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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Perilous State of the University: Jonathan Haidt & Jordan B Peterson

Comment: If you haven't managed to catch this conversation between Peterson and Haidt, this one's essential viewing. 

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The White Helmets Are A Propaganda Construct

Guardian’s “Putin stealing election” shows new wave of Russia-hate being rolled out

Catte
OffGuardian


This appeared in the Guardian today (thanks to Peter in the comments for alerting us):

 

We won’t bother doing an analysis of its lies, stupidities and racism. Simon Tisdall, author of the piece, could easily find out the reason Putin is virtually certain to return as president isn’t because the election is rigged but because people in Russia overwhelmingly support him. Even Gallup admit that much. Even the more level-headed western outlets acknowledge it. It’s a fact beyond dispute. Putin doesn’t need to rig anything on order to win an election. 

But Tisdall’s brutish conviction is proof against facts. Any facts, even Western-backed facts. Instead of doing even basic research he prefers to riff for umpteen paragraphs on something that is a total, demonstrable lie

Fact-based reality is not the one Tisdall and his peers live in any more. They don’t see it. And when it’s presented to them they think it’s Kremlin propaganda. In the matter of Russia they have become over the last few years blind and deaf to reason and fact. They are the most dangerous of deceivers – those who believe their own lies. Even the best of them now truly thinks anyone who questions their Russia=Evil narrative is a paid Kremlin agent. These well-paid supposedly well-educated people are on Twitter literally asking anyone who challenges them what the weather is like in St. Petersburg. 

The sheer wanton deception, the outright, blunt and brutal propagandising is getting worse.
It’s attaining new heights of spittle-flying hate. And in concert the war drums are beating again in Syria and Ukraine. 

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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Russiagate or Intelgate?

Stephen F. Cohen
ICH 

The publication of the Republican House Committee memo and reports of other documents increasingly suggest not only a “Russiagate” without Russia but also something darker: The “collusion” may not have been in the White House or the Kremlin.

Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War.

Referring to the memo whose preparation was overseen by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes and whose release was authorized by President Trump, and to similar reports likely to come, Cohen, having for years researched Soviet-era archive materials (once highly classified), understands the difficulties involved in summarizing such secret documents, especially when they have been generated by intelligence agencies. They must be put in the larger political context of the time, which can be fully understood only by using other sources as well, including open ones; and they may be contradicted by other classified materials not yet available.

Nonetheless, the “Republican memo,” as it has become known while we await its Democratic counterpart, indicates that some kind of operation against presidential candidate and then President Trump, an “investigation,” has been under way among top officials of US intelligence agencies for a long time. The memo focuses on questionable methods used by Obama’s FBI and Justice Department to obtain a warrant permitting them to surveil Carter Page, a peripheral and short-tenured Trump foreign-policy adviser, and the role played in this by the anti-Trump “dossier” complied by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer whose career specialization was Russia. But the memo’s implications are even larger.

Steele’s dossier, which alleged that Trump had been compromised by the Kremlin in various ways for several years even preceding his presidential candidacy, was the foundational document of the Russiagate narrative, at least from the time its installments began to be leaked to the American media in the summer of 2016, to the US “Intelligence Community Assessment” of January 2017 (when BuzzFeed also published the dossier), the same month that FBI Director James Comey “briefed” President-elect Trump on the dossier—apparently in an effort to intimidate him—and on to today’s Mueller investigation. 

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Living in an Orwellian Tyranny

Gilad Atzmon

Yesterday Nick Timothy, Theresa May's former aide, was accused of using an  antisemitic slur in his article on Brexit. He co-authored a  Telegraph report titled,  George Soros, the man who 'broke the Bank of England', backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

Not only did Timothy not criticise Soros as a Jew, he didn’t even refer to him as a Jew. But it seems the fact that Soros is a Jew was enough to censure Timothy as an ‘antisemite.’ It took no more.

Stephen Bush wrote in The New Statesman , “The reason that many find the Telegraph's treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.” It is mildly amusing that  the banal Stephen Bush can’t see that he himself employs an authoritarian manner of thought. Unless guilt by association has become Britain’s press’ MO, the fact that some regimes not approved of by Bush or The New Statesman decided to cleanse themselves of Soros’ infiltration has  little relevance to Timothy or his argument. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Associated Press double standard in reporting Israel-Palestine conflict

Kathryn Shihadah and Alison Weir
If Americans Knew Blog


Associated Press is one of those news sources we expect to be objective and reliable. But when it comes to the subject of Israel-Palestine, things are not always as they seem.

More than half the world's population reads Associated Press content every day.

But a study of news reports so far in 2018 indicates that this trusted news source has been presenting the deaths of Israelis at the hands of Palestinians, and of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, in two completely different ways.

This pattern may be a factor in how readers perceive the players in this decades-old issue. It is also, quite likely, a factor in how editors all over the U.S., who read AP stories daily, view the conflict.

So far in 2018, eleven Palestinians have been killed and two Israelis.

(Since December 6th, when President Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as "the capital of Israel," overturning decades of US policy, 27 Palestinians and 2 Israelis have died.)

In AP's 2018 news reports, Palestinian deaths have been reported in far shorter news articles than Israeli deaths, averaging 181 words in length vs. 551.

In addition to the number of words, AP's choice of words, context, and which facts to report and which to omit appears to tell two totally different kinds of stories for Israelis and Palestinians.  


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Jordan Peterson is helping disillusioned boys become men - Here's why liberals hate that

Jonathon Van Maren
LifeSiteNews


Over the past several months, progressive columnists have decided that they have had quite enough of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, the University of Toronto psychology professor who has ruffled post-modern sensibilities with his common-sense analysis and refusal to engage in the use of recently-invented transgender pronouns. Perhaps it is simply jealousy—Peterson has amassed an audience of millions—but the columns condemning him have been painful screeds to read, revealing the inability of their authors to understand either Peterson's ideas or his motivations. A few of them take his work so out of context that they border on slander.

But a good question to ask Peterson's detractors would be why? Why do they hate him so much? Why are so many liberals so determined to mock and malign him at every turn? Why do they see him as such a dangerous figure, when the impact of his work in the real world is so overwhelmingly positive?

I think, for example, that everyone would agree that there is a generation of young men in our society who are disillusioned, angry, and frustrated. Suicide, for example, is pandemic among young white men. Many of them are unemployed, most of them are hooked on pornography, and as a result their relationships are often toxic or dysfunctional. Nobody really seems to care, either—books like Hanna Rosin's The End of Men even carry a hint of triumphalism. To even talk about "men's issues" is to incur the rage of a thousand feminists.  


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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Modern imperialism goes on trial, and is found guilty

RT
Neil Clark

Imperialism – which today is usually referred to by the euphemism ‘liberal interventionism’ – went on Trial at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland this week. 

Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The event could have been called ‘War on Trial.’ It might have been called ‘Regime Change on Trial.’ Or ‘Economic Sanctions on Trial.’ But it was – thanks to organizer Gregory Sharkey – called ‘Imperialism on Trial’ and, as the first speaker, the writer and broadcaster John Wight declared, that in itself was highly significant. 

For the truth is the ‘I’ word is the elephant in the room in contemporary discourse. We’re not supposed to acknowledge its existence. Imperialism, according to the dominant Establishment narrative, ended when the European empires gave their colonies independence in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the ‘old’ imperialism was only replaced by a new variant which is even more destructive, and certainly more dishonest. At least the British Empire admitted it was an empire.

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Canada's gender-neutral pronoun bill should be a warning for Americans

Jordan Peterson
The Hill

 Two weeks ago I posted three YouTube videos about legislative threats to Canadian freedom of speech. I singled out Canada's Federal Bill C-16, which adds legal protection for "gender identity" and "gender expression" to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal code.

I noted that the policy statements surrounding similar legislation - most particularly those on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website - were dangerously vague and ill-formulated. I also indicated my refusal to apply what are now known as "preferred" pronouns to people who do not fit easily into traditional gender categories (although I am willing to call someone "he" or "she" in accordance with their manner of self-presentation).

These videos attracted a disproportionate amount of attention - online, in the Canadian national media, and beyond. A demonstration at the University of Toronto protested my statements. Another was held in support of free speech. The latter was met by counter-demonstrators who drowned out the speakers with white noise and assaulted a young female journalist - an act now viewed by half a million people on YouTube overall:




If you are wondering, reasonably, why any of this might be relevant to Americans, you might note that legislation very similar to Bill C-16 has already been passed in New York City.

Authorities there now fine citizens up to $250,000 for the novel crime of "mis-gendering" - referring to people by any words other than their pronouns of choice (including newly constructed words such as zie/hir, ey/em/eir and co).

"They" is also a popular choice, transforming the plural into a new singular, with its advocates arguing (misleadingly, in my opinion) that such use reaches back several hundred years. I have been taken to task for my refusal to abide by the wishes of those demanding such changes to my speech. What are my reasons?

First, most simply, are the practical problems. The Big Apple now legally protects a non-exhaustive list of 31 gender identities.  

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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Oliver Stone slams ‘lame-brained’ Spielberg movie over WaPo portrayal

RT

Director Oliver Stone took a swipe at the Washington Post and Stephen Spielberg’s “lame-brained” film, The Post in a Facebook tribute to the late journalist Robert Parry on Sunday. 
Stone commended the Consortium News’ founder for breaking from the “tyranny of mainstream media conformity” and his breaking of the Iran-Contra scandal.

Stone then pointed to the fact that the Washington Post’s publisher Katharine Graham, who is the subject of ‘The Post’, “deliberately ignored” that story.

“Note how she’s now being lionized in Spielberg’s lame-brained ‘The Post’,” he said of the character played by Meryl Streep.

‘The Post’ follows the period in 1971 when the Washington Post debated reporting on the Pentagon Papers after the New York Times had been prevented by doing so by a court order.

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Monday, 29 January 2018

You CAN clone yourself – in about 20 years, according to Microsoft; a “robot second-self” will act as a digital extension of your consciousness

Natural News 

In 20 years, humans will have robot doubles containing digital copies of their consciousness. That’s the future envisioned by Microsoft executives Brad Smith and Harry Shum. According to the two men, artificial intelligence (AI) alter egos are inevitable.

This is just one of the predictions they’ve outlined in their book, “The Future Computed.” In the pages, Smith and Shum discussed how the future version of Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana will integrate with the other smart devices around your home to make everyday living a simpler affair. From setting up meetings to replying to emails to booking reservations at restaurants, Cortana will be doing all that for you without you having to ask. In essence, she will become an extension of your consciousness — only digitized.

Microsoft already seems to be heading in that direction. 

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HOW YOU CAN HELP THE CHILDREN OF GAZA

Desert Peace

The following links were sent to me from Australia. They are all important and will give you an idea how YOU can help the children of Gaza during these most difficult days for them. Please take the time and click on every link posted below.

The following note was sent along with the links by a dear friend and Brother, Ayman Qwaider, from Gaza now living in Perth, Australia:

I am writing to share one of my passionate community education projects called Gaza Children Cinema which I founded in Gaza back in 2013. I often say that only hope left in Gaza is the young generation which we need to invest in to build up a better future for Gaza and for the region. The overall situation in Gaza is devastating which has demoralised me personally a lot. However, I often get energized when watching those kids in Gaza still smiling despite the harsh realities. 
 
 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Poisoned toothpaste and exploding phones: Israel linked to 2,700 assassination operations in 70 years

National Post

Poisoned toothpaste that takes a month to end its target’s life. Armed drones. Exploding cell phones. Spare tires with remote-control bombs. Assassinating enemy scientists and discovering the secret lovers of Islamic holy men.

A new book chronicles these techniques and asserts that Israel has carried out at least 2,700 assassination operations in its 70 years of existence. While many failed, they add up to far more than any other Western country, the book says.

Ronen Bergman, the intelligence correspondent for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, persuaded many agents of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military to tell their stories, some using their real names. The result is the first comprehensive look at Israel’s use of state-sponsored killings.

Based on 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents, and running more than 600 pages, “Rise and Kill First” makes the case that Israel has used assassination in the place of war, killing half a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists, for instance, rather than launching a military attack. It also strongly suggests that Israel used radiation poisoning to kill Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, an act its officials have consistently denied.

Bergman writes that Arafat’s death in 2004 fit a pattern and had advocates. But he steps back from flatly asserting what happened, saying that Israeli military censorship prevents him from revealing what – or if – he knows.

The book’s title comes from the ancient Jewish Talmud admonition, “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” Bergman says a huge percentage of the people he interviewed cited that passage as justification for their work. So does an opinion by the military’s lawyer declaring such operations to be legitimate acts of war.

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Saturday, 27 January 2018

Newly Declassified CIA Report Exposes Over 25 Years Of U.S. Plans To Destabilize Syria

TIIS 

 

A CIA report, drafted in 1986, details the agency’s “purposely provocative” analysis of the regime’s vulnerabilities and the potential to destabilize and oust then-President Hafez al-Assad.


SYRIA — While the nearly seven-year-long sectarian “civil war” in Syria is widely believed to have started in 2011, revelations in recent years have shown that the sectarian war that has sunk Syria into chaos actually precedes the “official” start of the conflict.

In 2010, Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified State Department cables, including a 2006 cable showing that destabilizing the Syrian government was a primary goal of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The ultimate intention was to topple Iran, one of Syria’s closest allies. The cable revealed that the U.S.’ goal at the time was to undermine the Syrian government by any means available.

In addition, retired United States Army General Wesley Clark’s bombshell interview with Democracy Now exposed the existence of plans for regime change in Syria that date as far back as 2001. Now, a newly declassified document from the Central Intelligence Agency has shown that these regime change efforts date back even further to the late 1980s – and potentially even earlier.

The declassified document was written in July, 1986 by the Foreign Subversion and Instability Center, a part of the CIA’s Mission Center for Global Issues, and is titled “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change.” As the document itself states, its purpose is to analyze – in a “purposely provocative” manner – “a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad [Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez] or other dramatic change in Syria.”

The report’s meager distribution list suggest it was considered by top officials in the Reagan administration, specifically because it was distributed to national security chiefs, not entire agencies. It was also distributed to a handful of key players in U.S.-Syria relations, such as former Ambassador to Syria William Eagleton.

Though the document itself officially predates the current Syrian conflict by nearly 25 years, much of its analysis brings to mind recent events in Syria, particularly those that led to the outbreak of war in 2011. Chief among these is the rise of factionalism between Sunni Muslim elements against the ruling Alawi minority (a Shi’ite sect), as well as the potential to counter Russian influence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. These similarities suggest that U.S. regime change efforts in Syria date back to well over 30 years ago – proof of the persistent imperialist elements that consistently guide U.S. foreign policy.

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Israel Forcibly Injected African Immigrants with Birth Control, Report Claims

Forbes


This weekend, a report revealing that African women immigrating to Israel were subjected to mandatory contraceptive injections, effectively amounting to forced (if temporary) sterilization made global headlines.

Some 130,000 Ethiopians, most of them Jewish, live in Israel. The community experiences higher poverty and unemployment rates than the rest of the  country's Jewish population.  In the past decade, the birth rate among Ethiopian-Israelis has declined by at least 20 percent.  Advocacy groups now claim this decline is the result of a birth control regimen forced upon Ethiopian immigrant women.

According to an article in Haaretz, an Israeli news source, one Ethiopian immigrant said that the doctors who injected her claimed that “people who frequently give birth suffer.” While it is possible, if highly unlikely, that doctors genuinely had the women’s health in mind when they forcibly injected them with contraceptives, there is no excuse for depriving women sovereignty over their own reproductive choices.

Israel has acknowledged the issue (without admitting any wrongdoing) and has vowed institutional changes in healthcare for immigrants. By decree of Israel’s health minister, gynecologists have been ordered "not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.” Still, intense scrutiny should be applied by women’s groups and international organizations to make sure these changes are implemented in full. Moreover, more attention must be paid to the plight of vulnerable African immigrants around the world. 

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Friday, 26 January 2018

ICE is about to start tracking license plates across the US

The Verge

 

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, according to a contract finalized earlier this month. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians.

The source of the data is not named in the contract, but an ICE representative said the data came from Vigilant Solutions, the leading network for license plate recognition data. “Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information obtained from license plate readers as one tool in support of its investigations,” spokesperson Dani Bennett said in a statement. “ICE is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database through this contract.” (Vigilant did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

While it collects few photos itself, Vigilant Solutions has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups. Vigilant also partners with local law enforcement agencies, often collecting even more data from camera-equipped police cars. The result is a massive vehicle-tracking network generating as many as 100 million sightings per month, each tagged with a date, time, and GPS coordinates of the sighting.

ICE agents would be able to query that database in two ways. A historical search would turn up every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years, a detailed record of the target’s movements. That data could be used to find a given subject’s residence or even identify associates if a given car is regularly spotted in a specific parking lot.

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Is 'Russia Collusion' Narrative About to Come Crashing Down?

Elan Martin
Sott.net


These are very tenuous times in Washington. As we've been noting for more than a year, the accusations made against Trump for "colluding with Russia" to win the Presidency against Hillary Clinton has been nothing short of a political witch-hunt to delegitimize him in the eyes of Americans, the world, and to prevent the US government from working with Russia in any kind of reasonable way. Globally, the attempt to connect Trump to an "evil plan" hatched by Russia "to subvert US democracy" by tinkering with the Presidential elections has also served the purpose of vilifying the Russian government - and painting Russian President Vladimir Putin as some kind of imperial Machiavelli who must be contended with in the most prejudicial of ways.

The entrenched political and intelligence interests connected to perpetuating this ridiculous shitshow must have thought they were killing two birds with one stone; the first, to destroy Trump politically so that he had no chances of showing that the US and Russia could work together constructively, and the second, to further the Big Lie that Russia seeks to harm the US (and the world) in pursuit of its interests. But, alas, the real lies, connivances and crimes connected to perpetuating the false 'Russiagate' narrative are now, finally, being exposed and reaching greater public recognition. And the laws that were broken in order to hunt Trump down may be the cause of all hell breaking loose in Washington. Or so it should.

Last Thursday, a four-page House Intelligence Committee memo laying out pervasive FISA court abuse was shown to members of the US House of Representatives. The "disturbing and explosive" information it supposedly contains points directly to the illegal surveillance of Trump and his campaign by employees of the FBI and the Department of Justice, under the direction of the Obama administration. The memo remains 'classified', but Republican members of Congress have over the past week been publicly hinting at what it contains, and urging its release.

Though downplayed in the mainstream media - which is casting the memo as a partisan effort by the GOP to undermine Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation - such is the hype in DC at the moment that publication of the document would apparently not only end the careers of senior FBI and DoJ officials and open a door to their criminal prosecution, but put an end to Robert Mueller's completely spurious investigation, the main driver of 'Russiagate'.  


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The latest in Israel’s strip-searching of women & children

UK Independent

Israel has long been strip-searching women and children, a policy that U.S. media sometimes cover up, from AP to Democracy NowA Palestinian-Finnish journalist recently refused to submit and was prohibited from covering the Pence event in what the Foreign Press Associated called “ethnic profiling”

A press organisation in Israel has accused the authorities of “ethnic profiling” after a female Finnish journalist whose father is Palestinian, was told she had to undergo a strip search if she wanted to cover an event that was part of the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel said the journalist from Finland’s state broadcaster, who is accredited by the government press office, was taken behind a curtain at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, where she said she was questioned, patted down, and then asked to remove her bra for an inspection.

She reportedly refused to do and was prevented from covering the event.

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Half of American voters call for special prosecutor to investigate FBI – Survey

Rasmussen Reports

Voters think a special prosecutor is needed to see if the nation’s top cops have been playing politics. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a special prosecutor should be named to investigate whether senior FBI officials handled the investigation of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in a legal and unbiased fashion. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree, but a sizable 19% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans are calling for an outside prosecutor to investigate the FBI, as is a plurality (49%) of voters not affiliated with either major political party. Among Democrats, 38% favor a special prosecutor; 40% are opposed, but 22% are undecided. 

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A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

Eva Bartlett
In Gaza

"The Guardian, Channel 4, Snopes, and Agn├Ęs Gruda are indeed guilty of journalistic malpractice, and war propaganda of the most heinous kind."
 -- Eva Bartlett

 In Part 1, I wrote of the Guardian's quite unoriginal Russophobic story cheering for al-Qaeda's rescuers, the White Helmets. In this second part, I expose other (some serial) offenders, guilty of disinformation on the White Helmets, and war propaganda on Syria to a degree that Goebbels would be envious. They are further guilty of ignoring the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of Syrians who call a spade a spade, a terrorist a terrorist



The Channel 4 "Fact Check" Card

In the Guardian article in question, the author began by linking to a Channel 4 News smear piece on myself which had nothing to do with the point she was asserting-whether or not the group had al-Qaeda ties-but which was issued a year ago with the sole intent to cherry-pick my words to discredit myself. Such non sequitur arguments are commonly used by those who cannot backup their statements with facts and who wish to, instead, deflect and mislead.

Had the Guardian had honest intentions regarding the White Helmets article, they might have actually investigated the many members of the White Helmets with ties to al-Qaeda and affiliated extremists. Here is but one example showing the allegiance of over 60 White Helmets members to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

Regarding the Channel 4 smear which the Guardian's own hatchet-piece linked to, it followed my speaking on a December 2016 panel (over 50 minutes, with question period), with three others, including a lawyer and the head of the US Peace Council, in a press room of the United Nations.

In that panel, we spoke of many important issues, including: the illegality of this war on Syria; the need to lift the devastating sanctions on Syria; the statement of unity among over 200 organizations in the US and internationally in solidarity with the Syrian government's fight against foreign intervention; the Syrian reconciliation movement; and the heinous acts committed against Syrian civilians by terrorists, whether from the FSA or Nour al-Deen al-Zenki or ISIS or other.

I spoke for thirteen minutes, noting that my trips to Syria have been self-funded, and that I've traveled widely, interacting one-on-one with Syrians, and seen wide support for their army and leadership.

I highlighted how the over 1.5 million people of Aleppo had endured sieges and the attacks of terrorists groups, which killed nearly 11,000 civilians by end of 2016, and noted being present when on November 3, 2016, terrorist attacks on Aleppo which killed 18 and injured over 200. I cited being present during the November 4 mortar attacks by extremist factions on one of the humanitarian crossroads.  

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