009 regional elections seems to attest to the gradual revival of the radical right in Ukraine. He was correct; Svoboda went on to play a key role in Euromaidan and the 2014 coup, and today is an influential force in mainstream Ukrainian politics. Legitimizing Ukraines rising extremists, damning democracy Since the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraines democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has lurched far to the right and closer to the West. Extreme right-wing nationalists occupy some of the most powerful roles in the new government, which also adopted a new constitution. These far-right figures include Vadym Troyan, a leader of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine organization, who became police chief of the province of Kiev under Prime Minister Ansenei Yatsenyuk, a billionaire oligarch. Ukraines interior minister, Arsen Akakov, had personally commissioned neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion, where Troyan served as deputy commander and whose members decorated their helmets with Nazi SS insignia and bore swastika tattoos and flags. Through the Interior Ministry, Akakov has overseen an online blacklist designed to intimidate journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian terrorists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Called Myrotvorets, or Peacemaker, the online blacklist targeted some 4,500 journalists, including Western reporters like Ian Bateson, whom it dubbed a traitor for receiving accreditation from Russian separatists so he could enter the Donetsk region. In April 2015, Ukrainian writer Oles Buzina and former lawmaker Oleg Kalashnikov were killed after Myrotvorets leaked their personal information. In the pro-Western Ukraine, Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera are revered as national heroes. Bandera was the commander of the wartime militia the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B), which fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. Despite his OUN-B militias role in the massacre of Jews and ethnic Poles during the war including one of the most brutal pogroms in history in the city of Lvov, where some 7,000 Jews were slaughtered a major boulevard in Kiev has been named for Bandera. Each year since the Maidan revolution, Bandera has been commemorated in Kiev with a torchlit rally. So have the Ukrainian Cossacks, the authors of countless anti-Jewish pogroms. Neo-Nazi militias and fascist self-defense units are running rampant in the new Ukraine, menacing local police, smashing communist-era memorials and even overturning elections results. As journalist Lev Golinkin wrote last year in the Nation, It is difficult to imagine any stable administration tolerating three years of such brazen challenges to its monopoly over the use of force, yet nearly all of the far rights actions have gone unpunished. The second anniversary of the Maidan uprising saw central Kiev overtaken not by the youthful technocrats and hipster reformists lionized in the Western press, but by a cast of characters that journalist Anna Nemtsova described as uniformed militia from nationalist movements, war veterans, and some dubious characters with criminal records. Organized under the banner of the Revolutionary Right Force, the masked men got together and burned down a building they mistook for a local branch of the Russian-owned Alfa Bank. The U.S. has made some weak attempts to pressure Ukraines government to respect the rule of law in eastern Ukraine and tamp down on corruption. However, McCain’s and Ryans good meeting with Parubiy revealed the extent to which Washington has cast aside any concern for democratic institutions and is willing to overlook open displays of violent Nazism in order to ratchet up the tension on Russias doorstep. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed


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