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Tuesday, July 16, 2013


The ginned-up Syrian death toll

Today the U.N. claims that "5000 people a month" are dying in Syria. As I have before, I have to demonstrate why I find this claim utterly non-credible. 5000/month would be 167 every single day. Now we don't know what the standard deviation might be, but we have to assume it would be reasonable large, which would mean that some days would be much lower, while on other days, we could easily expect 300 or more to be killed in a single day, if the 5000/month were to be believable.

So let's look at a report from today, when major battles are being reported. Looking through the article, we find (claims of) six mediators shot in Homs, eight Nusra front militants killed by Kurds, nine people killed at a checkpoint, and "several" regime fighters killed. All in all fewer than 30 were reported killed on a day when major battles are being fought. Is it remotely credible that an average of 167 are being killed every single day? Just yesterday we read about 40 people being killed in a single bombing in Iraq; when is the last time we read about an event in Syria which killed even that many people? And when was the last time we read about a day when more than 200 people died in Syria in just a single day? For my part, the answer would be: never.

I don't know what the statistics are, and I'll also state clearly that they make no difference whatsoever to my stand, which is: Hands off Syria! No U.S. intervention in Syria. However, because these numbers are being used (and, in my opinion, "ginned up") to justify ever-increasing intervention in Syria, it is important to understand them, and rebut them, if they are false. Which, in my opinion, is without question.

Monday, July 08, 2013


Extradition hypocrisy on the part of the U.S.: whistleblowers yes, terrorists no

Edward Snowden, who recently disclosed the massive nature of NSA spying on not only Americans but on every single person in the world who uses electronic communications of any kind, is currently a fugitive from "justice" in the United States. Although he is currently in a Russian airport, he has been offered political asylum by Venezuela, as well as by Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Although Snowden isn't yet in Venezuela, the U.S. government has already requested his extradition from that country. The irony of this request abounds. For eight years now, since June 15, 2005, the U.S. has refused to extradite a notorious terrorist to Venezuela. Luis Posada Carriles is wanted in Venezuela on 73 counts of murder for masterminding the 1976 midair bombing of a Cubana airliner (the flight originated in Venezuela, and the bombing was planned there, which is why that country is involved). Posada was also responsible for a string of Cuban hotel bombings in 1997 which killed Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo, and was jailed for four years in Panama (2000-2004) for an attempt to bomb an auditorium in which Fidel Castro was speaking to university students. This is the man the U.S. Government continues to allow to walk the streets of Miami a free man, while they ask for the extradition of a man whose crime was to expose their own illegal actions.

The excuse for refusing Venezuela's extradition request is the totally unsupported assertion that Posada might be subject to torture in Venezuela, rather ironic given the recent history of torture practiced by the U.S. Remarkably, the only "evidence" to the possibility of torture in Venezuela was the testimony of Joaquin Chaffardet - Posada's lawyer, former boss in the Venezuelan secret police, former business partner at the time of the airline bombing, and someone who was indicted, though not convicted, for organizing the prison break which sprang Posada from a Venezuelan jail in the first place!

Posada entered the U.S. illegally in 2005, which could have been ground enough to deport him. More than 400,000 undocumented workers were deported by the Obama administration just last year, and more than a million since Obama took office, but Posada, a man who even the U.S. Department of Justice acknowledges is a terrorist, was not among them.

Having refused a valid extradition request from Venezuela, the U.S. is then obliged under the Montreal Convention to try Posada for the airplane bombing "without any exception whatsoever." The U.S. has, needless to say, ignored that legal obligation as well.

Although it hasn't been publicly disclosed whether the U.S. has also filed an extradition request with Bolivia, that too would be ironic, because the U.S. is also harboring a fugitive from Bolivian justice, its former President, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. In 2003, Bolivian troops attacked and murdered 59 civilians who were engaged in a peaceful protest. Not long after, Sánchez de Lozada resigned and escaped to the United States. On November 11, 2008, Bolivia formally served the US government with a request to extradite Sánchez de Lozada back to Bolivia for crimes against humanity and extrajudicial killings, but the U.S. has rejected that request, as it did in the case of Venezuela's request for the extradition of Posada Carriles.

As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro put it, "Who is the terrorist? A government like us, who seeks to serve the young Snowden, a figure of humanitarian asylum from persecution by the American Empire? Or the United States government that protects with political asylum Luis Posada Carriles, a confessed convicted murderer and terrorist, who is wanted by Venezuela for the bombing of the Cubana plane in 1976?"

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


The "credenza defense"

Back in the days before the invasion of Iraq, George Bush was quoted as saying that he "didn't have plans for invading Iraq on his desk." I quipped, via this blog, that "no, he has them on his credenza" (look it up if you don't know what that is!) and defined the "credenza defense" - something which is "literally true, but fundamentally a lie and meant to deceive the listener."

And now we have the classic "credenza defense" from President Barack Obama (a.k.a. Bush III), who just a few days ago (mis)informed the world that he was "not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." And that was literally true. Instead, he used the "civilized" (and less costly) alternative - just get your allies to deny overflight privileges to a civilian airliner (which just happened to be carrying to President of a sovereign country!), thus forcing it to land.

A classic "credenza defense." Less politely, a brazen lie (on top of the outrageous assault on sovereignty, and the demonstration of the utter subservience of the world to its most powerful imperialist power).

Monday, July 01, 2013


Call rewrite!

AP does one of the most amazing jobs of rewriting history I've ever seen:
Israel, which captured Gaza in 1967, withdrew in 2005. Hamas militants subsequently overran the area.

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