Newshound Is Finally Dead…….

In the day, it was the first site most followers of the Troubles accessed every morning. From the late 1980’s onwards Newshound carried daily links to the various stories of the day, chronicling the Troubles in a valuable and informed way. Until recently you could still access the site, a valuable source for researchers. But no more. About two weeks ago the site announced it was going dead and now it has. We shall miss you. Thanks for all you did.

Interesting Analysis Of The War In Ukraine….

Thanks to Counterpunch…you can read it here….

Is Sinn Fein Using The Libel Laws To Muzzle The Media?

Interesting piece in The Irish Times asks the question, which you can read here…..

Chris Hedges On The Meaning Of The Ukraine War…..

Chris Hedges, the former New York Times foreign correspondent – and Presbyterian Minister, I now learn – vents his spleen over liberal support for escalating the war in Ukraine. You can read him here…..

Remembering Madeleine Albright….

I reproduce below a brilliant memorial of the recently deceased former US Secretary of State, Madelaine Albright which appears in the current edition of Mondoweiss, the radical voice of Jewish Americans and their friends. Albright passed away earlier this week and while the mainstream media heaped praise on her memory. Mondoweiss’s piece placed her under an unforgiving spotlight. It is worth reading in the context of the stance of moral superiority taken by the United States and the West in general over Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and the mass media’s unquestioning role as the West’s propaganda partners in that conflict. It seems that Ms Albright once justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children who the United Nations had estimated had perished as a direct result of US-prompted sanctions against the Saddam Hussein regime. Sort of puts Mr Putin in context, yes?

Madeleine Albright’s Legacy

Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes
Madeleine Albright (1937-2022)
Madeleine Albright has died at the age of 84. She was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State from 1997-2001, the first woman to ever hold that position. From 1993-1997 she was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. For some the enduring legacy of Albright won’t involve anything she did during her historic political career. She will be most remembered for something she said.
Something very rare happened on May 12, 1996. That evening viewers of CBS’ 60 Minutes witnessed a thorough and critical segment about U.S. foreign policy that was based around actual reporting. The program, which would go on to win correspondent Lesley Stahl an Emmy and a duPont-Columbia journalism award, was called “Punishing Saddam” and it detailed the U.S. government’s Iraq sanctions policy.
Let’s begin by stepping back. When it comes to Iraq, some Americans might view the Clinton years as an uneventful gap between Bush 1’s Gulf War and Bush 2’s Iraq War. “Eight Years of Peace, Progress, and Prosperity” went the Democratic mantra. However, the Iraqi people certainly experienced no peace during that era. After less than six months in office (in full violation of international law of course) Clinton lobbed 23 cruise missiles into the country. Three hit residential areas, killing nine people and wounding 12. The acclaimed Iraqi painter Layla Al Attar was one of the victims. Her husband and their housekeeper were also killed. Her daughter was blinded. The bombings continued from there. Operation Desert Strike occurred later that year, then there was Operation Desert Fox in 1998. In 1998 Clinton also signed the Iraq Liberation Act, instituting an official U.S. policy of “regime change” and planting the seeds for Bush’s war crimes.
Then there were the sanctions, which a UN-commissioned study found responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. Those numbers have been challenged in subsequent years, but it’s important to remember a couple things. The “Oil-for-Food” program’s first coordinator Denis Halliday quit his position in protest of the policy in 1998, calling it “genocidal.” The respected diplomat had worked at the U.N. for 34 years.
“When I got to Iraq in 1998, the hospitals in Baghdad, and also of course in Basra and other cities, were full of children suffering from leukemia,” Halliday told The Progressive last year. “Those children, we reckon perhaps 200,000 children, died of leukemia. At the same time, Washington and London withheld some of the medicines and treatment components that leukemia requires, again, it seemed, in a genocidal manner, denying Iraqi children the right to remain alive.”
Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit a couple years later for the same reasons. “For how long should the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?” he asked.
So 26 years ago, Albright was interviewed by 60 Minutes as the Clinton administration’s spokesperson on the matter. Here was the most infamous portion of the exchange:
Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
The striking thing about this exchange is Albright’s honesty. You almost never see a story like this in the mainstream media, but when you do the protocol is pretty consistent. We’re currently seeing it play out with pro-Israel groups and Amnesty International’s apartheid report. You smear and deflect, but you never actually acknowledge the crimes.
As I mentioned, the legacy of Albright’s comments is the compelling part. The deaths of Iraqi children were consistently cited by Osama bin Laden in interviews and recruitment videos. “A million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak, killed in Iraq without any guilt,” he declared about a month after the 9/11 attacks. At the time The Guardian looked into the claim and concluded that he was overstating things. However, the paper also quoted Dr Peter Pellett, a professor of nutrition at UMass, who served on multiple UN food and agriculture missions to Iraq: “All recent food and nutrition surveys have reported essentially the same story: malnourished children… increased mortality, and a general breakdown in the whole fabric of society.” When it came to Iraqi kids “Bin Laden’s propaganda may be exaggerated and one-sided. But he does perhaps have a point” the article admitted.
Even if you happened to watch and remember that 60 Minutes episode from 1996, the mainstream press certainly wasn’t acknowledging the Albright quote within the context of 9/11 after the towers fell. It’s doubtful that many Americans were reminded of it. Here’s Rahul Mahajan in FAIR from November 2001:
Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It’s also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11attacks. But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote–in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register. This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine.
A couple years after Albright made those comments she was questioned by students at Ohio State during an event that was televised by CNN. Albright (by then Secretary of State) had come to the campus with Defense Secretary William Cohen national security adviser, Samuel Berger to make the case for attacking Iraq. Again, a concept with roots far deeper than 2003.
Albright fielded a question from Jon Strange, who was a 22-year-old substitute teacher at the time. Here’s that exchange:
Strange: What do you have to say about dictators in countries like Indonesia, who we sell weapons to yet the are slaughtering people in East Timor. What do you have to say about Israel, who is slaughtering Palestinians, who imposed martial law. What do you have to say about that? Those are our allies. Why do we sell weapons to these countries? Why do we support them? Why do we bomb Iraq when it commits similar problems?
(WILD APPLAUSE)
Albright: There are various examples of things that are not right in this world and the United States is trying..I am really surprised that people feel it is necessary to defend the rights of Saddam Hussein, when we what ought to be thinking about is how to make sure that he does not use weapons of mass destruction. 
Strange: I’m not defending him in the least. What I am saying is that there needs to be consistent application of U.S. foreign policy. We cannot support people who are committing the same violations because they are political allies. That is not acceptable. We cannot violate U.N. resolutions when it is not convenient to us. You’re not answering my question Madam Albright.
“Madeleine was always a force for goodness, grace, and decency — and for freedom,” said President Biden in a statement after her death. Last week Biden sent Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia after the country urgently requested them. On the campaign trail Biden declared that he would end U.S. support for and make Saudi Arabia a pariah, but Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the calculus. Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with 17 million people food insecure. 2.2 million of them are children. Biden presumably views it as a very hard choice, but ultimately thinks the price is worth it.
You can watch the entire 60 Minutessegment from 1996 online. It’s just as compelling all these years later.

A Classic Quote – Does It Still Define Unionism?

I discovered this quote, the opening words of an academic article by Donal Lavery titled: ‘Ulster Resistance and Loyalist rebellion in the Empire’, on the internet and thought it so well expressed a view that while rarely spoken, was taken as one of the givens of the conflict. It seems to me that if it still explains a substantial enough section of Unionism, then calling the Troubles ‘over’ is premature indeed…….

Before Ukraine: Serbian Soccer Fans Remind World Of U.S. Invasions

This was the scene before Red Star Belgrade took on Glasgow Rangers prior to their UEFA match. Red Star won 2-1 but Rangers went through on aggregate.

Staring Armageddon In The Face…..

Chris Hedges, an admirable and brave journalist, paints a terrifying picture of what could follow Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s descent into mindless jingoism…..pray that he is wrong…….

Gene Kerrigan On Ireland, Ukraine, Iraq, Putin, Bush and Blair

This time, we did the right thing Writes Gene Kerrigan

The people act in solidarity. Children donate their pocket money and adults offer the use of a spare room. Refugee fundraising goes on in all the usual places, with the Late Late Show leading the way. When the Ukrainians needed help, we did the right thing.

The Government offered a fast, visa- free admission process. Again, it was the right thing to do.

We are right to acknowledge our own proper choices, but let’s not kid ourselves that we always do the right thing. It’s not too long since we were on the side of the bombers.

Meanwhile, a somewhat rowdy debate of sorts has erupted on the issue of neutrality. It is led by politicians and EU groupies, with a handful of the usual media suspects. They tell us to “grow up” — and with heavyweight intellectual arguments like that, man, I for one am floored.

My own guess is that neutrality is a goner. For decades, it has been an irritant among politicians and their chums — it gets in the way of cynical deals they like to make to promote our economy.

The anti-neutrality crowd can surely harness our solidarity with Ukraine. They can then gradually sideline neutrality, denigrate it and systematically deny its significance.

Already, the Russian war on Ukraine is used as the clinching argument.

We better abandon neutrality, we’re told, and begin spending €3bn a year on guns, bombs and planes, otherwise we’ll wake up one morning and Vladimir Putin will be motoring around Merrion Square in a tank.

The argument is that Putin might as easily have invaded us as he did Ukraine. Not true.

The Russian/Ukrainian armed conflict began in 2014. It has an even longer political history.

Ireland has no such dispute, with anyone. Ukraine, on the other hand, is heavily armed, with a very effective army and air force, and that didn’t spare it invasion.

The last major war in which our neutrality was raised as an issue was the American invasion of Iraq.

We did not do the right thing.

In the wake of the 9/11 atrocity, US president George Bush created the doctrine of the “rogue state”. Roughly speaking, this meant that a state didn’t have to do anything to harm the USA, it was enough to have the capacity to do so. And that gave Bush the right to do whatever he thought necessary.

He decided to invade Iraq, to remove and kill dictator Saddam Hussein — who allegedly was bristling with weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam was a murderous thug, but he had nothing to do with 9/11 and his regime had previously been a sidekick of the US.

Bush’s people told stories of Saddam’s terrible weapons, the media reproduced these stories as gospel. UN weapons inspectors said Saddam had no such weapons. They were dismissed as fools.

Saddam had no such weapons.

Some of Bush’s advisers had theories about how they would use the takeover of Iraq to rearrange the Middle East. This was crackpot nonsense, but Bush ran with it. The preparations for war began.

So did the protests. About 36 million people worldwide joined protests, to no avail. Here, one demonstration attracted a reported 130,000 marchers through Dublin city centre.

We were dismissed as anti-American and apologists for a savage dictator — the usual casual calumny.

Getting close to the Americans in their hour of need was regarded by the leaders of many countries as a key to prosperity.

Bush was blunt about his intentions — first, he’d flatten Iraq. His “shock and awe” bombing was beyond what we see now in Ukraine, criminal as that is.

Having flattened Iraq, Bush offered a bonus — he’d spend billions in “reconstruction”. And only businesses from countries that backed the invasion could apply for reconstruction contracts.

Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador in Washington, received a blunt “principal instruction” from prime minister Tony Blair: “Get up the arse of the White House and stay there.”

Blair wanted to play God in the Middle East, and the notion of it being good for UK business didn’t hurt.

Poor Sir Christopher. He inserted himself in the position to which he was assigned, only to find it was rather crowded up there.

Those eager to flatter Bush included the leaders of the Gang of Eight — eight European countries that rushed to sign a letter pledging their support for the invasion.

Inevitably, shoulder to shoulder with the Gang of Eight and Sir Christopher, in the bowels of the White House, there was the occasional Irish accent.

The Irish politicians’ priority was ensuring US investment was preserved. Bush had from 9/11 onward laid down the law — Saddam equalled Terrorism. “Are you for or against terrorism?”

To prove you were worthy of Mr Bush’s respect, you had to speak positively of his invasion.

Our neutrality meant we couldn’t actually invade anywhere — so we couldn’t send troops to die for Bush’s ambitions. This meant no reconstruction contracts.

To stress our loyalty to Uncle Sam, our politicians offered Bush the use of Shannon Airport as a hub and refuelling depot to facilitate the invasion.

This was seen by the US invasion planners as a critical asset. So useful was Shannon that they’re still using it, two decades later.

The plan to rearrange the Middle East fell apart. Bush got bored with the whole project, declared “mission accomplished” and pretended it was all a dream.

We had — and to this day have — no idea what the Americans use Shannon for, apart from refuelling.

We know there has been some “rendition” use — rendition is when the CIA kidnaps someone abroad and sends them to a third country, to which the American torture requirement is outsourced.

This involves aircraft criss-crossing continents — we don’t ask. No curiosity at all. Best not to know.

We have no idea how the use of Shannon affects any other aspect of American military planning, including bombing. It would be so embarrassing to ask. It might force them to lie. Worse, they might tell us the truth.

No one kept an agreed body count in Iraq, but the dead were in their hundreds of thousands.

Inevitably, this turmoil resulted in waves of refugees fleeing violence and heading toward Europe.

Given that we had played a small part in creating their plight, it would be nice to say we did the right thing, but — well, it’s complicated.

All those brown faces, the culture significantly different — well, let’s put it this way: the Late Late Show hasn’t done much fundraising for those refugees and the Government doesn’t waive any visas.

We’ve been in no hurry to throw our arms open.

A handful of Afghans made it here, looking for help — we told them to leave and they went on hunger strike, but the law was on our side, so we soon ran them off.

Odd, really. I mean, we had no responsibility for the consequences of Putin’s savagery but — quite properly — we did the right thing.

On the other hand, we had some small responsibility for the effects of the Bush military adventures — and the refugees they created — and we did a runner.

Our neutrality policy originated in a period when Ireland was newly independent, a small nation in a world dominated by colonial states still emerging from the age of empires.

The history of our neutrality is one of pragmatism, self-interest and trying to do the right thing.

Today, our leaders find neutrality to be a nuisance. It gets in the way of their economic horse-trading.

Neutrality isn’t the answer to everything; it mightn’t be the answer to anything.

But it has served us better than the alternative — which usually involves crouching somewhere smelly, in the company of an anxious British ambassador, matching his every obsequious grin as we compete for the favour of the Big Guys.

Matt Taibbi On Post-Ukraine Media Censorship, East & West…….

Orwell Was Right

From free speech to “spheres of influence” to our passion for endless war, we’ve become the doublethinkers 1984 predicted

Matt TaibbiMar 13

This weekend I re-read 1984, a book I tend to reach for when I get Defcon-1 depressed about the state of the world. Deep in the novel, Winston ponders the intricacies of doublethink:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them… To forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again… that was the ultimate subtlety.

In the last weeks, Russia took an already exacting speech environment to new extremes. A law was passed that would impose 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine invasion; access was cut to Facebook and Twitter; stations like Echo Moskvi and TV Rain as well as BBC Russia, Radio Liberty, the New TimesDeutsche WelleDoxa, and Latvia-based Meduza were effectively shut down; Wikipedia was threatened with a block over its invasion page; and national authorities have appeared to step in to prevent coverage of soldiers killed in the war, requiring local outlets to use terms like “special operation” instead. The latter development is connected to the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, issuing a remarkably desperate dictum requiring news outlets to “use information and data received by them only from official Russian sources.”

Russia also appears in the middle of a general crackdown on local media, not so much because those outlets are dissenting, but because they’re more likely to provide indirect evidence of war failures or the effect of sanctions. The desperation to control news has grown to the point where Russian diplomats in foreign countries are pressuring state outlets in countries like Iran to stop using the term “war” to describe what’s going on in Ukraine.

On the flip side, a slew of actions have been taken to crack down on “fake news” and “misinformation” in the West. The big one was the European Union banning RT and Sputnik:

Google Europe @googleeuropeDue to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately. It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.March 1st 20224,546 Retweets18,649 Likes

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube also cut access to all Russian state media, because the EU sanctions also required that internet platforms delist any RT or Sputnik content, even from individuals. The statute reads, “As regards the posts made by individuals that reproduce the content of RT and Sputnik, those posts shall not be published, and if published, shall be deleted.”

Other governments across the West, from Australia to Canada, have taken similar actions. In the U.S., Google and YouTube disallowed Russian state media ads (following a request by Senator Mark Warner) and demonetized “a number of Russian channels,” including RT but also many non-Russian individuals, before proceeding to demonetize all individual Russian content creators, even the individuals opposing the invasion. Even DuckDuckGo, the speechier, more pro-privacy alternative to Google, announced it was de-ranking “sites associated with Russian disinformation.” A growing list of Westerners have seen accounts frozen for supposed parroting of Russian talking points or “abusive” commentary.

YouTube banned Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire, while Netflix is going so far as to shelve a production of Anna Karenina. In what might have been the craziest move of all, Meta reportedly followed up a decision to un-ban the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion with a mind-blowing decision to alter its hate speech policies to “allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion,” according to internal emails seen by Reuters.

One would hope there would be at least a few Americans left who’d hear about Russia barring the BBC and Voice of America and at least recognize the sameness of the issue involved with banning RT and Sputnik. Or, seeing how pathetic and manipulative it is for Russians to prevent reporting on war casualties, we’d recall the folly of the ban we had for nearly twenty years on photographs of military coffins, or the continuing pressure on embeds to avoid publishing images of American deaths from our own war zones. We should be able to read that Twitter and Facebook are cracking down on the “fake accounts” spreading “misinformation” that “Ukraine isn’t doing well” and notice that Russia’s measures against “fake news” and “disinformation” about its own military failures — though far more draconian and carrying much more severe penalties — are rooted in the same concept.

We don’t, however, because we long ago reached the doublethink phase predicted by Orwell, where most of the population is conscious of double standards but ignores them effortlessly. A healthy person should be able to be horrified by what’s happening in Russia and also see a warning about the degradation that ensues from using “pre-emptive” force, or from trying to control discontent by erasing expressions of it. But years of relentless propaganda have trained Americans to doublethink their way out of such insights. Cornel West just laid all of this out in an interview with the New Yorker:…