Sick Sophistry – BBC News On The Afghan Hospital ‘Mistakenly’ Bombed By The United States

In Media Lens ALERTS 2015

One of the defining features of the corporate media is that Western crimes are ignored or downplayed. The US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on the night of October 3, is an archetypal example.

At least twenty-two people were killed when a United States Air Force AC-130 repeatedly attacked the hospital with five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour, despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack. The hospital’s main building, which contains the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, was heavily damaged. Dave Lindorff noted:

‘the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.’

Lindorff added:

‘The AC-130 gunship is not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.’

Shockingly, MSF had already informed US military forces of the precise coordinates of the hospital in order to prevent any attacks. Indeed, the hospital is:

‘a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full [Afghan] government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable.’

MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was ‘intentionally targeted’ in ‘a premeditated massacre’.  It was, they said, a ‘war crime’. The organisation rejected US assurances of three inquiries – by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. Instead, MSF demanded an independent international investigation.

In the days following the attack, the US changed its official story several times. At one point, as Glenn Greenwald observes, the dominant narrative from the US and its Afghan allies was that the bombing had not been an accident, but that it had been justified because the Taliban had been using the hospital as a base; an outrageous claim that MSF vehemently rejected. It was even reported that an American tank had later forced its way into the hospital compound, potentially destroying evidence of the war crime that had just taken place.

Yes, the bombing was reported in the ‘mainstream’ media; sometimes with harrowing footage of ruined hospital corridors and rooms. Hospital beds were even shown where patients had burned to death. But the US bombing did not receive the extensive headline coverage and editorial outrage that it deserved.

If you are unsure of that, just imagine the response of the British media if it had been a Russian gunship that had bombed a hospital with the loss of 22 lives, despite pleas from doctors to call off the attack. Western leaders would have instantly condemned the Russian bombing as a ‘war crime’, and the corporate media would have taken their lead from the pronouncements coming out of the offices of power in Washington and London.

By contrast, we have not found a single editorial in any UK national newspaper condemning the US bombing of the hospital or calling for an independent investigation. This is one more example of the dramatic subservience of the corporate media to the state and indeed its long-term complicity in state crimes against humanity.

In the meantime, with nothing to say on Kunduz, the Guardian has found space to publish editorials onhoverboards and the Great British Bakeoff, as well as Guardian editor Katharine Viner’s ‘grilling’ of George Osborne at the Tory party conference. To compound the paper’s ignominy, it still proudly carries Tony Blair in its Comment section where it describes him merely as ‘a former British prime minister’, rather than the notorious and unpopular war criminal he so clearly is. That accurate description is only emphasised by the weekend’s revelations of a memo written by Colin Powell, then George Bush’s US Secretary of State, that Blair had pledged his support for a US invasion of Iraq fully one year in advance, even while telling Parliament and the country that a ‘diplomatic solution’ was still being sought.

 Sopel’s ‘Mistake’

On BBC News at Ten on October 15, 2015, BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel told viewers over footage of the ravaged Kunduz hospital that it had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’. Not intentionally bombed, as MSF were saying, but ‘mistakenly bombed’. BBC News were thereby adopting the Pentagon perspective presented earlier by General John Campbell, the US senior commander in Afghanistan, when he claimed that:

‘A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility’.

In fact, the US has done so before, many times. In November 2003, the first target of the huge American ground assault on Fallujah, following several weeks of bombing, was the city’s General Hospital. This was a ‘war crime’, Noam Chomsky noted, and it was even depicted on the front page of the New York Times, but without it being labelled or recognised as such by the paper:

‘the front page of the world’s leading newspaper was cheerfully depicting war crimes for which the political leadership could be sentenced to severe penalties under U.S. law, the death penalty if patients ripped from their beds and manacled on the floor happened to die as a result.’

Going further back in time, US veterans of the Vietnam war have reported that hospitals in Cambodia and Laos were ‘routinely listed’ among targets to be struck by American forces. In 1973, Newsweekmagazine quoted a former US army intelligence analyst saying that:

‘The bigger the hospital, the better it was’.

And now, in the case of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Associated Press reported that:

‘US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital’.

Moreover, it has since emerged that the American crew of the AC-130 gunship even questionedwhether it was legal to attack the hospital.

Our repeated challenges on Twitter to Sopel and his BBC News editor Paul Royall were ignored. Is this really how senior BBC professionals should behave when publicly questioned about a serious breach of impartiality? Simply deign not to answer?

However, one of our readers emailed Sopel and did extract a remarkable response from the BBC North America correspondent which was kindly forwarded to us.

Sopel wrote in his email:

‘At this stage whether the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz was deliberate or accidental is the subject of an investigation – and I know there are doubts about the independence of the inquiry – but what it most certainly WAS was mistaken. Given the outrage the bombing has provoked, the humiliating apology it has forced the US into, the PR disaster it has undoubtedly been, how can anyone describe it as anything other than mistaken? If I had used the word accidentally you might have had a point.’

But this is, at best, disingenuous nonsense from Sopel. Most people watching his piece, and hearing him say that the hospital had been ‘mistakenly bombed by the Americans’, would have assumed he meant that the Americans had not intended to bomb the hospital rather than that bombing the hospital was misguided.

As we saw above, the notion that US forces did not know the target was a hospital is the Pentagon propaganda claim, and is not the view of MSF. Moreover, it contradicts the evidence that was both available at the time of Sopel’s BBC News report and what has since come to light (that the US aircrew actually questioned the legality of the strike on a hospital). Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, told Associated Press that the US bombing was ‘no mistake’.

‘The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit’.

The rest of Sopel’s remarks in the exchange are irrelevant (the bravery of war journalists), verging on cringeworthy (his proud support of MSF with a standing order).

Sopel’s attempt to exploit ‘the outrage’, ‘the humiliating apology’ and ‘the PR disaster’ to justify his use of ‘mistakenly bombed’ is desperate sophistry. Is he really trying to say that a war crime is ‘mistaken’ because it is a ‘PR disaster’, requiring a ‘humiliating apology’?

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way that the killing of eight Afghan schoolboys by US-led troops in 2009 was a ‘mistake’? This was a ‘mistake’ that Nato brushed away with payments of $2,000 for each dead child, in a kind of macabre ‘fire sale’.

Perhaps the airstrike was a ‘mistake’ in much the same way as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in the eyes of Bridget Kendall, the BBC diplomatic correspondent. She declared on BBC News at Six:

‘There’s still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?’ (BBC1, March 20, 2006)

That the Iraq invasion was, in fact, an illegal and immoral war of aggression – indeed, the ‘supreme international crime’ judged by the Nuremberg standard of war crimes – was not a permissible description for BBC News.

But that is the ideological norm shaping corporate media output and ‘mainstream’ debate. Western political and military leaders may occasionally make ‘mistakes’ or ‘disastrous miscalculations’. But their essential intent is always honourable: to ‘keep the Taliban at bay’ (Sopel again), to destroy Islamic State or to ‘bring peace to the Middle East’.

We asked John Pilger to comment on Jon Sopel’s report for BBC News and his subsequent remarks on email. Pilger told us (via email, October 19, 2015):

‘Serious journalism is about trying to set the record straight with compelling evidence. What is striking about Jon Sopel’s report is that he offers not a glimpse of journalistic evidence to support his assertion that the US attack on the hospital was “mistaken” – thus calling into question facts presented by MSF: facts that have not been refuted and he makes no attempt to refute. Neither is the dissembling by the US military challenged by Sopel. Instead, he is “certain” the attack was mistaken. What is the basis of his “certainty”? He doesn’t say; and he clearly feels under no compulsion to say. Instead, in full defensive cry, he tells us what an experienced frontline reporter he is, implying that his word is enough. Well, I have reported more wars than Sopel has had White House briefings, and I know – as he knows – that journalism of this kind is no more than a feeble echo of the official line. He does reveal his agency by telling us – quite unabashed — that President Obama has “very little option” but to continue his campaign of destruction in Afghanistan. Some might call this apologetics; actually, it’s anti-journalism.’

Perhaps it is not surprising that the header photo at the top of Sopel’s Twitter page should show him listening respectfully to US President Obama. The tragic irony is that Obama, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has just committed a war crime in bombing Médecins Sans Frontières, the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

DC

Suggested Action

If you decide to contact a journalist in response to our alert, please keep the tone civil. We do not condone abusive language.

Jon Sopel, BBC North America correspondent
Email: jon.sopel@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @BBCJonSopel

Paul Royall, editor of both BBC News at Six and News at Ten
Email: paul.royall@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @paulroyall

Please forward any replies to us:
editor@medialens.org

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Canada: The Cover-Up and Theft of Another Election.

Harper fraude

The Memory Hole of Continuous Proven Fraud  over Nine Years

Canadians are within a few days of stopping or allowing the Harper regime to continue to destroy the democracy and life fabric of Canada. But the dots are taboo to connect. The PR-led opposition has joined the corporate media in a public stage ritual of forgetting. The endless lies, election cheats, and bullying abuses through nine years of PMO civil destruction go scot free.

The Harper regime has cheated or stole every election. Yet not even the Conservative robo-call fraud to deprive up to 500,000 citizens of their votes in the 2011 election has been raised in the official campaign. No-one on stage remembers any of it back to the first Harper theft of power in 2006, featuring the Harper-RCMP deal to falsely accuse the Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in criminal investigation just prior to the election. Nor is Harper’s violation of his own Election Act in calling the 2008 election and its massive illegal spending on attacks ads filling the airwaves with public hate just before the vote. All has been proven off the campaign stage, but all has been silenced on it. The regime’s near-daily record of lies, scandals and violations has gone the memory hole of the electoral campaign, with $54 million on hand for attack ads.

Nothing sticks because public information is repressed in every form by the Harper PMO, the corporate media publish only transient details and flattering pictures, and the mainstream parties silently submit to the rule of amnesia. Yet every destruction tracks back to the Mafia-like despotism of the Harper PMO whose rule of fear, division, lies, character assassination and public sector dismantling runs free with no connection on stage. Even as I write, Harper tells more public lies that “there are no cuts at the CBC” and that “marijuana is far more dangerous than tobacco’.

The Wheat Board clause is the addition replacing the gagging clause (which comes in enough). We may recall how the proven big liars and war criminals of the US Republican party getting re-elected there despite their crimes against democracy and law. Harper is the branch-plant version with more years allowed to strip the country’s public accountability and wealth to serve the rich. Constituencies of bigotry and greed provide the energies of attack always in motion.

From Fraud, War against Science and Dispossession of the Poor to tthe Niqab Sting

Fraud, war against public knowledge, and dispossession of the poor are the hallmarks of the Harper regime exposed in many forms off stage from an aroused Canadian public. But they are amnesiac in the official campaign. They continue with impunity and the tacit support of official opposition silence. The clear majority of citizens loathe the man destroying Canada’s common life substance and identity. But the pathological meaning is taboo to name on the public stage.

In the turning point of the election campaign that Harper was losing on the ground, national  attention was suddenly diverted to the veil rights of two indoctrinated women claiming duty to Allah and the Prophet to keep their faces hidden in citizenship ceremony. How could such a red herring reverse the Harper defeat overnight when not even the Koran prescribes veils?

Yet a feudal harem duty became solemnly claimed as a public right by the politically correct even in swearing citizen allegiance to Canada. Incredibly the leader of the Quebec stronghold of the opposition NDP took  the bait. Playing against the role that had been long fit up for him by the corporate press – the angry man – he donned the image of liberal tolerance. He stood up for the symbol of an ancient, foreign right of possession of women, and predictably alienated his Quebec support. Along with the NDP’s me-too neo-liberalism of “no deficit”, the party blew the national election lead into third place within days.

Public relations and political correctness are dear to marketing men and pollsters running the NDP too. But they do not work with citizens who dislike turncoats to neo-liberal dogma and are used to seeing people’s faces as fellow citizens.

Thus dragged into a stand enabling no-one’s life in the country, the campaign for the working people of Quebec and Canada became weak and alien – a betrayal of its voter base. In truth, the stand does not even protect the veiled immigrants. Their fathers and husbands can now demand the right of their proprietorship over them as a sacred right in Canada itself against long evolved citizen norms of openness and trust. Thus the entire Harper record of perpetual lies and harms against the common life interest of Canada disappeared into the memory hole over a false right serving no-one’s better existence in the country.

Thus a total diversion to a sectarian demand in citizenship oath itself succeeded. It completely switched the life-and-death of the 2015 election to an unconscious visceral plane where emotional knee-jerk was guaranteed – the master psych-op of the Harper regime. The fact that the issue is still before the courts known to rule against Harper over-stepping laws of every kind was ignored. But Harper rule won again by appeal to the knee-jerk unconscious of the masses.

This is in fact the crypto-fascist key of all Harper public appeal. Play the primeval fear card and step up PMO command to stop the fabricated danger to the country. Transnational attack dog Lynton Crosby, “master of the dark arts of dirty politics”, was on hand to orchestrate the diversion in the midst of a losing election. Simultaneously Harper’s-re-jigged Election Commission overrode the Election Act that says no non-Canadian may “induce anyone to vote” one way rather than another. Anything goes in this regime of corruption all the way down.

The Underlying Grammar of Amnesia and Illusion

The underlying deep structure of amnesia and illusion can be formulated in one sentence. National elections are increasingly reduced to a corporate market game of propagandas to sell one product rather others to targeted private-interest groups who will behave predictably as an aggregate as buyers of commodities for sale. The first premise here is that public intelligence does not exist, and the second is that any lie and fraud you can get away with is smart. .

No-one seems to see the entailment that the common life interest of citizens is ruled out a priori.Slogan rhetoric and partisan hype is all there is for the P-R managers of the game. “Middle class” can be asserted as vehemently by one party as the other with no meaning. The health, home and literacy of all citizens, not just the middle class having more money, is repelled by the marketing mind. Here the common interest is the latest opinion poll of selves with no facts involved.

The deciding force is private money, but this too is taboo to speak on the public stage. So is is the predictable  result. Those who control more money more fund the party that wins even it cumulatively destroys the collective life capital of society and world.

The party meant to oppose this refuses to say it nd the mass media never allow it into their ad vehicles. So the ‘left’ party buys in and presses everyone on its lists to give more money to pay corporate media for more ads. One X on a card at the end decides it all in the end. Yet ever more people cannot access even that.  This is the design of Harper’s Orwellian ‘Fair Elections Act’, excluding all those without an official identification resident address – in short, the poor and native citizens. Buttressing this fix of the election, Harper rule redefines electoral boundaries at the same time so that his party picks up an extra 22 seats, compared to the NDP and the Liberals adding six and two seats respectively. The riggings and frauds never stop.

In the dominant value system, the underlying formula is that more money in private pockets is the final good. Worship of riches that contribute no life function and increasingly pollute and deplete the world are kept out of public view. That the global gold baron patron of the Munk Institute debate been featured in this election is a metaphor of this regime’s total corruption. The instant institute becomes the private corporate ground for where Harper is willing to debate. No media or even opposition party reports that the Munk institute is a special recipient of many millions from Harper’s government, lavishes Tory front-men with rich company positions when they step down, helps to reset University of Toronto to a transnational corporate propaganda site, and causes continual human rights abuses in poor countries by its world-leading gold extractions from their lands. The right-wing audience repeatedly applauded Harper alone, and no mass media reported the fix.

This is one way in which the Harper regime reduces the country to a looting basin for borderless corporate market vehicles. His “economic record” never deviates from this outcome, but this again is taboo to say in the campaign. Mass ignorance rules along with absolute power to command. But no-one names the game. What distinguishes the Harper regime, from prior administrations is its war on public knowledge and democracy at every plane  – its market-fascist logic. But who thinks through the meaning of every step?  None is seen or connected on stage. Aan Orwellian propaganda field is the ocean to the voters and citizens surrounded by it.

As always in this totalizing corporate game, images are the only reality. Corporate media carry the only common messages the majority see. The truth becomes whatever sells.

Yet which contending party does not buy in?  For the Harper regime, taxes like death are bad by definition, and the more money in private pockets is the ruling public value. One meta law governs the war of movement – to feed without limit on the public purse and expropriate all life-serving programs outside private profit and control.

The Harper Corruption of Canada Spreads by the Taboo Against Naming It.

Even the official opposition with the most progressive tradition of the three major parties has played the corporate-ad game instead of naming the proven despot, liar, and fraud in the PMO.  As in BC in 2013, the NDP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by empty advertising logic with no life substance. And as with Jack Layton who first let the fanatic Harper in the door by attacking only Liberals in the 2006 debates, the NDP is too busy going after Liberals to expose the usurper destroying the country.

A narcissism of small differences prevails, with the Liberals now outflanking the NDP to the left. The NDP’s leader, Thomas Mulcair, has the capacities of an ace prosecuting attorney to expose the Harper regime as tyrannically corrupt. Yet there has been no mention of the Harper record of continual public lies, cheating, criminal behaviors, war-mongering, and – most lethal to democracy – stripping of public science, communications and accountability at every level.

Consequences follow. The Harper regime has not only torn up the Kyoto Protocol. It has closed down scientific monitorings of everything from freshwater fish and contaminants to unique carbon load detectors, fired 2000 federal scientists, shut down and destroyed public archives of fisheries and oceans, prohibited any public communication of scientific information by those remaining, and abolished habitat-protecting laws 99% of Canada’s waterways.

Not only Canada’s environment and environmental knowledge, laws and resources have been attacked non-stop by the Harper regime. It wages war against all life-protective intelligence and knowledgethat can recognize the disastrous consequences. Its master goal is to serve the runaway global corporate juggernaut that devours the world to maximize private money demand as the only value there is.

Try to think of an exception. The long train of lies, abuses, interferences, public information destructions, criminal appointments, violations of laws, and vengeful uses of the state beggars belief in its perversion of the democratic process. Even more deeply, the collective life capital bases on which every one of us depends from the atmosphere to the ocean bottoms to the rule of life-protective law and common knowledge are exactly what are targeted and defunded to turn all of government into more private market riches at the top.

Yet the near-daily Harper outrages have already come and gone with no connected tracking of them in the official campaign. So silenced have the public positions of the opposition parties been that a complicity under partisan appearances seems hard to deny. Yet we need to know the depth of the corruption that has spread into Canada’s very metabolism and marrow. Unconscious submission to the ruling game of corporate mass sales has become the way we decide how to live even if it increasingly destroys Canada and life on earth.

Tracking the Beast Not Named

We need to recall out of the memory hole of all that has been forgotten in the 2015 election what destruction Harper has wrought on Canada’s abilities to function as a democratic society and intelligent civilisation. In fact, his meta program is to destroy everything that cannot be bought and sold for private profit – the underlying fanatic goal that is not seen.

It includes what is not publicly tracked or connected – destroying the public post delivery and financially gutting the nation’s only public broadcaster CBC; attacking the prairie family farm by dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board; continuous gaggings of elected representatives; continual appointment of criminals to office; stripping Statistics Canada and the mandatory Canada Census that are the recording memory of the nation; destroying the country’s gun registry against provincial and law-enforcement requests; continual anti-union interference in collective bargaining; smearing of veteran advocates resisting abuse and dismissal of their federal ombudsman; tax agency attacks on venerable social charities not towing the Harper line; gag orders on any federal civil servant not controlled by partisan public relations officers; lying attack ads without remission on any opposition leader who may compete against Harper; putting protestors under blanket state surveillance with black lists of their leaders; covering up torture and lawless police and armed-force killings across continents; risking the lives of Canada’s foreign troops for Harper photo-ops (he forbids any photographers but his own at press conferences); continuously false cost estimates of public money for new institutional violence, dispossession and caging policies; falsification or disappearance of documents across jurisdictions; use of Government of Canada identifiers and publication channels for party propaganda including even government cheques, altogether costing over $700 million of taxpayer funds;  implicitly accepting bribes in return for public offices on the public purse for significant donors in every possible form of partisan pay-off; public contempt of parliament twice as prime minister with endless parliamentary abuses; fixed blocking of parliamentary and individual access to public information; silencing of the public service in every domain; forced loyalty oaths to political incumbents; omnibus bills that sneak through fascist-style overwhelming of any debate; secret trade deals that ruin the productive lives of countless thousands of citizens; dismembering Statistics Canada and lying about it;  arbitrary shut-downs of Parliament when convenient for continued rule; incessant interferences in independent bodies like the National Energy Board, the CRTC, the Integrity Office  and  – for reporting vast sums of illegal spending – the Parliamentary Budget Office itself.

As for foreign affairs, Harper’s attack-dog regime has been by far the most war-mongering administration in Canada’s history. It has declared without any evidence Iran as the “greatest threat in the world” while applaudingd the continuously war-criminal actions of the Israel state. It has led the NATO  bombing of once thriving Libya to irreversible ruin. It has jumped to recognise the violent and neo-Nazi-led coup in Ukraine and blame Russia for the resulting civil war and failed state. It has constructed endless false claims of Islamic terror threats and rushed to bomb in the Middle East to “stop ISIS” in ignorance of its Saudi-CIA funding, arming and creation. It has completely reversed Canada’s tradition as a peacemaker nation, voted off even the UN Human Rights Commission.

All follows the fascist pattern not named. Harper long ago gave notice of his readiness to commit the supreme crime under law in demand that Canada join the war-criminal bombing and genocide of Iraq on completely false pretexts in 2003. Here again, however, he has been given a free pass by the opposition parties in Parliament and on the 78-day campaign.

The Cover-Up Not Seen

Marketing elections run by private money for private money can override or silence all that a society needs for its better life. Once the corporate media control all perceptions to serve self-maximizing marketers from the top down with no common life interest binding across differences, no shared life value or ground can be seen.

If corporate-market PR machinations capture opposition parties themselves, there is no centre of gravity of the common good. There are only sales pitches to targeted consumers. Nothing else gets in. Since private money alone can buy the media time to pitch political products, the competition becomes over who has more money to buy ads.  That the election is won by those with most private money backing is an underling meaning that disappears into the frenetic contest to get more of it to win.  Nothing else is defined but more-money-needed in the 2015 campaign of the NDP even after all the evidence is in.

The shared life infrastructures of air to breathe, green space to enjoy and vocations to serve disappear from the conversation. Even the continuous frauds, lies, civil society destructions, and giveaways to the corporate rich are forgotten in this cover-up process not seen. Incredibly, no-one charges Harper for his proven record to destroy the very fabric of Canada’s democracy and capacity to govern for the public. It does not exist in this field of meaning. Only the memory hole remains on the campaign stage.

Do You Trust this Man? 

The electoral opposition to the Harper regime’s decade of society destruction and transfer of public wealth to the rich has one more big lie to consider. Just 12 days before the election, it was announced that the TPP (‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’) had been rammed through before the election and before Canadians or Parliament have had a chance even to read it. No matter. Harper proclaims he “is 100% certain that it is good for Canada and all Canadians”. All the terms and details remained secret and inaccessible. Not one of the factually certain costs to Canadians is admitted as an issue. No citizen or party and knows any more than allowed to be told to them. The Trade Minister refused to be interviewed.  All the certain life sacrifices of local economies, people’s secure livelihoods, food security, and vast new transportation pollution and carbon loads  are simply erased from the ledger. They do not exist to this mind-set.

The TPP was announced the day I complete this analysis. But already one can recognize that every step follows in the tracks of Harper’s absolutely unaccountable and fraudulent rule – unlimited central control, complete secrecy, exclusion of public information in every detail, silencing of everyone else around including his own party’s elected MP’s, worship of the transnational corporate system of ever more profit as infallible, omnipotent boast of knowing the future for all citizens, and a very big-lie core of all he proclaims.

One might say Harper is a fanatic beyond all precedent in Canada’s prime ministry, and a pathological liar by demand of the corporate market doctrine of which he is a creature. This is why the life-blind inner logic of what drives him is not available to his mind. What sustains him are the corporate media barons and the extreme right-wing business roundtables from which he graduates. This is why he must always have them around in debates, as at the Munk centre. They pump him on in the CEO-despotism and greed they all bow to that destroys the world.  The same happens across oceans in different variations. The TPP organizes corporate rule across the most distant continents into global dictatorship over all sovereign governments involved, over new and old unions of organized workers who can withdraw labour, over public policy shifts to serve people instead of endless foreign profits out of their countries, and over evolved recourses of democracy and  government by collective life need.

This is the covered up meaning of Harper’s certitude of better lives for all. What life-blind doctrine has ever been so mindlessly ignorant of the facts of human life and the common life support systems of our planet?  They simply do not exist to this corruption of mind. A borderless corporate market ever larger and more unaccountable to the public, human life and the biosphere itself is the God of the world destruction.

Masked in the absurd slogan of “free trade” which is free for none but transnational corporations – and why they always love it – no media challenges this deranged mind-set any more than its big advertisers. And the two mainstream parties are always funded by its agents.  This is why the evil consequences are always ignored even though they follow necessarily from these one-sided treaties of transnational corporate rights. These are the real certainties that even the money masters and  their servants cannot deny – that big transnational foreign corporations will always displace and ruin small and local businesses in every sphere they enter; that jobs and wages will always be lost, lower and less secure in the aggregate; that organized workers in unions will always be smashed or reduced further; that environmental restraints and regulations will always be eliminated if they do not conform to corporate rights to the profits they expect;  that no-one except corporate lawyers will be able to judge by secret tribunal operations accountable to no one or no international law whether a public policy is valid if a private corporation sues it at public expense; and that every penalty for not conforming to this corporate treaty mechanism, with no non-profit public body allowed to dispute it, is without upper limit of money punishment to be paid by the taxpayers of the country that has disobeyed the new global corporate rights as judged by the private and unelected corporate-lawyer tribunal made up of the same people who wrote the treaty in secret and without public debate.  

This is the already established format of the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ which no-one can truthfully deny, and this what Stephen Harper is “certain is good for Canada and Canadians” as he gives away Canada’s sovereignty and imposes still secret foreign terms on the country in the middle of an election. Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair has for the first time in this election stood against the job-destroying, hollowing-out system that Harper leads with big lies – just as Brian Mulroney did before him with NAFTA promising “jobs, jobs, jobs” when 500,00 secure manufacturing  jobs with living salaries and benefits were soon destroyed in fact.

The Harper regime has already lost 400,000 jobs under its watch. But the TPP will disemploy more than that when race-to-the-bottom Asian wages, safety, financial and environmental regulations are available to transnational corporations and banks to feed on at the expense of Canadian society, sovereignty, family security, youth opportunities and natural life and resources. This is the competition to the lowest denominators of life and life ruin that Harper adores as his ideal, ‘the free market’ of private corporate money sequence that override all else. .

Yet the real Canada beneath corporate-money functions sees through the endless lies and betrayals that are masked as “Conservative”. This worse-than-Mulroney despot and quisling of money power might come unstuck in his latest destruction of the common life bases of the country. Recall that this party of sell-out to private and transnational money powers ended up with two seats once the people caught on to the fraud.

Finally, The CIA Admits Covering Up JFK Assassination

cialogoBy Sophie McAdam

Suspicions that the CIA covered up JFK’s murder have finally been confirmed, according to an explosive Politico report out this week.  Fifty-two years after the President’s death, declassified documents show that the CIA were in communication with alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK’s murder in 1963, and they were monitoring his mail since 1959.

Not only that but John McCone, who was Chief of the CIA at the time, allegedly hid evidence from the Warren Commission, set up by Lyndon Johnson to investigate JFK’s assassination. The spymaster and other senior CIA officials are accused of withholding ‘incendiary’ information from the commission and therefore perverting the course of justice. The CIA has admitted this.

The Politico report is based on evidence given by CIA historian David Robarge. He has claimed the cover-up was intended to keep the Commission focused on “what the agency believed at the time was the best truth – that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” McCone directed the CIA to provide only “passive, reactive and selective” assistance to the Warren Commission, meaning the investigation was severely compromised and did not follow up any other leads which may have been crucial in the search for truth.

Robarge also believes that John McCone, who died in 1991, withheld vital information relating to various CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. The historian points out that these plots may well be linked to JFK’s assassination – there’s a strong chance his murder was a revenge attack for CIA operations in Cuba –  but McCone’s unwillingness to explore other potentialities outside of prime suspect Lee Harvey Oswald could have resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice.

JFK was America’s youngest ever and most charismatic President, and his death shocked the nation. Alternative murder theories are popular across the States: A 2013 poll found that only 30% of Americans believe Oswald shot JFK, and that he acted alone. 61% believed that others were involved in a conspiracy (see the embedded video to find out why).

David Robarge first published these exclusive claims in a secret internal CIA magazine in 2013. His claims have now been declassified and can be publicly accessed here on the George Washington University’s National Security Archive. Robarge has also written a biography of John McCone, but his book continues to be classified. What else might the historian have uncovered? Here’s hoping that the full truth of what happened in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day will very soon be common knowledge.

This article (Finally, The CIA Admits Covering Up JFK Assassination) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared

thumb73By Jeremy Malcolm

Today’s release by WikiLeaks of what is believed to be the current and essentially final version of the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn’t survive to the end of the negotiations.

Since we now have the agreed text, we’ll be including some paragraph references that you can cross-reference for yourself—but be aware that some of them contain placeholders like “x” that may change in the cleaned-up text. Also, our analysis here is limited to the copyright and Internet-related provisions of the chapter, but analyses of the impacts of other parts of the chapter have been published byWikiLeaks and others.

Binding Rules for Rightsholders, Soft Guidelines for Users

If you skim the chapter without knowing what you’re looking for, it may come across as being quite balanced, including references to the need for IP rules to further the “mutual advantage of producers and users” (QQ.A.X), to “facilitate the diffusion of information” (QQ.A.Z), and recognizing the “importance of a rich and accessible public domain” (QQ.B.x). But that’s how it’s meant to look, and taking this at face value would be a big mistake.

If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. That paragraph on the public domain, for example, used to be much stronger in the first leaked draft, with specific obligations to identify, preserve and promote access to public domain material. All of that has now been lost in favor of a feeble, feel-good platitude that imposes no concrete obligations on the TPP parties whatsoever.

Another, and perhaps the most egregious example of this bias against users is the important provision on limitations and exceptions to copyright (QQ.G.17). In a pitifully ineffectual nod towards users, it suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so, nor even offers U.S.-style fair use as a template that they might follow. The fact that even big tech was ultimately unable to move the USTR on this issue speaks volumes about how utterly captured by Hollywood the agency is.

Expansion of Copyright Terms

Perhaps the biggest overall defeat for users is the extension of the copyright term to life plus 70 years (QQ.G.6), despite a broad consensus that this makes no economic sense, and simply amounts to a transfer of wealth from users to large, rights-holding corporations. The extension will make life more difficult for libraries and archives, for journalists, and for ordinary users seeking to make use of works from long-dead authors that rightfully belong in the public domain.

Could it have been worse? In fact, yes it could have; we were spared a 120-year copyright term for corporate works, as earlier drafts foreshadowed. In the end corporate works are to be protected for 70 years after publication or performance, or if they are not published within 25 years after they were created, for 70 years after their creation. This could make a big difference in practice. It means that the film Casablanca, probably protected in the United States until 2038, would already be in the public domain in other TPP countries, even under a life plus 70 year copyright term.

New to the latest text are the transition periods in Section J, which allow some countries a longer period for complying with some of their obligations, including copyright term. For example, Malaysia has been allowed two years to extend its copyright term to life plus 70 years. For Vietnam, the transition period is five years. New Zealand is the country receiving the most “generous” allowance; its term will increase to life plus 60 years initially, rising to the full life plus 70 year term within eight years. Yet Canada, on the other hand, has not been given any transition period at all.

Ban on Circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM)

The provisions in QQ.G.10 that prohibit the circumvention of DRM or the supply of devices for doing so are little changed from earlier drafts, other than that the opposition of some countries to the most onerous provisions of those drafts was evidently to no avail. For example, Chile earlier opposed the provision that the offense of DRM circumvention is to be “independent of any infringement that might occur under the Party’s law on copyright and related rights,” yet the final text includes just that requirement.

The odd effect of this is that someone tinkering with a file or device that contains a copyrighted work can be made liable (criminally so, if wilfullness and a commercial motive can be shown), for doing so even when no copyright infringement is committed. Although the TPP text does allow countries to pass exceptions that allow DRM circumvention for non-infringing uses, such exceptions are not mandatory, as they ought to be.

The parties’ flexibility to allow DRM circumvention also requires them to consider whether rightsholders have already taken measures to allow those non-infringing uses to be made. This might mean that rightsholders will rely on the walled-garden sharing capabilities built in to their DRM systems, such as Ultraviolet, to oppose users being granted broader rights to circumvent DRM.

Alongside the prohibition on circumvention of DRM is a similar prohibition (QQ.G.13) on the removal of rights management information, with equivalent civil and criminal penalties. Since this offense is, once again, independent of the infringement of copyright, it could implicate a user who crops out an identifying watermark from an image, even if they are using that image for fair use purposes and even if they otherwise provide attribution of the original author by some other means.

The distribution of devices for decrypting encrypted satellite and cable signals is also separately proscribed (QQ.H.9), posing a further hazard to hackers wishing to experiment with or to repurpose broadcast media.

Criminal Enforcement and Civil Damages

On damages, the text (QQ.H.4) remains as bad as ever: rightsholders can submit “any legitimate measure of value” to a judicial authority for determination of damages, including the suggested retail price of infringing goods. Additionally, judges must have the power to order pre-established damages (at the rightsholder’s election), or additional damages, each of which may go beyond compensating the rightsholder for its actual loss, and thereby create a disproportionate chilling effect for users and innovators.

No exception to these damages provisions is made in cases where the rightsholder cannot be found after a diligent search, which puts the kibosh on ideas for the introduction of an orphan works regime that would cap remedies available against those who reproduce these otherwise-unavailable works.

One of the scariest parts of the TPP is that not only can you be made liable to fines and criminal penalties, but that any materials and implements used in the creation of infringing copies can also be destroyed (QQ.H.4(12)). The same applies to devices and products used for circumventing DRM or removing rights management information (QQ.H.4(17)). Because multi-use devices such as computers are used for a diverse range of purposes, this is once again a disproportionate penalty. This could lead to a family’s home computer becoming seized simply because of its use in sharing files online, or for ripping Blu-Ray movies to a media center.

In some cases (QQ.H.7), the penalties for copyright infringement can even include jail time. Traditionally, this has because the infringer is operating a business of commercial piracy. But under the TPP, any act of willful copyright infringement on a commercial scale renders the infringer liable to criminal penalties, even if they were not carried out for financial gain, provided that they have a substantial prejudicial impact on the rightsholder. The copying of films that are still playing in movie theaters is also subject to separate criminal penalties, regardless of the scale of the infringement.

Trade Secrets

The severity of the earlier language on trade secrets protection has not been abated in the final text. It continues to criminalize those who gain “unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system,” without any mandatory exception for cases where the information is accessed or disclosed in the public interest, such as by investigative journalists or whistleblowers.

There is no evident explanation for the differential treatment given to trade secrets accessed or misappropriated by means of a computer system, as opposed to by other means; but it is no surprise to find the U.S. pushing such a technophobic provision, which mirrors equivalent provisions of U.S. law that have been used to persecute hackers for offenses that would otherwise have been considered much more minor.

Top-Down Control of the Internet

ICANN, the global domain name authority, provoked a furor earlier this year over proposals that could limit the ability for owners of domain names to shield their personal information from copyright and trademark trolls, identity thieves, scammers and harassers.

The TPP has just ridden roughshod over that entire debate (at least for country-code top-level domains such as .us, .au and .jp), by cementing in place rules (QQ.C.12) that countries must provide “online public access to a reliable and accurate database of contact information concerning domain-name registrants.”

The same provision also requires countries to adopt an equivalent to ICANN’s flawed Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), despite the fact that this controversial policy is overdue for a formal review by ICANN, which might result in the significant revision of this policy. Where would this leave the TPP countries, that are locked in to upholding a UDRP-like policy for their own domains for the indefinite future?

The TPP’s prescription of rules for domain names completely disregards the fact that most country code domain registries have their own, open, community-driven processes for determining rules for managing domain name disputes. More than that, this top-down rulemaking on domain names is in direct contravention of the U.S. administration’s own firmly-stated commitment to uphold the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. Obviously, Internet users cannot trust the administration that it means what it says when it gives lip-service to multi-stakeholder governance—and that has ramifications that go even even deeper than this terrible TPP deal.

ISP Liability

The provisions on ISP liability (Appendix Section I), as we previously found in the last leaked text, are not quite as permissive as we hoped. It will still require most countries to adopt a version of the flawed U.S. DMCA notice-and-takedown system, albeit with a few safeguards such as penalties for those who issue wrongful takedown notices, and allowing (but not requiring) a Japanese-style system of verification of takedown notices by an independent body of ISPs and rightsholders.

It is true that Canada’s notice-and-notice regime is also allowed, but effectively only for Canada—no other country that did not have an equivalent system as of the date of the agreement is allowed to benefit from that flexibility. Even in Canada’s case, this largesse is only afforded because of the other enforcement measures that rightsholders enjoy there—such as a tough regime of secondary liability for authorization of copyright infringement.

Similarly Chile’s system under which ISPs are not required to take down content without a judicial order is explicitly grandfathered in, but no other country joining the TPP in the future will be allowed to have a similar system.

In addition, although there is no explicit requirement for a graduated response regime of copyright penalties against users, ISPs are still roped in as copyright enforcers with the vague requirement (Appendix Section 1) that they be given “legal incentives…to cooperate with copyright owners to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials or, in the alternative, to take other action to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyright materials.”

Good Points?

Quite honestly there are no parts of this agreement that are positively good for users. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s not improved over the earlier, horrendous demands of the U.S. negotiators. Some of the areas in which countries rightly pushed back against the U.S., and which are reflected in the final text are:

  • The exhaustion of rights provision (QQ.A.11) that upholds the first sale doctrine of U.S. law, preventing copyright owners from extending their control over the resale of copyright works once they have first been placed in the market. In particular, this makes parallel importation of cheaper versions of copyright works lawful—and complementing this is an explicit authorization of devices that bypass region-coding on physical copies of such works (QQ.G.10, though this does not extend to bypassing geoblocking of streaming services).
  • A thoroughly-misguided provision that would have extended copyright protection to temporary or “buffer” copies in a computer system was one of the earliest rightsholder demands dropped by the USTR, and rightfully so, given the damage this would have wreaked to tech companies and users alike.

But we have struggled to come up with more than two positive points about the TPP, and even then the absence of these tragic mistakes is a pretty poor example of a positive point. If you look for provisions in the TPP that actually afford new benefits to users, rather than to large, rights-holding corporations, you will look in vain. The TPP is the archetype of an agreement that exists only for the benefit of the entitled, politically powerfully lobbyists who have pushed it through to completion over the last eight years.

There is nothing in here for users and innovators to support, and much for us to fear—the ratcheting up of the copyright term across the Pacific rim, the punitive sanctions for DRM circumvention, and the full frontal attack on hackers and journalists in the trade secrets provision, just to mention three. This latest leak has confirmed our greatest fears—and strengthened our resolve to kill this agreement for good once it reaches Congress.

Image Credit

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The CIA in Guatemala: A chilling account of death and misery by a brave woman…

This is a video by Jennifer Harbury, an American whose late Guatemalan husband, a Mayan indigenous activist, was “disappeared” by the military. After hunger strikes and investigations, she learned that Efraín Bámaca Velásquez had been tortured and then killed — and that the CIA knew all about it. Her story is a powerful one..

David Cameron Forced To Explain His Support Of Saudi Arabia

“It’s because we receive important intelligence and security information from them that keeps us safe…”

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — On Tuesday’s Channel 4 news, David Cameron repeatedly refused to answer journalist Jon Snow’s questions on Britain’s secret pact with Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights abusing regimes on earth. The toe-curling interview shows slippery Cameron grasping for words and wheeling out the terror threat as Snow pushes for answers on why Britain initiated a secret deal with Saudi Arabia ensuring both were elected onto the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Demanding to know what Britain is doing to prevent the planned execution of a young pro-democracy activist in Saudi Arabia, Snow’s technique was straight to the point as ever: “You’ve been asked to intercede with the Saudis in the case of 17-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested at the age of 14 and who faces execution and crucifixion. Have you?” he asked.

“We have raised this as a government, yes.” Cameron replied.

“But have you personally?” Snow interrupted.

Appearing flustered, Cameron responded: “No, the foreign secretary has raised this, our Embassy has raised this, we raised this in the proper way. I’ll look to see if there’s an opportunity for me to raise this as well,” he bluffed, insisting that Britain opposes the death penalty “anywhere and everywhere.”

Snow then seized the opportunity to question the PM on the secret deal — exposed by Wikileaks—  that saw both Saudi Arabia and the U.K. elected to the Human Rights Council. He referred to it as “squalid.”

Defending the relationship with Saudi Arabia, Cameron said Britain “completely disagrees” with the butchering state’s punishment routines. Snow then asks three times why, if this is the case, the sordid deal was made. “Well, I’ve answered the question,” Cameron retorts, not answering the question.

Asked how he can be sure that some Saudi clerics and Wahhabi radicals are not involved in fueling the very people Britain are trying to defeat (ISIS), Cameron again avoided the question by stressing the terror threat and maneuvering onto his favourite topic ─ national security.

“It’s because we receive important intelligence and security information from them that keeps us safe,” he claimed, giving the example of a bomb that could potentially of blown up over Britain — if it weren’t for Saudi Arabian intelligence.

Although he didn’t address the £1.8 bn in U.K. arms export licenses to the Saudis, Britain needs more journalists like Snow ─ if only to expose the shifty double-speak and spin our politicians resort to when cornered.


This article (Watch Journalist Force David Cameron to Explain His Support of Saudi Arabia) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.org.

Are GMOs Doomed on the Global Market?

Farmers in the U.S. are beginning to wake-up to the fact that genetically modified crops are poor business indeed. With countries around the world taking a firm stand against GM imports, not only are farmers who grow GMOs suffering from dwindling export opportunities, but also those whose crops have been cross-contaminated with genetically modified pollen.

A striking example is when China took a tough stance in November 2013 and declared an import ban on U.S. corn following the detection of genetically modified Bt protein (MIR162). According to industry economic studies, this little mishap cost upwards of $4 billion in revenue losses for U.S. corn and soybean industries. As of August 2014, the Biosafety Committee also revoked the permits for GM rice and corn that were being developed in China. This last part is largely attributed to mounting public outcry about the safety of GMOs.

And Russia has taken their anti-GMO position to the next level with legislation that would make the illegal introduction of genetically modified crops into the country a crime that is treated in a similar manner as terrorism. As geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.com:

“The direction of this is anything that stops, and puts the genie back in the bottle called genetic manipulation of plants and organisms is to the good for the future of the mankind. The comment about 20 percent of harvest increase in some GMOs is absolute rubbish. There is no long-term harvest gain that has been proven for GMO crops anywhere in the world because they are not modified to get harvest increases. So this is just soap bubbles that Monsanto, Syngenta and GMO giants are putting out to loll the public into thinking it is something good.”

Increased profit linked with non-GMO crops

At the Beijing food conference held earlier this year, the focus was on protecting human survival. Not surprisingly, genetically modified food was looked upon with a wary eye by both the public and Chinese agricultural officials.

Bob Streit, an Iowa crop consultant, presented an agronomic overview of GMO corn and soybean production issues in the Midwest — including early die down, resistant weeds and disease vulnerability.

“Streit expects that the number of nations willing to import GMO grains, or grow them at home, will continue shrinking as more facts about GMO-linked human and animal health pathologies are documented. About 50 nations curb growth or imports of GMOs. The remaining big overseas market for the U.S. is China — precisely the location of this conference,” reports RenewableFarming.com.

Streit also believes that, as more nations resist GMO imports, the price of genetically modified corn and soybeans will fall, while the price of conventional, non-GMO crops will rise. He predicts the price per bushel for non-GMO corn will increase to $1.50, with soybeans climbing to $3.50. The lower seed cost for conventional corn and soybeans, compared to their GMO counterparts, will widen profit margins as well.

Future hope

Renewable Farming also notes:

“The intensity and unity of the 350 participants in the Beijing conference presents a strong signal that leading scientists, human health experts and a wide range of global consumers will soon overpower U.S. corporate and government defense of genetically engineered crops. That happened in Europe — and BASF discontinued its GMO research and marketing efforts there.”

You can read the full text of the “Beijing Declaration” here.