Bikini Girls and Cyberwars 937

The Times claims to have identified the Kremlin’s latest secret weapon in Cyberwars – “Bikini Girl” @Organicerica. Except there is no evidence @Organicerica has any Russian links or promotes any Russian interests.

It does appear likely that @Organicerica is a bot. The Times claims this is proven by the timing and regularity of the postings (interesting as they claim the same kind of activity pattern proves nothing in the case of Philip Cross). I am prepared to accept, for the sake of argument, that @Organicerica is a bot, or at best a young woman running an automated posting programme.

But what is the output? Promotion of organic restaurants in Seattle. Environmental campaigning particularly against pesticides and genetically modified food. Nothing whatsoever on wider politics, foreign policy, Clinton. And nothing whatsoever related to Russia.

What kind of mindset do you need to have, automatically to equate opposition to Monsanto and to chlorinated chicken with being an agent of the Kremlin? Why is The Times publishing this absolute rubbish? It says something both about the quite hysterical Russophobia gripping the media and political class, and about the desire to delegitimise environmental activism, as witness the jailing of the anti-fracking protestors (against which jailing 1,000 academics have now signed a letter of protest).

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937 thoughts on “Bikini Girls and Cyberwars

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  • jazza

    the country has gone mad – the nutters are finally in charge of the asylum – it is ludicrous and it is hateful – BUT – where is the opposition?????????????????

    • sc

      Do you think the opposition should be making statements about alleged Russian bots? Low on the priority list I would have thought.

    • Lucy

      My goodness Observer, you are overdoing the comments a little don’t you think? And yet without saying anything at all.

        • Lucy

          Really? I have submitted one comment only, you appear to be all over this comments section and so very full of yourself with so little justification.

        • Observer

          Unsurprisingly, the ambiguity of ‘You too” (as in ‘Me too’ was lost on you, Madam).

          Don’t you have a live punching bag at home?

          And since you are counting everyone’s comments, please don’t go after my dear friend, Sharpie. Actually, please do so and see how she gives it back to you! LOL

    • Andyoldlabour

      You are correct of course, and the opposition in the UK is being shackled with false accusations against Jeremy Corbyn and his not inconsiderable support.
      In the uS there is no opposition, because both Republicans and Democrats plus the MSM are being controlled by the neocons and the military industrial complex.

      • Radar O’Reilly

        Retry due ‘network’ problems

        Cyberbots or mi-bots,

        The great news today is that Russian state alleged assassins connected to the Trump/Steel story will be named in parliament next week

        Sir Richard Dearlove, who retired from the security services in 2004, has said that Russia is a “violent country” and warned espionage would never stop
        Sir Richard Dearlove yarbles, yarbles

        However, which country permits international assassination, torture, sex-crimes, hacking, with impunity? RU or UK, perhaps both?

        Many nationalists believe MI5 colluded with loyalist murder squads to kill Catholics during the Troubles. The agency is also believed to have handled republican agents…

        …“the Security Service has a long-standing policy for their agent handlers to agree to agents participating in crime, in circumstances where it is considered such involvement is necessary and proportionate in providing or maintaining access to intelligence that would allow the disruption of more serious crimes or threats to national security.”

        And further differences?

        Revelations before a London tribunal that MI5 knowingly allowed its agents to participate in murder, torture, sexual assaults and other criminality, are a damning indictment of the British state’s involvement in the conflict here, Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said.
        The Sinn Féin Victims Spokesperson was commenting after the Investigatory Powers Tribunal – which is investigating the role of the British Intelligence agencies – heard evidence of a secret policy that enabled MI5 agents to participate in a wide range of illegal activity.
        “The revelations before the tribunal yesterday are a damning indictment of the British State’s role in the conflict here,” Linda Dillon said.

        Assassinations permitted?

        … leading counsel, Ben Jaffey QC, said: “It appears that the Security Service believes it could, if it thinks it would be in the public interest, authorise participation in murder, torture, sexual assault or other grave criminality in the UK.”
        As the human rights groups are arguing, the policy has “no legal basis”, with no “meaningful limits” as to what serious crimes agents can and cannot commit.
        It has long been known that MI6 and GCHQ can be authorised to break the law on operations overseas, under a power enshrined in Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.

  • Observer

    At long last a readable and comprehensible post from you Craig. Sanity might yet break out amongst your many analysis-paralysis commenters here.

    Wish you a joyful Sunny Sunday.

    • Iain Stewart

      “At long last a readable and comprehensible post from you Craig.”

      “Against which jailing 1,000 academics” is indeed classic Craigspeak, which is why it’s taken me so long to get up to and through chapter 35 and at last the (spoiler alert for Tony Opmoc) violent death of the eponymous Sikunder Burnes, recounted In the style of a water purification committee minutes.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Observer was previously known as Villager, until he or she was banned for threatening the blog with the police, then returned as Alcyone, until he or she was banned again for unacceptably obscene comments about and repeated insults to Sharp Ears.

        • John Spencer-Davis

          Hm! Possibly my comment was tautological. However, this was beyond the pale, as I am sure Sharp Ears remembers very well indeed.

          • Observer


            In self-analysis, which would you say is your greater weakness, your memory, your indecision, or your cognition?

        • Observer

          Nice one Iain, very witty! And may i compliment your profile pic, especially in the context that so many come here with notably limited aesthetics. Einstein said:

          “I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.”

          (Somebody please tell me if that’s a fake quote, so many around these days, especially accredited to Herr Einstein and the Dalai Lama.)

          “If you can’t laugh on a (sunny) Sunday, when will you?”
          — Observer

          • Iain Stewart

            Why thank you for the compliment, kind sir, and allow me to express my own admiration of the graphic demonstration in green and white of the Pythagoras theorem with which your esteemed contributions are decorated, even if it it is a little approximate, and thank you too for those kind words of encouragement from your friend Albert.

          • Observer

            Belated thanks to you Iain and Tom. I recognise gentlemen when I see them. Rogues also, when I see them, as I’m sure you do too.

  • b

    This thread by Micheal Kobs took a deeper look at the issue.

    @Organicerica is definitely a bot, programmed to tweet at regular time intervals headlines from

    There is some highly suspected Russian stuff in one of her her 6,000+ tweets (not).
    It showed a picture of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square in Moscow and linked to a piece headlined: “Russia joins more than 30 other countries that have banned the import of GE crops. ”

    I believe Putin personally wrote that (not).

  • Makropulos

    Perhaps Russia has been the sole producer of all the porn on the internet as a fiendish plan to undermine our stiff upper lips – and other parts.

    • Radar O’Reilly

      Some cybersec experts studied the money flows, half the money seemed to flow through Nevada or thereabouts, and the other half was a bit Ukrainian – but that was a few years ago

    • Iain Stewart

      I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

      • Observer

        Could that meanCould that mean that you are a ‘fan’ (yes, you might dislike that word as much as i do) of Pussy Riot?

  • George C

    An automated account indeed, but where is the Russian propaganda? I spent some time checking the site and couldn’t find one post that provoked in me a pro-Russian sentiment. True, I didn’t have the time to read thought the 60 days that the Times checked, but got a good feel of it. The usual healthy food / anti-GM rubbish that is shared by a large proportion of the population.
    It used to be one Russophobe article per day in the MSM, now it is two or three. Is this some sort of addiction which people need to feed daily?

    • wild

      Powers that be don’t understand why minds keep getting opened. Ergo all “No GMO” sentiment IS the “Russian propaganda”.

      • Aslangeo

        I think that the if establishment now wishes to sideline any opposition, be it to GMO, fracking or anything else, the they will accuse the russian government of being behind the opposition. This instantly shuts down legitimate debate

        Eventually the public will see how rediculous it is, particularly when the activists are clearly local people with legitimate concerns. The anti Russian narrative was given a blow by the World Cup when fans saw a country which welcomed the world rather than one shown in the press. Further exchanges will erode the narrative. Interesting blog post at

  • Loony

    There would appear to be a problem with fake news at many levels.

    For example people that refer to US based restaurants, the Clinton’s, chlorinated chicken (which most people associate with the US) and Monsanto. How strange that there is no mention of Monsanto being a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer – a German company. Some may reach the conclusion that such wording is designed to associate Monsanto with the US and not the actual German owners of the company.

    Don’t forget Brexit is a disaster and innocent British citizenry will soon be force fed US chlorinated chicken and German modified foods. Odd how the truth doesn’t sound quite so catchy.

      • Charles Bostock

        Yes, I often disagree with Loony’s conclusions but by God he does a great service by bringing out various truths and rubbing the true believers’ noses in them. Overall, a beneficial poster IMO.

    • nevermind

      They are indeed owned by Bayer, so rest assured that no agent orange will abort or disfigure any more babies.
      This will not stop the opposition to Frankenfood here, peeps do prefer food that has gm corn sugars or modified starch in it.
      jumping evolution and use fish genes to schockproof/freeze proof tomatoes is not required, despite the hundreds of millions wasted on companies such as John Innes. Bayer wont be able to change public percrptions and Cargill is still in the business of providing staryer chems to genetic farmers.

      That many meat products are raised with genetically engineered Soy has yet to sink into burger brains.

      Monsantos guilt/ misinformation was not sold to Bayer!

    • Paul Greenwood

      What are “German modified foods” ? I understood Food Safety was an EU responsibility. Why it is so technically infeasible at NSA or GCHQ to spoof an IP address is beyond comprehension. It is however interesting in the latest Ejaculations from Big Brother about Russia that it is “Five Eyes plus Netherlands” which suggests they have been initiated into the circle

      • Radar O’Reilly


        It’s not a circle , 5-eyes have ‘tiered’ partners, with some agencies desperate to get to the top tier, BND for example.

        NL agencies have personally interviewed me (with beer) on behalf of the UKUSA, years ago

    • J

      We’ve talked about the merger of Bayer and Monsanto a number of times, right here. Shame about your theory.

      • Loony

        It was not a merger. It was an acquisition by Bayer. It would seem that talking about something does not necessarily equate to understanding.

        • Andyoldlabour

          You are quite right, it wasa £63billion acquisition/takeover by Bayer, and they will be dropping the Monsanto name altogether. I am really not sure why some hitherto trusted sources refer to it as a “merger”.

          • Observer

            Good we are headed for the fully-fried Great British Brexit, hopefully.

            On second thoughts we are probably going to have The Common EU Rulebook genetically modified and all. Thank you Germany.

            PS Start buying British and BDS Germany.

          • Paul Greenwood

            It depends on accounting approach. Often “merger accounting” is used for tax purposes to get around Capital Gains problems. Also it probably suits German Tax Law better. The Monsanto shareholders receive a “merger consideration” of $128/share which would probably have tax implications. The fact is unless Monsanto is acquired for Assets it would need “merger accounting” to handle Goodwill which should cripple Bayer for years to come

    • N_

      Bayer is a vehicle for some very powerful interests. Some people would faint if they understood how powerful it is in the British NHS including in GPs’ surgeries, let alone the position it has achieved in EU central bodies. It is registered in Germany. It describes its ownership as follows:

      31% in US or Canada
      22% in Germany
      19% in Britain or Ireland
      9% in France, Spain, Italy or Portugal

      Of course most of these shareholders will be corporate and need not have legal owners based in the countries of registration, not to mention beneficial owners.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Bayer is just heavily weighted towards Agro-Chem and with Monsanto has 25% world market share……..there is only really Bayer and BASF left in Germany after Hoechst went to Sanofi

    • Dave Lawton

      I don`t eat chicken because they are infected with campylobacter in the chickens we buy here in the UK.Our tap water has chlorine in it.What`s the problem.

      • Piotr Berman

        I understand that thorough cooking removes the problem, campylobacter does not produce toxins surviving the cooking and obediently dies at high temperatures. Thus we should stick to hard boiled eggs and select dishes in which ingredients are cooked thoroughly. Indians survived millennia in a microbe rich environment through the use of spices and thorough cooking.

  • Tom

    It seems to be lockdown at The Observer this morning on readers’ comments – their heroine has written a column and she is a very sensitive creature.

  • Hatuey

    It’s not Russia that worries them, of course, it’s democracy and dissenting voices. There’s a lot of this going around these days. Russia like Wikileaks and Craig Murray, amongst others, give encouragement to alternative opinion and are naturally hated. They’re basically going to shut down the internet too, a process that’s already well underway.

    The West can’t afford to let democracy and free thinking get in the way these days. There’s real competition out there for contracts and oil and such. Even the dollar has competition. In the old days, when everything was tightly stitched up, a small measure of freedom was tolerable but those days are gone.

    The West is on its knees today, economically speaking. Politically speaking it’s been on its knees for hundreds of years, hence the reliance on brute force and the doctrine of might is right. They can handle being politically weak, it’s the cost of doing business and goes with the uniform. But today business itself is threatened. What’s to be done?

    Well, it’s pretty obvious that the West, led by the unscrupulous Anglo-Saxons, has decided that if the rules no longer work to their advantage, they will just ignore them and turn to cheating and corruption. Trump’s tariff barriers and the whole trend towards offshore tax havens reflects their weakness and intent here, as does Brexit itself. All of these things can be viewed as a rejection of established regulations, rules, and order.

    Note that the UN doesn’t even really feature in discussions today when it comes to bombing sovereign states like Syria. It’s been deliberately marginalised and undermined to the extent that even the countries and people who are targets of western aggression don’t turn to it for help.

    The West has gone rogue.

    • nevermind

      Well said Hatuey, now it is understandable why the BerlinKreuzberg possee objects to Google’s new Berlin HQ.

      Goggle is refusing to let me see or move pictures taken of me and my grandchild unless I sign up to an account with them.
      I’d rather prefer to burn my tablet…..:(

      • N_

        Better to burn it than to open a Google account. People should keep all of their computer files – emails, photos, films, other documents, whatever – on discs or drives that they control, that they physically have in their house, and that they access by running programs offline.

        PREDICTION: it won’t be long before Google stop people using their websearch engine who have not installed the company’s spyware on their devices: more particularly, microwave-tracked devices such as f*ckwit sticks “smartphones”.

        An “app” is a terminal program. About 0.01% of people under 40 understand what that means when they are told.

        The internet is the biggest bait-and-switch operation in the history of the world.

        • Ort

          Google is indeed insidious, like a lethal metastasizing cancer.

          I confess that I recently, and very reluctantly, purchased a “lesser” smartphone (i.e. not an iPhone) after I lost my seldom-used old “flip” phone.

          I was persuaded by a relative who suggested that my “tablet”-using skills would transfer to a smartphone– I used the little flip phone so seldom that when I did use it, I couldn’t remember basic navigation, and fumbled hopelessly when trying to compose texts using those tiny buttons.

          Well and good, but of course I discovered that my modest new smartphone was loaded with Google bloatware apps. I also found that these couldn’t be removed– one can’t even remove the icons from the front screen!

          When I attempted to “disable” these Google apps– they can’t be deleted outright– I got “warning” messages that disabling the app might cause other apps to become unstable or unusable. I disabled them anyway.

          I find this Google cyber-tyranny creepy as hell.

          • Cesca

            Posting this comment of mine i posted on the Guardian Ort, you don’t have to use Android let alone Google on your Smartphone: *Sadly, the days when Google was a progressive beacon in the encroaching darkness of web corporatism are ancient history, it has become the thing it despised, in spades! I’m a zealous crusader against current era Google and have no time for it’s shills, who are out in force on this thread. They have no understanding of how Google have abused and corrupted the ethos of the totally FREE and open source code, they have used in their pursuit of greed. Google deserves any kicks to the bum they get.

            The rest of this post will have many links to help others who are sickened by current Google, to get the maximum use they can from it, while denying them your data. To be relevant to the article, top of the list must be LineageOS: It’s an Android based offshoot of the well regarded, opensource CyanogenMod, which is now defunct. Currently over 180 smartphone models are supported, the Wiki is very decent as is the support, which you obviously need to be a li’l patient about. It has a very active community with a seriously high number of topics posted which get quick responses. You can check if your mobi is supported it here: If it is you can download the right build, there are comprehensive instructions on how to install it on your model, inclu advice on any manufacturers updates/permissions etc you might need first. I’ll use the download page for my model as an example: Don’t install Lineage while your phone is under guarantee, cos it will be invalidated.

            There will be a light browser to enable to get you online when you install Lineage, pls don’t ruin it by installing Google search engine, use one of the alternatives or firefox, opera etc. Also avoid google play store like the plague, two of my fave alternatives are website based too:’s current rating on scamadvisor is decent I like it cos you can download apps to your rig and screen the files with everything you’ve got before installing on your mobi. You can also copy the url of the app you want from google play store itself, then paste it in apkbucket’s search so you can get the app. This does include free mobi security like Kaspersky and Avast but if you do prefer using an actual store app, fdroid is worth considering:

            This is a great article about Google alternatives: General apps i seriously recommend include the best messenger app out there, ditch corrupted WhatsApp; and chrome based Epic Privacy Browser Takes a li’l getting used to it’s pretty bare bones compared to most browsers, it uses a secure google search, you will need to enhance your search terms at times to get the results you want. It has a free, excellent proxy offering a decent choice of countries and prob the best general security, i’ve been using it for a few years now.*

        • S

          My understanding is that in the US, AT&T have switched off 2g now, forcing you on to smart phones.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Look how Gutteres was selected and where he came from ? Look how Lavrov stated Guterres is not in control but Jefferey Feltman is.

      Guterres was High Commissioner for Refugees……he is an Electrical Engineer…..the US has him totally under control and sidelined. The British UN Ambassador is MI6. The US UN Ambassador is an Accountant who worked in her mother’s dress shop

      • Charles Bostock


        ” The US UN Ambassador is an Accountant who worked in her mother’s dress shop”

        That sounds very snobbish and elitist to me. Do you think that US ambassadors to the UN should have been privately educated, gone to an Ivy League university and worked in one of the “noble” professions?

        • Tom Welsh

          No, Charles; I think the implication was that perhaps ambassadors should have some diplomatic experience. Although there wouldn’t be much point in the case of US ambassadors, as all they do is threaten violence.

          • Iain Stewart

            You’ve obviously never worked in a dress shop, Tom, if you think you don’t need to be diplomatic.

        • Paul Greenwood

          Don’t mind being snobbish when it comes to Nimrata Randhawa. I consider her to be stupid and wholly incompetent, but then I thought little of the Irish journalist Samantha Power either. The USA seems prone to appointing idiots to important positions and it is proving the USA to be devoid of any diplomatic finesse.

          So yes Charles, I see you don’t think it odd that the British Representative is SIS however !

          • Charles Bostock


            I would rather that a former spook became Perm Rep at the United Nations than President of a large nuclear-armed country like the Russian Federation.

      • Isa

        Guterres is an extraordinarily intelligent man with a brilliant curriculum and as to where he came from , he was the former prime minister of Portugal and has been involved in politics since his high school years . He also lived a great part of his life under salazar’s dictatorship whithout ever bowing to the regime . I think your idea of Guterres is very far from reality . He may not be able to do much as his position is , of course , conditioned as were his predecessors , but he is a truly conciliatory and competent man . Also for info , Portugal was one of the few countries who refused to expel Russian diplomats and one of the few that actually made their oficial opposition on the US embassy moving to Jerusalem very clear . We may be a small country but we certainly don’t align in this madness .

  • Paul Grenwood

    Do you remember a recent article by someone who had met Litvinenko and Berezhovsky saying how Berezhovsky was in close contact with Rupert Murdoch and that is why The Sun splashed what was to be kept discreet ? The Times is such a comic. I simply do not understand why Russians cannot post on the Internet, sail in the Black Sea, sail the world’s oceans, comment and argue in public. It is a big world and they are a key part of it.

    There is definitely a plot to de-legitimise Russia and remove its voting rights on The Security Council just as they have moved to isolate Russia in the OPCW to the ludicrous situation they are forced to spy on an agency where they are MEMBERS (mind you the UK does the same inside the EU !).

    Israel and US/UK want to isolate Russia and China on The Security Council and lock in what Kay Bailey Hutchinson calls “our countries” into a US Dominion against Eurasia. The outcome is predictable so I suppose life in the UK should be enjoyed before the full consequences lead to extinction

    • N_

      Did the Russian military spies nip off for a sandwich allowing Dutch counterintelligence (or intelligence, given that it was in Switzerland) to open the boot of the car and take some snaps? Or did they not fail to suspect the guy who came up behind them wearing a cap containing a concealed camera?

      • Tom Welsh

        Also, since we are told they all had diplomatic passports, why did they not get a car with diplomatic number plates from the embassy? Such cars are immune from search.

    • Piotr Berman

      The name “Berezhovsky” makes no sense, which is OK, many names do not, but “Berezovsky” makes sense (derived from bereza = birch tree), perhaps you should check the spelling?

      • N_

        So Paul made a minor spelling error.

        If you want to talk about the meaning of names, Berezovsky may have intended his adopted name “Platon Elenin”, which he used on the British passport he acquired to add to his I__aeli and Russian ones, to be parsed as “Платон, не Ленин”.

  • Michael Droy

    Why? It isn’t libellous (at least to any who could sue)
    They get the security correspondent to “check it out” (with we know who).
    They are the press – they haven’t a clue what the readers think because they just assume they think like all the journalists and PR folk they meet.

  • Stonky

    Craig I’m posting this off-topic as I think you have time to read the early posts on your blogs, but certainly not all of them. Please do not get dragged into a pig-wrestling match with Bellingcat. As the saying goes, you get covered with filth, and the pig enjoys it.

    Bellingcat is obviously being fed stuff by our “intelligence services”, and it might even be that one of his specific remits is to discredit you. Whatever argument you put forward, he will have no problem, a day or two later, in producing “photos”, “documents”, “web links”, or whatever, that prove you wrong and will be plastered all over the MSM.

    In terms of the Skripal story, you should by no means let it go. But the Chepiga “is he or isn’t he” is completely irrelevant. The only salient facts are:

    1. The day after the Skripal “poisoning”, May stood up in Parliament and accused Russia. The only way she could have done that is if she knew what the substance was, where it came from, who had put it there, and who they were working for. The only way she could have known that is if it was a set-up.
    2. The two Russians were in Salisbury for some reason. This may have involved some contact with Skripal. They certainly did not wander around Salisbury ostentatiously having their photo taken by every CCTV camera in the town on an assassination mission, while having no idea where their target was. They certainly did not stroll up to Skripal’s house in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, wearing no protective clothing whatsoever, and smear the deadliest nerve agent known to man on the door handle, on the off-chance that he might be the first person to touch it. So who “poisoned” Skripal, with what , and how, and why?
    3. Why are the only hi-res photos available the ones of the Russians? Why are there no hi-res photos of any of the other actors in the drama?
    4. Skripal and his daughter are currently being held incommunicado. They are not being held incommunicado by some “totalitarian regime”. They are being held incommunicado by the British authorities.What does Sergei Skripal know that is so sensitive that the British authorities will do anything to to prevent it leaking out?

    Please do not get dragged into arguments about irrelevant side-issues with Bellingcat. He has the upper hand in that debate. Please focus on the important stuff, and do not give the establishment shills and toadies the satisfaction of engaging with them on their territory. Remember Flodden.

    • Hmmm

      I agree. Absolute focus on the important points is needed.
      And let us even agree it was the Russians – what the hell have we been doing with Skripal to warrant such an insane action?
      The UK won’t want a trial as too much info might come out.
      And as for Amesbury. .WTF is that all about?

    • SA

      Agree Stonky.
      The whole Bellingcat is a diversion leaving a lot of unanswered questions from the original story. In addition to what you say, the official story is that the poison used was a ‘novichok’. As we know novichok is not the name of a single compound but a programme of development of 4th generation of nerve agents in the dying days of the Soviet union. This opaqueness I believe is deliberate because it is being used for misinformation as well as for possible future denials. If PD and the OPCW have identified an agent, why do they not give it a name and a chemical formula?

    • Ort

      For what it’s worth, I completely concur with your advice.

      I don’t fault Craig for generally seeking to debunk Bellingcat. The default position, so to speak, is that it’s both right and reasonable to challenge insidious disinformation-purveyors and propagandists to set the record straight.

      However, this natural impulse is complicated and confounded by the curious persistence of proven frauds and liars. Not entirely “curious”, since the liars and frauds are nutured and encouraged by various complicit institutions, e.g. the state-security “intelligence” apparatus and their mass-media partners and servants.

      In any case, these bogus sources simply don’t get, or remain, “discredited” after multiple exposés. For instance, both government officials and mass-media venues still cite the infamous “White Helmets” approvingly.

      And, as you correctly note, challenging Bellingcat’s dodgy output has become incorporated into an escalating spiral of bogus claims, followed by debunking counter-claims, followed in turn by further claims in support of the challenged claims, followed by further debunking, ad infinitum.

      I don’t think this maddening status quo is amenable to simple rules of conduct, but I agree that one at least needs to pick one’s battles when challenging parties like Bellingcat.

      Bellingcat is a bit like Antaeus, son of the Earth goddess Gaia, who challenged Hercules to a wrestling match. Hercules didn’t realize that every time he hurled Antaeus to the ground, the latter actually drew strength from his mother, the Earth and bounced back with a vengeance.

      Finally, Hercules learned that he could only defeat Antaeus if he lifted Antaeus up and held him aloft until the latter’s strength ebbed. I admit I can’t readily translate this into a winning strategy for Craig vs. Bellingcat, but there is a parallel here.

    • Mighty Drunken

      Totally agree Stonky.

      I will take this opportunity to mention something that has been bugging me about the case. Which is the bizarre theory that the Skripal’s were poisoned by the door handle, it makes no sense for a number of reasons. Even though the highest concentration was apparently found at the door, wouldn’t it be more prudent for the police to state the Skripals were poisoned at home? However it would make sense if the suspects were filmed at Sergei’s front door. This would also explain why the British government were so quick and eager to blame Russia. Just a random thought.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Excellent post.
      Cut to the chase.
      Concentrate on relevant facts.
      Do not get sidetracked.

  • N_

    What kind of mindset do you need to have, automatically to equate opposition to Monsanto and to chlorinated chicken with being an agent of the Kremlin?

    The mindset of a reader of the Daily Heil or the Scum. Or, increasingly, a reader of another major newspaper or a viewer of the BBC. This is PW for WW3.

    Nice photo, though.

    While I’m here, the deaths from eating Pret a Manger sandwiches are because nuts or sesame seeds got into them without the company putting a warning on the label, right? Right?

    • Stonky

      “The mindset of a reader of the Daily Heil…”

      To be honest, this “Daily Heil” stuff is starting to seriously grate with me. If you actually bothered to visit the “Daily Heil”, as opposed to looking down on its readership from the heights of Mount Moral Superiority, you would see that when given a Skripal story and the opportunity to comment, its readership are rubbishing the nonsense in the same proportions as readers of this blog.

      Ironically, the media outlet whose readership are most inclined to join their editorial instructors in the Putin hate-fest is that bastion of “progressive thinking”, the Guardian.

      • N_

        I’m talking about the Daily Heil which is read by millions, not whatever a tiny minority of its readers may get off their chests by posting to its comments sections, which are read by what, a few hundred people?

        Didn’t they tell you that most internet communication is one-way? Ah but no, from your own position of the Crevice of Moral Inferiority you know it’s all about participation by equals, and dialogue, right?

        The Heil dearly deserves that name that many sussed leftwing people bestow on it, as does the Scum.

        Better to express one’s contempt in that way than to participate in its comments sections, any day of the week.

  • Sharp Ears

    A bot? A bottom more like. That’s a sneaky pic someone took of me at the beach in Tel Aviv. 🙂

  • RuilleBuille

    I’m old enough to remember the Cold War and the regular ‘reds under the beds’ scares.

    I had thought people wouldn’t fall for this again but it seems there is no end to gullibility.

  • John2o2o

    The aim by the Times, which used to be a newspaper, is clearly to promote the attitude in the minds of it’s clearly gullible and ageing readership that people who are opposed to corporate profitmongering and poisoning and who promote low cost healthy living are not to be trusted.

    What is all the more worrying is that this woman is an American. This island is not a part of the United States. It seems clear enough that the intention of the Times is that we should warm to corporate America in advance of Brexit.

    Call me a dangerous rebel if you want Craig, but I am not prepared to accept anything published by that putrid Fleet Street rag as fact or even approaching fact.

    In fact, I have yet to discover what a “bot” even really is. And I have not inconsiderable IT skills. Maybe you’re a bot Craig? I’ve never seen you in person. I only have a handful of photos to go on. Can you prove to me that you are real?

    The number of postings by “organic erica” might be an indication that she is well off or has a wealthy husband and time on her hands. Or it may be that her account is open to a number of people. Whatever the precise reality I cannot see anything sinister about the account.

    In fact I’ve added it to my reading list. Looks good! The Times has it’s uses, I suppose, apart from being rough emergency toilet paper.

    • John2o2o

      … I may be sticking my neck out a bit here, but has the account anything to do with Seattle Organic Restaurants by any chance? Gosh how terrible. The KGB get everywhere these days!

    • Keith McClary

      “she is well off or has a wealthy husband ”
      Or makes money from advertising. If I turn off my ad blocker I see plenty of ads on .
      IMO, that is what the “Internet Research Agency” was doing.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    The Times I am afraid lost basic knowledge of journalistic competence some years ago.

    A good newspaper should leave readers assuming trust unless indicated otherwise.

    I now assume all editors and hacks are either corrupt, criminal or both until further investigations might suggest they have integrity.

    ‘The Times said so, so it must be true’ is one of my more favoured sarcastic comments about the MSM…

    • Iain Stewart

      “A good newspaper should leave readers assuming trust unless indicated otherwise.”

      Rhys Jaggar I am afraid lost basic knowledge of English competence too.

      • Republicofscotland

        “Rhys Jaggar I am afraid lost basic knowledge of English competence too.”


        Going by the ever decreasing sales figures, Scotland’s hacks are that bright either.

        “REGIONAL DAILY (Jan-Jun 2018)

        Press & Journal (Aberdeen) 45,935 (down 2%)
        The Courier (Dundee) 34,260 (down 3%)
        The Herald (Glasgow) 24,265 (down 6%)
        Evening Express (Aberdeen) 21,003 (down 7%)
        Evening Times (Glasgow) 19,130 (down 8%)
        The Scotsman (Edinburgh) 13,739 (down 8%)
        Evening Telegraph (Dundee) 12,351 (down 7%)
        Paisley Daily Express (Paisley) 4,378 (down 3%).”

        Courtesy of Wings.

          • Republicofscotland


            Actually I believe she’s of German descent.

            There Iain answered both, I think, though I may need more proof readers than Jeffery Archer. ?

          • Tom Welsh

            RepublicofScotland, your ideological convictions apart, our gracious lady the Queen is half Scottish and half a mixture of German, Danish, English, etc.

  • Sharp Ears

    The author of the piece was one Rhys Blakely, ‘Science Correspondent’.

    He left St Peter’s College, Oxford University with a BA Ist Class degree in English. 1998

    Then there is a gap in the CV.

    Next as Correspondent The Times in Mumbai, India for four years from 2007-2011.
    West Coast Bureau Chief/Los Angeles for another 4 years.
    US Editor/ Washington DC March 2015- present.
    Suddenly in September he becomes Science Correspondent.


      • Rowan

        @Chris: “seems to have been writing for The Electronic Intifada in 2006.” Chris, look again at the byline of the Electronic Intifada article. It is a reprint from The Times,

        • Chris

          thanks Rowan – see that now.It fills a bit of the cv gap that Sharp Ears mentioned, though?

    • Sharp Ears

      Martin Ivens is the editor of the S Times. He is married to Anne McElvoy of the Gideon/Lebedev rag, the Evening Standard.

      Ivens is also an alumni of St Peter’s College where Mark Damazer ex BBC, is the Master.

      Next Wednesday, the BBC Radio 4 Today stooge, John Humphrys, is speaking there. Free but closed to graduates and undergraduates and members of the Oxford Univ Media Group.’s-presents-john-humphrys
      An incubator.

      Old Rupert’s been drawing them in. More loot I assume. Decca Aitkenhead from the Garudian. James Coney from the Heil.
      ‘There are three new appointments within the business team under new editor Oliver Shah and his newly-appointed deputy, John Collingridge.
      Rachel Millard is appointed energy and resources correspondent and joins from the Daily Mail. Ben Woods is appointed technology, media, and telecoms correspondent and joins from The Telegraph. Sam Chambers is appointed retail correspondent and joins from Bloomberg. All three will start their new roles in the next three months.
      Martin Ivens, Editor of The Sunday Times, said: “I’m delighted that The Sunday Times will have this influx of new talent at this exciting stage for us, as our subscriber growth continues apace. We are committed to producing quality, trusted journalism across all our sections and this means investing in talented journalists in every department. I look forward to welcoming them all.”

  • andrew murray

    What are yourthoughts on dealing with london if they take the Catelonia approach

  • Kempe

    My first thought was that the Times ran the article as an excuse to publish a photo of a fit young woman in a tiny bikini.

    Craig would never stoop so low…

    • Charles Bostock

      “Craig would never stoop so low…”

      He certainly wouldn’t! Some might have thought the pics of a scantily clad Nadira were posted – on this very blog!! – in an attempt to titillate but in reality it was simply an expression of husbandly pride (I too have a beautiful wife, so I can understand) and a bit of a publicity puff for a show or film or something similar in which the Beauty was involved.

  • Scurra

    My own mild experience is that bots need to establish an innocuous presence for several years before they then “turn political”. It’s the same as any infiltration project, except that it’s all automated, or, rather, it’s run on an automated schedule.
    (That’s not to say that this is an example of that – it looks pretty routine to me and doesn’t really match the models of political bots that I’ve seen – but, as I say, I have very limited experience.)

  • Loony

    I don’t know why so many people seem so keen describe the Bayer acquisition of Monsanto as a merger or to offer up tedious explanations so as to claim that it was really a merger that was described as an acquisition for accounting purposes.

    It is almost as though any recognition as to the truth with regard to Bayer would cause people to review their love in with the EU. Here is a list of crimes committed by Bayer down the years – a number of these crimes have taken place under the protective blanket of the EU.

    Even the most deluded EU supporter knows that accusing Brexit supporters of committing even a small fraction of the crimes committed by Bayer would be simply unbelievable. So maybe the idea is to pretend that the crimes don’t exist and where that is not possible to pretend that they are US crimes.

    • Republicofscotland


      As far as I know Bayer accquired Monsanto, and absorbed into into Bayer, the toxic name Monsanto is supposedly no more.

      However where did Bayer accquire the $63 billion dollars to close the two year deal, as well as absorbing Monsanto’s debts. Well Bayer obtained a massive $57 billion dollar bridging loan, and they floated another $6 billion dollars worth of shares, backed by 20 banks.

      Bayer cashed in a few billion when it sold Covestro, a polymer and plastic producer, and from transfers towards Basf, a huge chemical company based in the German city of Ludwigshafen, imposed by antitrust authorities in order to avoid a monopoly on certain products.

      Bayer now appears to be focusing on pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

      “Within a short period of time only three companies will be in control of nearly 60 per cent of the world’s seeds and nearly 70 per cent of the agrochemicals and pesticides,”

  • Republicofscotland

    “Why is The Times publishing this absolute rubbish?”

    In my opinion any tendentious link with Russia, can be spun as to make it appear, that they’re up to no good.

    The Times credibility took a bit hit years ago, with regards to reporting on Scottish independence, and its went down hill ever since.

    • Iain Stewart

      “The Times credibility took a bit hit years ago, with regards to reporting on Scottish independence, and its went down hill ever since.”

      “It’s went downhill” surely?

        • Iain Stewart

          Nae bother, China. As Francie and Josie put it, “After all, us Glaswegians are already impaled with the burden of wur enthic indentification because, admittedly, some of us do not metriculate wur words properly and are at times, theref our, slightly incomprehensive.”

          • Iain Stewart

            Rikki Fulton “actually” (as MJ would put it). Your erstwhile Socratic dialogues with Reelguid used to remind me of the celebrated Francie and Josie double act. I am of course too polite to say which would be who.

        • MJ

          “It’s gone downhill” actually. It went downhill long before. In fact it was never uphill (though the Sunday Times was good when Harold Evans was editor – the Insight Team and all that).

          • N_

            That’s the same Harold Evans who egged Cecil King on towards a military coup in Britain in 1968.

            Exposing thalidomide was the Sunday Times’s greatest moment. That’s half a century ago now. The crossword was good even into the 1980s.

            As far as I know, nobody went to jail for thalidomide. Its psychological usefulness as a military weapon in a prolonged war is obvious.

            When I come to think of it, believing that a drug against morning sickness during pregnancy would be without unwanted effects is similar to believing that normalising the obsessive picking of smartphones or the use of “virtual assistants” won’t cause any harm either.

          • Charles Bostock

            “That’s the same Harold Evans who egged Cecil King on towards a military coup in Britain in 1968.”

            Sources for that (other than your vivid imagination)?

      • Observer

        “It’s went downhill” surely?”

        and reply:

        “Yes Iain, thank you for that correction.”

        Cracking stuff! Thanks again, Iain. Do you reckon it’s the fluoride in the water these days? or too much recycled pee?

        • Iain Stewart

          “General Jack D. Ripper: Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.”

          • Republicofscotland

            Very droll Iain, on another Ripper, Sir Charles Warren a mediocre general during the the Great Boer war, he was previously the head of the London Metropolitan police. He was criticised by the then Home Secretary, for failing to catch the real precious bodily fluid spiller Jack the Ripper.

      • Observer

        Moreover, how in hell did you get away with your gratuitous mention of the Queen here?!

        • Iain Stewart

          The mirth-inducing question, “Do you know the Queen’s English?” probably dates from an early edition of Merry Mac’s Fun Parade.

        • Binge T'inker

          There is no ‘ Queen’ since the abrogation of the Coronation Oath, {and a flurry of other constitutional laws} in 1972, following the Royal assent to the EEC Act, unlawfully passed in Parliament after a fraudulent campaign by FCO, BBC, and others, conceding sovereignty to a ‘foreign potentate’. We do have a mrs Windsor, European Citizen, who is, at best A suzeraine.

    • Republicofscotland

      Not just the MSM, I recall sometime earlier this year that YouTube shutdown in Syria prior to an attack from Western/Israeli/Saudi forces proxy or other.

      A timely blackout to thwart uploads of what actually happened I presume.

    • Clark

      The articles in its Twitter feed look like concentrated sensationalised bullshit, like a collection of Daily Mail health/environment scares/miracles, most with a bit of truth strategically camouflaged into them. Nonscience. Deconstructing such articles is good practice for understanding adverts, sales literature, labels, guides, churnalism and reviews, for all the products we’re surrounded by and are supposed to make good purchasing decisions about.

      And the Times says we should be afraid of it? Do you suppose they’ve inspected their web stats and discovered they’re loosing readership to it? That’s the paywall, silly.

      • Clark

        I saw some articles advocating antioxidants. I suppose I should mention that some rather large trials have shown that antioxidant supplement pills might slightly increase the chances of death when compared to placebo. One large trial in smokers and those exposed to asbestos was stopped early due to considerably higher rates of lung cancer.

        But if Russia are trying to poison us with antioxidants, I think any effect would be extremely marginal.

  • Jude 93

    The devotees of the cult that used to be known as the Revolutionary Communist Party (Spiked Online, The Academy of Ideas etc.,) always get plenty of platforms in the Murdoch rags, the BBC and most of the rest of the media to promote Monsanto, Big Pharma, factory farming, fracking, junk food etc., “from a radical Marxist perspective” (but of course). I even saw one of their number, Claire Fox, on Sky recently, shilling for the Zionist sponsored witchunt of pro-Palestinian activists in Labour. Anti-semitism, she said “is hidden in plain sight in the Labour Party.” So much in plain sight apparently that the presenter didn’t feel the need to ask her to present any evidence for this absurd assertion. These are the same folk who are always histrionically denouncing the “victim culture” of the Corbynites. In reality when it comes to playing whiny victim politics no one beats those who shill for the state of Israel.

  • SA

    Nick Cohen’s piece of self righteousness is full of inaccuracies and manufactured facts

    “Don’t laugh too heartily, though. A regime may be simultaneously preposterous and effective. Take the case of Julian Assange, to reach for the closet example of the absurd. Holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for years because he is not man enough to face the charges against him, he seems the Ben Gunn of the internet age. Yet the Mueller inquiry credibly alleges that Assange was the final link in the Russian state’s operation to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. GRU agents passed 50,000 documents from the Clinton campaign to WikiLeaks, which presented them as the product of its own investigations in the journalistic equivalent of money laundering.”

    Taking a swipe at both Assange and Russia in a piece of disinformation in which is slipped that Mueller’s investigation ‘credibly alleges’ is the ultimate use of deceitful language.

    Further down comes this: “The National Crime Agency has deeper worries and wonders how it will prove London’s Russian oligarchs are criminals when the Russian state can provide them with fake property deeds as easily as it supplies its propagandists with fake news.”, as if Cohen is not aware that many of these oligarchs are actually given refuge in this country and contribute to the coffers of the conservatives whilst actually being wanted for economic irregularities by Moscow.

    • Sharp Ears

      Vile. Similar to the stuff churned out by Freedland. The latter’s father has died in South Dakota aged 83. His son’s tribute was in the Guardian yesterday. Can’t give the title and link because both contain that word. It even contains a dig at Corbyn.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Nick Cohen was interesting when he started but has become incredibly crabby with age and “wholly-aligned” since the Iraq War. He is just another version of Con Coughlin

    • Republicofscotland

      Sharp Ears.

      Yes saw that on the news, looks like the Saudi dissident has been murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

      Now imagine the international outrcry, if this had happened in say Tehran or Damascus, and not in the land of Britain’s close ally Saudi Arabia. No doubt it will turn out that Russia did it.

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