Professional Scam Artists – part 37

Syncrude tar sands trucks

“Alberta’s phony $80 million lost per day” by Dale Marshall (Environmental Defence)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

First things first – I’m not sure how Alberta wound up at $80 million. The figure supposedly comes from a Scotiabank report from February 2018. But wait a second – the conclusion of that report was that $30 million per day was being lost. How did it get to $80 million?

Initially, I guess the Alberta government decided that $30 million wasn’t enough. They just ignored that conclusion, and instead picked a higher number ($40 million per day) that didn’t take into account that oil companies could reduce losses by shipping oil by rail. So $40 million was the initial figure used in the Alberta ad campaign.

Then, inexplicably, that figure was switched in the ads to $80 million per day. How did it double? Who knows? But apparently government ads don’t actually have to tell the truth…

One final, big deception is the claim that getting tar sands crude to Asia via a pipeline to tidewater will increase the price it sells for. And yet, compared to Gulf Coast refineries, Asian markets pay less, not more, for heavy crude from Alberta. Those markets have access to light, sweet crude from the Middle East.

Oil producers want the TransMountain pipeline so they can keep expanding production. Meanwhile, as we approach an Alberta election, political leaders are trying to outdo each other in their support for the oil and gas industry and their millionaire execs. And hey, if every time the oil industry complains, politicians fall over themselves to provide exemptions, subsidies and massive ad campaigns – why wouldn’t they milk it?

Industrial pipe discharging tailings waste

“Oil companies don’t care about you or the planet” by Dale Marshall (Environmental Defence)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The most recent story is the revelation that an oil company lobby group undertook a stealth campaign to weaken fuel efficiency standards for vehicles sold in the U.S. Research has shown that improving the efficiency of vehicles is a win-win-win-win. When cars burn less gas, our air is cleaner, our children and families are healthier, motorists have more money in their pockets, and that extra money is spent in the local economy.

But that’s not good enough for greedy oil executives. Why? Well, more efficient vehicles mean lower profits for their companies.

And of course, this kind of campaign has to be secret. After all, oil executives know that it’s not a good look to screw over citizens and the planet to improve their bottom line…

Another story that would be hilarious if it wasn’t infuriating is Canada’s oil industry’s demands to the next Alberta government. Some of them are boilerplate corporate wishes: more subsidies, lower taxes, fewer regulations. Sure, it was coming from Canadian oil companies that made $46 billion in gross profits in 2017, but no one is surprised by corporate greed.

It was the rest of the oil lobby’s demands that made me wonder if this was satire. Oil and gas companies want six more oil pipelines and four major liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

“Venezuela crisis: Fake Red Cross, Border clashes, ‘masked thugs’, & torched ‘aid’” by ? (RT News via Axis of Logic)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The US-backed opposition’s call for a “human avalanche” to force American aid into Venezuela has erupted in violent clashes. Tensions were running high and the opposition soon claimed that government forces have killed civilians.

Self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido had called on his followers to create a “human wave” and bring the “avalanche” of humanitarian aid across the borders from Brazil and Colombia on Saturday. He’d crossed into Colombia unmolested the day before, to attend a concert extravaganza in support of regime change and organized by British mogul Richard Branson. Rather than lead the charge across the bridges himself, however, Guaido was nowhere to be seen on Saturday afternoon, RT correspondent Dan Cohen reported from Cucuta, Colombia…

At least one truck attempting to get into Venezuela was apparently set on fire before it could cross the border. Opposition supporters circulated a photograph of the burning vehicle on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, though it was not clear who torched it and whether is was done deliberately or happened accidentally.

Meanwhile the world’s largest international aid organization has demanded that “unaffiliated” activists at the Venezuela-Colombia border not use their insignia, as it risks “jeopardizing our neutrality, impartiality & independence,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Guarimberos (photo from Telesur)

“Burning Aid: Apparent Deception on Colombia-Venezuela Bridge” by Max Blumenthal (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The Trump administration’s coup against Venezuela culminated on Feb. 23 with U.S.-backed opposition attempting to ram several trucks loaded with boxes of USAID “humanitarian aid” across the previously unused Francisco de Paula Santander bridge connecting Colombia to Venezuela.

The trucks failed to reach the other side — but that was never really the point of the stunt. As Father Sergio Munoz, a right-wing Venezuelan activist posted on the Colombian side of the border, explained to journalist Dan Cohen, the humanitarian “aid” was a purely symbolic provocation aimed at discrediting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduroin international eyes and generating waves of destabilizing violence.

By the end of the day, the trucks lined up on the Francisca de Paula Santander bridge were flanked by gangs of guarimberos.

These were the nihilistic masked youth who form the shock troops of the right-wing opposition, and who placed Caracas under siege with violent barricade protests, known as guarimbas, at several points between 2014 and 2017. A mob of guarimberos burned to death Orlando Figuera, a 22-year old black Venezuelan accused of supporting Maduro, on an eastern Caracas street in broad daylight, back in June 2017.

On the Santander bridge this Feb. 23, the guarimberos rained down a hail of rocks and molotov cocktails on Venezuelan national guardsmen holding the line against the USAID trucks. Suddenly, the trucks caught fire and the masked youth began unloading boxes of aid before they burned. Within minutes, pro-opposition media reported that the Venezuelan national guard forces were responsible for the fires.

A reporter for the private anti-government channel NTN24 claimed without evidence that the Venezuelan security forces had caused the fires with tear gas…

The claim was absurd on its face. I have personally witnessed tear gas canisters hit every kind of vehicle imaginable in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and I have never seen a fire like the one that erupted on the Santander bridge.

In 2013, the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Department deployed special incendiary teargas canisters (“burners”) to torch the house where fugitive cop killer Chris Dorner had holed up. But it is highly unlikely that the Venezuelan national guardsmen had anything like this weapon in their arsenal when they confronted the rioters on Feb. 23.

Pierre Omidyar

“How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding a Global Information War and Shaping the Media Landscape” part 1 of 2 by Alex Rubenstein and Max Blumethal (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A select group of national news “stakeholders” gathered at an undisclosed location for what was described as a “semi-secret” workshop somewhere in Canada on January 26. The meeting had been convened to determine how and to whom a “news industry bailout” of $645 million in Canadian government subsidies to private and supposedly independent media outlets would be disbursed. It was a striking event that signaled both the crisis of legitimacy faced by mainstream media and the desperate measures that are being proposed to answer it.

Jesse Brown, a Canadian journalist who participated in the meeting, complained that the first thing he noticed about it “was that one major public ‘stakeholder’ wasn’t represented: the public.” Inside what amounted to a smoke filled room that was off limits to most Canadian citizens, Ben Scott — a former Obama administration official who also served in Hillary Clinton’s State Department — presided over the discussions. Today, as the director of policy and advocacy for the Omidyar Network, Scott works for one of the most quietly influential billionaires in helping to shape the media landscape and define the craft of journalism itself.

His boss is Pierre Omidyar, the ebay founder best known for his sponsorship of The Intercept, a flashy progressive publication that possesses the classified documents exfiltrated by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Unlike rival Silicon Valley billionaires Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos, and Eric Schmidt, Omidyar has mostly managed to keep his influential role in media below the radar. And while he directs his fortune into many of the same politically strategic NGOs and media outlets that George Soros does in hotspots around the globe, he has never been subjected to the public scrutiny and often ugly attacks that dog Soros. And yet Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN and liberal interventionist guru, has explicitly praised Omidyar as someone who is following in the footsteps of Soros.

Alternative Media isn’t always a ‘meaningfully’ alternative and progressives often turn out to be fakers or, at the least, going in the wrong direction. The Progressive Community can’t get enough Glen Greenwald. And yet, There he is, working for Pierre Omidyar!

Pierre Omidyar

“Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks and Partnerships with CIA Cutouts” part 2 of 2 by Alex Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

As we have seen in part one of this investigation, billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has partnered closely with many of the U.S.-funded outfits that fulfill the role the CIA used to play during the Cold War in backing opposition media and civil society in countries targeted for regime change. However, Omidyar has also sought state-of-the-art design solutions from a shady U.S. government national security consulting firm with a myriad of ties to the hawkish D.C. foreign policy establishment.

In February of last year, USAID’s Global Development Lab published a series of reports furnished for it by a small, Arlington, Virginia-based company focused on design solutions for national security problems, with a mere 10 employees listed on its website and eight on its LinkedIn page. Those reports caught the attention of journalist Michael Igoe at Devex on Tuesday.

The company, Frontier Design Group, analyzed the feasibility of essentially militarizing USAID. The report proposals like “Rapid Expeditionary Development” (RED) teams. Those teams would be embedded with U.S. Special Forces, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration outside of typical USAID areas of operation…

Another Frontier Design Group client is the Omidyar Group, further demonstrating the eBay founder’s proximity to shady government contractors.

Elizabeth Warren

“Elizabeth Warren warns of ‘demographic realities, births… bearing down on Israel’ — racist code for Palestinian babies” by Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Former Obama aide Tommy Vietor interviewed Senator Elizabeth Warren yesterday and asked a few questions about Israel. The fascination here is that someone who is so outspoken and eloquent on economic inequality, health care, Wall Street, government corruption and the horrors of Vietnam and Iraq turns into a conservative when it comes to a Jewish state administering Jim Crow over millions of second-class citizens. Warren doesn’t mention the occupation, or Palestinian conditions, repeatedly calls Israel a “liberal democracy,” says the U.S. should be “pushing” for a two-state solution but no no real pressure, i.e. sanctions. “We should not be putting chips on the table or taking them off.”

Worst of all, Warren parrots the “demographics” talk that would be the death penalty for a liberal politician in the United States. Imagine if a politician talked about how many black people or brown people are being born in her district or in the country as a threat to the country’s character?…

Here’s a portion of the transcript:

Tommy Vietor [former Obama spokesperson]: The first bill that the Senate put forward was a bill called S1 which did a whole bunch of stuff. It was military support to Israel. I think it was some policy towards Jordan, some additional sanctions in Syria, but then there was a really controversial provision that would allow state and municipal governments to punish companies that boycott, divest from, or place sanctions on Israel so so-called BDS Movement. Why did you oppose S1?

Elizabeth Warren: I opposed the boycott but I oppose a law that permits punishment of people who want to support the boycott. This is one where I stand with the ACLU…

I think the way we can be a good ally to Israel is we can push again toward a two state solution toward a long term solution in this area and look I get it. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world. It’s a liberal democracy. We don’t have a lot of allies over there that follow the liberal democratic traditions but a good ally urges friends to get together and work out a solution. And the Palestinians and the Israelis need to be back at the negotiating table. The United States should not be dictating terms. We should not be putting chips on the table or taking them off. But we should be pushing them to negotiate a two state solution….

I think we have to stop to acknowledge what has changed during the Trump administration. The pressure toward a two state solution obviously has gone away and in fact the whole publicly naming Jerusalem as the capital and moving our embassy. Took one of the things that should have been decided by the parties. It’s not our decision, it’s their decision and how they wanted to handle that. It made it very clear we’re standing on one side in these negotiations. And the problem with that is it. It doesn’t encourage negotiation…

[T]he way I see what you’re talking about is we have pushed it this far under the Obama administration and now Trump has completely reversed it. I don’t therefore draw the conclusion that what happened under the Obama administration was never going to work that you couldn’t keep pushing harder because over time realities are bearing down on Israel, demographic realities, births and deaths. What the region looks like and I think that that this is a moment not while Trump is in there playing the game that he’s playing but that the opportunity soon to get Israel back to the table and get the Palestinians back to the table. If we the United States can be an honest broker and can encourage again other nations other allies to help support that. I’m – I’m, I actually had just a little spark of-.

Tommy Vietor: Glimmer of hope

Elizabeth Warren: Optimism. Let’s call it a glimmer. Can we start with glimmer?


Bari Weiss at Chautauqua Institution in July 2018. Screenshot from youtube.

“Bari Weiss clumsily regurgitates old hasbara talking points” by David Samuel (Mondoweiss)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

[=== == =
In her recent podcast discussion with Joe Rogan and in her New York Times column, Bari Weiss manages to make dishonest and endlessly rehashed hasbara talking points even worse.

Item one: When the subject of Israel came up with Rogan, Weiss offered:

“There’s an obsession on the State of Israel. Like if you were an alien that landed from outer space, you would think that the greatest oppressor in the world is this tiny state that’s the size of New Jersey. These people say nothing generally about the genocide of Uighur Muslims in China. . . It’s an enormous story [and it’s appalling] that you don’t know about it.”

At first hearing, this is just another nauseating attempt to shame Israel’s critics as anti-Semites for elevating concern for Palestinians over supposedly more deserving victims elsewhere in the world. Weiss, however, is especially vulnerable to the comeback, “What about you?” She enjoys an extremely prominent and influential media position as op-ed columnist for the Times, yet has never written a single column about the Uighurs for whom she feigns concern only as a pretext to defend Israel. And while she chides pro-Palestinian voices for their apathy over the Uighurs, she has never urged supporters of Israel to abandon their focus on an economic and military powerhouse and instead labor on behalf of the Uighurs…

Of course, much of hasbara consists of a familiar repertoire of talking points –“bad neighborhood,” “surrounded by sworn enemies,” “Jew among nations,” “world’s oldest hatred” – and it would be unfair to accuse everyone who utters these insufferable cliches with the additional offense of quasi-plagiarism. But Weiss should be more careful about using unique phrases about “motherlodes” and visitors from outer space that were crafted by more imaginative though equally offensive commentators. And Bari, if you’re planning to start a blog, don’t name it Mondoweiss. It’s taken.
= == ===]

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Feel free to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.