The Avalanche – Snapshot 38 – June 15, ’19

“Syria and War Propaganda: Robert Stuart vs the BBC” by Susan Dirgham and Rick Sterling (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(+(++(+++
It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.” The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go.

It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth. The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBC three days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria. As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21, there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400. The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals. A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention…

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled…

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removed YouTube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?
+++)++)+)

From Mint Press News:
Trust Project founder Sally Lehrman speaks at the 2018 organization of News Ombudsmen conference. Photo | ONO

“The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent” by Whitney Webb (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

[([(
After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly untransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.

Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook. Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not…

The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media.
)])]

In other words, the fake news purveyors – mainly established giant media invited to the party – are allowed to skip the test! Let that fact sink in. I guess that the censors have had such a hard time doing their subtle censorship, always running the risk that fake news would get caught up in the purging of real news, that they had to come up with some sure-fire way to pull it off. And here it is. They will allow protected, pro Corporatocracy media to evade the dragnet altogether with code in their online articles (that signals the algorithms to approve) that citizens will never see. Most citizens reading their dailies won’t even know, because they just don’t care enough to know. Knowing is caring is knowing. If I can learn about this stuff, and I have zero specialized education and only learn by reading, then anyone can.

“The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy,” writes Whitney. And why is that competition so bad? It’s not just a money concern by those who prefer gangster capitalism over the textbook version of capitalism that compels those gangsters to take these censorship steps. If people started getting a good look at the way the world is really being run and if they started to get a good look at the criminals who are running the world, that could, theoretically, lead to the undoing of the entire criminal enterprise that is Corporatocracy, presently led by the United States. Right principles: Fascism. Wrong principles: democracy. That’s Sally Lerhman’s view. What is fascism? It’s many evil things, but mainly, it is a system in which regular people have zero say in matters affecting them, even if they think otherwise (because they have elections and voting).

Way to go WordPress. Get your glory while you can.

From Mint Press News:
Armed extremists leaving Al Waer, Homs en route to Idlib in January 2018. The fighter at the forefront of the photograph is wearing a Nusra Front/Al Qaeda armband. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

“Sky News and the Western Press Have Once Again Failed Syria” by Vanessa Beeley (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(O
Recent storylines from the Western press on the “Idlib” narrative, particularly the extraordinary spate of “on-the-ground” reports from Sky News reporter Alex Crawford, have failed to paint an accurate picture of the reality faced by Syrian civilians.

Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL — described Idlib as “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” adding that the presence of Al Qaeda in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.” Mint Press journalist Whitney Webb covered McGurk’s statements and U.S. policy in Idlib in late 2018.

McGurk’s statement seems to have been forgotten by both corporate media and “human rights” commentators alike since the Syrian Army’s military campaign to liberate areas of Idlib began in earnest a few weeks ago. In fact, there seems to be an ongoing campaign by the Western press to normalize militant groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

On May 27, 2019 a headline in a Reuters article read “Idlib government chief urges defense against Assad attack” (emphasis added). The “head” of the Idlib “Salvation Government,” Fawaz Hilal, was calling upon Turkey to intervene on their behalf to protect them from SAA military advances.

While Reuters openly admits that the Salvation Government is heavily backed by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS)/Al Qaeda, there is minimal reference to the daily war crimes committed by armed groups against civilians in Syrian government-secured territory as a valid reason for the uptick in Syrian military operations to liberate areas of Idlib province.

The reader is ultimately left with the impression that the Salvation Government is legitimate Syrian “opposition” rather than an Al Qaeda construct established with the involvement of the notorious Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani…

There is no nuance to the Sky News reports, no analysis of complexity, no diverging opinions or context. Therefore, in my opinion, this is not journalism; it is a deliberate intent to mislead a gullible public fed a media diet of “war on terror” fear and insecurity for years. It is information bias and cynical misdirection of narratives designed to support U.S. military adventurism in Syria and the region.
O)

“Confronting Censorship in Ireland” by David Swanson (David Swanson)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

O—
According to exit polls from late May, an impressive 82% of Irish voters say Ireland should remain a neutral country in all aspects. But Ireland is not remaining a neutral country in all aspects, and there’s no indication of whether Irish voters know that, or specifically what they think of the fact that the United States military, year after year, ships large numbers of troops and weapons (and occasionally presidents) through Shannon Airport on their way to endless disastrous wars…

A lot of us had an idea. There are billboards along the road to Shannon Airport. Why not collect enough money to rent one and put our message on it: “U.S. Troops Out of Shannon Airport!” Surely there would be some people who would prefer that we take that approach rather than breaking through fences onto the grounds of the airport.

I contacted a Sales Manager at Clear Channel in Dublin, but he stalled and delayed and evaded and prevaricated until I finally took a hint. Clear Channel will not accept money to put up a billboard for peace; and something else that’s not neutral in Ireland is the billboards.

So, I got in touch with a Direct Sales Executive at J.C. Decaux, which rents billboards in Limerick and Dublin. I sent him two billboard designs as an experiment. He said he would accept one but refuse the other. The acceptable one said “Peace. Neutrality. Ireland.” The unacceptable one said “U.S. Troops Out of Shannon.”

I’m reminded of the member of a school board in the United States who said he would support celebrating the International Day of Peace as long as nobody got the impression he was against any wars.
—O

“Encounter With Damascus Resident, Who (Like So Many) Speaks of How Western Media Lies About Syria” by Eva Bartlett (In Gaza and beyond)

The above linked-to intro by Eva Bartlett to her video (above) follows:

:|:|:—
Walking the lanes of Old Damascus yesterday, I met a local resident and chatted with him a bit. Don’t have time to subtitle, but (from around 1:50) he said the situation was improved, and when I mentioned that a couple of years ago there was the constant mortaring (from terrorists in eastern Ghouta) and now no, he went on to praise President Assad, saying he has a strong heart and loves the Syrian people.

He also, notably, said western media speaks about Syria and President Assad, “that he is not good”. He obviously disagreed with this, and chided European/Western media for its lies, said people who live here (in Syria) know the truth.
He expanded on this in his courtyard and, since I already knew I won’t have time to subtitle, I tried to summarize his words while he spoke.

Another simple video from Syria, nothing flashy, no special effects, no media team behind me. Just me and my mobile phone camera, walking and talking to average Syrians–voices deliberately excluded by western corporate media.
—:|:|:

From Canadaland:
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller delivering the final MMIWG report taken from the CBC’s livestream of the inquiry’s closing ceremony

“Canada’s Media Was Always Going To Dismiss Genocide Against Indigenous Women” by Danielle Paradis,Tim Querengesser & Shama Rangwala (Canadaland)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

::::—-
After years of interviews with thousands of victims of violence as the chief commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Judge Marion Buller delivered a final report last week that includes hundreds of uses of the word “genocide.” Buller said the commission used this language to “hold up a mirror to Canada.”

In quick order, Canada’s media class smashed Buller’s mirror and ignored all those who have shared in the pain of the missing and murdered women. Some attempted to divorce the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls from the concept of genocide, ignoring charges of forced sterilization as recently as 2017 and the reality that targeting women destroys a culture and a community’s ability to continue into the future. Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star warned the powerful phraseology could see the report ignored. The Star’s editorial board suggested we need “a new word” for the harms of colonization, because “‘genocide’ isn’t it.” Over at The Globe and Mail, the editorial board said the charge of genocide “doesn’t ring true” and “simply does not bear scrutiny.” In the National Post, Father Raymond J. de Souza, a Roman Catholic priest, assured readers the charge just does not “comport with Canada’s record, or how most Canadians understand our country.”
—-::::

Hopefully Father Raymond J. de Souza is wrong about how ruined the Canadian public is. As for Raymond J. de Souza, who is ‘okay’ with Canadians being misinformed, Jehovah will deal with him.

Seth Rich

“Why Didn’t Mueller Investigate Seth Rich?” by Daniel Lazare (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(===(==(=
After bungling every last aspect of Russia-gate since the day the pseudo-scandal broke, the corporate press is now seizing on the Mueller report to shut down debate on one of the key questions still outstanding from the 2016 presidential election: the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

No one knows who killed Rich in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016. All we know is that he was found at 4:19 a.m. in the Bloomingdale neighborhood “with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back” according to the police report. Conscious and still breathing, he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:57…

…Despite his mother’s report of two shots in the back, all the local medical examiner would say is that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso. According to Rich’s brother, Aaron, Seth “was very aware, very talkative,” when police found him lying on the pavement. Yet cops have refused to say if he described his assailant. A month later, they put out a statement that “there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC,” but refused to elaborate.

The result is a scattering of disconnected facts that can be used to support just about any theory from a random killing to a political assassination. Nonetheless, Robert Mueller is dead certain that the murder had nothing to do with the emails — just as he was dead certain in 2003 that Iraq was bristling with weapons of mass destruction “pos[ing] a clear threat to our national security.
=)==)===)

“A Loud Whoomfing Sound”

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