Propaganda 101: The New York Times pumps another ‘evil Russia’ plot

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By Finian Cunningham

The “newspaper of record” New York Times arguably holds the record for peddling anti-Russia scare stories. This week the NY Times delivered yet another classic spook tale dressed as serious news.

Among its splash articles, under the headline ‘Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say’, readers were told of an elite Russian spy team which has, allegedly, only recently been discovered.

It’s called “Unit 29155” and purportedly directed by the Kremlin to “destabilize Europe” with “subversion, sabotage and assassination.”

According to the NY Times, this crack squad of Russia’s most ruthless military intelligence agents were involved in an attempted assassination of an arms dealer in Bulgaria in 2015; the destabilization of Moldova; a failed coup against the Montenegrin government; and the alleged poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in England last year.

The article states: “Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.”

The NY Times adds: “The purpose of Unit 29155, which has not been previously reported, underscores the degree to which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, is actively fighting the West with his brand of so-called hybrid warfare — a blend of propaganda, hacking attacks and disinformation — as well as open military confrontation.”

This is all because, the readers are told, “The Kremlin sees Russia as being at war with a Western liberal order that it views as an existential threat.”

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed it as more of the “pulp fiction category” which Western news media have manufactured with seeming increasing intensity over recent years. Peskov pointed out that Moscow has repeatedly stated its desire to normalize relations with Western states and the European Union in particular, contradicting the theme of the NY Times’ piece.

Indeed, the Russian Embassy in Britain recently published a compilation of false articles peddled by Western media over the past four years. The NY Times features prominently as one of the main purveyors of scare stories about alleged malign Russian activities, from hacking into presidential elections, to targeting American power grids, to covert collusion with President Donald Trump.

For students of Propaganda 101, this week’s tale makes a case study of how disinformation is disseminated in the guise of “news reporting.”

First of all, the NY Times reporter, Michael Schwirtz, gives a meandering account of lurid dirty deeds performed in various international locations allegedly carried out by the supposed “elite” Kremlin hybrid warriors. But tellingly, there are no details evidencing Russian involvement. It’s all lurid speculation spiced with fear-mongering, which reads like a pallid John le Carré spy novel.

Then, the usual giveaway that the NY Times is engaging in disinformation, it quotes anonymous security officials for apparent verification of its claims about “Unit 29155”. This is tacit admission of who the real authors are: Western spooks.

READ MORE: Problem of NYT 1619 Project isn’t that it sees America through slavery, it’s that it tells untruths

Next, a neat effort to give the lame story some legs is to quote named public figures. But these sources don’t confirm the existence of the alleged Kremlin unit; they are merely invited to speculate on its existence and presumed malign purpose. One of those named sources is MI6 chief Alex Younger. Yes, that’s right, the paper of record is quoting British military intelligence as a reliable source for public information. Another named source is Peter Zwack, who is described as a former US military intelligence officer who worked at the American Embassy in Moscow. Zwack is quoted as describing Russians as “organically ruthless” (whatever that means), while the paper actually admits that “he was not aware of the unit’s existence.”

The purpose of throwing a few names into the reporting mix is to lend a veneer of credibility to the nebulous, unverifiable, scary stuff that the anonymous spooks feed the reporter.

A special mention must be given to a third named source quoted by the NY Times. He is Eerik-Niiles Kross, an Estonian lawmaker and former military intelligence chief in Tallinn. He styles himself as “Estonia’s James Bond,” and is known for his salacious Russophobic warnings of “imminent invasion of the Baltic states” – over the past three decades. Kross is quoted to speculate on the existence of the alleged Kremlin hybrid warfare unit. Of course, he dutifully serves up his notorious anti-Russian fear-mongering. But he is not confirming. His speculation is pseudo-validation of information that is essentially fictional.

All in all, the latest installment of anti-Russia propaganda from the NY Times this week is a damp squib among many previous baseless reports of alleged Kremlin malign activity. If it serves any purpose, it is perhaps a choice illustration of how disinformation is sneakily, insidiously presented as ‘news’. The fact that this should appear in a Pulitzer Prize-winning, supposedly premier, American newspaper is the disturbing part.

But it is no surprise to those who have long studied how the US corporate media has been under the control of state intelligence agencies for many decades, especially after the Second World War and during the subsequent Cold War against the Soviet Union.

In a seminal essay in 1977 for Rolling Stone magazine, award-winning journalist Carl Bernstein documented how the CIA systematically cultivated hundreds of reporters, columnists, editors, publishing executives and broadcast networks to function as conduits for disinformation – much of it directed at demonizing the Soviet Union.

“From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings,” writes Bernstein.

He added: “By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.”

How the CIA goes about planting false stories in the American and European media is outlined in this candid interview by John Stockwell, who was former National Security Council coordinator for the agency during the 1970s. Stockwell also added: “Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the US military machine to turn.”

You may wonder, if the Cold War ended nearly 30 years ago when the Soviet Union dissolved, why then do the NY Times and other Western media outlets continue to pump out anti-Russian propaganda? But that assumes the Cold War was primarily about the US opposing the ideology of communism. It wasn’t. It was, and still is, all about imposing control over the masses so they don’t ever challenge the power structure that deprives them of full democratic rights and decent livelihoods.

In a recent interview, philosopher André Vitchek makes the point that Western politicians and media like the NY Times keep harping on Cold War scare stories about evil foreigners in order “to distract their citizens from thinking about their increasingly limited freedoms and diminishing standards of living.”

The Cold War continues, and anti-Russia hysteria is but a distraction, as was the anti-Soviet hysteria. The aim is to distract the public from the real Cold War which is a war by the elites against democracy ever being actually realized among the masses.

 

Who are Extinction Rebellion — the ‘eco-activists’ grounding planes & shutting down cities

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Calling for civil disobedience in the face of climate change, Extinction Rebellion protesters have been remarkably successful in thrusting themselves into the headlines. But what is the movement all about? And who’s behind it?

Best known for shutting down the streets of London in April, Extinction Rebellion upped its game on Thursday, with a protester affiliated with the group grounding an Aer Lingus flight from London City Airport to Dublin. Another protester – Paralympian James Brown – clambered onto the roof of a British Airways plane and refused to budge, prompting police to eventually remove him.

The disruptions came as Extinction Rebellion threatened a “Hong Kong-style” occupation and shutdown of the airport, and as similar protests hit more than 60 cities worldwide.

“Ultimately, it is part of Extinction Rebellion’s aim to get people arrested,” read a flyer circulated by activists in Dublin. To that end, the group has been successful. More than 1,000 activists have been arrested in London alone this week, including 50 at London City Airport.

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What do they want?

The group’s demands are threefold. First, they call on governments to “tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency,” a similar demand to that made by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last month. A seemingly benign demand, but one that paints opponents as ‘anti-truth’.

Secondly, they demand that “government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”  Finally, the group demands that government partner up with activists, and “create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.” 

While a ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ would draw on a cross-section of society, it would be government-created and guided by a collection of NGOs and academics, as was the case in Ireland when the government convened such an assembly to pave the way for referenda on gay marriage and abortion in recent years. Extinction Rebellion make no mention on whether NGOs with opposing views will be included in the deliberation.

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At XR’s rallies, protesters have called for any number of ways of meeting these goals and more, including government bans on meat and private cars, abolishment of the airplane, boycotts of the fashion industry, and disbandment of the military. Disrupting commerce is fair game for making their points, as is disrupting vital services. As a cancer patient in London was forced to walk to hospital treatment due to XR’s roadblocks, spokesperson Savannah Lovelock told Sky News that while she was “really sorry,” such action is necessary for the good of the planet.

An appeal to authority

Central to all of the group’s demands is a radical expansion of state power. Reducing greenhouse gases to net zero – if a state-led effort – would give government the power to restrict or outright deny its citizens freedom of travel, freedom to choose their own diets, and freedom to build their homes however they want. In the US, drafttext of ‘Green New Deal’ legislation gives a sneak-peek at just how all-encompassing this would be, working wealth redistribution and reparations for “historic oppression” into the mix for good measure.

A potent illustration of the group’s appeal to authority came last November, when XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook marched on Buckingham Palace and read aloud a message to Queen Elizabeth “with great humility,” calling on the monarch to save the planet by royal decree.

“It isn’t enough to live a life of voluntary simplicity,” academic and XR campaigner Rupert Read wrote at the time. The implied meaning is clear: people will have to be coerced into complying.

Who’s behind it all?

Here’s where things get interesting. Exploding onto the scene with a recognizable logo, coherent imagery across multiple continents, a dominant social media presence and a slick website, the leaders of Extinction Rebellion are no rabble of bong-smoking malcontents.

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Especially not Dr. Gail Bradbrook. The co-founder of the movement told the BBC that she came up with the idea after praying in a deep way” while under the influence of “psychedelic medicines” on a retreat last year.

In truth, Bradbrook has made a career out of activism, and has for two decades worked as a professional campaigner. Speaking at a talk in 2016, she admitted that this role is “mostly about securing your own paycheck.” As director of Citizens Online – a charity campaigning for “digital inclusion,” Bradbrook has worked with BT to lobby the British government.

Joining Bradshaw are former organic farmer Roger Hallam, and also involved are Occupy London veteran Tasmin Osmond – a granddaughter of British nobility – and ex-UN worker Laura Reeves.

Behind the movement is a bulwark of elite cash. Heiress Aileen Getty has kicked in nearly £500,000 of her family’s oil wealth to the group via the Climate Emergency Fund, claiming that “disruption” is necessary to take on climate change. According to its own data, Extinction Rebellion has raised just short of a million pounds in large donations since March, from groups like the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, set up by a hedge fund manager and run by a former vice-chairman of billionaire financier George SorosOpen Society Institute.

What has the group achieved?

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Aside from annoying motorists and boosting superglue sales, Extinction Rebellion has achieved some of its aims. Eleven countries and dependencies, beginning with Britain and Ireland, have declared a state of “climate emergency,” even if Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar did say afterwards that the declaration was a “symbolic gesture.”

What Extinction Rebellion has also been successful in is pandering to the wishes of global financiers and the new captains of green industry. The group’s call for “net zero” carbon emissions is echoed by the World Bank, and a host of investment firms, including HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and Citi, that see “profits to be had” in “climate-related sectors.”

None of this is a bad thing on the surface, except that these groups – which have banded together to form the Climate Finance Partnership and Blended Finance Action Taskforce – want access to taxpayer money and pension funds to do this. This Western money, according to the groups, will be funnelled into projects in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Rarely do the demands of activists and the will of international finance line up, but not everyone is happy. In London, Police Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has warned that the current protests will hamper officers’ ability to tackle “street-based violence,” and leave the city more vulnerable to terrorism.

Street blockages and airport disruptions may put Extinction Rebellion at odds with the majority of the population, but majority support is unnecessary. XR co-founder Roger Hallam has repeatedly referenced Gene Sharp as an inspiration. An American political scientist, Sharp’s theory of nonviolent action – that only 3.5 percent of a population need to back a protest movement before it reaches critical mass and triggers change – has been adopted and put into practice by ‘color revolutionaries’ around the world, from US-sponsored student protesters in Serbia at the turn of the century, to Arab Spring revolutionaries more recently.

Celebrities have lined up to endorse Extinction Rebellion – from gloom-rockers Radiohead chipping in £300,000 to Benedict Cumberbatch joining protesters camped in Trafalgar Square. With elite cash and backing, as well as round the clock media coverage, Extinction Rebellion is well on its way to Sharp’s tipping point, and has well and truly glued itself to the public consciousness already.

UNIVERSITY BANS WHITE STUDENTS FROM ATTENDING ANTI-RACISM MEETING

University Bans White Students From Attending Anti-Racism Meeting

Oh, the irony.

  – OCTOBER 10, 2019

The University of Sheffield Student’s Union in the UK has banned white people from attending a meeting about anti-racism.

Yes, really.

The SU announced that it would hold focus groups on “how we can create an anti-racist Students’ Union” as part of an effort to shift from a “non-racist to an actively anti-racist” stance.

However, no white people are allowed to take part.

“Please note that these sessions are only open to black and minority ethnic (BME) students,” states the announcement.

Banning people from a meeting about racism because of their skin color is…what’s the word? Oh yeah, racist.

The controversy follows a similar farce at the University of Edinburgh where white people were banned from asking questions at an event called Resisting Whiteness.

“We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don’t think white people have anything to offer to the discussion but because we want to amplify the voices of people of colour,” stated promotional material for the event.

 

UK school under fire for hosting ‘Resisting Whiteness’ event with rules discriminating against white people

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The University of Edinburgh has allowed a ‘Resisting Whiteness 2019’ event to proceed at its venue, even though there was outrage over organizers’ rules, which limited white people’s access to a microphone and to certain rooms.

The conference, aimed at raising awareness about “the importance of anti-racist action in the UK”  took place at Pleasance Theater, owned by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday.

It was organized by a group tellingly named ‘The Resisting Whiteness Collective,’ which describes itself as a “not-for-profit grassroots organization of QTPOC [Queer and Trans People of Color] activists.” While touting the event, the group said that it wants to make it “as accessible as possible and therefore have free tickets available for those who would like to attend.”

READ MORE: Galloway blasts Lord Sugar for ‘sacrilegious mockery of Christian martyrs’, asks Pope to intervene

However, it seems not everybody was welcome. The rules published on the conference’s official website state that if an attendee is white, they will have no right to ask questions, at least publicly. The rule, introduced to “amplify the voices of people of color” said that “priority will be given to questions from people of color in the audience.”

“If you are a white person in the audience and you still have a question after the panel has ended, please feel free to share your questions with a member of the committee or our speakers then” 

While some argued that the attempt to muffle voices of a particular group, in this case white people, is tantamount to the racism that the “collective” so fervently opposes, another controversial rule sparked comparisons with segregation practices.

The “safe spaces” rule states that one of the two rooms “available to anyone who needs to remove themselves from the conference” due to anxiety issues or just to take a break is off-limits to white people.

“The Braid room is a safe space for only people of color, and the Cheviot room is available for anyone who needs it,” the rule states.

The controversial event was thrust into the national media spotlight earlier this week after outspoken media personality Katie Hopkins denounced the university’s decision to host the gathering on Twitter.

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Her tweet has opened the floodgates to similar accusations against the university, with many arguing that by throwing its weight behind the event, the school is endorsing racism.

“You’re hosting ‘Resisting Whiteness,’ is that not similar to ‘resisting blackness?'” one commenter asked.

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Another Twitter user suggested that the group has “a hidden agenda… [to] stoke race wars.”

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Responding to the backlash, the university said that the organizers had agreed to revise the “safe spaces” policy to “ensure [the] event is compliant with our values.”

They did appear to have watered-down the wording of the mic-access rule that had originally stated: “We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As.” However, if there were changes to the “safe spaces” rule, they are not reflected on the event’s official webpage.

While many chided the organizers, others sided with the “collective,” arguing that “reverse racism” does not exist.

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A bookshop that helped to arrange the event took a swipe at the critics, saying that they had “willfully misunderstood” the group’s intentions.

“Resisting whiteness is not about white individuals, it is about whiteness as a pervasive system of oppression – both social & political – a system that needs resisting & dismantling,” it wrote.

 

Australian Couple Travels Through Asia To ‘Break Stigma’ Of Countries Getting A ‘Bad Rap.’ They’re Reportedly In Jail In Iran.

CAP

By Hank Berrien

An Australian couple traveling through Asia who wanted to “break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” reportedly found out the hard way that some countries may well deserve the reputation they have: the couple was reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago in Iran.

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Jolie King, who has dual U.K. and Australian nationality, and Mark Firkin, have over 20,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, where they document their travels. According to the BBC, the couple was traveling through Asia to Great Britain, starting in 2017. The pair had a drone they used to take footage of the dozen countries through which they were passing.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that drone landed them behind bars in Iran 10 weeks ago. “The pair has been held as prisoners for about 10 weeks after being arrested for reportedly flying a drone without a permit,” ABC reports.

The BBC reports that the couple is “believed to be being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.”

Another British-Australian woman, reportedly a University of Cambridge-educated scholar, has been jailed for 10 years in Iran, according to the BBC.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she spoke to the Iranian government about all three people last week. “Since they were detained, the Australian Government has been pressing the Iranian Government for their release,” said Payne. “I have communicated with my Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, many times about these cases, including through face-to-face face meetings. We met as recently as last week.”

“Our biggest motivation … is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” King and Firkin had written about their travels.

In July, Australia announced that it would join the U.S. and the U.K. as they monitored the Strait of Hormuz. Reported Iranian provocations involving other nations’ ships have been rampant near the Strait in recent months.

The BBC reported that U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met the Iranian ambassador and “raised serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention,” according to the Foreign Office.

The story of King and Firkin bears similarities to another story reported by The Daily Wire in August 2018 in which a “young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world, believing that evil was a make-believe concept, took a fatal route in Tajikistan near the Afghan border, where alleged ISIS terrorists stabbed them to death. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs last year in order to make their trip.”

Austin had written:

You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.

I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.

In June 2019, the man who was the alleged ringleader in the attack on Austin and Geohegan was asked if he interacted with the tourists at the gas station they stopped at just prior to the attack, Hussein Abdusamadov replied,“Yes. I talked to them. I asked them where they were from. I asked them what nationalities they were and they told me they were Americans … They said they were Americans and laughed.” He concluded, “Americans had to be killed.” 

 

VIDEO of Prince Andrew staying in Epstein’s sex mansion forces palace into damage control

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A video showing the Duke of York waving off a young woman from inside financier Jeffery Epstein’s New York mansion has reignited speculation online, sending Buckingham Palace into full-on damage-control mode.

A short, blurry video released by the Mail on Sunday shows a man, who the tabloid newspaper identifies as Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth, saying goodbye to a young, dark-haired woman at the doorstep of Epstein’s New York mansion – a notorious sex lair where the financier used to prey on young girls.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1987812/Video-Jeffrey-Epstein-seen-leaving-place-New-York-girl.html

After exchanging courtesies with the brunette, the prince gives her a nod, and then takes a quick look around the door as if to make sure that no paparazzi were in sight.

Moments before Prince Andrew appears in the doorway, Epstein himself can be seen leaving the house accompanied by a blonde girl.

The video dates back to December 2010, two years after Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in an open-door prison after striking a sweetheart plea deal.

But Buckingham Palace claims the prince was unaware of any wrongdoing going on at the mansion, saying he “has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.”

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However, court documents claim that Prince Andrew inappropriately touched one woman in Epstein’s Manhattan apartment, and forced another, who was underage at the time, to have sex with him in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by the late financier. The Palace denied these allegations.

The disgraced financier was found dead in his jail cell on August 10 in what’s been ruled as suicide by the medical examiner. Several investigations are ongoing, but the circumstances immediately prompted speculation in light of newly released court documents which included incriminating information on powerful players within his orbit.

 

Man stabbed outside Home Office in London, armed police called in

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A stabbing outside the Home Office in London has left one person with facial injuries. The victim was initially said to be in a life-threatening condition. One man has been arrested.

Police were called to Marsham Street in the English capital, with officers responding to a report of a stabbing near Home Office headquarters. First responders found a man with knife wounds, the Met Police said.

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Ambulances rushed to the scene to treat the victim whose injuries were initially described as “life-threatening.” Medics said later that the condition of the man had improved.

Police said that one man was arrested and taken to a nearby station “on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.”

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A witness said he saw a “bloody tissue in the entrance hall and police everywhere.” People were ordered not to leave the building.

The stabbed man was reportedly a member of staff from the Home Office. The witnesses said he made his way back to the building after the attack.

Police said they were “keeping an open mind” as to whether or not the incident was terrorism-related.

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