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Propaganda

How Bellingcat launders national security state talking points into the press

Eliot Higgins
© David Mirzoeff/PA Wire/Alamy
Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins talks to the press
College Green • London • 2018
Investigative site Bellingcat is the toast of the popular press. In the past month alone, it has been described as "an intelligence agency for the people" (ABC Australia), a "transparent" and "innovative" (New Yorker) "independent news collective," "transforming investigative journalism" (Big Think), and an unequivocal "force for good" (South China Morning Post). Indeed, outside of a few alternative news sites, it is very hard to hear a negative word against Bellingcat, such is the gushing praise for the outlet founded in 2014.

This is troubling, because the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a "spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline," presenting Western government narratives as independent research.

Citizen journalism staffed with spies and soldiers

An alarming number of Bellingcat's staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state's objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Comment: Bellingcat is a useful go-to disinformation hydra of dial-up 'experts' - influencing policy and perception at the highest level.


Footprints

Lavrov: Russia to expel 10 American diplomats and considering 'painful' measures aimed at US businesses

Lavrov/Biden
© Reuters/Michael Dalder
Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov meets then-US VP Joe Biden in February 2013.
Ten US diplomats will have to leave Russia in response to Washington's expelling of Russian diplomats, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, adding that Moscow is looking at other sanction options if unfriendly steps continue.

Lavrov announced the news at a press conference on Friday, adding that Moscow would ban US funds and NGOs from interfering in Russia's internal affairs. Lavrov added that, with the US currently employing 450 diplomatic staff in Russia, and Russia employing 350 in the US, "the Americans will be asked to bring the number of employees in Russia in line with the number of Russians in the United States," should relations between the two countries sour further.

Lavrov also said that Russia had the opportunity to inflict "painful measures" on US businesses, but would not take action at this time.

A day before Lavrov's announcement, US President Joe Biden signed a decree sanctioning more than 30 Russian individuals and organizations for allegedly interfering in the 2020 presidential election and for supposed involvement in last year's SolarWinds cyber-espionage case. Russia vehemently denies both allegations. Biden also ordered 10 Russian diplomats to leave the US, and banned American companies from directly buying shares in Russia's national debt.

Comment: Tulsi Gabbard weighs in on hostilities between Russia and Ukraine:
Unless the world wants to see loved ones "burned alive in a nuclear holocaust," politicians should cut out the "macho" act and begin to deescalate. That's according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. American people must decide if they're willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not - the rhetoric must be toned down.
According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the "thousands of nuclear weapons" Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that "hundreds of millions" could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

According to the former congresswoman, a war between the US and Russia would lead to the "end of the world as we know it," and she called for American President Joe Biden to stop imposing sanctions and escalating tensions. "If he doesn't, it's not a question of if we go to war with Russia, or if this war ends up with a nuclear holocaust, but it really is then just a question of when."
Tensions between Moscow and Washington escalate on other fronts:
A US Air Force reconnaissance plane flying in international airspace has been shadowed through the skies by a Russian fighter pilot off the country's Pacific coast, Ministry of Defense officials in Moscow confirmed on Friday.

A spokesperson for the department revealed that the Russian MiG-31 jet "took off from an airfield in Kamchatka to identify [the American plane] and accompany it. The fighter pilot identified the target as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft RC-135."

The ministry confirmed that the spy plane, equipped with high-tech reconnaissance equipment, had not violated the border and was escorted along its flight path. After the US pilot set a course away from the Russian mainland, the fighter disengaged, reports say.
What's up with the 'Ukraine-Russia War'?
Lots of heavy stuff moving in Russia; especially big artillery systems: 2S4 heavy mortars, 2S7 long-range guns and Iskanders. (Powerful counter-battery fire would be both effective and semi-deniable).

Stockpiles of equipment near Voronezh. Two armies (corps) plus airborne formations (probably more than NATO could field anywhere in real life; certainly never as quickly).

What most impressed were ships from the Caspian Sea Flotilla being transferred via the Volga-Don Canal. Never forget that the really important stuff is not visible - the Russians are the best at operational-level deception.

A Ukrainian convoy by comparison - pathetic mix of civilian vehicles and elderly APCs. (Incredibly, despite all the genuine videos, CNN still fakes it.) NATO huffs and puffs; Blinken ditto; Berlin throws some cold water on Kiev. Ritter calls Kiev's "NATO fantasy" a "suicide pill".

AND THEN AGAIN, MAYBE NOT.

Just reported that the two US warships will not enter the Black Sea; they are presently moored in Crete. Kiev changes its tune. Maybe the war hawks got the message: Moscow is determined, willing and more than capable.



Arrow Up

Democrats plan to add four justices to give them Supreme Court majority

Supreme court justices
© CQ-RollCall, Inc./Getty Images
Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh
Democrats are preparing to unveil legislation that would add four seats to the US Supreme Court.

The bill, first reported by the Intercept, is expected to be introduced in both the House and Senate on Thursday. It would up the number of seats on the high court to 13 from the current nine.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Wall Street Journal that adding justices "will shore up the public's confidence in the court and its legitimacy in the public's eyes."

Also backing the measure are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Subcommittee Chairman Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY).

The sponsors will announce the proposal at a press conference Thursday morning on the steps of the court, where they will be joined by activists from liberal groups including Take Back The Court, which has advocated for increasing the number of justices.

"Our democracy is under assault, and the Supreme Court has dealt the sharpest blows. To restore power to the people, we must #ExpandTheCourt," Jones wrote on Twitter.

Comment: This is not about shoring up 'faltering public opinion' with more bench seats. It's a blatant partisan power play. Justices should have allegiance to NO PARTY. They work for the people...don't they?

Not one to pass on 'in'Justices, former President Trump offered his remarks:
In what is likely to go down as one of his greatest rants yet (and longest run-on sentences), former President Trump weighed in tonight on President Biden's court-packing commission:

Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America
Wouldn't it be ironic if the Supreme Court of the United States, after showing that they didn't have the courage to do what they should have done on the Great Presidential Election Fraud of 2020, was PACKED by the same people, the Radical Left Democrats (who they are so afraid of!), that they so pathetically defended in not hearing the Election Fraud case.

Now there is a very good chance they will be diluted (and moved throughout the court system so that they can see how the lower courts work), with many new Justices added to the Court, far more than has been reported.

There is also a good chance that they will be term-limited.

We had 19 states go before the Supreme Court who were, shockingly, not allowed to be heard. Believe it or not, the President of the United States was not allowed to be heard based on "no standing." not based on the FACTS.

The Court wouldn't rule on the merits of the great Election Fraud, including the fact that local politicians and judges, not State Legislatures, made major changes to the Election - which is in total violation of the United States Constitution.

Our politically correct Supreme Court will get what they deserve - an unconstitutionally elected group of Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country.

With leaders like Mitch McConnell, they are helpless to fight. He didn't fight for the Presidency, and he won't fight for the Court.

If and when this happens, I hope the Justices remember the day they didn't have courage to do what they should have done for America.
Jonathan Turley recently noted, the Commission is set to consider a litany of truly looney ideas to prevent the conservative majority from deciding cases, including creating a new specialized court or limiting jurisdiction to remove certain cases from their docket.
The commission includes such individuals as Harvard University professor Laurence Tribe, who called Donald Trump a "terrorist" and has a history of personal and vulgar attacks on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others, myself included, who maintain views that he opposes.

Tribe once ridiculed former Attorney General William Barr for his Catholic faith.

The only ire Tribe has drawn from the left, however, was when he referred to the possible selection of an African American like then Senator Kamala Harris to be vice president as mere "cosmetics" for the party.

Tribe has not been subtle about his sudden interest in court packing. After the election he declared:

"The time is overdue for a seriously considered plan of action from those of us who believe McConnell and Republicans, abetted by and abetting the Trump movement, have prioritized expansion of their own power over the safeguarding of our American democracy and the protection of the most vulnerable who are among us."
Size matters? Not everyone agrees:
The bill intends to "restore balance to the nation's highest court after four years of norm-breaking actions by Republicans led to its current composition," Nadler said in a statement. Last week he signed off on the executive order to create the commission.

Scores of Republicans have come out against the move including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

The bill won't be going anywhere for now, however. Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she does not intend to bring the bill to the house floor but that it "should be considered" and that she backs Biden's efforts to study the proposal.
Do we believe Pelosi? The Biden administration has become the denier of future actions that somehow spontaneously activate.


Arrow Down

Biden calls for de-escalation of tensions with Russia following sanctions over unproven charges of hacking and election meddling

Biden walks away
© Reuters/Tom Brenner
US President Biden departs the White House East Room having delivered remarks on Russia.
US President Joe Biden called for "dialogue and diplomatic process" with Russia, after ordering sanctions against Moscow for allegedly being behind the SolarWinds hack and interfering in "sacred" elections and American democracy.

Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday afternoon that he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of the impending sanctions during their recent phone call, calling it a "proportionate" US response to what Russia allegedly did.
"We concluded that they had interfered in the election and the SolarWinds was totally inappropriate."
Russia has denied any interference in the 2020 US presidential election and rejected the accusations it may have been behind the compromise of a platform used by numerous US government agencies, first announced in January.

Biden said the proposed summit with Putin "this summer in Europe" was still being discussed with the Kremlin, and expressed hope the US and Russia could "launch a strategic dialogue" that would help advance his agenda on Iran, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things. He also expressed hope that Russia would not respond to the US sanctions. He told reporters:
"Now is the time to de-escalate. The way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic process. The US is prepared to move forward constructively with that process."

Comment: Conclusions do not make proof - even if you are the president. Adding sanctions without accepting criticism? It would seem the escalator of tension is not Vladimir Putin, but Joe Biden.


Arrow Down

US reportedly dropped plans to send warships to Black Sea amid 'concerns' about Russia's reaction

USS Destroyer Donald Cook
© AFP/Petrut Calinescu
USS Destroyer Donald Cook in a Romanian Black Sea port.
The United States abruptly canceled the deployment of a pair of Tomahawk-armed Arleigh Burke-class destroyers into the Black Sea late Wednesday, several days after announcing plans to sail them into the body of water. The deployment was canceled after Russia's Black Sea Fleet started large-scale drills involving Kalibr-armed warships.

The United States military canceled plans to send the USS Roosevelt and USS Donald Cook missile destroyers into the Black Sea due to fears that the deployment might "provoke" Moscow, Politico has reported, citing two officials said to be familiar with the plans.

One of the officials told the outlet that the ships' deployment was "not unusual" and was not meant to send any particular new signal to anyone, but added that a decision was made to scrap the transit to "avoid needlessly escalating" tensions over Ukraine.

The unnamed official also insisted that the calculation on Russia was just one out of a "myriad" of reasons why the deployment was canceled.

Light Saber

Sen. Rand Paul demands Fauci be 'voluntarily removed from TV for fear mongering'

Rand Paul fauci fear mongering
© Fox Business
Senator Rand Paul
Appearing on Fox Business Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul made an impassioned plea for Anthony Fauci to be taken off the airwaves for continually 'fear mongering'.

Paul claimed that Fauci has ceaselessly made claims that are not "matched by the science of his own institute."

"I so much think Dr. Fauci should be voluntarily removed from TV because what he says is such a disservice, and such fear-mongering," Paul urged.

The Senator pointed in particular to comments made by Fauci earlier this week when he claimed that Americans should still not be socialising together indoors, even if they have been fully vaccinated, comments that contradict CDC findings that vaccinated people cannot transmit the virus.

Comment: ZeroHedge reports on exchanges between Fauci and Jim Jordan, which became so tense that Mad Auntie Maxine felt obliged to butt in.
During a Thursday congressional hearing, SaraACarter.com's Douglass Braff reports that a shouting match erupted between GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Dr. Anthony Fauci over COVID-19 restrictions when Jordan pressed Fauci on when Americans can expect things to return to normal, bringing up civil liberties.

"When is the time?" Jordan asked during House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus hearing titled "Reaching the Light at the End of the Tunnel: Ending COVID-19". "When do Americans get their freedom back? We had 15 days to slow the spread, turned into a year of lost liberties."
"When we get the level of infection in this country low enough that it is not a really high threat," Fauci replied.
"What is low enough? Give me a number [...] what metrics, what measures, what has to happen before Americans get their freedoms?" the Ohio Republican asked.

Fauci replied that his message was to make sure as many Americans as possible get vaccinated quickly "to get the level of infection in this country low that it is no longer a threat."

Unsatisfied, Jordan continued to press him on this until Fauci took issue with the congressman's framing of the issue as one of civil liberties.
"You're indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to hospital," Fauci said, adding that life will return to normal when people get vaccinated.
"You don't think Americans' liberties have been threatened the last year, Dr. Fauci?" Jordan asked, raising his voice. "They've been assaulted!"


Later on, the congressman brought up the various types of COVID-19 restrictions that have been put in place throughout the pandemic — such as those on houses of worship, having guests in one's home, and curfews — arguing that they violated people's constitutional rights.

The Congressman implored Fauci for an empirical answer:
"Are we gonna be here two years from now wearing masks ...?"
Dr. Fauci mumbled a shockingly disrespectful response:
"You're ranting again."
And that's when Jordan lost what little cool he had left: "Here's how it works, Dr. Fauci. I get to ask you the questions."


Subsequently, Jordan claimed people have been censored because they dared to disagree with Fauci, citing a video where physicians disagreed with Fauci's positions. This led to Fauci to claim that the congressman was making things personal.
"It's not a personal thing," Jordan claimed, to which Fauci shouted back: "You are! That is exactly what you're doing."
After Jordan's time expired, committee Chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that he would be pleased once 90% of Congress is vaccinated. This prompted the Ohio Republican to ask Fauci again for a specific standard.

"When? What are the numbers?" he asked.
"Right now we're at an unacceptably high level," Fauci said.

"What you're going to see as more and more people get vaccinated and we get over three million people a day, you're going to see the level of infection come down and down, and gradually there will be more flexibility for doing the things that you're talking about."
Jordan continued to press him for a specific number. But, as Fauci started to give a response, the next committee member began to speak, thanking Clyburn.
"I'd like my question answered!" Jordan shouted, in response to which Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) yelled:

"You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth!"
"Don't worry about this, we're going to handle this," Clyburn responded. "I think Mr. Jordan knows me very well, and he knows full well that we're going to handle this."

Jordan thanked the South Carolina Democrat, and the hearing proceeded, with the Ohio Republican and Fauci sparring some more in subsequent rounds of questioning.



Snakes in Suits

UK's Health Sec Hancock & sister own shares in NHS supplier, deny conflict of interest

hancock
© Reuters
The government denied there was any conflict of interest and said the health secretary had declared his shareholding properly
Health Secretary Matt Hancock owns shares in a company which was approved as a potential supplier for NHS trusts in England, it has emerged.

In March, he declared he had acquired more than 15% of Topwood Ltd, which was granted the approved status in 2019.

The firm, which specialises in the secure storage, shredding and scanning of documents, also won £300,000 of business from NHS Wales this year.

A government spokesman said there had been no conflict of interest.

Comment: This comes as the UK's former PM, David Cameron, has been in the headlines for his own conflict of interest, and he himself admits he should have 'acted differently': UK's Greensill lobbying scandal and former PM Cameron's involvement

It's notable that the very same ministers claiming the country is fighting a deadly pandemic also seem are those doing dodgy deals with their mates:


Bad Guys

Who is really running the Pentagon? Biden reportedly pulled rank on military in Afghanistan withdrawal

pentagon
© Sputnik / David B. Gleason
Throughout the tenure of three American presidents, the US military maintained a presence in Afghanistan; Joe Biden's decision this week to withdraw all forces by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, sparked concerns among analysts that the move is fraught with a further escalation of the country's ongoing civil war.

A report claims top military brass had advocated for keeping a small US presence on the ground ahead of President Joe Biden's announced decision to withdraw its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan starting on 1 May, aiming to be fully out by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks according to Politico.

Comment: See also:


Broom

'Monumental failure'? Obama roasted for saying US achieved 'all that we can' in Afghanistan as Biden reveals exit plan

Afghan troops us soldiers
© REUTERS/Bob Strong/File Photo
Afghan troops and soldiers with the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division take up fighting positions in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, July 27, 2010.
Barack Obama was barraged by sarcastic tweets after arguing that President Joe Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan was necessary because the US military had done all it could after nearly 20 years of war.

Biden announced on Wednesday that American forces will leave Afghanistan by September. Explaining his decision, he said that he refused to continue the cycle of "extending or expanding" the US military presence in the country, adding that waiting to create "ideal conditions" for a withdrawal was no longer viable. He noted that four presidents have presided over the conflict and that he was determined not to pass the conflict on to a fifth. Around 2,500 US service members are currently stationed in the country, with thousands more reportedly operating "off-the-books."

The Democrat said that he had spoken to Obama as well as former President George W. Bush earlier in the week about his withdrawal plans.

Comment: The Taliban have reiterated that until all foreign troops are out the country, they will not even begin to work towards a peace agreement; meaning that Biden's 5 month extension on Trumps May 1st withdrawal agreement will only lead to more violence and bloodshed in the country: Biden delays withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan until September 11th


Eye 1

French MPs finally pass draconian 'global security law' that allows 'broad surveillance of the population'

france police
© AFP Photo
Protesters clash with riot police during anti-government demonstrations called by the Yellow Vests, Lorient, France, Feb. 9, 2019.
French lawmakers have given their final support for a controversial "global security" law which has sparked widespread demonstrations.

The bill is centred on "Article 24", which will make it an offence to maliciously share images that identify police officers in operation by face or name.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the law would protect police officers from online calls for violence. Police unions have also expressed their support for the measures.

But the legislation has been widely criticised by both humans rights and media organisations who say that it would curtail press freedom and lead to less police accountability.

Comment: It's rather suspect that the same European countries with the harshest and longest lockdown restrictions are also clearly hell bent on ramming through draconian laws: Also check out SOTT radio's: