Friday, September 15, 2017

WAYNE MADSEN: Neo-Colonialism And Disaster Relief - An Unholy Duo

An unholy trio when linked with the bogus CNN fake news "relief" fundraising  

By Wayne Madsen

The Caribbean colonies of four neo-colonialist powers, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States, have discovered the hard way where they stand with their colonial masters when faced with an extreme natural disaster. 

Collapsed buildings in Grand-Case, on the French 
Caribbean island of Saint Martin
In the wake of hurricane Irma, a Category 5 mega-storm, the populations of the island territories of the four colonial powers, as well as Barbuda, a dominion of Queen Elizabeth’s “Commonwealth,” were relegated to second- and third-class status when it came to the receipt of urgent assistance in the wake of Irma. Long a domain of rich and famous part-time residents and offshore shell corporations, the permanent residents of the islands of the northeast Leeward Islands are merely looked upon as tourism employees and clerical staff for offshore banks and law offices catering to money launderers and tax evaders. 

When these victims of Irma cried out for basics – water, food, and medicines, they were initially ignored by neo-colonial offices in Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Washington, DC.

What is being practiced by the neo-colonialist governments of France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States is a form of disaster politics. The governing authorities appeared to largely ignore the initial recovery needs of Irma-affected islands as a way of punishing them for earlier calls for increased autonomy and, in a few cases, independence.

Residents of Barbuda, part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, where a Governor-General representing Queen Elizabeth is head of state; the French-ruled St. Martin and the island’s Dutch half of St. Maarten; British Virgin Islands (BVI); French-ruled St. Barts; the British colony of Anguilla, the British territory of Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI); and the US-ruled St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John ran low on food, water, fuel, and medicines after Irma struck the island with intense fury. 

A woman walks down a street in Marigot, Saint Martin, on September 11  Image: AFP

The colonial powers overseeing these island territories are all governed by pro-corporate conservative governments that were initially sanguine about rushing in disaster relief assistance and supplies. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald Trump waited for days after Irma struck before sending military planes and ships to the islands. Many island leaders feel the assistance was too little and too late. They are correct.

The colonialist powers were anxious to rush in public security forces to affected islands but the food, water, and other supplies came later. The security forces rushed in to protect the part-time homes of billionaires was a hat-tip by the governments in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Washington to the billionaires who support them politically. The welfare of the full-time and poor residents, who were among the most adversely affected by Irma, was assigned a much-lower priority by the corporate vipers, vampires, and vultures controlling the French, British, Dutch, and American governments.

Residents of St. Martin/St. Maarten were forced to scavenge partially-destroyed food ships for anything in the way of sustenance and nutrition, including bottled water, crackers, candy, and rotting fruit. The corporate media called the scavengers “looters.” In situations where white tourists collected water and food under similar circumstances, they were called “scavengers.”

The Cuban government, which has prioritized disaster relief as a matter of national policy and is an international model for disaster recovery, quickly rushed in food, water, and other supplies to its hurricane-ravaged northern coast, including the city of Matanzas and isles such as Cayo Romano and Cayo Coco in the Camaguey archipelago.

Over 1000 residents of 62-square mile Barbuda, most of whom were evacuated to Antigua, are worried about unscrupulous billionaire developers moving on to their island to lay claim to their properties for tourist complexes. Land ownership has been prohibited on the island, a law that has led to some calls for Barbuda to break away from its larger neighbor, Antigua, and opt for independence.

Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that to prevent attempts by foreign interests to seize properties on Barbuda, the government will provide a crown grant of one dollar for Barbudians to obtain legal ownership over their current land parcels. The resale of the properties can only occur with the agreement of the Barbuda Council, the local governing authority on the island. However, Browne has also negotiated a deal with the Wahhabist-dominated United Arab Emirates for it to install an 800-megawatt solar power facility and a modern medical clinic on Barbuda. Such deals with either Emiratis or Saudis usually come with significant strings attached, including opening non-Muslim countries like Barbuda to Wahhabist religious infiltration of education systems and religious institutions.

St. Martin -- both the French and Dutch parts -- the Dutch-ruled islands of Saba and St. Eustatius, Anguilla, TCI, BVI, the US Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos have all demanded, to varying degrees, more autonomy from their colonial masters. Saba and St. Eustatius, without the consent of their residents, were turned into "public entities" of the Netherlands after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2011. Rather than receiving more autonomy, these colonial territories were relegated to the status of municipalities of the Netherlands. The same situation exists in French St. Martin. Dutch St. Maarten is an "autonomous country" governed by the Dutch King, another neo-colonialist contrivance. On September 5, 2017, just before Irma struck the Dutch Caribbean islands, leaders of St. Eustatius and Bonaire, the latter unaffected by the hurricane, complained to the Dutch parliament that attempts by the Dutch to totally annex their islands "violated their self-determination and human rights."

While British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a Trump-like dolt of a political leader, was slow in responding to assistance requests from BVI, TCI, and Anguilla, most local leaders stood fast. BVI Premier Orlando Smith said, "We are a proud nation" and would bounce back from massive devastation of its islands and capital of Road Town on Tortola. London neo-colonialists do not see territories like BVI as "nations," but merely extra-territorial conveniences for offshore shell corporations and tax evaders.

TCI's Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South and Middle Caicos were also devastated by Irma. TCI Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, who, unlike some of her predecessors who demanded independence for TCI, is a compliant puppet of the British government and its appointed governor, was criticized for being too lackadaisical in the wake of Irma. In fact, she was forced to visit Grand Turk and the TCI capital of Cockburn Town on a Cayman Islands police helicopter. A local TCI pastor on Providenciales, clearly annoyed at the slow response of the British governor and TCI premier, told Caribbean News Now, "A British warship that will only come here for a photo shoot? We have lost a day already. Let us not waste any more time."

Officials of Anguilla, which has a rich history of unsuccessfully declaring independence from Britain, called the response of May and Johnson to the plight of Anguilla "disgraceful." Josephine Connor, a former government adviser to the Chief Minister of Anguilla, told SkyNews, "We in the territories feel like third-class citizens because I'd rather wager that if there were something coming like that, of the same magnitude, to the mainland U.K., I suspect that there would be far more attention being paid." It was estimated the HMS Ocean, on deployment in the Mediterranean, would take up to 14 days to reach Anguilla. Anguilla Chief Minister Victor Banks expressed concern over the lack of financial aid from Britain for the island to rebuild from its massive devastation.

Similarly, officials in virtually bankrupted Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands lashed out at initial inattention to Irma's destruction on their islands from the Trump administration. Residents of St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Culebra, and Vieques, stunned by the ferocity of Irma, were then faced with rampant thirst and hunger due to the lack of fresh water and food. Many islanders felt abandoned by the United States. The Marriott Corporation, which chartered a ship to evacuate its hotel guests from St. Thomas after the hurricane, refused to evacuate to Puerto Rico non-guest children and elderly residents even though plenty of empty space was available on the vessel.

The neo-colonial powers will be sure to exact a terrible price from their Caribbean colonies for the meager amount of assistance they are receiving. The first victim will be any notion of autonomy or self-determination previously enjoyed by the islanders. The first rebuilding will of be the luxurious hotel and yacht club compounds of the filthy rich. The native islanders will be lucky to catch a few crumbs of assistance.

Wayne Madsen

Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist, Madsen has over twenty years experience in security issues. 

Wayne Madsen
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. Madsen has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and MSNBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, Madsen is based and reports from Washington, D.C.

Has The NYT Gone Collectively Mad?

NYT, CNN fake news propagandists implode as their attempted media coup against a sitting administration comes crashing down around their heads - heads that will soon roll  

By Robert Parry

For those of us who have taught journalism or worked as editors, a sign that an article is the product of sloppy or dishonest journalism is that a key point will be declared as flat fact when it is unproven or a point in serious dispute – and it then becomes the foundation for other claims, building a story like a high-rise constructed on sand.

This use of speculation as fact is something to guard against particularly in the work of inexperienced or opinionated reporters. But what happens when this sort of unprofessional work tops page one of The New York Times one day as a major “investigative” article and reemerges the next day in even more strident form as a major Times editorial? Are we dealing then with an inept journalist who got carried away with his thesis or are we facing institutional corruption or even a collective madness driven by ideological fervor?

What is stunning about the lead story in last Friday’s print edition of The New York Times is that it offers no real evidence to support its provocative claim that – as the headline states – “To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans” or its subhead: “Flooding Twitter and Facebook, Impostors Helped Fuel Anger in Polarized U.S.”

In the old days, this wildly speculative article, which spills over three pages, would have earned an F in a J-school class or gotten a rookie reporter a stern rebuke from a senior editor. But now such unprofessionalism is highlighted by The New York Times, which boasts that it is the standard-setter of American journalism, the nation’s “newspaper of record.”

In this case, it allows reporter Scott Shane to introduce his thesis by citing some Internet accounts that apparently used fake identities, but he ties none of them to the Russian government. Acting like he has minimal familiarity with the Internet – yes, a lot of people do use fake identities – Shane builds his case on the assumption that accounts that cited references to purloined Democratic emails must be somehow from an agent or a bot connected to the Kremlin.

For instance, Shane cites the fake identity of “Melvin Redick,” who suggested on June 8, 2016, that people visit DCLeaks which, a few days earlier, had posted some emails from prominent Americans, which Shane states as fact – not allegation – were “stolen … by Russian hackers.”

Worst of the NYT worst:  Fraud, fake news propagandist Charles Blow

Shane then adds, also as flat fact, that “The site’s phony promoters were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.”

The Times’ Version

In other words, Shane tells us, “The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails or the fire hose of stories, true, false and in between, that battered Mrs. Clinton on Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.”

Besides the obvious point that very few Americans watch RT and/or Sputnik and that Shane offers no details about the alleged falsity of those “fire hose of stories,” let’s examine how his accusations are backed up:

“An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign. On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages.”

Note the weasel words: “suspected”; “believe”; ‘linked”; “fingerprints.” When you see such equivocation, it means that these folks – both the Times and FireEye – don’t have hard evidence; they are speculating.

And it’s worth noting that the supposed “army of fake Americans” may amount to hundreds out of Facebook’s two billion or so monthly users and the $100,000 in ads compare to the company’s annual ad revenue of around $27 billion. (I’d do the math but my calculator doesn’t compute such tiny percentages.)

So, this “army” is really not an “army” and we don’t even know that it is “Russian.” But some readers might say that surely we know that the Kremlin did mastermind the hacking of Democratic emails!

That claim is supported by the Jan. 6 “intelligence community assessment” that was the work of what President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies – the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. But, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you hand-pick the analysts, you are hand-picking the conclusions.

Congressional perjurer, NTY/CNN fake news darling James Clapper

Agreeing With Putin

But some still might protest that the Jan. 6 report surely presented convincing evidence of this serious charge about Russian President Vladimir Putin personally intervening in the U.S. election to help put Donald Trump in the White House. Well, as it turns out, not so much, and if you don’t believe me, we can call to the witness stand none other than New York Times reporter Scott Shane.

Shane wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

So, even Scott Shane, the author of last Friday’s opus, recognized the lack of “hard evidence” to prove that the Russian government was behind the release of the Democratic emails, a claim that both Putin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published a trove of the emails, have denied. While it is surely possible that Putin and Assange are lying or don’t know the facts, you might think that their denials would be relevant to this lengthy investigative article, which also could have benefited from some mention of Shane’s own skepticism of last January, but, hey, you don’t want inconvenient details to mess up a cool narrative.

Yet, if you struggle all the way to the end of last Friday’s article, you do find out how flimsy the Times’ case actually is. How, for instance, do we know that “Melvin Redick” is a Russian impostor posing as an American? The proof, according to Shane, is that “His posts were never personal, just news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview.”

As it turns out, the Times now operates with what must be called a neo-McCarthyistic approach for identifying people as Kremlin stooges, i.e., anyone who doubts the truthfulness of the State Department’s narratives on Syria, Ukraine and other international topics.

Unreliable Source

In the article’s last section, Shane acknowledges as much in citing one of his experts, “Andrew Weisburd, an Illinois online researcher who has written frequently about Russian influence on social media.” Shane quotes Weisburd as admitting how hard it is to differentiate Americans who just might oppose Hillary Clinton because they didn’t think she’d make a good president from supposed Russian operatives: “Trying to disaggregate the two was difficult, to put it mildly.”

According to Shane, “Mr. Weisburd said he had labeled some Twitter accounts ‘Kremlin trolls’ based simply on their pro-Russia tweets and with no proof of Russian government ties. The Times contacted several such users, who insisted that they had come by their anti-American, pro-Russian views honestly, without payment or instructions from Moscow.”

NYT, CNN fake news tag-team attempted White House coup utilising non-existent "sources" and manufactured lies
One of Weisburd’s “Kremlin trolls” turned out to be 66-year-old Marilyn Justice who lives in Nova Scotia and who somehow reached the conclusion that “Hillary’s a warmonger.” During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she reached another conclusion: that U.S. commentators were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias perhaps because they indeed were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias.

Shane tracked down another “Kremlin troll,” 48-year-old Marcel Sardo, a web producer in Zurich, Switzerland, who dares to dispute the West’s groupthink that Russia was responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and the State Department’s claims that the Syrian government used sarin gas in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, 2013.

Presumably, if you don’t toe the line on those dubious U.S. government narratives, you are part of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. (In both cases, there actually are serious reasons to doubt the Western groupthinks which again lack real evidence.)

But Shane accuses Sardo and his fellow-travelers of spreading “what American officials consider to be Russian disinformation on election hacking, Syria, Ukraine and more.” In other words, if you examine the evidence on MH-17 or the Syrian sarin case and conclude that the U.S. government’s claims are dubious if not downright false, you are somehow disloyal and making Russian officials “gleeful at their success,” as Shane puts it.

But what kind of a traitor are you if you quote Shane’s initial judgment after reading the Jan. 6 report on alleged Russian election meddling? What are you if you agree with his factual observation that the report lacked anything approaching “hard evidence”? That’s a point that also dovetails with what Vladimir Putin has been saying – that “IP addresses can be simply made up. … This is no proof”?

So is Scott Shane a “Kremlin troll,” too? Should the Times immediately fire him as a disloyal foreign agent? What if Putin says that 2 plus 2 equals 4 and your child is taught the same thing in elementary school, what does that say about public school teachers?

Out of such gibberish come the evils of McCarthyism and the death of the Enlightenment. Instead of encouraging a questioning citizenry, the new American paradigm is to silence debate and ridicule anyone who steps out of line.

You might have thought people would have learned something from the disastrous groupthink about Iraqi WMD, a canard that the Times and most of the U.S. mainstream media eagerly promoted.

But if you’re feeling generous and thinking that the Times’ editors must have been chastened by their Iraq-WMD fiasco but perhaps had a bad day last week and somehow allowed an egregious piece of journalism to lead their front page, your kind-heartedness would be shattered on Saturday when the Times’ editorial board penned a laudatory reprise of Scott Shane’s big scoop.

Stripping away even the few caveats that the article had included, the Times’ editors informed us that “a startling investigation by Scott Shane of The New York Times, and new research by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, now reveal, the Kremlin’s stealth intrusion into the election was far broader and more complex, involving a cyberarmy of bloggers posing as Americans and spreading propaganda and disinformation to an American electorate on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

“Now that the scheming is clear, Facebook and Twitter say they are reviewing the 2016 race and studying how to defend against such meddling in the future. … Facing the Russian challenge will involve complicated issues dealing with secret foreign efforts to undermine American free speech.”

But what is the real threat to “American free speech”? Is it the possibility that Russia – in a very mild imitation of what the U.S. government does all over the world – used some Web sites clandestinely to get out its side of various stories, an accusation against Russia that still lacks any real evidence?

Or is the bigger threat that the nearly year-long Russia-gate hysteria will be used to clamp down on Americans who dare question fact-lite or fact-free Official Narratives handed down by the State Department and The New York Times?

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