Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Excavator: Flipping The Script: The Western Media's Syria Propaganda Is Falling Apart

Flipping The Script: The Western Media's Syria Propaganda Is Falling Apart

 Excellent post by

Flipping The Script: The Western Media's Syria Propaganda Is Falling Apart

What is written in the press is lies. What is hidden in plain view is the truth.

Do you remember this guy, Jason Russell? He was the frontman for the short-lived and over-hyped "Kony 2012" propaganda campaign that exploited young people's emotions to popularize a U.S. military invasion of Uganda. After his lies were exposed on the Internet he had a shocking meltdown in public. He ran around naked near traffic lights, smashed his fists on the pavement, and screamed bizarrely. The heavy spirit of Madness conquered his weak will.

The day before his freakish breakdown Russell was idolized in the mainstream press as a saint on a mission to save the children of Africa. His war propaganda documentary about the deceased CIA contractor Joseph Kony became hugely popular on Facebook and other social media outlets. But as soon as his mask came down and his craziness was captured by cameras, the media vultures forgot about his crusade and quickly moved on to the next hot story.

The new story that captured the corrupt Western media's attention was Syria. The conflict was heating up, and the "international community" was being pressed to take action against the country. "Assad is killing his own people," they said, without offering any evidence. "This is the next domino to fall in the Arab Spring, the rebels must be supported and Assad has to step down," so went the propaganda. And yadda yadda. The media's insane lies were repeated for months. Major media channels were engaged in non-stop propaganda warfare to destroy the independent Syrian state and reduce Syrians to slavery.

But then something remarkable and unexpected happened. Some Western journalists began telling the truth about the origins of the conflict, the true motives behind the West's anti-Syria propaganda, and the nature of the unpopular Syrian opposition.

The spell was broken.

In June, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that the infamous Houla massacre was committed not by Assad's forces, as it was claimed by the Western media at first, but by the NATO-backed terrorist opposition.

The official narrative about the Syrian conflict fell apart at that point. The moral case for overthrowing Assad was lost because it was based on total lies. The naked aggression by NATO's barbaric pawns against Syrian civilians was clear to see for anyone who was paying attention.

II. The Global Alternative Media Rises: End of Mainstream Propaganda

The establishment media no longer has a monopoly on reality. Official lies are challenged, buried truths are dug up, and objective reality is preserved. The magician's tricks have been revealed by spoilers in the crowd. The global alternative media is rising and it is an engine of peace, liberation, understanding, and sanity.

Even mainstream media figures are forced to admit that they have been lying to the world about nearly everything and that their warmongering views are not mainstream. They are losing their control over the minds of the masses, and like Russell of the Kony 2012 stunt, they are also losing control of their own minds.

In fact, establishment journalists have already gone crazy and lost their grip on reality. Their world is falling down around them and their temporary power is disappearing by the day. Truth is too strong a force. The establishment media is going against the gravity of reality and it is losing the battle.

But not everybody in the Western media has lost their heads and hearts. There are still some respectable and honourable journalists around who place the facts of history above the lies of governments. The writer "b" of MoA writes:
"There seems to be slight turn in the western media coverage of Syria. Here in Germany the press has now more reports showing the "rebels" as what they really are: traveling jihadists and foreign paid rabble. Commentators on the news websites are now mostly highly critical about the usual propaganda pieces and the German government policy of supporting the SNC. There also seems to be a slight shift in international media."
Whereas in the recent past the Western establishment media was all-powerful and its official narratives were unquestioningly accepted by the general public, today its legitimacy is rapidly collapsing and it is failing to make people believe in government lies.

Young consumers of news are looking to the rising global independent media to get the facts about critical issues and conflicts. In the process, their worldview is changing and their government-made beliefs are dying.

The truth about Syria, like the truth about 9/11, can be suppressed for the time being but it cannot be erased from the record of history.

Tony Cartalucci says that Western propaganda against Syria has gotten too out of control and as a result it is falling to pieces. The tangled lies are being exposed before their usefulness can be exploited. Here is an excerpt from Cartalucci's article, "US Treasury: Al Qaeda Runs Syrian "Rebellion":
"Now, it appears that the West's Arab "foreign legion," Al Qaeda, is about to suffer an unprecedented defeat - not at the hands of Western anti-terrorism forces, but at the hands of Syrian troops in the city of Aleppo. In a desperate effort to prevent this, the West is employing a series of desperate strategies ranging from portraying the trapped foreign-fighters committing atrocities inside Aleppo as "pending a certain massacre," to using the very presence of these foreign-fighters as evidence "Al Qaeada" is operating in Syria and must be "stopped" by Western intervention.

It is essential to understand that, as empires have always done, the monolithic corporate-financier interests of the West seek regional hegemony as a step toward global domination, and will say and do anything in order to achieve it. As resistance increases, the West's lies become more difficult to sell, the consistency of their propaganda overtly crumbling. The West, in nearly a single breath, has now claimed FSA fighters are both "Al Qaeda" that need to be eliminated, while also impeding a "massacre" by Syrian forces if something isn't done to save them. 

When US President Obama referred to the "depths of depravity" regarding Syrian security operations in Aleppo, he and his script writers do so with the belief that Americans, and the world, are ignorant and disinterested in the truth, and will gladly allow Western foreign policy to once again prey on their emotions and good intentions to sell yet another destructive, self-serving military intervention."
It is strange to hear that Washington is at war with Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and, at the same time, it is an ally of Al-Qaeda in Syria. Only one of these two things can be true. Washington is either at war with Al-Qaeda or it is not.

Washington's sense of logic is funny and twisted, but it is not unique. That's the way of the world. Throughout history, empires first conquer the truth, reality, and human consciousness, and then move their way to resource-rich lands.

The power of an empire is dependent on the cult beliefs and cult personalities that are created to justify its brutal rule at home and abroad.

It is a sign of hope for the world and for the collective life of mankind when the sovereignty of truth overcomes an empire of death, in whatever age in human history.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Why Turkey won't go to war with Syria [Voltaire Network]

Why Turkey won't go to war with Syria

Turkey has yet to understand the new deal struck between U.S. and Russia

Why Turkey won’t go to war with Syria

The tension and likelihood of a world war because of the conflict in Syria is currently on the cards because certain countries are behaving like arsonists, especially Turkey, in continuing to offer a logistical base for mercenaries from "liberated" Libya. Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud will keep providing the money to buy them weapons. As for Washington, London and Paris, they will continue to calibrate their tactics in the protracted anticipation of a NATO attack against Damascus.

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan never saw it coming.
He knew he was in trouble when the Pentagon leaked that the Turkish Phantom RF-4E shot down last week by Syrian anti-aircraft artillery happened off the Syrian coastline, directly contradicting Erdogan’s account, who claimed it happened in international air space.
And it got worse; Moscow, via Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, offered "objective radar data" as proof.
There was not much to do except change the subject. That’s when Ankara introduced a de facto buffer zone of four miles (6.4km) along the Syrian-Turkish border - now enforced by F-16s taking off from NATO’s Incirlik base at regular intervals.
Ankara also dispatched tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to the 500 mile (800km) border, right after Erdogan effectively branded Syria "a hostile state".
What next? Shock and awe? Hold your (neo-Ottoman) horses.
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Lord Balfour, I presume?

The immediate future of Syria was designed in Geneva recently, in one more of those absurdist "international community" plays when the US, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Qatar and Kuwait sat down to devise a "peaceful solution" for the Syrian drama, even though most of them are reportedly weaponising the opposition to Damascus.
One would be excused to believe it was all back to the Balfour Declaration days, when foreign powers would decide the fate of a country without the merest consultation of its people, who, by the way, never asked them to do it on their behalf.
Anyway, in a nutshell: there won’t be a NATO war on Syria - at least for now. Beyond the fact that Lavrov routinely eats US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for breakfast, Russia wins - for now.
Predictably, Moscow won’t force regime change on Assad; it fears the follow-up to be the absolute collapse of Syrian state machinery, with cataclysmic consequences. Washington’s position boils down to accepting a very weak, but not necessarily out, Assad.
The problem is the interpretation of "mutual consent", on which a "transitional government" in Syria would be based - the vague formulation that emerged in Geneva. For the Obama administration, this means Assad has to go. For Moscow - and, crucially, for Beijing - this means the transition must include Assad.
Expect major fireworks dancing around the interpretation. Because a case can be made that the new "no-fly zone" over Libya - turned by NATO into a 30,000-sortie bombing campaign - will become Syria’s "transitional government", based on "mutual consent".
One thing is certain: nothing happens before the US presidential election in November. This means that for the next five months or so Moscow will be trying to extract some sort of "transitional government" from the bickering Syrian players. Afterwards, all bets are off. A Washington under Mitt Romney may well order NATO to attack in early 2013.
A case can be made that a Putin-Obama or US-Russia deal may have been reached even before Geneva.
Russia has eased up on NATO in Afghanistan. Then there was the highly choreographed move of the US offering a formal apology and Pakistan duly accepting it - thus reopening NATO’s supply routes to Afghanistan.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that Pakistan is an observer and inevitable future full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) - run by China and Russia, both BRICS members highly interested in seeing the US and NATO out of Afghanistan for good.
The "price" paid by Washington is, of course, to go easy on Damascus - at least for now. There is not much Erdogan can do about it; he really was not in the loop.

Keep the division of labour intact

So here’s the perverse essence of Geneva: the (foreign) players agreed to disagree - and to hell with Syrian civilians caught in the civil war crossfire.
In the absence of a NATO attack, the question is how the Assad system may be able to contain or win what is, by all practical purposes, a foreign-sponsored civil war.
Yes, because the division of labour will remain intact. Turkey will keep offering the logistical base for mercenaries coming from "liberated" Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. The House of Saud will keep coming up with the cash to weaponise them. And Washington, London and Paris will keep fine-tuning the tactics in what remains the long, simmering foreplay for a NATO attack on Damascus.
Even though the armed Syrian opposition does not control anything remotely significant inside Syria, expect the mercenaries reportedly weaponised by the House of Saud and Qatar to become even more ruthless. Expect the not-exactly-Free Syrian Army to keep mounting operations for months, if not years. A key point is whether enough supply lines will remain in place - if not from Jordan, certainly from Turkey and Lebanon.
Damascus may not have the power to strike the top Western actors in this drama. But it can certainly wreak havoc among the supporting actors - as in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and, of course, Turkey.
Jordan, the weak link, a wobbly regime at best, has already closed off supply lines. Hezbollah sooner or later will do something about the Lebanese routes. Erdogan sooner or later will have to get real about what was decided in Geneva.
Moreover, one can’t forget that Saudi Arabia would be willing to fight only to the last dead American; it won’t risk Saudis to fight Syrians.
As for red alerts about Saudi troops getting closer to southern Syria through Jordan, that’s a joke. The House of Saud military couldn’t even defeat the ragtag Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen.
A final juicy point. The Russian naval base at Tartus - approximately a mere 55 miles (90km) away from where the Panthom RF-4E was shot down - now has its radar on 24/7. And it takes just a single Russian warship anchored in Syrian waters to send the message; if anyone comes up with funny ideas, just look at what happened to Georgia in 2008.

Time to shuffle those cards

Erdogan has very few cards left to play, if any. Assad, in an interview with Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper, regretted "100 per cent" the downing of the RF-4E, and argued, "the plane was flying in an area previously used by Israel’s air force".
The fact remains that impulsive Erdogan got an apology from wily Assad. By contrast, after the Mavi Marmara disaster, Erdogan didn’t even get an unpeeled banana from Israel.
The real suicidal scenario would be for Erdogan to order another F4-style provocation and then declare war on Damascus on behalf of the not-exactly-Free Syrian Army. It won’t happen. Damascus has already proved it is deploying a decent air defence network.
Every self-respecting military analyst knows that war on Syria will be light years away from previous "piece of cake" Iraq and Libya operations. NATO commanders, for all their ineptitude, know they could easily collect full armouries of bloody noses.
As for the Turkish military, their supreme obsession is the Kurds in Anatolia, not Assad. They do receive some US military assistance. But what they really crave is an army of US drones to be unleashed over Anatolia.
Turkey routinely crosses into Northern Iraq targeting Kurdish PKK guerrillas accused of killing Turkish security forces. Now, guerrillas based in Turkey are reportedly crossing the border into Syria and killing Syrian security forces, and even civilians. It would be too much to force Ankara to admit its hypocrisy.
Erdogan, anyway, should proceed with extreme caution. His rough tactics are isolating him; more than two-thirds of Turkish public opinion is against an attack on Syria.
It’s come to the point that Turkish magazine Radikal asked their readers whether Turkey should be a model for the new Middle East. Turkey used to be "the sick man of Europe"; now Turkey is "becoming the lonely man of the Middle East", says the article.

It’s a gas, gas, gas

Most of all, Erdogan simply cannot afford to antagonise Russia. There are at least 100,000 Russians in Syria - doing everything from building dams to advising on the operation of those defence systems.
And then there’s the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Turkey happens to be Gazprom’s second-largest customer. Erdogan can’t afford to antagonise Gazprom. The whole Turkish energy security architecture depends on gas from Russia - and Iran. Crucially, one year ago a $10bn Pipelineistan deal was clinched between Iran, Iraq and Syria for a natural gas pipeline from Iran’s giant South Pars field to Iraq, Syria and further on towards Turkey and eventually connecting to Europe.
During the past 12 months, with Syria plunging into civil war, key players stopped talking about it. Not anymore. Any self-respecting analyst in Brussels admits that the EU’s supreme paranoia is to be a hostage of Gazprom. The Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversify Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia.
For the US and the EU, this is the real game, and if it takes two or more years of Assad in power, so be it. And it must be done in a way that does not fully antagonise Russia. That’s where reassurances in Geneva to Russia keeping its interests intact in a post-Assad Syria come in.
No eyebrows should be raised. This is how ultra-hardcore geopolitics is played behind closed doors. It remains to be seen whether Erdogan will get the message.

Syria and Turkey’s phantom war

Once upon a time, not too long ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the prime proponent of a foreign policy dubbed "zero problems with our neighbors" - derided by many in the West as "new-Ottomanism".
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meets this Tuesday in Brussels not only to craft its response to a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet shot being down by Syria’s anti-aircraft artillery but to seal what sort of "new Ottomanism" is emerging from what actually turned into a "big problem with one of our neighbors" policy.
Davutoglu insists the F-4 was shot in international air space - although conceding it had briefly entered Syrian air space. Contradicting Syria’s official explanation, he said the jet was clearly marked as Turkish; was on a "training flight" to test Turkey’s "national radar system"; and most of all had "no covert mission related to Syria".
Previously, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi had stressed this was an "accident, not an attack". According to Makdissi, "an unidentified object entered our air space and unfortunately as a result it was brought down. It was understood only later that it was a Turkish plane."
Davutoglu, in a Turkish media blitzkrieg, as reported by Today’s Zaman, reiterated this was a "solo flight"; the jet was "unarmed"; there was no warning before it was shot down; and as for Syria trying to connect the "not ill-intentioned violation" of its airspace to the shooting of the F-4, that was "irrelevant".
Violation of another country’s air space, trying to avoid its defenses by flying at low altitude, is as normal to Davutoglu as a sheesh kebab for lunch; "There were many violations of Syrian air space by other countries before. But Syria shot down our unarmed plane."
But then the foreign minister started deviating (or not) from the script. He stressed, "No matter how the downed Turkish jet saga unfolds, we will always stand by [the] Syrian people". And this; "We will always stand by Syrian people until the advent of a democratic regime there." Forget about the F-4 Phantom; the "Syrian people" may sleep soundly because the heart of the matter remains regime change.

Everything else is irrelevant

NATO will consider Turkey’s case under Article Four of its charter - which allows consultations whenever "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened". We’re not - yet - at Article Five, which is all about armed response. But we could be, depending how NATO interprets Turkey’s assertion that the F-4 Phantom was "hit 13 miles off the Syrian coast, in international air space".
So according to Davutoglu’s story the F-4 was briefly deviated to Syrian airspace by some irresistible force (Thor?); soon realized its mistake; left in a hurry; but then was shot down. By the way, it was not a "solo flight"; witnesses told Turkish TV they saw two low-flying fighter jets speed by in the direction of Syrian waters, but only one return.
As predictably as England being kicked out of Euro 2012, the usual European warmongering poodles of the William Hague kind have already stepped in, blaming Syria because Turkey violated Syrian airspace. Yet there’s no evidence - so far - that Ankara warned the Syrian government and military they would be conducting some sort of reconnaissance very close to a by now very explosive border.
Whether the F-4 (or the pair of F-4s) was armed or not is, to quote Davutoglu, "irrelevant"; try telling the Pentagon, for instance, that an unknown, low-flying, fast-moving, unidentified object entering your air space is not a threat. If this was a military reconnaissance mission, as Davutoglu himself argues, the F-4 had to be armed.
And imagine if this was a Syrian jet flying over Turkish or Israeli territory.

Burn, Anatolia, burn

Ankara will certainly ask Damascus for a formal apology and payment of reparations. Tehran - which until virtually yesterday, that is, before the Syrian uprising, was part of an Ankara-Damascus-Tehran axis - is calling for cool heads to prevail.
As much as professional warmongers are encouraging a Gulf of Tonkin remix, that remains pure folly. Still, Asia Times Online has learned from a local source about "frantic" movement at NATO’s sprawling Incirlik base in Turkey for days.
Everyone knows - but nobody talks about - NATO’s command and control center in Iskenderun, in Turkey’s Hatay province, near the Syrian border, set up months ago to organize, train and weaponize the motley crew known as the Free Syrian Army. Everyone knows Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the CIA are advising and weaponizing these Syrian NATOGCC "rebels" with essential Turkish help in the logistics/safe haven front.
Everyone knows Washington will settle for nothing less than regime change in Syria - to the benefit of a pliable, sub-imperial puppet (certainly not an Islamist). Everyone knows every provocation advances the not so hidden agenda of an all-out NATOGCC attack on Syria without a UN Security Council resolution, bypassing both Russia and China.
If "neo-Ottomanism" persists with its regime change obsession in Syria - to a large extent tied to the Turkish dream of finding a solution to the Kurdish "problem" - it had better start evaluating how Damascus could shower the Kurdish PKK with funds and logistics so they may unleash hell in Turkish Anatolia.
No doubt this will get much uglier. But in Wag the Dog terms - and that’s what this is all about - no one knows for sure; is Turkey trying to wag the NATO dog into a war, or is it the other way around?

Monday, 2 July 2012

Government by the Banks, for the Banks: The ESM Coup D’Etat in Europe

Government by the Banks, for the Banks: The ESM Coup D’Etat in Europe

Excellent Article by Ellen Brown []

According to Gavin Hewitt, Europe editor for BBC News, the concessions mean that:
[T]he eurozone’s bailout fund (backed by taxpayers’ money) will be taking a stake in failed banks.
Risk has been increased. German taxpayers have increased their liabilities. In future a bank crash will no longer fall on the shoulders of national treasuries but on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a fund to which Germany contributes the most.
In the short term, these measures will ease pressure in the markets. However there is currently only 500bn euros assigned to the ESM. That may get swallowed up quickly and the markets may demand more. It is still unclear just how deep the holes in the eurozone’s banks are.
The ESM is now a permanent bailout fund for private banks, a sort of permanent “welfare for the rich.”  There is no ceiling set on the obligations to be underwritten by the taxpayers, no room to negotiate, and no recourse in court. Its daunting provisions were summarized in a December 2011 youtube video originally posted in German, titled “The shocking truth of the pending EU collapse!”:
The treaty establishes a new intergovernmental organization to which we are required to transfer unlimited assets within seven days if it so requests, an organization that can sue us but is immune from all forms of prosecution and whose managers enjoy the same immunity.  There are no independent reviewers and no existing laws apply.  Governments cannot take action against it.  Europe’s national budgets [are] in the hands of one single unelected intergovernmental organization.
Here is the text of some of the ESM’s provisions:
[Article 8]  “The authorised capital stock shall be EUR 700 000 [700 billion Euros].”
[Article 9]:  “ESM Members hereby irrevocably and unconditionally undertake to pay on demand any capital call made on them . . . such demand to be paid within seven days of receipt.”
[Article 10]: “The Board of Governors . . . may decide to change the authorised capital and amend Article 8 . . . accordingly.”
[Article 32, paragraph 3]: “The ESM, its property, funding, and assets . . . shall enjoy immunity from every form of judicial process . . . .”
[Article 32, paragraph 4]: “The property, funding and assets of the ESM shall . . . be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation, or any other form of seizure, taking or foreclosure by executive, judicial, administrative or legislative action.”
[Article 30]:  “ . . . Governors, alternate Governors, Directors, alternate Directors, as well as the Managing Director and other staff members shall be immune from legal proceedings with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity and shall enjoy inviolability in respect of their official papers and documents.”
And that was before Merkel’s recent concessions, which allow this open-ended indebtedness to be funneled directly to the banks.
Why Did Merkel Cave?
“Reactions back home were devastating,” reported der Spiegel.  “[T]he impression was that [Merkel] had been out-maneuvered by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spanish Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy.”
As of June 21, 13 of 17 countries still had not ratified the ESM; and the most important ratification needed was Germany’s, the largest economy in the Eurozone.  Earlier, Angela Merkel had opposed using the bailout fund to pump money directly into struggling European banks.  But at the EU summit that began on Thursday and dragged on well into the night, she finally relented.  Late Friday evening, German lawmakers voted 493-106 in favor of the €700 billion ($890 billion) permanent bailout fund.
What caused Merkel to back down?  According to an article in The Economist, the late night was “filled with bluff and bluster,” in which
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister . . . , along with Italy’s Mario Monti, had threatened to block any agreement at the summit unless their demands were met. Mr Rajoy obtained satisfaction, but the same is not quite true of Mr Monti, who had been the most adamant of the two.
Mr Monti declared himself satisfied, but caused considerable irritation to partners. Among the deals he had blocked was the “growth pact”, a mixture of stimulus measures.
What Monti achieved by this maneuver was not clear:
“Who needs the growth pact? Not Germany,” said one bemused participant. The euro zone’s fiscal hawks say the bond-buying mechanism will be little different from the existing system. “Mario Monti raised a gun to his head and threatened to shoot himself. In the end he wounded himself in the shoulder,” said one scornful diplomat.
Maybe.  Or maybe the bond-buying mechanism was not what he was really after.
The Italian Coup D’Etat
There is reason to suspect that “Super Mario” Monti may be representing interests other than those of his country.  He rose to power in Italy last November in what critics called a “‘coup d’etat’ engineered by bankers and the European Union.”  He was not elected but stepped in after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned under duress.
Monti is not only an “international advisor” to Goldman Sachs, one of the most powerful financial firms in the world, but a leader in the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission.  In an article in The New American, Alex Newman calls these clandestine groups “two of the most influential cabals in existence today.”  Monti is listed as a member of the steering committee on the official Bilderberg website and as the European Group chairman on the Trilateral Commission website.
The Trilateral Commission was co-founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski, also Bilderberger attendees.  The Trilateral Commission grew from the thesis in Brzezinski’s 1970 piece Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era that a coordinated policy among developed nations was necessary in order to counter global instability erupting from increasing economic inequality. He wrote in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard that it would be difficult to get a consensus on these issues “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.”
Naomi Klein calls it “the shock doctrine”—an induced disaster forcing austerity measures on sovereign nations.  In desperation, they would come to heel, relinquishing the sovereign right of governments to an unelected body of technocrats.  And that is what the ESM seems to achieve.
Rockefeller notoriously wrote in his 2002 autobiography, “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—one world, if you will.  If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
Implementing the Shock Doctrine
In another bankers’ coup last November, former Goldman Sachs executive Mario Draghi replaced Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the European Central Bank.  The European Stability Mechanism quickly followed.  It was a permanent rescue facility intended to replace certain temporary facilities as soon as the member states had ratified it, slated to occur by July 1, 2012.  The ESM came to an initial vote in January 2012, when it was passed in the dead of night with barely a mention in the press.
The recent modifications were also agreed to in the dead of night, ostensibly because Italy and Spain were afflicted with onerously high interest rates.  But there are other ways to bring down interest rates on sovereign debt besides forcing whole countries into open-ended pacts to bail out private banks for unlimited sums in perpetuity, in the hope that the banks might bail the governments out in return.
The U.S. 2012 budget deficit is significantly worse than either Italy’s or Spain’s, yet somehow the U.S. has managed to keep interest rates on its debt at record lows.  How has it pulled this off?
One theory is that JPMorgan’s $57 trillion in interest rate swaps have something to do with it.  Another explanation, however, is that the Fed has simply stepped in as lender of last resort and bought up any debt not sold at the low rate set by the Treasury, using “quantitative easing” (money created on a computer screen).  Between December 2008 and June 2011, the Fed bought a whopping $2.3 trillion of U.S. bonds in two rounds of quantitative easing.  Why can’t the European Central Bank do the same thing?  The answer is that there are rules against it, but rules are just arbitrary agreements.  They can be changed by agreement—and often have been, to save the banks.
As the cynic quoted in The Economist article above observed, the bond-buying mechanism for countries under the ESM will be little different from the existing system.  Mario Monti said the plan will support government bond prices only in countries that comply with fiscal targets, and that it will act as an incentive for governments to follow virtuous policies.  That means avoiding deficits, even if it requires further austerity measures and selling of assets.  On the public level, that could mean national treasures like the Acropolis.  On the private level, The New York Times reported Friday that some desperate out-of-work Europeans were going so far as to sell their kidneys to pay household bills. The shock doctrine, it seems, has come to the doorsteps of privileged Westerners.
The German diplomats negotiating the ESM did leave open some escape hatches, including a request by Germany’s highest court to the country’s president not to sign the treaties into law until a legal review can be completed.  At least 12,000 complaints are expected to be filed with the Federal Constitutional Court regarding the ESM and the fiscal pact. The legal review could well conclude that the ESM illegally hijacks taxpayer funds for private bank profit.
It is one thing to pool national resources to bail out other sovereign governments, quite another to write a blank check to bail out the profligate private banks that precipitated the global downturn.  Europe has a strong tradition of publicly-owned banks.  If the people must bear the costs, the people should own the banks and reap the benefits.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

War At Any Cost: Another Manufactured Pretext for War with Syria

War At Any Cost: Another Manufactured Pretext for War with Syria
The downing of a Turkish jet by the Syrian military last week was not merely a military incident making the possibility of an intervention and regional war much more likely.  This episode was the most recent in a long and storied history of “international incidents” or provocations used by imperial powers as pretexts for military aggression.  Without such incidents, the forces of imperialism are seen as nothing more than aggressors, out to destroy weaker nations in their own interests.  However, with the necessary justifications that such episodes provide, those same powers can portray their wars as justified, necessary, and wholly righteous.
This event last week was only the latest in a series of provocations specifically designed to justify a military intervention.  However, as the façade of the Houla “massacre”, the use of children as human shields, and the countless other lies propagated by the Western media have been debunked or otherwise exposed, the Western imperialist ruling class looks for a new incident to legitimize their plan for total war on Syria.

Just the Facts
On June 21st, a Turkish jet was shot down by Syrian military forces. Initially, the Western media rushed to portray this incident as a blatantly aggressive action by Assad and his military, hoping to play off their many months of propagandizing the public into believing Assad to be the devil incarnate.  Vigorous condemnations were heard from all corners of the Western ruling establishment, as the world seemed to move closer to another so-called intervention.  However, as the episode unfolded, the media had to backtrack and, as usual, reversed their initial story without a fraction of the fanfare that the initial lie had.  They had to admit publicly that, in fact, the Turkish jet had violated Syrian airspace and so, according to international law, Syria was well within their rights to shoot it down.  This fact gets lost in the narrative however, as the world looks to NATO, the military arm of US power projection around the world, to “act decisively”.
This episode is merely the latest attempt by the imperialist establishment to drum up support for some form of military intervention by portraying the Assad regime as bloodthirsty monsters.  Last month, we saw the world recoil in horror at the brutality of what came to be known as the Houla “massacre”.  However, as the United States, France, and the other Western powers attempted to spin the event as a brutal example of why they must wage war on Syria, the truth came out that, in fact, the victims of the massacre were not killed by government shelling, but by close range execution attributable to the NATO-sponsored death squads unleashed on the people of Syria.
Like the Houla massacre, the outrageous claim that the Syrian military was using children as human shields was designed to play on the emotions of the international community in hopes of eliciting a swift response and creating the a climate conducive to war.  Naturally, no evidence exists to back up this claim other than a dubious UN report based on so-called “activists” and “eyewitnesses”.  The Western propagandists are less interested in being able to support these claims than simply making them and implanting them into the public consciousness.

The Historical Precedent
These sorts of manufactured provocations are nothing new.  There is a rich historical record of such incidents being manipulated, distorted, or entirely fabricated in order to create a pretext for war.  One of the most famous examples of what has come to be known as the “false flag” phenomenon is the Gleiwitz incident.  Nazi operatives dressed as Polish soldiers attacked a German radio station and then claimed that this was the work of Polish saboteurs.  The Nazis even went so far as to import bodies and stage an entire scene which could then be offered up to the press as “evidence” of the assault.  Naturally, the incident was used as the direct pretext for the Nazi invasion of Poland and the official start of World War II.
A similar international false flag event, today known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, led to the official start of the Vietnam War.  The claim was that the North Vietnamese had deliberately fired on two separate US naval vessels and that this, as an act of war, justified the US officially entering the war.  Of course, these incidents have since been totally debunked by declassified documents that show, even at the time, lawmakers were skeptical of the claims.  However, this episode illustrates the power of manufactured provocations to shape the course of foreign policy and the waging of war.
Perhaps no so-called “international incident” demonstrates more plainly the power of the media to influence public opinion and provide the necessary pretext for war than the sinking of the USS Maine.  This event, which was manufactured by William Randolph Hearst and the US establishment in order to justify imperial aggression against Cuba, demonstrates the role of the media in making the case for war.  In the lead-up to the sinking of the Maine, Hearst’s and other papers published wild stories of Spanish atrocities all throughout Cuba, the sorts of atrocities that required intervention.  Naturally, the Maine incident provided the cover and the US entered into what came to be known as the Spanish-American War. More importantly, however, today’s observers should note that this moment in history is perhaps the official beginning of US imperialism (treatment of the indigenous Native population on the continent notwithstanding).

What To Do?
What makes this issue of false flag events and “international incidents” relevant is the fact that the imperialist ruling class will manufacture as many of these sorts of episodes as is necessary for their war.  Because of this, it is incumbent on the forces standing in opposition to such aggression to uphold the principles of international law and justice.  Syria was well within their rights to shoot down a foreign jet operating within their airspace, just as the US military would be within its rights to shoot down a Mexican warplane within US airspace.
However, this episode is far larger than simply international law.  Indeed, it strikes at the heart of the concept of the nation-state.  It demonstrates first, the power of the nation, with its leaders, citizens, and institutions to resist the forces of imperialism.  Conversely, it shows the existential need of the imperialist ruling class to destroy strong, independent nations that refuse to be enslaved by the forces of finance capital and imperial economic domination.  Syria is the frontline of the struggle against these forces, and those who believe themselves to be anti-imperialists must unite to denounce provocations, pretexts, and legitimizations manufactured by the imperialist ruling class and preempt all their attempts to drive the world ever closer to total war.

Friday, 22 June 2012

US-NATO "Humanitarian Intervention" in Syria: Towards a Regional War?

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization weighs in on the insurrectionary nature of the Syrian conflict and its potential to generate a larger regional conflict in the Middle East.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign [Voltaire Network]

NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign [Voltaire Network]

Member States of NATO and the GCC are preparing a coup d’état and a sectarian genocide in Syria. If you want to prevent these crimes, you should act now: circulate this article on the Internet and alert your elected officials.
Voltaire Network | Damascus (Syria)

JPEG - 140.8 kb
In a few days, perhaps as early as Friday, June 15, at noon, the Syrians wanting to watch their national TV stations will see them replaced on their screens by TV programs created by the CIA. Studio-shot images will show massacres that are blamed on the Syrian Government, people demonstrating, ministers and generals resigning from their posts, President Al-Assad fleeing, the rebels gathering in the big city centers, and a new government installing itself in the presidential palace.
This operation of disinformation, directly managed from Washington by Ben Rhodes, the US deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, aims at demoralizing the Syrians in order to pave the way for a coup d’etat. NATO, discontent about the double veto of Russia and China, will thus succeed in conquering Syria without attacking the country illegally. Whichever judgment you might have formed on the actual events in Syria, a coup d’etat will end all hopes of democratization.
The Arab League has officially asked the satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media, either public or private (Syria TV, Al-Ekbariya, Ad-Dounia, Cham TV, etc.) A precedent already exists because the Arab League had managed to censure Libyan TV in order to keep the leaders of the Jamahiriya from communicating with their people. There is no Hertz network in Syria, where TV works exclusively with satellites. The cut, however, will not leave the screens black.
Actually, this public decision is only the tip of the iceberg. According to our information several international meetings were organized during the past week to coordinate the disinformation campaign. The first two were technical meetings, held in Doha (Qatar); the third was a political meeting and took place in Riyad (Saudi Arabia).
The first meeting assembled PSYOP officers, embedded in the satellite TV channels of Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Fox, France 24, Future TV and MTV. It is known that since 1998, the officers of the US Army Psychological Operations Unit (PSYOP) have been incorporated in CNN. Since then this practice has been extended by NATO to other strategic media as well.
They fabricated false information in advance, on the basis of a “story-telling” script devised by Ben Rhodes’s team at the White House. A procedure of reciprocal validation was installed, with each media quoting the lies of the other media to render them plausible for TV spectators. The participants also decided not only to requisition the TV channels of the CIA for Syria and Lebanon (Barada, Future TV, MTV, Orient News, Syria Chaab, Syria Alghad) but also about 40 religious Wahhabi TV channels to call for confessional massacres to the cry of “Christians to Beyrouth, Alawites into the grave!.”
The second meeting was held for engineers and technicians to fabricate fictitious images, mixing one part in an outdoor studio, the other part with computer generated images. During the past weeks, studios in Saudi Arabia have been set up to build replicas of the two presidential palaces in Syria and the main squares of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. Studios of this type already exist in Doha (Qatar), but they are not sufficient.
The third meeting was held by General James B. Smith, the US ambassador, a representative of the UK, prince Bandar Bin Sultan (whom former U.S. president George Bush named his adopted son so that the U.S. press called him “Bandar Bush”). In this meeting the media actions were coordinated with those of the Free "Syrian" Army, in which prince Bandar’s mercenaries play a decisive role.
The operation had been in the making for several months, but the U.S. National Security Council decided to accelerate the action after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, notified the White House that he would oppose by all means, even by force, any illegal NATO military intervention in Syria.
The operation has a double intent: the first is to spread false information, the second aims at censuring all possible responses.
The hampering of TV satellites for military purposes is not new. Under pressure from Israel, the USA and the EU blocked Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian TV channels, one after the other. However, no satellite channels from other parts of the world were censured.
The broadcast of false news is also not new, but four significant steps have been taken in the art of propaganda during the last decade.
• In 1994, a pop music station named “Free Radio of the Thousand Hills” (RTML) gave the signal for genocide in Rwanda with the cry, “Kill the cockroaches!
• In 2001, NATO used the media to impose an interpretation of the 9/11 attacks and to justify its own aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time already, it was Ben Rhodes who had been commissioned by the Bush administration to concoct the Kean/Hamilton Commission report on the attacks.
• In 2002, the CIA used five TV channels (Televen, Globovision, ValeTV and CMT) to make the public in Venezuela believe that phantom demonstrators had captured the elected president, Hugo Chávez, forcing him to resign. In reality he was the victim of a military coup d’etat.
• In 2011, France 24 served as information ministry for the Libyan CNT, according to a signed contract. During the battle of Tripoli, NATO produced fake studio films, then transmitted them via Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, showing phantom images of Libyan rebels on the central square of the capital city, while in reality they were still far away. As a consequence, the inhabitants of Tripoli were persuaded that the war was lost and gave up all resistance.
Nowadays the media do not only support a war, they produce it themselves.
This procedure violates the principles of International Law, first of all Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to the fact of receiving and imparting information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Above all, the procedure violates the United Nations General Assembly resolution, adopted after the end of World War II, to prevent further wars. Resolutions 110, 381 and 819 forbid “to set obstacles to free exchange of information and ideas” (like cutting off Syrian TV channels) and “all propaganda provoking or encouraging threats to peace, breaking peace, and all acts of aggression”. By law, war propaganda is a crime against peace, the worst of crimes, because it facilitates war crimes and genocide.
Thierry Meyssan

Sunday, 18 March 2012

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then its.....Ben Goldacre and the 'Media's MMR Hoax'

Ben Goldacre is a highly influential Science Journalist. He has a weekly column in the Guardian and his own website called He also has a book out called Bad Science. The thrust of this book is that Ben is going to explain to his readers what 'bad science' is. Judging from the merchandise on offer on his store, Ben thinks the MMR vaccine is safe, that Nutritionists are 'quacks', and it also looks like he's got his own slogan "i think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that". He also has a penchant for rubber ducks, they adorn his blog and have provided the inspiration for the title of my piece. 

It was recommended to me that I read his blog post titled the 'Media's MMR Hoax' (which is also features as a chapter in his book). The thrust of the post is that Goldacre will explain how it wasn't Wakefield et al that should be held responsible for the 'MMR hoax', instead it was the untrained and hysterical media. The implicit assumption Goldacre makes is that the MMR vaccine was, and is, safe.  While Goldacre is no doubt a talented writer, I was actually somewhat surprised at  much of his reasoning, logic but mostly the lack of information for the topic at hand.  I have offered a critique of this article below. I hope those that read it will have a rethink about the suitability of Dr Goldacre as an authority figure in the MMR-Autism debate.  If you are not familiar with Goldacre's original article you will find it here

There are two concurrent themes in Goldacre's piece, i) that vaccines are safe and the evidence clearly shows this, and ii) that an uneducated and unskilled media are to blame for influencing the public to think otherwise. The red font below is from Goldacre's original piece.

Goldacre begins with the vaccines are safe theme and and really starts the ball-of-misinformation rolling with...
“The MMR and autism scare, for example, is practically non-existent outside Britain.” 
Oh dear, if Ben Goldacre is this mis/un-informed, then already I'm already beginning to doubt his credibility to comment in this area. For example, CNN listed the Autism MMR vaccine controversy as one of the top stories of 2008. See what CNN have to say about this here. In fact Autism and vaccines have been very big news indeed outside of Britain, with the US Government conceding that multiple vaccinations were responsible for the later seizures of Hannah Poling. See the verbatim US Government concession here on the huffington post and and also this article also on the huffington post on the same topic. But the most glaring omission of all is that the Japanese government banned the MMR jab in 1993 due to serious side effects following vaccination. This lead to millions of dollars in compensation to victims families. Read more here and here.

Surely, Ben Goldacre has the resources available to him to check what’s happening outside the UK?. The fact that theses stories escaped him, or that he saw no relevance in them, does not fill me with confidence that he is sufficiently informed to offer a valid opinion on this area. Anywho, it's still early doors, perhaps this was an uncharacteristic slip up, lets see...

 On to the hepatitis B vaccine and France in the 1990s... 
“But throughout the 1990s France was in the grip of a scare that hepatitis B vaccine caused multiple sclerosis.”

What was that catchphrase again? Oh yeah...'I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that'...

Firstly, it looks like it was a little bit more than a  "scare", (with the associated implication that it was just a ‘state of mind’), at least according the the French courts that awarded compensation to sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS), which occurred following vaccination against hepatitis B.
"A French court has upheld a lower court ruling that found a link between GlaxoSmithKline's hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis (MS) and has ordered the company to pay two women who contracted MS after receiving the vaccine an as-yet undetermined amount of compensation."  Agence France Presse ( (05/03/01)
Courts in the US are also compensating Hep B vaccine victims see here and here
I wonder why this Harvard study, published in Neurology in 2004, failed to catch Dr Goldacre's eye? The authors concluded "These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that immunization with the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine is associated with an increased risk of MS, and challenge the idea that the relation between hepatitis B vaccination and risk of MS is well understood." Oh well, you don't catch them all I guess.

Goldacre's commentary predates the Neurology study of October 2008 that showed exposure to the Hepatitis B vaccine in children was associated with a 50% increased risk for CNS inflammatory demyelination.So we can't blame him for missing this particular study. The study also showed that for children who got the GlaxoSmithKline's Engerix B vaccine, their risk was elevated by 74%. Among Autism Spectrum Disorder children with confirmed multiple sclerosis, the risk increased by 177% (read more here). I 'm sure Goldacre's website addendum is in the pipeline, if not I look forward to seeing the study discussed in the next edition of Bad Science.

And how about the thoughts of Dr Mark Girard, commissioned as a medical expert by French courts in the French criminal investigation into the introduction of universal Hepatitis B vaccination in France? This is what he had to say on the matter:
"Whilst the risk factors for babies have changed little, there is now impressive evidence that for a preventive measure, hepatitis B vaccine is remarkable for the frequency, variety and severity of complications from its use. The toxicity of this vaccine is so unusual that, even if crucial data are regrettably concealed or covered by Court order, scientific evidence is already far higher than normally needed to justify severe restrictive measures." see more
 More on Girard's work here

After the simplistic and nonchalant treatment of Hep B vaccines in France, Goldacre shifts his lens to the US... 
“In the US, the major vaccine fear has been around the use of a preservative called thiomersal, although somehow this hasn’t caught on here, even though that same preservative was used in Britain.”  

Thiomersal? That's a peculiar sounding substance, but it's only a preservative how bad can it be? Let's google it and see...hmm, ah well, I guess the question should be 'how bad is mercury?' A  quick browse on Wikipedia yields this piece of info...
"Mercury and its compounds have been used in medicine, although they are much less common today than they once were, now that the toxic effects of mercury and its compounds are more widely understood. The element mercury is an ingredient in dental amalgams. Thiomersal (called Thimerosal in the United States) is an organic compound used as a preservative in vaccines, though this use is in decline" see more
Click here for 45 studies that have found links between mercury and ASD, MS and various other neuorodegenerative disorders. Also check out the compilation of approximately 80+ studies on the toxicity of Thiomersal, again in peer reviewed scientific and medical journals.  Perhaps there is something to this whole thiomersal 'fear' thingy?

By this point, we can safely say Goldacre is uninformed, yet he does clearly possess the journalistic 'street smarts' to keep himself out of trouble. For example, he says the 'fear’ never really caught on in the UK; he could merely be saying that people in the US are more simply informed about vaccines? But the implication is clearly that there was nothing to fear in the first place. He cleverly doesn't commit and offers no opinion on whether he thinks thiomersal is safe or not.  He also veers well clear of discussing any actual evidence on the matter. It would seem that Goldacre doesn't want to talk himself into a position that he suspects is untenable. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that all of his readers are this shrewd, and some who read this piece will come away thinking thiomersal is safe.

With Hep B and thiomersal  out of the way it's now time for the whooping cough vaccine to get the Goldacre treatment...

“In the 1970s there was a widespread concern in the UK, driven again by a single doctor, that whooping-cough vaccine was causing neurological damage.”

Again, we see the same Goldacre slickness, he doesn't name the 'single Doctor'. He refuses to commit. Were the concerns justified? The implication is they weren't but Ben ain't gonna say that, it's left for the reader to fill in the blanks.  Is he criticizing this single doctor or praising him/her for generating this concern? It reads more like scorn than praise, but let's look a little deeper into this to see if he/she warrants praise or criticism.  This Guardian article, should offer a little more clarity on the matter. Here's an excerpt:
British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has finally admitted that thousands of babies in this country were inoculated with a batch of toxic whooping cough vaccines in the 1970s.
Some experts believe that these Trivax vaccines - which had not passed critical company safety tests - may have caused permanent brain damage and even fatalities in young children. In 1992, the family of an Irish boy, Kenneth Best, who suffered brain damage from one of these toxic vaccines, was awarded £2.7 million in compensation by the Irish Supreme Court. Despite a long and fierce battle with the drug giant, the boy's family finally won this historic case after his mother Margaret made a startling find when sifting through tens of thousands of company documents. She discovered that the Trivax vaccine used on her son, from a batch numbered 3,741, had been released by the company despite it having failed to pass a critical safety test. Documents revealed that the 60,000 individual doses within this batch were known to be 14 times more potent than normal.
At the time the Irish judge accused GlaxoSmithKline - then known as Glaxo Wellcome - of negligence and attacked the company's poor quality control at its Kent laboratory. Immunology experts condemned Glaxo in court for what one US scientist described as an 'extraordinary event'. Last year an investigation by The Observer found evidence to suggest that vaccines from this faulty batch, which may have wrecked Kenneth Best's life, had also been used in Britain.
I know the media can get it wrong at times but surely we can trust the Guardian, right? Or would Goldarce have us believe that the reporting of the above documented facts was some sort of Guardian driven 'media hoax' also?  Goldacre goes on to say ...“because if the vaccine for hepatitis B, or MMR, is dangerous in one country, it should be equally dangerous everywhere”. And guess what, countries around the world are finding the same vaccines to be dangerous, funny that
...Last year Australia temporarily banned their seasonal flu vaccines after 23 children experienced convulsions and were hospitalized following their vaccination. The same year, Sweden found the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine increased the chance of children under 19 years old developing narcolepsy by 400%. If 400% wasn’t bad enough, Finland’s study found the same vaccine increased a child’s risk of developing narcolepsy by 900%! Thankfully those countries took action and banned the vaccine for children.  read more
In 1977, a Russian study found that adults exposed to ethylmercury, the form of mercury in thimerosal, suffered brain damage years later. Studies on thimerosal poisoning also describe tubular necrosis and nervous system injury, including obtundation, coma and death. As a result of these findings, Russia banned thimerosal from children's vaccines in 1980. Denmark, Austria, Japan, Great Britain and all the Scandinavian countries have also banned the preservative. read more
Goldacre continues...
“and if those concerns were genuinely grounded in the evidence, especially in an age of the rapid propagation of information, you would expect the concerns to be expressed by journalists everywhere.”

Er, but if they're all as uninformed as you are Ben then, probably not. Thankfully, thousands of scientists and journalists are documenting and reporting on the dangers of vaccines. The trick is to do the research.

Under the guise of discussing the media's initial 'low-key' treatment of Wakefield et als original studies, Goldacre tries to undermine important findings with some cleverly crafted pot shots...

“The study itself was fairly trivial, a “case series report” of 12 people – essentially a collection of 12 clinical anecdotes ….For things as common as MMR and autism, finding 12 people with both is entirely unspectacular.”

This is a little misleading, the initial points of interest were not MMR and Autism but that the children shared ASD as well as inflammation of the large intestine and swelling of the lymph glands in the intestinal lining. However, the study also revealed that parents of 9 of the children associated the onset of symptoms ASD with MMR vaccination. This finding was and is interesting and certainly warrants further investigation. Perhaps not 'spectacular' but definitely interesting. In all, Wakefield's case study served it's purpose well; it generated a new hypotheses that have been tested in subsequent research.  For example:
  • Horvath, Papadimitiou et al, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Gastrointestinal Abnormalities in Children With Autistic Disorder , Journal of Pediatrics, 1999 November, Vol 135 (5), pp559-563
  • Wakefield, Anthony et al, Enterocolitis in Children with Developmental Disorders , American Journal of Gastroenterology, Sept 2000, Vol 95, No. 9, pp2285-2295
  • Furlano, Anthony et al, Colonic CD8 and T-Cell Infiltration With Epithelial Damage in Children with Autism , Journal of Pediatrics, 2001; 138; No. 3, 366-372
  • Paper by Dr. Timothy Buie, Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital, presented to the Oasis 2001 Conference for Autism, Portland, Oregon, November 2001  
  • Ashwood, Murch et al, Royal Free Hospital, London, Intestinal Lymphocyte Populations in Children with Regressive Autism: Evidence for Extensive Mucosal Immunopathology , Journal of Clinical Immunology, Vol 23 No. 6 Nov 2003 pp504-517
Goldacre increases the pace a little...
“In 2001 and 2002 the scare began to gain momentum. Wakefield published a review paper in an obscure journal, questioning the safety of the immunisation programme, although with no new evidence.” 

Maybe I'm missing something here, but should there be new evidence in a review paperAs most scientists will tell you, evidence doesn’t  have an expiry date, it accumulates. This is why review papers are so useful. Funnily enough, Goldacre is  in fact tacitly admitting there was indeed preexisting evidence. It's also not really clear what particular paper Goldacre is referring to here. He refers to the journal as 'obscure' but I'll leave it up to the reader to decide. Here is a link to Wakefield's publication record (up to circa '09). As you can see it is extensive and publications in 'obscure' journals are certainly the exception and not the rule.

“He published two papers on laboratory work using PCR (a technique used in genetic fingerprinting) which claimed to show measles virus in tissue samples from children with bowel problems and autism.” 

Here comes Ben's street skills again, notice how he describes how Wakefield's research ‘claimed’ to show…'.  Funny how these peer reviewed studies can only  muster a grubby ‘claim’. The implication is  that these studies amount to nothing more than just unfounded ‘claims’ rather than important scientific findings that merit serious consideration.We’ll later see that when it’s research that's more in line with the Goldacre stance, 'claim' mysteriously goes AWOL, leaving behind a glistening and definitive set of findings.  Some might argue that these are cheap linguistic parlour tricks, but let's not be too judgmental, there is a certain craftiness about them that is quite compelling. 

Goldacre now shifts gears and really starts to 'large up' the media's role in the' MMR hoax'. He's main argument here is that the media took a trivial piece of research (Wakefield's study), misinterpreted it, and using all manner of deceptive tactics, blew it out of all proportion, and scared the British public half to death in the process...

"The coverage rapidly began to deteriorate, in ways which now feel familiar and predictable. Emotive anecdotes from distressed parents were pitted against old men in corduroy with no media training. The Royal College of General Practitioners press office not only failed to speak clearly on the evidence, it also managed to dig up anti-MMR GPs for journalists who rang in asking for quotes. Newspapers and celebrities began to use the vaccine as an opportunity to attack the government and the health service, and of course it was the perfect story, with a charismatic maverick fighting against the system, a Galileo-like figure. There were elements of risk, of awful personal tragedy, and of course, the question of blame: whose fault was autism?"

Okay Goldacre senses that we've entered the 'championship rounds'  and now it's time to crank it up a notch or two. Linguistic tricks are ditched, instead it's time for some conceptual restructuring, Goldacre style. Under the guise of criticizing the media for portraying the MMR-Autism story unfairly, Goldacre cleverly tries to frame the argument as a battle between emotion and irrationality on one hand, and reason and objectivity on the other. Goldacre would have us believe that representing emotion and irrationality is Wakefield, his mob of angry parents and a handful anti-MMR GPs'. On the side of reason, are a lone group of sober scientists in their corduroys. They're re not in it for the 'hero-worship', Goldacre implies, they are in it to uphold science and protect the masses from their own irrational beliefs.

What Goldacre attempts here is to disguise the true reality of why parents, scientists and GPs alike question the safety of the MMR vaccine. The reality is that this story 'broke', spread and remains as important as ever, because of research published in scientific journals, by corduroy wearing scientists. The evidence indicating that vaccines are unsafe did not start and end with Wakefield et al It continues to this day and continues to be published in scientific journals. Meanwhile, it's actually the very media that Goldacre chastises, that are discrediting the evidence that vaccines are, in fact, far from safe. The fact that Goldacre earlier jokes of defending the 'heretic'(referring to Wakefield) is a tacit admission of how complete the media demonisation of Wakefield has been.  We only need take a look at the following list of studies to see that it is the world of science, rather than media, that is the biggest threat to Goldacre & Cos position, i.e. that the MMR vaccine is safe. 

Goldacre also talks about how the media ignored the research that supported the idea that the MMR vaccine was safe but then ‘squealed’ loudly when they found research that suggested otherwise.  I find this media bias that he talks about a little hard to swallow.  Google News has an interesting feature that allows you to search news from particular years. I tried a search for “MMR vaccine” and this is what I found for 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005-2007. Even better, you can try search google's newspaper archive, try different search terms e.g. "MMR Autism". From playing around with this for a little while the bias seems to have been against an Autism MMR link. This is by no means meant to be definitive, but it’s a starting point towards adding some degree of scientific methodology to the issue of media bias and the MMR vaccine. I'm not sure how Goldacre arrived at his 'media hoax' conclusions, perhaps he did a more thorough analysis? he doesn't really say, so I guess we don't really know.

Goldacre continues...

"And while most other politicians were happy to clarify whether their children had had the vaccine, you could see how people might believe the Blairs were the kind of family not to have their children immunised: essentially, they had surrounded themselves with health cranks. There was Cherie Blair’s closest friend and aide, Carole Caplin, a new age guru and “life coach”. Cherie was reported to visit Carole’s mum, Sylvia Caplin, a spiritual guru who was viciously anti-MMR (“for a tiny child, the MMR is a ridiculous thing to do. It has definitely caused autism,” she told the Mail). They were also prominently associated with a new age healer called Jack Temple, who offered crystal dowsing, homeopathy, neolithic-circle healing in his suburban back garden, and some special breastfeeding technique which he reckoned made vaccines unnecessary."

Ben's leaving nothing to chance, if his readers haven't been hoodwinked by his manufactured 'Reason versus Irrationality' dichotomy, then the false paradigm of  'anti-MMR quacks' versus 'pro-MMR rational scientists', should do the trick.  Those who opt not to have their children inoculated with the MMR are under the influence of ‘cranks’ and ‘quacks’. These are not rational people, they are misguided soles that don’t understand science and how it works, for if they did they would surely know that the MMR vaccine is safe.  This is all very clever stuff, but unfortunately, these underhand tactics do influence and shape peoples' views. 

Nevertheless, it is peer reviewed research and scientific rigor that remains the biggest threat to mass acceptance of MMR vaccination, not the media and not Tony and Cherie Blairs' ‘life coaches’ and ‘spiritual gurus’. By the by,  it's an often used trick in academia that if you want to try and discredit an opponent or a piece of work, that you try and find some way of associating it/them with homeopathy. Goldacre, rather crudely, manages to associate skepticism on the safeness of MMR with homeopathy, via the Blairs and their associates.  This is perhaps not Goldacre's most seamlessly crafted insinuation, but hey, he got there in the end.

Goldacre contiues...
“Journalists are used to listening with a critical ear to briefings from press officers, politicians, PR executives, salespeople, lobbyists, celebrities and gossip-mongers, and they generally display a healthy natural scepticism: but in the case of science, generalists don’t have the skills to critically appraise a piece of scientific evidence on its merits. At best, the evidence of these “experts” will only be examined in terms of who they are as people, or perhaps who they have worked for. In the case of MMR, this meant researchers were simply subjected to elaborate smear campaigns.”

Er, kettle pot black etc etc. A little rich considering how uninformed this piece has been.  If Goldacre does actually consider himself one of the experts that has ‘the skills to critically appraise a piece of scientific evidence on its merits’ then lets give him the benefit of the doubt and just say that he had a real 'off day' when he put this piece together.

“Any member of the public would have had very good reason to believe that MMR caused autism, because the media distorted the scientific evidence, reporting selectively on the evidence suggesting that MMR was risky, and repeatedly ignoring the evidence to the contrary.”

This certainly is not true today (and from searching media archives doesn't seem to hold up for back then either). Thanks to clever smear tactics, such as those employed by Goldacre in this article, anyone questioning the safety of MMR vaccines today is likely to be labelled a ‘quack’, ‘crank’ or ‘kook’, before they begin to defend their point or cite the relevant evidence. 

"In the case of the PCR data, the genetic fingerprinting information on whether vaccine-strain measles virus could be found in tissue samples of children with autism and bowel problems, this bias was, until a few months ago, quite simply absolute. You will remember from earlier that Wakefield co-authored two scientific papers – known as the “Kawashima paper” and the “O’Leary paper” – claiming to have found such evidence, and received blanket media coverage for them. But you may never even have heard of the papers showing these to be probable false positives."

By now we are familiar with Goldarce's linguistic tricks, he again describe Wakefield’s findings as ‘claims’ and then remarks that they are ‘probable false positives’.  This is very unbecoming for 'a man of science' like Goldacre. On what basis are these false positives? Was his methodology flawed? Did samples get mixed up? How does one find a vaccine strain measles virus in intestinal tissue, if in fact (as Goldacre insinuates), it wasn’t there?

Goldacre then describe two studes (D’Souza et al 2006 & Afzal et al 2006) that failed to find vaccine strain measles in the intestinal tissue of children with autism. Notice that he doesn't describe these findings as 'claims', funny that.  But at least we are discussing actual evidence, so kudos to Goldacre for that. So so surmise; Goldacre has presented his readers with two studies finding MMR stain measles in the intestinal lining of children with autism and bowel problems, and two that did not, yet the reader is 'guided' to think that a link between MMR and autism is absurd. Nice try Ben

He then turns his sights to Dr Arthur Krigsman…
“Dr Arthur Krigsman was claiming he had found genetic material from vaccine-strain measles virus in some gut samples from children with autism and bowel problems. If true, this would have bolstered Wakefield’s theory, which by 2006 was lying in tatters…. What was this frightening new data? These scare stories were based on a poster presentation, at a conference yet to occur, on research not yet completed…Two years after making these claims, the study remains unpublished.”

We've no good reason to doubt Krigman’s findings, but Goldarces makes us feel like we should doubt them anyway? He also cleverly tries to shape the reader to feeling that evidence for a link between MMR and autism 'hinged' on whether or not Krigsman could get this research into a journal. The reader is lead to believe that this Krigsman study is the only research out there that might just support a link between autism and MMR. Again this is total nonsense from Goldacre. Below is a small sample of research that supports a link between MMR and autism, again, these somehow escaped Goldarce.

Singh, Nelson, Jensen and Bradstreet, Abnormal Measles Serology and Autoimmunity in Autistic Children , Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 109 (1) S232, January 2002, and also presented to the 102nd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2002
Bitnun et al, Measles Inclusion-Body Encephalitis Caused by the Vaccine Strain of Measles Virus , Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal, 1999, 29 855-61 (October)
Bradstreet, O'Leary, Sheils et al, Detection of Measles Virus Genomic RNA in Cerebrospinal Fluid in Children with Regressive Autism by TaqMan RT-PCR: A Report of Three Cases , summarized at the Institute of Medicine, February 2004 and subsequently published as Bradstreet, Dahr et al, Detection of Measles Virus Genomic RNA in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Children with Regressive Autism: A Report of Three Cases , Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 9, No. 2 Summer 2004
Wakefield, Stott and Limb, Gastrointestinal Comorbidity, Autistic Regression and Measles-Containing Vaccines; Positive Re-challenge and Biological Gradient , Medical Veritas 3 (2006) 796-802

I hope by now we are aware and thus somewhat 'immune' to the deceptive tactics that Goldacre employs to manipulate his readers. Instead of debate the evidence he employs ad hominem tactics to undermine the credibility of authors that don’t take his view. He uses terms such as 'quack', 'crank' and 'kook' to scare the unwitting to accepting his story. The reality is that Goldacre's own work is weak and misleading, although cleverly crafted to avoid blatant falsehoods.  He creates false dichotomies, such as the 'scientific pro MMR camp' fighting a lone battle versus the axis of media, emotional parents and anti-MMR ‘quacks’.  We have seen that these dichotomies are patently false.  The reality is that good science supports a link between MMR and autism, and thus it is good science that is the real threat to Goldacre & Cos blindly pro MMR stance. Don't be swayed and bullied into accepting the Goldacre narrative, it's not all that clever or even all that scientific either.