The World: What is Really Happening 251

If you want to understand what is really happening in the world today, a mid-ranking official named Ian Henderson is vastly more important to you than Theresa May. You will not, however, find anything about Henderson in the vast majority of corporate and state media outlets.

You may recall that, one month after the Skripal incident, there was allegedly a “chemical weapons attack” in the jihadist enclave of Douma, which led to air strikes against the Syrian government in support of the jihadist forces by US, British and French bombers and missiles. At the time, I argued that the Douma jihadist enclave was on the brink of falling (as indeed it proved) and there was no military advantage – and a massive international downside – for the Syrian Army in using chemical weapons. Such evidence for the attack that existed came from the jihadist allied and NATO funded White Helmets and related sources; and the veteran and extremely respected journalist Robert Fisk, first westerner to arrive on the scene, reported that no chemical attack had taken place.

The “Douma chemical weapon attack” was linked to the “Skripal chemical weapon attack” by the western media as evidence of Russian evil. Robert Fisk was subjected to massive media abuse and I was demonised by countless mainstream media journalists on social media, of which this is just one example of a great many.

In both the Skripal and the Douma case, it fell to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to provide the technical analysis. The OPCW is a multilateral body established by treaty, and has 193 member states. The only major chemical weapons owning powers which are not members and refuse the inspections regime are the pariah rogue states Israel and North Korea.

An OPCW fact finding mission visited Douma on April 21 and 25 2018 and was able to visit the sites, collect samples and interview witnesses. No weaponised chemicals were detected but traces of chlorine were found. Chlorine is not an uncommon chemical, so molecular traces of chlorine at a bombing site are not improbable. The interim report of the OPCW following the Fact Finding Mission was markedly sober and non-committal:

The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody.

The fact finding mission then returned to OPCW HQ, at which time the heavily politicised process took over within the secretariat and influenced by national delegations. 9 months later the final report was expressed in language of greater certainty, yet backed by no better objective evidence:

Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon on 7 April 2018 in Douma, the Syrian Arab Republic, the evaluation and analysis of all the information gathered by the FFM—witnesses’ testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts, additional digital information from witnesses—provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.

However the report noted it was unable to determine who had used the chlorine as a weapon. Attempts to spin this as a consequence of OPCW’s remit are nonsense – the OPCW exists precisely to police chemical weapons violations, and has never operated on the basis of violator anonymity.

Needless to say, NATO funded propaganda site Bellingcat had been from the start in the lead in proclaiming to the world the “evidence” that this was a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, dropping simple chlorine cylinders as bombs. The original longer video footage of one of the videos on the Bellingcat site gives a fuller idea of the remarkable lack of damage to one gas cylinder which had smashed through the reinforced concrete roof and landed gently on the bed.

[I am sorry that I do not know how to extract that longer video from its tweet. You need to click on the above link then click on the link in the first tweet that warns you it is sensitive material – in fact there is nothing sensitive there, so don’t worry.]

Now we come to the essential Mr Ian Henderson. Mr Henderson was in charge of the engineering sub-group of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission. The engineers assessed that the story of the cylinders being dropped from the sky was improbable, and it was much more probable that they had simply been placed there manually. There are two major reasons they came to this conclusion.

At least one of the crater holes showed damage that indicated it had been caused by an explosive, not by the alleged blunt impact. The cylinders simply did not show enough damage to have come through the reinforced concrete slabs and particularly the damage which would have been caused by the rebar. Rebar is actually thicker steel than a gas cylinder and would have caused major deformation.

Yet – and this is why Ian Henderson is more important to your understanding of the world than Theresa May – the OPCW Fact Finding Mission reflected in their final report none of the findings of their own sub-group of university based engineers from two European universities, but instead produced something that is very close to the amateur propaganda “analysis” put out by Bellingcat. The implications of this fraud are mind-blowing.

The genuine experts’ findings were completely suppressed until they were leaked last week. And still then, this leak – which has the most profound ramifications – has in itself been almost completely suppressed by the mainstream media, except for those marginalised outliers who still manage to get a platform, Robert Fisk and Peter Hitchens (a tiny platform in the case of Fisk).

Consider what this tells us. A fake chemical attack incident was used to justify military aggression against Syria by the USA, UK and France. The entire western mainstream media promoted the anti-Syrian and anti-Russian narrative to justify that attack. The supposedly neutral international watchdog, the OPCW, was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers. Which can only call into doubt the neutrality and reliability of the OPCW in its findings on the Skripals too.

There has been virtually no media reporting of the scandalous cover-up. This really does tell you a very great deal more about how the Western world works than the vicissitudes of the ludicrously over-promoted Theresa May and her tears of self pity.

Still more revealing is the reaction from the OPCW – which rather than acknowledge there is a major problem with the conclusions of its Douma report, has started a witch hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the Henderson report.

The Russian government claimed to have intelligence that indicated it was MI6 behind the faking of the Douma chemical attack. I have no means of knowing the truth of that, and am always sceptical of claims by all governments on intelligence matters, after a career observing government disinformation techniques from the inside. But the MI6 claim is consistent with the involvement of the MI6 originated White Helmets in this scam. and MI6 can always depend on their house journal The Guardian to push their narrative, as Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker does here in an article “justifying” the omission of the Henderson report by the OPCW. Whitaker argues that Henderson’s engineers had a minority view. Interestingly Whitaker’s article is not from the Guardian itself, which prefers to keep all news of the Henderson report from the public.

But Whitaker’s thesis cannot stand. On one level, of course we know that Henderson’s expert opinion did not prevail at the OPCW. Henderson and the truth lost out in the politicking. But at the very least, it would be essential for the OPCW report to reflect and note the strong contrary view among its experts, and the suppression of this essential information cannot possibly be justified. Whitaker’s attempt to do so is a disgrace.

Which leads me on to the Skripals.

I have noted before the news management technique of the security services, leaking out key facts in a managed way over long periods so as not to shock what public belief there is in the official Skripal story. Thus nine months passed before it was admitted that the first person who “coincidentally” came across the ill Skripals on the park bench, just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

The inquest into the unfortunate Dawn Sturgess has now been postponed four times. The security services have now admitted – once again through the Guardian – that even if “Boshirov and Petrov” poisoned the Skripals, they cannot have been also responsible for the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. This because the charity bin in which the perfume bottle was allegedly found is emptied regularly so the bottle could not have lain there for 16 weeks undiscovered, and because the package was sealed so could not have been used on the Skripals’ doorknob.

This Guardian article is bylined by the security services’ pet outlet, Luke Harding, and one other. The admissions are packaged in a bombastic sandwich about Russian GRU agents.

Every single one of these points – that “Boshirov and Petrov” have never been charged with the manslaughter of Sturgess, that the bottle was sealed so could not have been used at the Skripals’ house, and that it cannot have been in the charity bin that long – are points that I have repeatedly made, and for which I have suffered massive abuse, including – indeed primarily – from dozens of mainstream media journalists. Making precisely these points has seen me labelled as a mentally ill conspiracy theorist or paid Russian agent. Just like the Douma fabrication, it turns out there was indeed every reason to doubt, and now, beneath a veneer of anti-Russian nonsense, these facts are quietly admitted by anonymous “sources” to Harding. No wonder poor Dawn Sturgess keeps not getting an inquest.

Which brings us back full circle to the OPCW. In neither its report on the Salisbury poisoning nor its report on the Amesbury poisoning did the OPCW ever use the word Novichok. As an FCO source explained to me, the expert scientists in OPCW were desperate to signal that the Salisbury sample had not been for days on a doorknob collecting atmospheric dust, rain and material from hands and gloves, but all the politics of the OPCW leadership would allow them to slip in was the phrase “almost complete absence of impurities” as a clue – which the British government then spun as meaning “military grade” when it actually meant “not from a doorknob”.

Now we have seen irrefutable evidence of poor Ian Henderson in exactly the same position with the OPCW of having the actual scientific analysis blocked out of the official findings. That is extremely strong added evidence that my source was indeed telling the truth about the earlier suppression of the scientific evidence in the Skripal case.

Even the biased OPCW could not give any evidence of the Amesbury and Salisbury poisons being linked, concluding:

“Due to the unknown storage conditions of the small bottle found in the house of Mr Rowley and the fact that the environmental samples analysed in relation to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey were exposed to the environment and moisture, the impurity profiles of the samples available to the OPCW do not make it possible to draw conclusions as to whether the samples are from the same synthesis batch

Which is strange, as the first sample had an “almost complete absence of impurities” and the second was straight out of the bottle. In fact beneath the doublespeak the OPCW are saying there is no evidence the two attacks were from the same source. Full stop.

I suppose I should now have reached the stage where nothing will shock me, but as a textbook example of the big lie technique, this BBC article is the BBC’s take on the report I just quoted – which remember does not even use the word Novichok.

When it comes to government narrative and the mainstream media, mass purveyor of fake news, scepticism is your friend. Remembering that is much more important to your life than the question of which Tory frontman is in No. 10.

For an analysis of the Henderson Report fiasco written to the highest academic standards, where you can find all the important links to original source material, read this superb work by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.

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Finally two housekeeping points. Even among regular readers of this blog, well less than 1% make a voluntary subscription and among all readers the number is even smaller. Money is an unfortunate necessity to keep the blog going, and all help is gratefully received – though I do not wish anyone to contribute who has any difficulty to afford it.

Secondly the blog has used the same photo of me since 2005, and it is high time to change it. I have found a photo in which I look at least 80, so hopefully it might keep us going a few years. I hope my kind technical team will get that done today.

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Vote SNP Today – Chagos Just One Example of the Need to Dismantle the Imperial Entity 345

In Scotland I urge everybody to go out and vote SNP today, as the priority must be to send an unequivocal signal of support for Independence. I have respect for those who will vote Green and intend to send the same message, but it is not what I recommend you to do.

In the rest of the UK, I recommend people to vote Labour or Green as your analysis dictates. I am afraid I still have not seen sufficient evidence that my old party the Lib Dems has recovered from its sharp Orange Book lurch to the right to be able to recommend it.

The Chagos Islands vote at the UN yesterday illustrated why everybody should be ashamed of the label “British”. By a thumping 116 votes to 6, the UN General Assembly voted to uphold the International Court of Justice and demand that the UK return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius.

In the entire world, the only five countries allied with the UK are Donald Trump’s USA, apartheid Israel, ScoMo’s climate change denying Australia, Viktor Orban’s near fascist Hungary and the ultra corrupt Maldives. The fact that in the EU only the far right racist pariah Orban was prepared to support the UK, shows exactly the kind of far right rogue state the UK has become.

The forcible deportation of the entire population of the Chagos Islands by the British military to make way for a US nuclear base, subsequently used for extraordinary rendition and torture, is a story so shameful nobody with the slightest moral sense can possibly support it. I outlined the horrific complicity of the UK judiciary and political establishment right up to the present day, in one of the pieces of work I am most proud of. The UK’s decision to brazen it out and simply defy both the ICJ and UN as part of a far right alliance should cause anybody in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to prioritise leaving the UK in the current elections – unless they wish to live in a far right rogue state.

There was a media spasm earlier this week over the UK’s complicity in torture, which MOD documents revealed to be ongoing. The astonishing thing about this is that all the media and political class had previously agreed to pretend it had stopped. It has never stopped, and there has been no change whatsoever in the policy since I resigned and blew the whistle over the policy in 2003.

As recounted in detail in Murder in Samarkand, I was told officially, while British Ambassador, at a meeting called specifically for the purpose, that the policy was that we will obtain intelligence from torture by “allied” security services like the Saudis or Bahrainis, and that this was not illegal provided that we do not specifically request that they torture people.

That policy is entirely compatible with the Cabinet Office Consolidated Guidance on Torture that reads we do not “participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for any purpose”. It can only be ill motivation that leads the entire UK political class to pretend that this guidance precludes the receipt of intelligence from the torture chambers of Riyadh, Guantanamo and Bahrain.

The guidance is specifically worded to allow receipt of material from torture. Otherwise the guidance would say “we do not receive intelligence material from torture”. It very deliberately does not say that. Government lawyers say that to get intelligence reports from a false confession wrung from someone beaten to death in Bahrain is not to “participate in, solicit, encourage or condone”. The defence is “we did not ask them to do it”. And so MI6 and British ministers, knowingly, see intelligence from torture on a daily basis.

The UK is an evil and corrupt entity, a supporter of torture, of the deportation of the Chagossians, of the slow genocide of the Palestinians, a key participant in illegal wars now looking to a new one against Iran to keep the profits of the military industrial complex rolling in. The UK as an institution will never be able to spurn its Imperialist and warmongering behaviour. The only solution is to break the UK, to shatter it into pieces as small as possible. The chaos at Westminster shows the Imperial power in the final phases of its political decline, something highlighted by the lack of international support at the UN. Let us hasten the UK towards its long overdue demise.
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Finally two housekeeping points. Even among regular readers of this blog, well less than 1% make a voluntary subscription and among all readers the number is even smaller. Money is an unfortunate necessity to keep the blog going, and all help is gratefully received – though I do not wish anyone to contribute who has any difficulty to afford it.

Secondly the blog has used the same photo of me since 2005, and it is high time to change it. I have found a photo in which I look at least 80, so hopefully it might keep us going a few years. I hope my kind technical team will get that done today.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Missing Step 343

In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

The European Arrest Warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European Arrest Warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.

Assange’s initial appeal up to the UK Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the UK had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.

The judgement against Assange in the UK Supreme Court on the point of whether the Swedish Prosecutor constituted a “judicial authority” hinged on a completely unprecedented and frankly incredible piece of reasoning. Lord Phillips concluded that in the English text of the EWA treaty “judicial authority” could not include the Swedish prosecutor, but that in the French version “autorite judiciaire” could include the Swedish prosecutor. The two texts having equal validity, Lord Phillips decided to prefer the French language text over the English language text, an absolutely stunning decision as the UK negotiators could be presumed to have been working from the English text, as could UK ministers and parliament when they ratified the decision.

I am not making this up – you will find Phillips amazing bit of linguistic gymnastics here on page 9 para 21 of his judgement. Again, it is impossible that this would have been done to anybody but Julian Assange; and had it been the outcry from the MSM against the preference given to French wording and thus French legal tradition would have been deafening. But given the state’s unhidden animus against Assange, it all was passed quietly with the law simply amended immediately thereafter to stop it happening to anybody else.

The law having been changed, this time the Swedes have to do it properly and actually go to a court to issue a warrant. That is what is now happening. As usual, the Guardian today cannot resist the temptation to tell an outright lie about what is happening.

The main headline is completely untrue. Sweden has not filed a request for arrest. Sweden is going through its judicial processes – which it skipped the first time – in order to decide whether or not to file a request for arrest. This gives Assange the opportunity to start the process of fighting the allegations, which he strenuously denies, in the Swedish courts. However at present his Swedish lawyer cannot access him in Belmarsh high security jail, which is typical of the abuses of process to which he is subject.

It is not political correctness which prevents the UK mainstream media from investigating the extraordinary nature of the allegations against Assange in Sweden. In the case of Nafissatou Diallo, for example, the entire UK mainstream media had no compunction whatsoever in publishing the name of the alleged victim from the very first moment of the allegations against DSK, and the likelihood or otherwise of the entire story was raked through in detail by every single national newspaper, and extensively by the BBC.

I have never heard anybody even attempt to explain why it was OK for the MSM to look in detail at Diallo’s accusations and use her name, but Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen must never be named and their story must never be doubted. The answer is not the position in Swedish law – the Swedish law states that neither the accuser nor the accused may be named, which law has been gleefully broken in Assange’s case every day for nine years. When it comes to Assange, he is simply to be reviled. He is provably treated differently by both state and MSM at all points. It does not matter to them that his arrest warrant was not from a judge, or that the media apply entirely different rules to investigating his case, enforced by a feminist mantra they do not believe or uphold in other cases. He is simply to be hated without question.

Why has there never been a documentary in the UK like the brilliant “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship Four Corners programme? Please do watch if you have not done so already:

https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/sex-lies-and-julian-assange/4156420

Julian Assange revolutionised publishing by bringing the public direct access to massive amounts of raw material showing secrets the government wished to hide. By giving the public this direct access he cut out the filtering and mediating role of the journalistic and political classes. Contrast, for example, the Panama Papers which, contrary to promises, only ever saw less than 2% of the raw material published and where major western companies and individuals were completely protected from revelation because of the use of MSM intermediaries. Or compare Wikileaks to the Snowden files, the vast majority of which have now been buried and will never be revealed, after foolishly being entrusted to the Guardian and the Intercept. Assange cut out the intermediary role of the mediating journalist and, by allowing the people to see the truth about how they are governed, played a major role in undercutting public confidence in the political establishment that exploits them.

There is an interesting parallel with the reaction to the work of Reformation scholars in translating the Bible into vernacular languages and giving the populace direct access to its contents, without the mediating filters of the priestly class. Such developments will always provoke extraordinary venom from those whose position is threatened. I see a historical parallel between Julian Assange and William Tyndale in this respect. It is something worth bearing in mind in trying to understand the depth of the State’s hatred of Julian.

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The Struggle Is The Meaning 326

There is no conceivable interest of the ordinary people of the Western world being served by the crazed decision of their governments to firmly take the Sunni side in the Sunni/Shia tensions of the Islamic world, and to do so in a fashion which deliberately exacerbates points of armed conflict across the Middle East.

It is even more extraordinary that, in doing so, the West is deliberately forwarding the interests of two nations which have philosophies that are entirely antithetical to the supposed tenets of Western philosophy. Those states are Saudi Arabia, an unrepentant despotism, which promotes and finances a theocratic ideology directly responsible for the major terrorist attacks on the West, and Israel, which is now an openly apartheid state. The USA/Saudi/Israel alliance is underpinned by the identification of a common enemy in Iran and other Shia communities.

Of course the patent absurdities of the alliance point directly to the fact that the real motive is entirely different; this is all about the financial ties of the 1% and the permanent interest of the military industrial complex and their financiers in stoking the flames of war.

Which is an opportune moment to mention – as I have several times over the years – that if I had to recommend one single book to illuminate your view of the world it would be Imperialism by J A Hobson. His brilliant perception that empire had been a net disbenefit to the ordinary people of both the colonial power and the colonised, with the advantages reaped purely by the military, financial, armaments and political classes, and his groundbreaking methods of proving his thesis, is one of the great works of human thought. Lenin plagiarised Hobson extensively.

You can indeed find in Hobson a reflection of the anti-semitism that was regrettably common in his time. It is a problem in many of the great books of the past. Trollope is notably anti-semitic, but when John Major as Prime Minister repeatedly told of his love for Trollope, there was none of the manufactured outrage we saw over Corbyn’s recommendation of Hobson. In reading literature of the past there are inevitably notes that jar with the mores of these times, but they do not invalidate all the other qualities, once noted and appropriately analysed. I confess to being with John Major as a serious fan of Trollope. The Way We Live Now is also a great book, whose dark anti-semitic undertones are not necessary to its critique of rampant capitalism.

To return to Iran, I have no confidence whatsoever that apparent limpet mine attacks on shipping are Iranian in origin – in fact the narrative seems to me distinctly improbable. We have the intelligence community frantically signalling that John Bolton is making up his intelligence assessment of enhanced Iranian military activity. Jeremy Hunt has just put out a quite ludicrous advisory against dual nationals traveling to Iran. My wife Nadira was recently in Iran together with several dual nationals filming a comedy feature film. They met with nothing but friendship and cooperation from Iranian officialdom.

However, I remain hopeful that Trump can outplay John Bolton and prevent any immediate escalation. However bad his domestic agenda, one thing to be said in Trump’s favour is that, unlike every American President since Carter, he has not fed the military industrial complex by starting a needless war. I have no doubt whatsoever that Hillary would have started one by now. Trump, a monumentally flawed individual, is the only thing that today stands between the world and a Middle East conflagration that would make the last three decades seem like peace. That is hardly a comforting thought.

Nor is it comforting that Chelsea Manning is once again in jail, in terrible conditions, for refusing to testify against Julian Assange, himself in Belmarsh maximum security prison. These two heroes showed us more truth than the World’s professional journalists combined ever have or ever will. The American “justice” system is shown up yet again for the farce that it is. What value should be placed on testimony physically coerced from Chelsea Manning, who has already spent a lengthy prison sentence for her actions in leaking the truth about US military aggression? Either Chelsea provides damning testimony against Julian, or Chelsea gets tortured. That the world stands by and watches – and that the cowards of the mainstream media line up to applaud – I find rather hard to take.

Two other actions are worth noting here. The United States violated the Embassy of Venezuela, against the will of its government and in stark contravention of the Vienna Convention, to break in and seize materials and individuals, based on the farce of recognising the impotent US puppet Guaido as the legitimate government able to give permission. If any government wishes to recognise me as President of the United States, I happily give them my gracious permission to trash the US Embassy in their country.

There is no doubt that Guaido, with the entire world watching on, attempted to launch a military coup in Venezuela, and failed dismally. He has since addressed rallies in which his supporters have been numbered in scores. In the vast majority of countries around the world, specifically including the United States of America, Guaido would have been arrested and executed for his military coup attempt. Maduro has the power to do it. The fact Guaido and his violent antics are tolerated gives the lie to that false picture of Venezuela as authoritarian dictatorship which the mainstream media daily present to us.

Finally, in a country which the CIA has succeeded in reducing to puppet government status, Ecuador has, entirely illegally, compounded its illegal refoulement of a political refugee by handing over all of Julian Assange’s personal effects to the United States of America, on no legal basis whatsoever.

I had some difficulty in writing this post because the chain of these and other events over this past few weeks has been so thoroughly depressing, and can easily lead to a feeling of helplessness. On a more cheerful note, Part 2 of my interview with Alex Salmond is now out

RT have blocked the video from functioning in embedded form, you have to click again on the link that comes up. Or for those with Facebook

Here are three cheerful thoughts. Firstly you can declare your determination to work to destroy the United Kingdom, as I do here, and if you have a nice gentle voice and friendly personality nobody gets upset. Secondly, Part 1 had over 122,000 views on Facebook alone, plus those who watched on Russia Today TV and those who saw it on YouTube. When you compare that to the audiences of 7,000 for the flagship Nine news on the BBC’s new anti-Scottish propaganda channel “BBC Scotland”, that is pretty impressive. My third thought is this. I think the lesson of my life as revealed over the two interviews, is that no matter what the state throws at you, it is essential to continue to struggle for social justice. The struggle is in itself a good. Which is something I first learnt from Sartre’s Iron in the Soul trilogy when I was 15. I don’t seem to be getting far with intellectual development. It now being 3.25am, I shall bid you goodnight.

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The Pivot Point 298

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.

The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.

With the mainstream media employed entirely in diverting them from the true causes of their difficult lives, it is hardly surprising that ordinary people do not necessarily understand why a society has arisen where working hard does not enable them to work, eat and stay warm, and why the economic prospects of their children look so bleak. But they know that something has gone very wrong, they witness the vast wealth disparities of our unequal society and the deliberate dismantling of communal and altruistic public provision in favour of privatisation, and they feel contempt for their ruling classes, be they political, media or just wealthy.

The rejection of the political class manifests itself in different ways and has been diverted down a number of entirely blind alleys giving unfulfilled promise of a fresh start – Brexit, Trump, Macron. As the vote share of the established political parties – and public engagement with established political institutions – falls everywhere, the chattering classes deride the political symptoms of status quo rejection by the people as “populism”. It is not populism to make sophisticated arguments that undermine the received political wisdom and take on the entire weight of established media opinion.

Sometimes history appears to be approaching a pivot point, and then the weight swings back and nothing happens. But sometimes it does tip, and times such as these are times of great potential for change. I see hope, for example, in the upsurge of support for Green politics, and the happy convergence of popular political discontent with rising awareness over climate change. Jeremy Corbyn’s rise is in itself an example of the revolution in popular thought – that he is using the mechanism of one of the failed Establishment parties as his vehicle has both positive and negative consequences. In Scotland, of course, I remain anxious the revolutionary moment is being let slip and a new non-radical political class being firmly cemented into power, but retain an underlying confidence in the radicalism and will for self-determination of the Scottish people.

These are stirring times. The popular rebellion against establishment politics is continually portrayed as an unwelcome aberration. It is not – it is a reaction to massive corruption and outrageous inequality. Everybody should fan the flames of change.

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The Re-Opening of the Swedish Assange Case Should Be Welcomed 339

That the Swedish investigation into the rape allegation against Julian Assange is being re-opened is something that ought to be welcomed. The alternative would be for this accusation to hang unresolved over Julian’s head forever. The Swedish prosecutors now need finally, as my father used to say, either to piss or get off the pot. They need to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge or not.

There is no reason for delay. The Swedish police have had seven years to investigate this case and all the evidence has been gathered and all statements taken – the last being the interview of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2017. Hopefully to review the evidence and decide whether to charge will not now be a lengthy procedure. It is worth noting, contrary to much misreporting, Julian Assange has never been charged with anything in Sweden.

In the event that Sweden does wish to try to extradite, that should take precedence over the US request. There are three good reasons for this. Firstly, rape is by far the more serious alleged offence. Secondly, the Swedes entered the process many years before the Americans. Thirdly, the European Arrest Warrant is a major multilateral arrangement that is much more important than the discredited bilateral extradition treaty with the USA.

Julian only entered Ecuadorean political asylum because he feared onward extradition to the USA, not extradition to Sweden.

None of the above detracts from the many problems with the Swedish prosecution, Sweden’s Chief Prosecutor decided no offence had been committed and the case should be closed after the initial investigation, before another Prosecutor decided to reopen the case, as is possible under the Swedish system. That prosecutor, Marianne Ny, herself decided to close the case in 2013, and was instructed not to by the British Crown Prosecution Service, in a series of emails which the CPS attempted to hide and some of which had been destroyed. Ms Ny also admitted to destroying communications from the FBI, and ultimately admitted to having destroyed the entire case file.

That is before you get to the problems with the Swedish judicial system, where rape trials hear all evidence entirely in secret, there is no jury, and two of the three judges are political party appointees.

Plainly, as always in cases involving Assange, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the impartiality of state justice. The United Nations has already condemned the disproportionate sentence given to Assange for breaking bail conditions and his being held in a maximum security prison. It has gone virtually unremarked by the MSM that the Ecuadorean government has, entirely illegally, handed all of Julian’s possessions over to the USA.

Plainly this is a long and difficult fight to save Julian from entrapment and permanent imprisonment. But the Swedish calumny not being simply left hanging is a necessary step in that fight.

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Joanna Cherry 96

She will not thank me for saying it, but I have for some time been strongly of the view that Joanna Cherry is the leader that Scotland needs to take Scotland on its historic final step to regaining Independence. It is plain to me that the Establishment believes so too, and that is the reason for the massive hyping of the “bullying” complaint against Joanna and her chief of staff.

There are similarities in the collection and brewing of the complaints with the Alex Salmond case. I am generally fearless in publishing the truth and defying the law, but in this instance to do so at this moment could have deleterious consequences for those I wish to support, so I am afraid it will be some months before I can tell you more.

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How to Refuse an Honour from the Queen – to Her Face

Scores of principled people have refused honours from the Queen. Very few have ever been called on to explain why in person. This is discussed along with many less lighthearted episodes from my life, in this long interview with Alex Salmond. Part 2 next week.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=419190051967230

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The Real Muellergate Scandal 240

Robert Mueller is either a fool, or deeply corrupt. I do not think he is a fool.

I did not comment instantly on the Mueller Report as I was so shocked by it, I have been waiting to see if any other facts come to light in justification. Nothing has. I limit myself here to that area of which I have personal knowledge – the leak of DNC and Podesta emails to Wikileaks. On the wider question of the corrupt Russian 1% having business dealings with the corrupt Western 1%, all I have to say is that if you believe that is limited in the USA by party political boundaries, you are a fool.

On the DNC leak, Mueller started with the prejudice that it was “the Russians” and he deliberately and systematically excluded from evidence anything that contradicted that view.

Mueller, as a matter of determined policy, omitted key steps which any honest investigator would undertake. He did not commission any forensic examination of the DNC servers. He did not interview Bill Binney. He did not interview Julian Assange. His failure to do any of those obvious things renders his report worthless.

There has never been, by any US law enforcement or security service body, a forensic examination of the DNC servers, despite the fact that the claim those servers were hacked is the very heart of the entire investigation. Instead, the security services simply accepted the “evidence” provided by the DNC’s own IT security consultants, Crowdstrike, a company which is politically aligned to the Clintons.

That is precisely the equivalent of the police receiving a phone call saying:

“Hello? My husband has just been murdered. He had a knife in his back with the initials of the Russian man who lives next door engraved on it in Cyrillic script. I have employed a private detective who will send you photos of the body and the knife. No, you don’t need to see either of them.”

There is no honest policeman in the world who would agree to that proposition, and neither would Mueller were he remotely an honest man.

Two facts compound this failure.

The first is the absolutely key word of Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, the USA’s $14 billion a year surveillance organisation. Bill Binney is an acknowledged world leader in cyber surveillance, and is infinitely more qualified than Crowdstrike. Bill states that the download rates for the “hack” given by Crowdstrike are at a speed – 41 Megabytes per second – that could not even nearly be attained remotely at the location: thus the information must have been downloaded to a local device, eg a memory stick. Binney has further evidence regarding formatting which supports this.

Mueller’s identification of “DC Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” as Russian security services is something Mueller attempts to carry off by simple assertion.Mueller shows DNC Leaks to have been the source of other, unclassified emails sent to Wikileaks that had been obtained under a Freedom of Information request and then Mueller simply assumes, with no proof, the same route was used again for the leaked DNC material. His identification of the Guccifer 2.0 persona with Russian agents is so flimsy as to be laughable. Nor is there any evidence of the specific transfer of the leaked DNC emails from Guccifer 2.0 to Wikileaks. Binney asserts that had this happened, the packets would have been instantly identifiable to the NSA.

Bill Binney is not a “deplorable”. He is the former Technical Director of the NSA. Mike Pompeo met him to hear his expertise on precisely this matter. Binney offered to give evidence to Mueller. Yet did Mueller call him as a witness? No. Binney’s voice is entirely unheard in the report.

Mueller’s refusal to call Binney and consider his evidence was not the action of an honest man.

The second vital piece of evidence we have is from Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA material, in which the CIA themselves outline their capacity to “false flag” hacks, leaving behind misdirecting clues including scraps of foreign script and language. This is precisely what Crowdstrike claim to have found in the “Russian hacking” operation.

So here we have Mueller omitting the key steps of independent forensic examination of the DNC servers and hearing Bill Binney’s evidence. Yet this was not for lack of time. While deliberately omitting to take any steps to obtain evidence that might disprove the “Russian hacking” story, Mueller had boundless time and energy to waste in wild goose chases after totally non-existent links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign, including the fiasco of interviewing Roger Stone and Randy Credico.

It is worth remembering that none of the charges against Americans arising from the Mueller inquiry have anything to do with Russian collusion or Trump-Wikileaks collusion, which simply do not exist. The charges all relate to entirely extraneous matters dug up, under the extraordinary US system of “Justice”, to try to blackmail those charged with unrelated crimes turned up by the investigation, into fabricating evidence of Russian collusion. The official term for this process of blackmail is of course “plea-bargaining.”

Mueller has indicted 12 Russians he alleges are the GRU agents responsible for the “hack”. The majority of these turn out to be real people who, ostensibly, have jobs and lives which are nothing to do with the GRU. Mueller was taken aback when, rather than simply being in absentia, a number of them had representation in court to fight the charges. Mueller had to back down and ask for an immediate adjournment as soon as the case opened, while he fought to limit disclosure. His entire energies since on this case have been absorbed in submitting motions to limit disclosure, individual by individual, with the object of ensuring that the accused Russians can be convicted without ever seeing, or being able to reply to, the evidence against them. Which is precisely the same as his attitude to contrary evidence in his Report.

Mueller’s failure to examine the servers or take Binney’s evidence pales into insignificance compared to his attack on Julian Assange. Based on no conclusive evidence, Mueller accuses Assange of receiving the emails from Russia. Most crucially, he did not give Assange any opportunity to answer his accusations. For somebody with Mueller’s background in law enforcement, declaring somebody in effect guilty, without giving them any opportunity to tell their side of the story, is plain evidence of malice.

Inexplicably, for example, the Mueller Report quotes a media report of Assange stating he had “physical proof” the material did not come from Russia, but Mueller simply dismisses this without having made any attempt at all to ask Assange himself.

It is also particularly cowardly as Julian was and is held incommunicado with no opportunity to defend himself. Assange has repeatedly declared the material did not come from the Russian state or from any other state. He was very willing to give evidence to Mueller, which could have been done by video-link, by interview in the Embassy or by written communication. But as with Binney and as with the DNC servers, the entirely corrupt Mueller was unwilling to accept any evidence which might contradict his predetermined narrative.

Mueller’s section headed “The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Material to Wikileaks” is a ludicrous farrago of internet contacts between Wikileaks and persons not proven to be Russian, transferring material not proven to be the DNC leaks. It too is destroyed by Binney and so pathetic that, having pretended he had proven the case of internet transfer, Mueller then gives the game away by adding “The office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred by intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016”. He names Mr Andrew Muller-Maguhn as a possible courier. Yet again, he did not ask Mr Muller-Maguhn to give evidence. Nor did he ask me, and I might have been able to help him on a few of these points.

To run an “investigation” with a pre-determined idea as to who are the guilty parties, and then to name and condemn those parties in a report, without hearing the testimony of those you are accusing, is a method of proceeding that puts the cowardly and corrupt Mr Mueller beneath contempt.

Mueller gives no evidence whatsoever to back up his simple statement that Seth Rich was not the source of the DNC leak. He accuses Julian Assange of “dissembling” by referring to Seth Rich’s murder. It is an interesting fact that the US security services have shown precisely the same level of interest in examining Seth Rich’s computers that they have shown in examining the DNC servers. It is also interesting that this murder features in a report of historic consequences like that of Mueller, yet has had virtually no serious resource put into finding the killer.

Mueller’s condemnation of Julian Assange for allegedly exploiting the death of Seth Rich, would be infinitely more convincing if the official answer to the question “who murdered Seth Rich?” was not “who cares?”.

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A Peculiar Request

That request had limited success – many thanks to those who tried. But it did lead my sister Celia to dig out this old photo of us, I think Hogmanay at home in South Queensferry in 1978, and I like it so much I thought I would publish it.

This is a rather strange admin notice. Does anybody have any photos of me when I was a pillar of the Establishment, looking like a pillar of the Establishment? I need some urgently for a TV programme, and I really don’t keep such things – in fact I have very few photos of myself at all.

The problem is we talk in the programme about my role as Ambassador, and previous roles as Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana, Head of the UK Delegation to the Sierra Leone peace talks, Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the Law of the Sea, etc etc etc and about my work in organising two state visits, and I simply don’t have anything to illustrate any of this. I know there are readers of the blog who knew me in those days, and am hoping someone can dig something up. My friends and family have plenty of photos of me wearing Christmas hats and being silly, but nothing where I am trying to look important.

The programme makers rightly judge I think that without photographic proof people will find it hard to believe this crumpled old figure ever did any of those things.

The contact button top right of the blog reaches me with an email.

UPDATE

Quite a number of people have very kindly sent me the result of internet searches. These are 99% photos taken after I left the FCO. Remember, when I was removed as Ambassador to Uzbekistan Facebook was three months old. For all except the end of my career photos were not electronic and not stored on the internet. Furthermore the need is not just for old photos of me, but photos in context of my career. I have of course been searching diligently myself but not so far found much of any use. I was rather more hoping that the appeal would be read by someone who took a photo personally that they can scan and send me.

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The Arrest of Manny Singh

On Saturday, I was an eye-witness to Manny Singh, organiser of the huge pro-Independence demonstration through Glasgow, co-operating efficiently and respectfully with the police in keeping order and protecting public safety, and in making sure the event was a joyous family occasion, successful and enjoyed by everyone. That included Manny liaising regularly with the most senior police officers in charge of the march. Before I made my speech, I asked him how it was all going and Manny volunteered unasked that the Police had been brilliant. From what I witnessed, the respect was mutual.

It is then extremely perturbing that, two days after the march, Police Scotland arrested Manny for organising an illegal procession, a charge that carries a maximum three months imprisonment. Plainly the orders for this radical change of attitude have come from very high. The defence of this draconian measure by SNP Glasgow councillor and ex-BBC intern Rhiannon Spear gives a clue as to where this is coming from.

Still more of a clue is the astonishing four page attack on Yes supporters that took up the the front and four pages of the Herald the day after the demonstration, in which the SNP’s NATO and monarchy enthusiast Angus Robertson and extreme Cold War Russophobe Stewart McDonald vented their spleen at Independence supporters who dare to take a more radical line. It was very thinly disguised as an attack on online abuse – of which in four full pages not one single example was given by them, let alone any qualitative or quantitative analysis.

McDonald in a lengthy rant in the article makes plain that what he really cannot stand is rather people do not accept his Establishment view, who criticise the BBC, and embrace “conspiracy theories.”

This is the essential background to the arrest of Manny. Now the SNP has a highly ambivalent attitude to Manny’s organisation, AUOB. AUOB is the main vehicle for public pressure for early Independence, while Nicola Sturgeon has embraced a strategy of kicking a new Independence referendum ever further into the long grass, while a national consultation is held, or Brexit plays out, or a citizens’ assembly discusses federal solutions, or whatever else excuse comes to hand.

In terms of electoral success for the SNP, Sturgeon’s strategy is undoubtedly brilliant. The SNP stands unchallenged in the polls at 46%, with the Tories in second place trailing woefully behind on 22%. The SNP is an incredibly successful political machine, and one which can keep the highheidyins in a very comfortable living indeed for life. To say that the SNP hierarchy are very comfortable on the UK gravy train would be a massive understatement. They are in no hurry at all to make a bid for Independence that may put their careers and livelihoods at risk.

The only problem is the wider Yes campaign and the wider SNP membership, who had been under the impression that they were putting their hands in their pockets and donating, and were out there in the cold delivering leaflets, because the SNP was the vehicle for Independence, not just to support Scotland’s very own highly paid ruling political class. These people continually applied inconvenient pressure, both online where their criticisms of the BBC and other establishment pillars were an embarrassment to the comfortably ensconced, and by continual street activity as through AUOB.

Nicola has had to make repeated SNP conference speeches and every time been forced to pretend she is interested in pursuing Independence at a future date. Surely, SNP HQ thinking runs, it would be better to take some of the pressure off her by hobbling support for the pesky online Independence supporters and those noisy marchers?

AUOB had applied to Glasgow City Council in September for permission to hold the recent march. As it was a repeat of the entirely peaceful and successful one last year, there was no reason to suppose any problem might arise. Then just ten days before the march, Glasgow City Council called the organisers to a meeting and demanded the start time be moved forward from 1.30pm to 11am because of “potential disruption” and “public order concerns”.

The proposed change was quite openly an attempt to reduce the numbers on the march for “ahem” reasons of public order. The organisers made plain that it was not possible at that late stage to make the change. The march had been widely advertised, coaches had been booked, and people were quite literally traveling from all over Scotland – which of course is what Glasgow City Council were precisely trying to prevent.

A committee of two SNP and one Green councillor, completely ignoring the entirely trouble free experience of the previous year, ruled that the march must kick off at 11am. Manny simply responded that in the interests of free speech, he would ignore the council’s ruling, and he did so, with great success.

The proof of the pudding is of course in the eating. The Council was simply wrong – there were in fact zero public order or safety problems involved in the march, and their pretended concern stands revealed for what it was, a pathetic attempt to hamper free speech and hobble the demonstration of massive public support for Independence. Even the SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown turned up, though he said pretty well nothing about Independence while introducing the SNP candidates for the Euro elections.

In view that their pretended concerns proved – as everybody always knew – completely unfounded, the councillors involved stand exposed as despicable abusers of the power they were granted by the very people who were marching.

It appears from Ms Spear’s tweet that it is SNP run Glasgow Council – and I would bet after consultation with SNP HQ – who have now doubled down on their stupidity and arbitrary repression by ordering police to effect Manny’s arrest. Well, there are 100,000 of us at least who would happily stand beside him in the dock.

The man who has organised the most successful pro-Indy campaigning since 2014 has been arrested, just for doing precisely that. Yet so far there has been not a single gesture of support for Manny, public or private, from any of the SNP hierarchy. Why do you think that is?

The attempt to hobble and limit the AUOB march, and the extraordinary four page entirely unprovoked attack the next day on “cybernats”, form part of a coordinated effort by the SNP leadership to control the wider Yes movement and subdue the demand for early Independence. They failed with AUOB due to Manny’s courage and integrity – hence the vindictive order for his arrest.

UPDATE

I wrote this before seeing this excellent article from Paul Kavanagh, which makes precisely the same arguments. Paul commands much broader respect than I do across the Independence movement, peculiarly enough because it took him two years longer to spot, or at least speak out about, the problem with Sturgeon and Murrell than it took me. But if you read the comments on his article, you will see that there is massive agreement on this from numerous long term SNP members.

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Huawei Hypocrisy 199

Theresa May almost certainly sacked Gavin Williamson not just on the basis of a telephone billing record showing he had a phone call with a Telegraph journalist, but on the basis of a recording of the conversation itself. It astonishes me that still, after Snowden and his PRISM revelations, after Wikileaks Vault 7 releases, and after numerous other sources including my own humble contribution, people still manage to avoid the cognitive dissonance that goes with really understanding how much we are surveilled and listened to. Even Cabinet Ministers manage to pretend to themselves it is not happening.

The budget of the NSA, which does nothing else but communications intercept, is US $14.2 billion this year. Think about that enormous sum, devoted to just communications surveillance, and what it can achieve. The budget of the UK equivalent, GCHQ, is £1.2 billion, of which about 10% is paid by the NSA. Domestic surveillance in the UK has been vastly expanded and many taboos broken. But the bedrock of the system with regard to domestic intercepts is still that legal restrictions are dodged, as the USA’s NSA spies on UK citizens while the UK’s GCHQ spies on US citizens, and then the information is swapped. It was thus probably the NSA that harvested Williamson’s phone call, passing the details on. Given official US opposition to the UK employing Huawei technology, Williamson’s call would have been a “legitimate” NSA target.

Mass surveillance works on electronic harvesting. Targeted phone numbers apart, millions of essentially random calls are listened to electronically using voice recognition technology and certain key words trigger an escalation of the call. Williamson’s call discussing Huawei, China, the intelligence services, and backdoors would certainly have triggered recording and been marked up to a human listener, even if his phone was not specifically targeted by the Americans – which it almost certainly was.

Williamson of course is relying on the security services’ secrecy about their methods to maintain his protests of innocence, secure in the knowledge that the recording of him would not be produced. The existence of the recording – of which I am extremely confident – is the only possible explanation for May’s degree of certainty and swift action against one of her very few loyal allies.

All of which of course throws into stark relief the stunning hypocrisy of those who are worried that Huawei will be used for electronic eavesdropping, when they are up to their ears in electronic eavesdropping themselves. One of my heroes is the great Richard Stallman, who put it this way six years ago:

RMS: Well, it’s perfectly reasonable suspicion to me. I don’t think the US government should use operating systems made in China for the same reason that most governments shouldn’t use operating systems made in the US and in fact we just got proof since Microsoft is now known to be telling the NSA about bugs in Windows before it fixes them.

RSS: I was just going to bring this up exactly, so I was saying that the NSA recently received notifications about the zero-day holes in advance and [incomprehensible] the NSA and the CIA to just crack PCs abroad for espionage purposes.

RMS: Now, [incomprehensible] that this proves my point, which is that you have to be nuts if you were some other country and using Windows on your computers. But, you know, given that Windows has a universal back door in it, Microsoft would hardly need to tell the NSA about any bugs, it can tell the NSA about the mal-feature of the universal back door and that would be enough for the NSA to attack any computer running Windows, which unfortunately is a large fraction of them.

All the major western tech companies cooperate with the western security services. In Murder in Samarkand I gave the first public revelation that the government can and does listen through your mobile phone microphone even when the phone is ostensibly switched off, a fact that got almost no traction until Edward Snowden released documents confirming it six years later. China is full of western devices with backdoors that are exploited by western intelligence. That the tables turn as Chinese technology advances is scarcely surprising.

Personally I do not want the Chinese, Americans, Russians or British eavesdropping on me, or on each other, and I wish that they would stop. The spy games will of course continue, as they make money for a lot of well-connected people. But for any side to claim moral superiority in all of this is just nonsense.

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AUOB Glasgow

Here is video of my bifurcated speech on Saturday at AUOB Glasgow. In talking to a large crowd you need perforce to yell, and you can’t really get over much more than headlines of ideas. So this isn’t the (hopefully) thoughtful and intellectual Craig Murray you get speaking at an indoor meeting.

It was a brilliant event. Only a small portion of the marchers stay for the speakers, and 80% of the march had not even reached Glasgow Green yet at the time I was speaking. So between those two factors I don’t suppose I was speaking to above 5,000 people. But it is worth saying that I experienced no negative feedback whatsoever, either in audience reaction or from talking to people afterwards, from taking a much more radical line on various issues surrounding Scottish Independence. It is worth saying that the Yes Movement is organic. There is no “official” view, and my take is no more nor less valid than anybody else’s. But it is evidently not unpopular.

As last year, the Yes Bikers arrived midway through my speech, which is thus in two parts. That is my excuse for loss of fluency towards the end. I am sure I had a peroration in my head somewhere, but struggled to find it!

Many thanks to Brian Fujisan for the video. You can also see it on Independence Live but their production has become too perfect! The sound is superb but you don’t get any crowd noise. If you take out the interaction I sound like a lunatic. OK, more of a lunatic.

It is worth noting, as a demonstration of people power, that Glasgow City Council had attempted to mess this march up by insisting it move its start time from 1.30pm to 11.00am, and the organisers simply told them to get lost, with complete success. The same thing happened when last year the authorities told them they could not rally in Holyrood Park, and AUOB replied “stop us”. Like Extinction Rebellion, this is a sign of a popular mood of protest that refuses to be denied.

There are many arguments about the size of the march. My own estimate would be about 90,000. It was arriving eight abreast for three hours. In terms of percentage of Scottish population, this is the equivalent of a million people marching through London. Yet there was an almost complete lack of television coverage. The next day Andrew Marr hosted Ruth Davidson broadcasting unchallenged that there is no popular demand for Independence.

Finally, I had picked up online some accusations about the AUOB organisation and their accounting for the money donated to the marches. I asked the organisers about this, and they readily and at their own instigation gave me complete access to their accounts and records for inspection.

Looking through their records, I can see no grounds for suspicion. Perhaps people do not fully realise the costs involved in putting on such a huge event – for example stage and sound system hire alone costs £5,000. Provision of substantial numbers of portable toilets (which have to be professionally emptied) is expensive. Permits, advertising and publicity, it all adds up. As a director of two music festivals which include precisely the same lines of expenditure, I can say with confidence that AUOB’s figures look absolutely right to me.

Income is of course harder to audit when it is people chucking coins in buckets. The online crowdfunder took £9,993 and can be verified. The collecting buckets at events are unverifiable – but the £3,108 collected in Dundee and the £6,325 collected in Edinburgh feel right. The income from stallholders at the events appears properly accounted for – that appeared to be the source of some of the complaints. I must say it seems to me perfectly reasonable that those organisations with stalls at the rallies are asked to chip in.

Any organisation which collects cash from the public will always be open to somebody dipping their hand in the bucket, but I see nothing that gives me reason to believe that this has happened. It is perfectly possible that some incident really did occur that led to an accusation flying, but we must also be very aware that the agents of the British state would like nothing better than to throw doubt and dissension into the most successful public manifestation of the Independence movement, by magnifying any incident out of all proportion.

After looking through their accounts and vouchers I am now fully confident that nothing is systematically wrong with AUOB and the money that Yessers had trusted them with.

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BBC Lying Propaganda and the Tory Party Scottish Conference

This is a photo of the Secretary of State for Scotland addressing the Tory Party Scottish Conference (courtesy of Wings). I have analysed this and other photos taken from different angles, and learnt this.

There are only six rows of seats at the Scottish Tory Conference. The front row has 24 seats, the second 26, the third 28, the fourth 32 (sic), the fifth 34 and the sixth 36. That is a total of 180 seats.

How many delegates does a party Conference have, which only has 180 seats? There is, for example, no separate gallery for the media. In this photo there are, including those standing, less than 200 people.

My wife is a film producer. She is completing her first two feature films as producer this year, having previously done a couple of shorts, including one short as director. In supporting her, largely by making the tea, I have picked up a basic smattering of comprehension of camera work.

The BBC coverage has been, systematically and undoubtedly deliberately, utilising shots that create a completely false impression of the numbers at the conference. This has been done by setting the cameras low and well zoomed in, to show speakers above an apparent tight sea of heads and shoulders. Wider shots and higher shots have been quite deliberately eschewed. Any side shots or front shots have again been quite deliberately low set and highly zoomed. A tight zoomed diagonal shot across the hall will get sixty heads densely in it, and create the false impression of a packed crowd.

I want to emphasise the question of directorial choice. These are deliberate directorial choices to make the Tories look good, and deliberately to present a distorted perspective of the size of the audience (and the strength of the Tories) to the viewer. The media are, in effect, deliberately hiding from the viewer how tiny the Tory Conference is.

This is the only audience reaction shot used – twice – by the BBC during their main news item on Theresa May’s speech to the Scottish Tory conference:

This is of course only the visual representation of a much larger con trick in the boosting of Ruth Davidson. The BBC Politics operation in Scotland was devoted all weekend to the return of Ruth Davidson from maternity leave, and she was touted again and again, breathlessly and shamelessly, as a future First Minister after the next Holyrood elections. Not once did any BBC presenter point out that the Tories currently stand at 22% in Scotland, and that Ruth Davidson’s chances of becoming First Minister are, even with full on MSM adulation, much the same as my chances of being Britain’s Next Top Model.

The myth of the free press in the UK is finished. The media is owned by right wing billionaires, or by the Tory state. Look forward next week to hearing how Ruth shot a round of 23 at Gleneagles. While driving a tank.

Finally, here is a statistic to cheer you up. The 1,200 plus Tory councillors who have just lost their seats in the English local elections represent precisely an astonishing 1% of the entire membership of the Tory Party. Not of Tory councillors, 1% of all Tory members just lost their job. That is a very happy thought.

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Venezuela and Binary Choice 422

When a CIA-backed military coup is attempted by a long term CIA puppet, roared on by John Bolton and backed with the offer of Blackwater mercenaries, in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, I have no difficulty whatsoever in knowing which side I am on.

Juan Guaido has been groomed for 15 years as a long-term CIA project. His coup attempt yesterday, which so far appears to have stalled, was the culmination of these efforts to return Venezuela’s oil reserves to US hegemony.

It is strange how the urgent installation of liberal democracy by force correlates so often with oil reserves not aligned to the USA, as in Libya, Iraq or Venezuela, while countries with massive oil reserves which permit US military domination and align with the West and Israel can be as undemocratic as they wish, eg Saudi Arabia. Venezuela is an imperfect democracy but it is far, far more of a democracy than Saudi Arabia and with a much better human rights record. The hypocrisy of Western media and politicians is breathtaking.

Hypocrisy and irony are soulmates, and there are multiple levels of irony in seeing the “liberal” commentators who were cheering on an undisguised military coup, then complaining loudly that people are being injured or killed now their side is losing. Yesterday the MSM had no difficulty in calling the attempted coup what anybody with eyes and ears could see it plainly was, an attempted military coup.

Today, miraculously, the MSM line is no coup attempt happened at all, it was just a spontaneous unarmed protest, and it is the evil government of Venezuela which attempts to portray it as a coup. BBC Breakfast this morning had the headline “President Maduro has accused the opposition of mounting a coup attempt”… Yet there is no doubt at all that, as a matter of plain fact, that is what happened.

The MSM today is full of video of water cannons against “protestors” and a horrible video of a military vehicle ramming a group. But it has all been very carefully edited to exclude hours of footage of the same military vehicles being pelted and set alight with molotov cocktails, and shot at. The presentation has been truly shocking.

In any civilised country, attempting to mount a military coup would lead to incarceration for life, and that is what should now happen to Juan Guaido. The attempt by the West to protect their puppet by pretending the failed military coup never happened, must be resisted, if only in the cause of intellectual honesty.

The resort to violence forces binary choice. I have been and am a critic of Maduro in many respects. I believe the constitutional changes to bypass Parliament were wrong, and the indirectly elected Constituent Assembly is not a good form of democracy. Venezuela does have a rampant corruption problem. US sanctions exacerbate but are not the root cause of economic mismanagement. There are human rights failings. But Chavez made revolutionary changes in educating and empowering the poor, and it is a far better governed country for the mass of its population than it would ever be under a US installed CIA puppet regime. Maduro was legitimately elected. The attempt at violence forces a binary choice.

I know which side I am on. It is not Guaido and the CIA.

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Democratic Triumph for Catalan Separatists

The Spanish General election in Catalonia was a stunning victory for the Catalan Separatists, their best ever election result, achieved despite their leadership being exiled or political prisoners and despite an avalanche of MSM propaganda against them. Four of those elected are currently in jail. The Spanish state has reacted by declaring the two major separatist candidates, Clara Ponsati and Carles Puigdemont, ineligible for the European Parliament elections.

The Catalan Republican Left won the biggest share of the vote, which negates the continued false propaganda being put about Catalonian Independence being a right wing movement. Over 60% of the vote in Catalonia went to avowedly left wing parties.

It is further worth noting that there is a very plain correlation between the geographical location of the 3.6% of the vote that the neo-fascists of Vox gained in Catalonia, and the Spanish occupation garrisons in the country.

You will struggle very hard indeed to learn any of the above facts from British mainstream media; I had to get them all from Catalan sources.

The Guardian has published 55 articles in the last three years boosting Ines Arrimadas, the leader of the Catalan branch of the right wing “Spanish” Citizens Party, including at least three op-eds written by Ines herself. The Guardian has sought relentlessly to portray public opinion in Catalonia as anti-Independence, and Arrimadas as its true representative.

Typical photo from the Guardian of their right wing anti-Catalan pin-up.

Yet in the Spanish General Election, Arrimadas’ party got only 11.6% of the vote in Catalonia. The right wing nationalist Spanish parties, the fascist Vox, the Francoist PP and Arrimadas’ foreign security service promoted Citizens, got a pathetic 20.1% of the vote between all three, in a stunning Catalan rejection of Spanish nationalism.

The Citizens Party started life as an astroturf effort to help counter the left-wing and anti-EU populism of Podemos. To that end it was funded and assisted by the German foreign intelligence service, the BND. It remains a favourite tool of foreign intelligence services, particularly MI6 which of course sees the links between Catalan and Scottish nationalism. Hence the peculiarly active link between Ciudadanos and MI6’s print media mouthpiece, the Guardian.

It is impossible to correlate directly from party results to potential referendum results, as a number of parties including Podemos and the Greens hold ambivalent positions on Independence, and a percentage of voters will have a view on Independence which differs from the party they support. For example a small but significant number of Socialist Party supporters of PM Pedro Sanchez, also support Catalan Independence.

Given the thuggish violence of Francoist paramilitary forces against the ordinary voters in Catalonia’s referendum, given the imprisoning and exile of its peaceful leadership, given the extraordinary Madrid dictated barrage of MSM propaganda, the Catalan nationalist victory in the General Election is a wonderful triumph for the human spirit. Now you won’t hear that in the MSM.

GE 2019 results from Catalonia by municipality. Yellow are left wing separatists, pink are centrist separatists, red is Socialist.

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So Where is the Swedish Warrant?

If the Swedish allegations against Julian Assange were genuine and not simply a ruse to arrest him for extradition to the United States, where is the arrest warrant now from Sweden and what are the charges?

Only the more minor allegation has passed the statute of limitations deadline. The major allegation, equivalent to rape, is still well within limits. Sweden has had seven years to complete the investigation and prepare the case. It is over two years since they interviewed Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. They have had years and years to collect all the evidence and prepare the charges.

So where, Swedish prosecutors, are your charges? Where is your arrest warrant?

Julian Assange has never been charged with anything in Sweden. He was merely “wanted for questioning”, a fact the MSM repeatedly failed to make clear. It is now undeniably plain that there was never the slightest intention of charging him with anything in Sweden. All those Blairite MPs who seek to dodge the glaring issue of freedom of the media to publish whistleblower material revealing government crimes, by hiding behind trumped-up sexual allegations, are left looking pretty stupid.

What is the point of demanding Assange be extradited to Sweden when there is no extradition request from Sweden? What is the point in demanding he face justice in Sweden when there are no charges? Where are the charges from Sweden?

The answer to that is silence.

Sweden was always a fit-up designed to get Assange to the USA. And now they don’t need it, so Sweden has quietly gone away. All the false left who were taken in by the security services playing upon a feminist mantra should take a very hard look at themselves. They should also consider this.

If you seriously put forward that in allegations of sexual assault, the accuser must always be believed and the accused must automatically be presumed guilty, you are handing an awesome power to the state to lock people up without proper defence. The state will abuse that awesome power and fit people up. The Assange case shows us just that. And it is not the only case, currently, as everyone in Scotland should realise.

But there is more. If you believe that any sexual accusation against a person should be believed and automatically and immediately end their societal respectability, you are giving power to state and society to exclude dissidents and critics from political discourse by a simple act of accusation. That power will be used and abused by the security services.

In the case of the allegation in Sweden that did fall through the statute of limitation, the accusation was that during the act of consensual sex Julian Assange deliberately split the condom with his fingers, without consent. I quite agree that if true, it would amount to sexual assault. But the split condom given to Swedish police as evidence had none of Assange’s DNA on it – a physical impossibility if he had worn it during sex. And the person making the accusation had previously been expelled from Cuba as working for the CIA. So tell me again – we must always believe the accuser?

For once, I agree with the Blairites that should a warrant arrive from Sweden that Swedish request should be prioritised for extradition over the US request, not least because rape is much the more serious crime. As the only reason Julian Assange ever claimed asylum was that he saw the Swedish allegations as a ruse to get him into custody for extradition to the US, I would also say that should a warrant from Sweden arrive he should now voluntarily go without further legal resistance, the US extradition point being overtaken.

But do not hold your breath. No warrant is going to come. The states that coordinated so carefully his arrest and detention, timed with the Muellergate release and the demented Ecuadorean government lies about faeces on walls, don’t need the Swedish angle now.

I ask again. Where is the warrant from Sweden? Are there still people who cannot see the Swedish allegations for the CIA ruse that they always were?

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Extinction Aversion 1209

Man made climate change has appeared to me for three decades to be sufficiently proven, and it has that cardinal virtue of a scientific hypothesis, you can see the things which it predicts will happen, come to pass before your eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday.

Direct action of the illegal kind is a very important weapon in the arsenal of protest. It represents a challenge to the state’s monopoly of force. While it may appear non-violent, in fact by imposing your body into a space and blocking it off, that is an assertion of physical force. What the Extinction Rebellion protests showed this week was the reticence of the Metropolitan Police in dealing with nice, middle class and largely white protestors. That reticence is to be welcomed; the fact that it is not extended to other groups is what is to be deplored. The alternative is to argue for everyone to get beaten up by Plod equally, which is not a sensible line to take.

I broadly support the Extinction Rebellion protest. In terms of gatecrashing climate change on to the political agenda, they have had a good and entirely necessary effect. Their use of what was in effect force, certainly did some harm in restricting the movement of people around London, and in some cases will have impacted the ability of struggling people to earn their living. It also disrupted public transport systems which are a good thing. But these are minor items if you accept that climate change is whirling its way to becoming an existential threat – and that is a premise which I do accept. The disruption is outweighed by the intent to do a much greater good, in terms of the justification of the people doing the protesting. Whether it succeeds in prompting real action by government and achieving a balance of good, is a different question. I fear we have to get rid of the Tories first.

I accept that climate change is a worldwide phenomenon and action in individual states of limited utility. But individual states can inspire by example, not least by showing that a switch to a greener economy can lead to a major stimulation of economic growth. I do not pretend to expertise in green economics. What follows are rather some homely policy nostrums which I believe should form a part of a coherent approach to green policy.

1) Home Insulation

The Tory Government has effectively abandoned and cancelled home insulation schemes; in effect nothing whatsoever is happening. Yet the government’s own plan to reach committed emissions targets by 2050 explicitly depends on one third of all savings being achieved by insulation in Britain’s existing stock of over 20 million very poorly insulated homes.

There is the clearest case here for government action. The aim should be to upgrade 4 million homes a year. Full funding should be provided to local authorities and housing associations for their stock. Householders should face a legal obligation to bring home insulation up to high defined standards – with generous means-tested grants available from central government funds, which should meet 100% of the cost for all those in straitened circumstances, and a decreasing percentage thereafter based on income and wealth. Private landlords should be forced to comply and self-fund up to the value of four months’ rent, with grants available for higher costs. Failure to comply should lead to the landlords’ property being confiscated by the local council, with tenancies protected.

Those are the broad outlines of a policy which would provide massive employment and contribute to a major Keynesian boost for an economy crippled by years of austerity, as well as make a major difference to emissions.

2) Ocean Energy

Wind energy has made massive strides, and to a lesser extent solar and hydro. But disappointingly little has been done to harness the restless energy of the seas. Government support for research programmes into utilising wave and current energy is pitifully small, given the potentially vast and reliable energy resource available, to the UK in particular.

On tidal energy, those objecting to the Severn or Wash barrage schemes on the grounds of effect on wildlife habitat are failing spectacularly to see the wood for the trees. Of course biodiversity is massively important, but we are fighting a battle in which some resources will need to be sacrificed. The Severn, Wash and Swansea Bay schemes do not require substantial technological innovation – they are basically just low head hydro – and should be pushed ahead as urgent projects. Simultaneously major research funding should be given to innovation. I suspect the harnessing of currents rather than waves would be the first to fruition.

3) Aviation Fuel Tax

Cheap flights are the opiate of the people. I cannot buy in to the argument that aviation fuel tax is only viable if everybody does it. Planes landing can very easily be taxed on any fuel they have in their fuel tanks brought in from third countries. If hub passengers transiting are reduced in favour of fuel tax free destinations, I cannot see that as a bad thing. An aviation hub is a particularly undesirable thing to become, from any sensible environmental view.

Flying is a major contributor to pollution and there is far too much of it. The tax free fuel status that makes flights cheaper than trains is ludicrous. Aviation fuel should be taxed at the same levels per calorific value as road fuels.

4) Expand Rail Networks

Nationalisation and re-integration is of course the sensible prelude to any development of rail transport. The UK is chronically behind most of the developed, and even much of the developing, world in terms of high speed rail lines. This needs to be rectified as does the chronic over-concentration of transport resource on South East England. HS2 should run on to Aberdeen and Inverness, not just be confined to the southern third of the UK.

On a wider note, with demand for rail transport buoyant, re-establishment of many Beeching axed lines should be undertaken with a view to a simple containerised nationwide freight distribution system as well as passenger transport. Rail is far more energy efficient than road. The preponderance of road transport is simply the result of perverse incentive from government policy.

Light rail and tram systems should be expanded in cities. Here in Edinburgh, the poor planning and execution of the start of a tram system should not put us off. Trams should be a local service, not fast and stopping frequently, but rather akin to buses, as in Manchester. They should not be confused as in Edinburgh with an express airport service, with very few and inaccessible stops.

5) Encourage Micro-Generation: Abolish Nuclear

The UK had an immensely successful programme of encouraging domestic solar generation through feed in tariffs, so the Tories cut it, as they cut the less successful insulation grants. Generous feed-in tariffs for domestic generation should be rebooted, while technologies such as heat pumps and exchangers should be zero rated for VAT (as should bicycles).

By contrast, the massively expensive nuclear power projects should be scrapped immediately. I lived almost all my adult life under the impression nuclear energy involved some fiendishly clever technology, until I realised it generates from bog standard steam turbines, and the nuclear part is simply a ludicrously complicated, incredibly expensive and devastatingly dangerous way to – boil water.

The real attraction to governments of nuclear power is the precise reason governments dislike micro-generation – nuclear power promotes a massively centralised security state, and links in well to weaponisation. It is the most expensive electricity of all, and should be immediately closed down.

The above represent my own thoughts on possible short term policy responses to climate change. I acknowledge quite freely that it is not my area of expertise and is perhaps insufficiently radical, and certainly insufficiently broad and detailed. It has however focused my mind on the great economic stimulus that can be gained from wholesale pursuit of the necessary technologies at the government level.

I have deliberately concentrated on unilateral measures rather than international negotiation, because I am sceptical there is sufficient will for progress on the latter or that governments around the world intend to stick to commitments. I have viewed it from a UK not a Scottish perspective because action is required immediately, and Scotland starts from a much better place anyway.

That I am thinking on this at all is in a way evidence that Extinction Rebellion achieved their aim from their immediate action, though it is those in power they seek to influence, not random bloggers. I am very sceptical of their declared desire to “negotiate with government”. If David Cameron were still in power, he would undoubtedly “hug a swampie” and make all kinds of green noises, then continue shutting down environmental programmes. Those around Theresa May are quite clever enough to recommend such an approach, as a potential Tory rescuing image as the party otherwise crashes to electoral disaster.

I would recommend Extinction Rebellion to keep blocking the roads and stay clear of the politicians. If they could refine their tactics to concentrate more on direct action against the big polluters and their financial backers, and move away from shocking the public through inconvenience, that might be tactically good for a while. But on the whole, I applaud. Vigorously.

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A Fortnight

This last couple of weeks have seen the build-up to Julian’s arrest, the event itself, and the coordinated campaign of lies and hate that have ensued. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also saw the publication of the breath-taking exercise in state dishonesty that is the Mueller Report. Simultaneously these events brought me into close contact with other good friends, who in different ways are also right now going through very difficult periods indeed, involving state conspiracy and injustice. Despite the heartening interlude of a dash to Rothesay to speak to a full and inspiring hall, I not only found myself working rather too hard on all these matters, I also contracted bronchitis and ended up in bed wheezing and a nasty blue colour. To add to all of which, my family are rightly not exactly chuffed with the abandonment of cherished plans for the Easter holiday and my subsequent disappearance and lack of support to them.

I considered writing today something about Julian’s arrest and Mueller, and starting something on the other issues, but then decided that an auto-biographical piece on my last couple of weeks close to the centre of these events, incorporating the key arguments, may be more powerful in humanising those arguments, and thus reach a larger audience. To write such a piece will necessarily reveal a lot of confidences, and I am going to need to clear it with those involved. It will therefore be a few days before you can see it – and if the key people concerned are not comfortable, it may not see the light of day, and I may have to return to Plan A.

In the meantime I am working up a piece on my reaction to Extinction Rebellion, which I hope to publish today.

In the 13 years of this blog before I accepted subscriptions, one of the main reasons I did not do so was that I feared feeling guilty when I was not producing articles, and feeling obliged to explain myself. That is indeed now happening. Somewhat oddly, I find the process rather liberating, in showing myself as a real and frail person, not some disembodied intellect.

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The Official Skripal Story is a Dead Duck 734

One of the striking things about the official Skripal story is the way its more wildly improbable aspects have been released to the mainstream media over a long period, so as to manage their impact. So, for example, police acknowledgement that the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals is comparatively recent, and it took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

I covered these points in full in my article on the ten points I do not believe in the official story – an article which nobody has sought to refute, other than to yell “conspiracy theory”, as though that was an argument.

But today we learn from the Guardian (quoting the New York Times) that Donald Trump was only convinced to back the UK government line after being shown photos of dead ducks and hospitalised children by CIA director Gina Haspel.

The problem is that, there were no hospitalised children. No children have been reported as becoming ill following their duck feeding with the Skripals. We have heard from one of the parents that they were shown by the police extremely clear CCTV footage of the duck feeding, which has never been made public. Surely if the child had been hospitalised, the parent would have been mentioned it?

Dr Stephen Davies of Salisbury Hospital’s letter of 16 March 2018 to the Times has been explained away as poorly written or edited, in relation to the cause of the Skripals’ illness. But be that as it may, one thing the doctor’s letter does without any shadow of a doubt, is rule out the possibility of hospitalised children.

There were no hospitalised children.

We also know that the duck feeding was the time that “Boshirov and Petrov” were physically closest to the Skripals. But this is the first time there has ever been any mention of any harm to the ducks. Dead ducks would have been noticed by the public.

Possibly the Guardian and New York Times are inventing utter drivel, as in the Manafort meeting Assange story. That would in itself be worrying. The other possibility is that the security services produced fake photographs of hospitalised children and slaughtered some ducks, in order to convince Donald Trump. If the latter explanation is true, then the entire Skripal saga looks more and more staged.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the articles, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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