Yes, there WAS a spy in Trump’s campaign; and yes, the New York Times IS full of lies (as he is)

From the NYTimes’ lead story on May 28 (“With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust”):

WASHINGTON — As a candidate, Donald J. Trump claimed that the United States government had known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks. He hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep two years ago, had been murdered. And for years, Mr. Trump pushed the notion that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya rather than Honolulu, making him ineligible for the presidency.

None of that was true.

Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.

 

Note how cunningly the two "reporters" (Maggie Haberman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis) "debunk" Trump's charge without actually debunking it. 

First: They open with a smirky little summary of three prior claims that we should all laugh off as obviously false, even though the first of them has never been disproved (on the contrary), the second could be true, while the third alone is false. To be more specific, there's overwhelming evidence that "the U.S. government" didknow beforehand about 9/11, which they either orchestrated or did nothing to prevent; Scalia may have been assassinated (though the case for that is weak); while there is not a shred of evidence that Pres. Obama was born in Kenya.

Thus the two Times operatives begin their "news analysis" of Trump's "conspiracy theories" with the old disinformation tactic of associating taboo topics with outrageous lies or bald delusions; and in case we miss the point, they underline it for us, ex cathedra: "None of that is true." 

That comprehensive opening guffaw prepares us to laugh off Trump's latest "accusation," which Davis/Haberman do everything they can to cast as wholly groundless ("unconfirmed"), self-serving ("to suit his political narrative"), and—above all—patently absurd, a crackpot notion dragged in from "the fringes" to befoul the sanctum of "the Oval Office," and thereby put the whole Republic at grave risk, etc.

Anyone who's swept away by that authoritative hooting (which is to say, most readers of the New York Times) will not notice that it doesn't actually deny Trump's charge, but only ridicules it; nor can the credulous Times reader know that Trump's "new accusation" is not"unconfirmed," it being now well-established—i.e., true—that "a 'criminal deep state' element within Mr. Obama's government planted a spy deep within [Trump's] presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win." 

That it's all true is bad enough, but that the Times thus casts it as a lie is even worse—much worse.

For those who want the truth, in its details, I strongly recommend this piece by Daniel Lazare.

MCM

Spooks Spooking Themselves

May 31, 2018 • 40 Comments

As the role of a well-connected of group of British and U.S. intelligence agents begins to emerge, new suspicions are growing about what hand they may have had in weaving the Russia-gate story, as Daniel Lazare explains.

By Daniel Lazare Special to Consortium News 

With the news that a Cambridge academic-cum-spy named Stefan Halper infiltrated the Trump campaign, the role of the intelligence agencies in shaping the great Russiagate saga is at last coming into focus.

It’s looking more and more massive.  The intelligence agencies initiated reports that Donald Trump was colluding with Russia, they nurtured them and helped them grow, and then they spread the word to the press and key government officials.  Reportedly, they even tried to use these reports to force Trump to step down prior to his inauguration.  Although the corporate press accuses Trump of conspiring with Russia to stop Hillary Clinton, the reverse now seems to be the case: the Obama administration intelligence agencies worked with Clinton to block “Siberian candidate” Trump.

The template was provided by ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove, Halper’s friend and business partner.  Sitting in winged chairs in London’s venerable Garrick Club, according toThe Washington Post, Dearlove told fellow MI6 veteran Christopher Steele, author of the famous “golden showers” opposition research dossier, that Trump “reminded him of a predicament he had faced years earlier, when he was chief of station for British intelligence in Washington and alerted US authorities to British information that a vice presidential hopeful had once been in communication with the Kremlin.”

Apparently, one word from the Brits was enough to make the candidate in question step down.  When that didn’t work with Trump, Dearlove and his colleagues ratcheted up the pressure to make him see the light.  A major scandal was thus born – or, rather, a very questionable scandal.

Besides Dearlove, Steele, and Halper, a bon-vivant known as “The Walrus” for his impressive girth, other participants include:

  • Robert Hannigan, former director Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, UK equivalent of the NSA.
  • Alexander Downer, top Australian diplomat.
  • Andrew Wood, ex-British ambassador to Moscow.
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic.
  • James Clapper, ex-US Director of National Intelligence.
  • John Brennan, former CIA Director (and now NBC News analyst).

In-Bred

A few things stand out about this august group.  One is its in-bred quality.  After helping to run an annual confab known as the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Dearlove and Halper are now partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  Both are connected to another London-based intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co. Halper is also connected via two books he wrote with Hakluyt representative Jonathan Clarke and Dearlove has a close personal friendship with Hakluyt founder Mike Reynolds, yet another MI6 vet.  Alexander Downer served a half-dozen years on Hakluyt’s international advisory board, while Andrew Wood is linked to Steele via Orbis Business Intelligence, the private research firm that Steele helped found, and which produced the anti-Trump dossier, and where Wood now serves as an unpaid advisor.

Everyone, in short, seems to know everyone else.  But another thing that stands out about this group is its incompetence.  Dearlove and Halper appear to be old-school paranoids for whom every Russian is a Boris Badenov or a Natasha Fatale.  In February 2014, Halper notified US intelligence that Mike Flynn, Trump’s future national security adviser, had grown overly chummy with an Anglo-Russian scholar named Svetlana Lokhova whom Halper suspected of being a spy – suspicions that Lokhova convincingly argues are absurd.

Halper: Infiltrated Trump campaign

In December 2016, Halper and Dearlove both resigned from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar because they suspected that a company footing some of the costs was tied up with Russian intelligence – suspicions that Christopher Andrew, former chairman of the Cambridge history department and the seminar’s founder, regards as “absurd” as well.

As head of Britain’s foreign Secret Intelligence Service, as MI6 is formally known, Dearlove played a major role in drumming up support for the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq even while confessing at a secret Downing Street meeting that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [regime-change] policy.”  When the search for weapons of mass destruction turned up dry, Clapper, as then head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, argued that the Iraqi military must have smuggled them into neighboring Syria, a charge with absolutely no basis in fact but which helped pave the way for US regime-change efforts in that country too.

Brennan was meanwhile a high-level CIA official when the agency was fabricating evidence against Saddam Hussein and covering up Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11. Wood not only continues to defend the Iraqi invasion, but dismisses fears of a rising fascist tide in the Ukraine as nothing more than “a crude political insult” hurled by Vladimir Putin for his own political benefit. Such views now seem distressingly misguided in view of the alt-right torchlight parades and spiraling anti-Semitism that are now a regular feature of life in the Ukraine.

The result is a diplo-espionage gang that is very bad at the facts but very good at public manipulation – and which therefore decided to use its skill set out to create a public furor over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Consortiumnews needs your help!

This outlet is indispensable. If you can afford it, please help keep it going, in memory of Bob Parry, and for the sake of truth in journalism.

MCM

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If there’s a scandal, and the press ignores it, what is it? Ask Barack Obama.

May 30, 2018

Obama’s “Scandal-Free” Presidency

–“I didn’t have scandals, which seems like it shouldn’t be something you brag about,” Obama said recently at a tech conference in Vegas.

It would be something a former President could brag about, indeed.

That is, of course, if it were true.

But it’s so absurdly false that only those in a Netflix-induced coma the past decade would’ve given a goofy, glazed-eyed nod and clap in response.

Thing is…

Obama’s scandals were of a different variety than those currently rattling around Trump, which is why many on the Left believe and share this falsehood.

None of Obama’s scandals were, more specifically, of the Soap Opera, tabloid, raggish type.

You know, the kind of gossipy trash that most mainstream mediaites seem to live for — and are often left in dire straits over.

He didn’t get caught talking dirty. He didn’t pay off a porn star. He didn’t get investigated for colluding with a foreign government (of which, zero hard proof has yet to be presented to back up the “Russia-Gate” claim).

He certainly was more scripted and tighter-lipped than Trump is. Which assuredly saved him some level of grief.

But to say he was “scandal-free” is more than just a bit disingenuous.

Firstly, he allowed banks, which had openly engaged in massive amounts of criminal fraud, to emerge unscathed — even granting representatives of the criminal enterprises with the task of staffing his administration. (And, to boot, accepting large sums of money from the banking sector before and after.)

The Libyan war he started wasn’t just illegal — it was an absolute travesty. It decimated the entire country, turning its major cities to dust. It left open a power vacuum for rabid, bloodthirsty extremists to fill and, as a result, open-air slave auctions are now a national pastime.

Not scandalous enough?

As Branko Marcetic points out in Jacobin, the list goes on:

“Obama killed an American citizen without due process, then killed his completely innocent sixteen-year-old son. He bombed a wedding party, a hospital, and killed hundreds more innocent people with drone strikes. He tortured a whistle-blower, spied on journalists, and tried to send a reporter to jail.

“He expanded and entrenched a massive, secret architecture of government surveillance, and would have kept it permanently hidden from the public had it not been revealed by a whistle-blower whom he almost certainly would have also tortured and thrown in jail. This is just a sample.”

To dig deeper into Obama’s “scandal-free” claim, we invite David Harsanyi of The Federalist.

Read on.

 

Obama Says ‘I Didn’t Have Scandals.’ So What Are All These?

by David Harsanyi

At a Las Vegas tech conference last week, former president Barack Obama told an audience that his presidency had been scandal-free. “I didn’t have scandals, which seems like it shouldn’t be something you brag about,” Obama joked, according to Newsweek. We hear this talking point quite often from Democrats.

Now, perhaps the president didn’t experience the fallout from a scandal, which is very different from never having been involved in one. For this confusion, Obama can thank the political media.

Why does it matter now? For one thing, historical revisionism shouldn’t go unchallenged. Democrats are running to retake power, and many of them were participants or accomplices in numerous corrosive scandals that have been airbrushed.

The other reason, of course, is that when we start to juxtapose the mythically idyllic Obama presidency with the tumultuous reign of Trump, we’re reminded that many journalists largely abdicated their responsibilities for eight years — which has a lot to do with the situation we find ourselves in today.

It’s not about Obama’s brazen lying about Obamacare or even recurrent abuse of power. I’m talking about supposed non-scandals like “Operation Fast and Furious,” a program devised by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that put around 2,000 weapons into the hands of narco-traffickers (and an Islamic terrorist), leading to the murder of hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American, border agent Brian Terry.

The body count could have been higher when a homegrown extremist who, with another assailant, attempted to murder the audience at a “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas with one of the Fast and Furious weapons. An off-duty police officer killed both of the attackers.

Despite the incompetence, absurdity, recklessness, and fatalities of the program, the entire affair never really received scandal-like attention. No one lost his job. There will almost certainly be a tweet from Trump this week that political media will afford more attention than a story in which an American border agent was murdered with the gun Obama’s ATF provided.

Not even when the administration refused to cooperate with congressional investigators was it handled like a scandal. Not even when a federal judge rejected Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in efforts to deny Congress files relating to the gun-walking operation was it treated as a scandal. Not even when we learned that Obama attorney general Eric Holder misled Congress about when he was made aware of the program did it rise to the importance of a Trump tweet. Holder became the first sitting attorney general in American history to be held in contempt of Congress — a vote that included 17 Democrats — and Obama still never paid a political price.

As it was, the Obama administration persistently ignored courts and oversight, breaking norms because it was allowed to do so. The president was articulate, friendly, and progressive. He might have executed an American citizen without a trial (not a scandal!), but his contempt for the process could be forgiven.

It’s why Obama could secretly send planes filled with cash to pay a ransom to a terror state (using money earmarked for terror victims) and most reporters and analysts would regurgitate the justification they heard in the echo chamber. One Politico reporter might drop a 14,000-word heavily sourced investigative piece (two officials involved in the program went on the record) detailing how the Obama administration undermined law enforcement efforts to shut down an international drug-trafficking ring run by the terror group Hezbollah operating in the United States, and most major news organizations never even mentioned the piece.

When they did, it was usually to give space to former Obama officials to smear the reporter.

It needn’t be said, but if the names were changed to Trump and Russia, the president would be accused of sedition. But by any conceivable journalistic standard, it’s a scandal that should have triggered widespread coverage. So when we see mass indignation over every single hyperbolic statement from the current president, it’s a bit difficult to buy the outrage.

An Obama official famously bragged to The New York Times Magazine that he could rely on the ignorance, inexperience, and partisan dispositions of reporters to convey administration talking points to help push through preferred policy. Rather than being hurt or embarrassed by this kind of accusation of unprofessionalism, many reporters are more reliant on the same people than ever before.

Yet many professionals who supposedly deplore the authoritarian nature of an administration that doesn’t answer CNN’s questions were generally quiet when Obama spied on reporters. The Obama DOJ spied on the Associated Press in an attempt to crack down on internal leaks. The DOJ tapped around 20 different phone lines—including cell phone and home lines—that snared at least 100 staffers who worked for the outlet. The Justice Department spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010, collecting his telephone records, looking at his personal emails and tracking his movements.

Color me skeptical, but somehow I doubt similar Trump efforts would be framed as a “rare peek into a Justice Department leak probe,” as if we were pulling the curtains back on a fashion show. It would be, rightly, depicted as an assault on democracy.

Then again, spying was also never really given the scandal treatment during the Obama years. As Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan became aware of an operation of illegal spying of a legislative branch staffer over torture files and misled the media about it. Did the president know? Shrug. The story hardly made a dent. Likewise, Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, admitted he misled Congress about spying on American citizens. No scandal.

Today both these people are on TV chumming around with serious journalists who allow them to continue to make reckless, unsubstantiated political statements all the time. It isn’t Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” who asks Clapper tough questions, it’s Meghan McCain on “The View.”

There was unprecedented politicization of the government under Obama — most of it, I imagine, excused for being part of a good cause. The NLRB. The Justice Department. The IRS. The Office of Special Counsel, which reviews whistleblower allegations, found that IRS employees urged callers to vote for Obama, wore pro-Obama swag, and campaigned for Democrats in conversations with taxpayers — all of it illegal.

But far more seriously, IRS leadership, specifically Lois Lerner, aggressively targeted conservative groups before elections. The IRS admitted as much in an apology letter. Lerner was held in contempt by Congress for refusing to comply with investigators’ demands. She never answered questions for this genuine attack on democracy.

What difference does it make, right? While the extent of the incompetence and negligence during the Benghazi terror attack on September 11, 2012 is still unknown, what we do know is that Obama and a number of high-ranking officials in his administration lied about what happened for partisan reasons. Susan Rice went on a number of national television shows and claimed that Benghazi was a “spontaneous reaction” to “hateful and offensive video,” even when she knew it was a sophisticated and pre-planned terror attack. (Rice is now on the Netflix board, and Obama is a very rich man. At some point you’ve made enough money, but that time is not yet. )

Although they knew it was a complex terror attack, Obama and Hillary Clinton cut television ads to placate radicals in Islamic nations by repeating the claim that a video perpetuated the attack, and apologizing for American free speech — a scandal in itself.

Worse, however, the administration detained the man who produced the offensively amateurish “Innocence of Muslims,” and initially charged him with lying about his role in the production of the video. This was a blatant attack on free expression. Yet most of the mainstream press continued to take the administration’s word for it and report that the video was the cause of the “protests.”

Democrats in general just kept pretending that every accusation was merely a partisan, racist plot to undermine the president. Whether it was bypassing process and oversight to fund cronyistic green projects that enriched political and ideological allies with tax dollars, or the Secret Service’s embarrassing debauchery or Hillary Clinton’s attempts to circumvent transparency or, perhaps the most immoral, the Veterans Affairs’ negligence regarding veterans, they would never admit they faced a scandal.

This double standard in coverage makes today’s often sanctimonious reactions to Trump a bit difficult to take. Many reporters will snarkily point out that most of the stories critics latch onto have been reported on or broken by mainstream journalists. It’s true. There are plenty of good journalists out there. But it’s the intensity of the coverage and the framing of the events that is evidence of ideologically motivated coverage.

And every time Obama or his allies claim that they were scandal-free, millions of Americans are reminded of the obsequiousness of most media coverage.

This article originally appeared on The Federalist at this page.

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the forthcoming book,First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today.

Follow him on Twitter.

The (nasty) shock of Rekognition

Anyone who does business with any reasonably large online entity has probably had an inbox-ful of notices about updates to Privacy Policies. 

Here’s why:

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/what-gdpr-means-for-facebook-google-the-eu-us-and-you/

But their storage (or not) of your information is only a (shrinking) part of the story. I’m sure George Orwell’s ghost smiled [probably not—MCM] in recognition when it came face to face with Rekognition, Amazon’s gift 34 years later to the Total Information Awareness state. Here’s an introduction to Rekognition from the ACLU. (Caveat: James Corbett would caution that the claims of such intrusive technology should always be taken with a grain of salt, that sometimes they don’t work but the whole point is to have you think they work. Dunno in this case…)

——– Forwarded Message ——–

https://action.aclu.org/petition/amazon-stop-selling-surveillance

Imagine attending a protest, and the police automatically identify and label you as suspicious from a photo of the crowd. Or you start a new life in this country, and ICE watches you in real time. You may not be suspected of criminal activity, but the government tracks your whereabouts – and the whereabouts of anyone they want.

This disturbing surveillance state is exactly what Amazon is powering with its facial recognition technology, Rekognition.

Amazon’s own marketing materials tout Rekognition’s alarming tracking capabilities, and documents that the ACLU recently obtained demonstrate just how eager Amazon is to hand this product over to the government. Amazon isn’t just actively selling to law enforcement, it’s partnering with them to ensure that authorities can fully utilize Rekognition’s capabilities.

Add your name now to demand that Amazon stop making a business out of government surveillance – and selling out our privacy. Providing Rekognition to the government marks a dangerous step toward widespread, automated public surveillance.

Rekognition is powered for real-time surveillance. It can recognize you in photos of large groups of people, and in crowded events or public places – at a time when we’re joining public protests at unprecedented levels. Amazon even touts that Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest,” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments – such as undocumented immigrants or Black Lives Matter activists – will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance.

Facial recognition technology isn’t neutral. The government’s use of Rekognition will automate mass surveillance, threaten people’s freedom to live their lives safely and privately, and is primed to amplify bias and inequality in the criminal justice system – all to serve Amazon’s bottom line.

Amazon is already laying the foundation for a surveillance state in Orlando, Florida, and Washington County, Oregon. And other governments are interested, too – California, Arizona, and Oregon have already contacted Washington County asking about Rekognition.

We can’t allow Amazon to pad its bottom line by selling out our right to live our lives safely and privately outside of the government’s gaze.

Who killed Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King? The truth we need is finally breaking through.

We know the dam is breaking, when the Washington Post runs such a thorough, sympathetic piece on Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s poignant call for a new—or, rather, real—investigation of his father's murder.  As Michael Carmichael notes here, Bobby's eldest son is finally doing what the family of Martin Luther King did years ago, when they demanded a new inquiry into their father's murder, which they knew could not have been committed by James Earl Ray.

Meanwhile, the CIA's "newspaper of record," a/k/a the New York Times, just keeps on madly re-asserting the "fake news" that Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King—like JFK before them—were all killed by "lone gunmen" who, in fact, had neither means nor motive for it. The Times has not reported Bobby, Jr.'s break with the state narrative; nor, last month, would it budge from its 50-year investment in the fantasy that Ray killed King all by himself.

On the other hand, the Washington Post did finally give the inconvenient truth a hearing, in a fair piece by (again) Tom Jackman, whose retrospective—"Who Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.? His Family Believes James Earl Ray Was Framed"—freely quoted William Pepper, the intrepid lawyer/author who's done more than anyone alive to find and tell the truth about King's killing. 

And while the Times marked the anniversary of that murder with a 50-year-old piece by former Timespan Earl Caldwell (a harmless piece that ran not in the paper, but in the Times' in-house circular), Caldwell himself marked that horrendous moment with a new and far more honest reminiscence in the New York Daily News.

There he told what he had not reported for the Times—that he himself, right after the fatal gunshot, had glimpsed a "white man," "half crouched in the thicket of the high brush" in front of the rooming house opposite the balcony where King was gunned down. What Caldwell saw—and other witnesses confirmed it—effectively destroyed the propaganda narrative that Ray had done the deed alone. And while Caldwell went on to testify, in 1999, at the explosive jury trial in the King family's wrongful-death lawsuit against the US government—a case that William Pepper won—that testimony wasn't mentioned in the Times' dismissive coverage of the jury's startling verdict that there had been a conspiracy to murder Martin Luther King. 

The Times' lunatic persistence in the CIA mythology of those "lone gunmen" makes quite clear, to anybody with a working brain, that that newspaper is primarily a propaganda asset of the state, like Pravda under Stalin (whose rule the Times reported with unfailing sympathy). The time has therefore come to give it up, in favor of those outlets that will tell the truth, however tardily.

Jackman's article quoting William Pepper:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/03/30/who-killed-martin-luther-king-jr-his-family-believes-james-earl-ray-was-framed/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cd17de2ebd93   

Caldwell's reminiscence in the New York Daily News:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/earl-caldwell-reporter-mlk-remembers-icon-murder-article-1.3912742

William Pepper on "the Washington Post's 'Breakthrough' on the MLK Murder," in Consortiumnews:

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/10/the-washington-posts-breakthrough-on-the-mlk-murder/

MCM
 

From Michael Carmichael:


As a witness of the broadcast of RFK’s victory speech and the virtually simultaneous announcement of his assassination at the Ambassador Hotel while I was serving as a university coordinator for RFK for President, I feel a heavy sense of duty to support RFK, Jr.’s plea for a fresh official approach to the death of his father. 
 
With the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert Francis Kennedy approaching on the 6th of June, we must not forget the circumstances of his brutal murder that followed the cruel murder of his brother, JFK, and the vicious murder of MLK, Jr.  
 
Today, RFK’s case rises in importance because his son, RFK, Jr. calls for a new investigation stating that he is not convinced by the original handling of the case and he has lost all confidence in the ‘lone nut’ theory adopted by the prosecution of Sirhan. 
 
In doing so, RFK follows members of the King family who have long called for a new investigation into the facts of the murder of MLK.  For decades public, private and scientific dissatisfaction with the case of JFK remains a massive lacuna in our understanding of the United States of America in the turbulent 20th century.  
 
Finally, the media-driven mantra of ‘conspiracy theory’ has collapsed while the lone gunman theories of these three iconic political assassinations have disappeared under the stark gaze of scientific analysis and the testimony of credible eyewitnesses including Paul Schrade, a genuine American hero who survived a bullet wound to his head at the side of RFK on that fateful evening in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel half a century ago.

 

Michael Carmichael
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
USA

 

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Who-killed-Bobby-Kennedy-His-son-RFK-Jr-doesn-t-12946227.php

Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan

Tom Jackman, The Washington Post
Published Saturday, May 26, 2018

 

LOS ANGELES – Just before Christmas, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pulled up to the massive Richard J. Donovan Correctional Center, a California state prison complex in the desert outside San Diego that holds nearly 4,000 inmates. Kennedy was there to visit Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man convicted of killing his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years ago.

While his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, waited in the car, Robert Kennedy Jr. met with Sirhan for three hours, he revealed to The Washington Post last week. It was the culmination of months of research by Kennedy into the assassination, including speaking with witnesses and reading the autopsy and police reports.

“I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,” Kennedy said. He would not discuss the specifics of their conversation. But when it was over, Kennedy had joined those who believe there was a second gunman, and that it was not Sirhan who killed his father.

“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and the third oldest of his father’s 11 children. “I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”

Kennedy, 64, said he doesn’t know if his involvement in the case will change anything. But he now supports the call for a re-investigation of the assassination led by Paul Schrade, who also was shot in the head as he walked behind Kennedy in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles but survived.

Kennedy was just 14 when he lost his father. Even now, people tell him how much Bobby Kennedy meant to them.
RFK’s death – five years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was gunned down in Dallas and two months after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis – devastated a country already beset by chaos.
In 1968, the Vietnam War raged, American cities had erupted in riots after MLK’s assassination and tensions between war protesters and supporters were growing uglier. Robert Kennedy’s newly launched presidential bid had raised hopes that the New York Democrat and former attorney general could somehow unite a divided nation. The gunshots fired that June night changed all that.
Though Sirhan admitted at his trial in 1969 that he shot Kennedy, he claimed from the start that he had no memory of doing so. And midway through Sirhan’s trial, prosecutors provided his lawyers with an autopsy report that launched five decades of controversy: Kennedy was shot four times at point-blank range from behind, including the fatal shot behind his ear. But Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant, was standing in front of him.
Was there a second gunman? The debate rages to this day.
But the legal system has not entertained doubts. A jury convicted Sirhan of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death in 1969, which was commuted to a life term in 1972. Sirhan’s appeals have been rejected at every level, as recently as 2016, even with the courts considering new evidence that has emerged over the years that as many as 13 shots were fired – Sirhan’s gun held only eight bullets – and that Sirhan may have been subjected to coercive hypnosis, a real life “Manchurian candidate.”
His case is closed. His lawyers are now
launching a longshot bid to have the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hold an evidentiary hearing, while Schrade is hoping for a group such as the Innocence Project to take on the case. A spokesman for the Innocence Project said they do not discuss cases at the consideration stage.
In the final court rejection of Sirhan’s appeals, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich ruled, “Even if the second shooter’s bullet was the one that killed Senator Kennedy, [Sirhan] would be liable [for murder] as an aider and abettor.” And if Sirhan was unaware of the second shooter, Wistrich wrote that the scenario of a second gunman who shot Kennedy “at close range with the same type of gun and ammunition as [Sirhan] was using, but managed to escape the crowded room without notice of almost any of the roomful of witnesses, lacks any evidentiary support.”
On June 5, 1968, Kennedy had just won the California Democratic presidential primary and delivered a victory speech to a delirious crowd.
At 12:15 a.m., the 42-year-old candidate and Schrade left the celebration, walking through the hotel pantry en route to a news conference. Schrade was a regional director of the United Auto Workers who had helped Kennedy round up labor support, and Kennedy had singled him out for thanks in his victory speech moments earlier.
Schrade, now 93, still recalls the scene in the pantry vividly.
“He immediately started shaking hands” with kitchen workers, Schrade said of Kennedy. “The TV lights went on. I got hit. I didn’t know I was hit. I was shaking violently, and I fell. Then Bob fell. I saw flashes and heard crackling. The crackling actually was all the other bullets being fired.”
Witnesses reported that Kennedy said, “Is everybody OK? Is Paul all right?”
Kennedy was still conscious as his wife, Ethel, pregnant with their 11th child, rushed to his side. He lived for another day and died at 1:44 a.m. June 6, 1968.
Schrade was shot above the forehead but the bullet bounced off his skull. Four other people, including ABC news producer William Weisel, were also wounded. All survived.
Sirhan was captured immediately; he had a .22-caliber revolver in his hand. Karl Uecker, an Ambassador Hotel maitre d’ who was escorting Kennedy through the pantry, testified that he grabbed Sirhan’s wrist and pinned it down after two shots and that Sirhan continued to fire wildly while being held down, never getting close to Kennedy. An Ambassador waiter and a Kennedy aide also said they tackled Sirhan after two or three shots.
Several other witnesses also said he was not close enough to place the gun against Kennedy’s back, where famed Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi found powder burns on the senator’s jacket and on his hair, indicating shots fired at close contact. These witnesses provided more proof for those who insist a second gunman was involved.
Both the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department declined interviews on what they consider a closed case.
Schrade believes Sirhan shot him and the others who were wounded but that he did not kill Kennedy. Since 1974, Schrade has led the crusade to try to persuade authorities – the police, prosecutors, the feds, anyone – to reinvestigate the case and identify the second gunman.
“Yes, he did shoot me. Yes, he shot four other people and aimed at Kennedy,” Schrade, said in an interview at his Laurel Canyon home. “The important thing is he did not shoot Robert Kennedy. Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was. They wanted a quickie.”
At trial, defense lawyer Grant Cooper made the decision not to contest the charge that Sirhan fired the fatal shot and instead tried to persuade the jury not to impose the death penalty by arguing Sirhan had “diminished capacity” and didn’t know what he was doing. It is a standard tactic by attorneys in death penalty cases, but Cooper, who died in 1990, was widely criticized for not investigating the case before conceding guilt.
Sirhan is now 74 and approaching 50 years behind bars. After California’s courts abolished the death penalty in 1972, he was first made eligible for parole in 1986 but has been rejected repeatedly.
In 2016, Schrade spoke on Sirhan’s behalf at his parole hearing and apologized for not coming forward sooner to advocate for Sirhan’s release and exoneration.
California inmates are not permitted to give media interviews, and Sirhan did not respond to a letter from The Post. But his brother, Munir Sirhan, said Sirhan still holds out hope of being released and that his defense team probably hurt his case more than helped it.
There’s plenty of damning evidence against Sirhan. He confessed to the killing at trial, though he claims this was done on his attorney’s instruction. He took hours of target practice with his pistol earlier in the day, and he took the gun into the Ambassador that night. He had been seen at a Kennedy speech at the Ambassador two days earlier. He had a newspaper clipping critical of Kennedy in his pocket and had written “RFK must die” in notebooks at home, though he said he didn’t remember doing that. And he waited in the pantry for about 30 minutes, according to witnesses who said he asked if Kennedy would be coming through there.
But questions about the case arose almost immediately in Los Angeles, resulting in hearings and reinvestigations as early as 1971 by the district attorney, the police chief, the county board of supervisors and the county superior court. Many of them focused on the ballistics of the case, starting with Noguchi’s finding that Kennedy had been shot from behind, which Sirhan’s lawyer didn’t raise in his defense.
In addition, lead crime scene investigator DeWayne Wolfer testified at trial that a bullet taken from Kennedy’s body and bullets from two of the wounded victims all matched Sirhan’s gun.
But other experts who examined the three bullets said they had markings from different guns and different bullet manufacturers. An internal police document concluded that “Kennedy and Weisel bullets not fired from same gun,” (Weisel was the wounded ABC news producer) and “Kennedy bullet not fired from Sirhan’s revolver.”
This prompted a Los Angeles judge in 1975 to convene a panel of seven forensic experts, who examined the three bullets and refired Sirhan’s gun. The panel said no match could be made between the three bullets, which appeared to be fired from the same gun, and Sirhan’s revolver. They found Wolfer had done a sloppy job with the ballistics evidence and urged further investigation.
In addition, witnesses said bullet holes were found in the door frames of the Ambassador pantry, and photos showed investigators examining the holes in the hours after the shooting. Between the three bullets that hit Kennedy and the bullets that hit the five wounded victims, Wolfer had accounted for all eight of Sirhan’s shots. Bullets in the doors would indicate a second gun. Wolfer later said the holes and the metal inside were not bullets, and the door frames were destroyed after trial.
Though Los Angeles authorities had promised transparency in the case, the police and prosecutors refused to release their files until 1988, producing a flood of new evidence for researchers.
Among the material was an audiotape, first unearthed by CNN journalist Brad Johnson, which had been inadvertently made by Polish journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski in the Ambassador ballroom, and turned over to police in 1969.
Pruszynski’s microphone had been on the podium where Kennedy spoke, and TV footage shows him detaching it and moving toward the pantry as the shooting happens.
In 2005, audio engineer Philip Van Praag said the tape revealed that about 13 shots had been fired. He said he used technology similar to the ShotSpotter technology used by police to alert them to gunshots, and which differentiates gunshots from firecrackers or other loud bangs.
Van Praag said recently that different guns create different resonances and that he was able to establish that two guns were fired, that they fired in different directions, and that some of the shot “impulses” were so close together they couldn’t have been fired by the same gun. He said he could not say “precisely” 13 shots but certainly more than the eight contained by Sirhan’s gun.
“There were too many bullets,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”
British author Mel Ayton wrote “The Forgotten Terrorist,” which posits that Sirhan killed Kennedy because he supported sending military firepower to Israel – the Sirhans were Christian Palestinians forced from their Jerusalem home by Israel in 1948. He said Van Praag had misinterpreted the Pruszynski tape and that other experts who examined it show only eight “spikes,” one for each gunshot. Ayton also cited numerous eyewitnesses who said they heard at most eight shots.
Ayton and investigative reporter Dan Moldea, who also wrote a book about the assassination, argue that Sirhan’s gun could have reached Kennedy’s back. No witnesses saw the actual shots fired in the chaos of the pantry, and Moldea noted that Kennedy almost certainly turned and tried to protect himself after the first shot, which some said was preceded by Sirhan yelling, “Kennedy, you son of a bitch!”
“What were Kennedy’s last words?” Moldea asked during an interview. “‘How’s Paul?’ How would Kennedy know Paul had been injured if he had not been turned around. He turned around when Sirhan rushes towards him, yelling ‘you son of a bitch Kennedy.’ Kennedy’s not going to just stand there. He turns his back defensively.”
Moldea theorized that Schrade fell forward into Kennedy, pinning him against a table and pushing him into the muzzle of Sirhan’s gun, enabling him to fire four contact shots into Kennedy. One shot went through his jacket without hitting Kennedy, one went into his back and stopped below his neck, one went through his armpit and one went into his brain.
But Robert F. Kennedy Jr. doesn’t find those theories persuasive. “It’s not only that nobody saw that,” Kennedy said. “The people that were closest to [Sirhan], the people that disarmed him all said he never got near my father.”
Schrade used an expletive to describe Moldea’s explanation and said he fell backward when he was shot above his forehead.
Both Ayton and Moldea assisted the California attorney general’s office in contesting Sirhan’s final appeal, and the government’s legal briefs cited the investigative work of both men.
Moldea had initially been a believer in the second-gunman theory, but after interviewing numerous police officers, witnesses and Sirhan, he concluded in his 1995 book, “The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy,” that Sirhan acted alone. He cited as additional proof a comment Sirhan reportedly made to a defense investigator about Kennedy turning his head before Sirhan shot him, a comment Sirhan strongly denied making.
More recently, Sirhan’s lawyers have explored whether he was hypnotized to begin shooting his gun when given a certain cue, even hiring a renowned expert in hypnosis from Harvard to meet with Sirhan.
Judge Wistrich was completely dismissive of any suggestion of hypnosis. Schrade said the various theories of conspiracy and hypnotic programming are of little interest to him.
“I’m interested in finding out how the prosecutor convicted Sirhan with no evidence, knowing there was a second gunman,” Schrade said.
It was Schrade who persuaded Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to examine the evidence. “Once Schrade showed me the autopsy report,”
Kennedy said, “then I didn’t feel like it was something I could just dismiss. Which is what I wanted to do.”
Kennedy called Sirhan’s trial “really a penalty hearing. It wasn’t a real trial. At a full trial, they would have litigated his guilt or innocence. I think it’s unfortunate that the case never went to a full trial because that would have compelled the press and prosecutors to focus on the glaring discrepancies in the narrative that Sirhan fired the shots that killed my father.”
Kennedy is not afraid to express controversial views. Last year, he and actor Robert DeNiro held a press conference to argue that certain vaccines containing mercury are unsafe for some children. He said he is not opposed to all vaccines, but wants to make them safer.
Three of his sisters – former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, human rights activist Kerry Kennedy and filmmaker Rory Kennedy – declined to discuss the assassination or the case against Sirhan. Kennedy understands why.
“I think that, for most of my family members,” he said, “this is an issue that is still too painful to even talk about.”
It’s painful for him, too. Kennedy was asleep in his dorm at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 5, 1968, when a priest woke him and told there was a car waiting outside to take him to the family home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Virginia. The priest didn’t say why.
In his new memoir, “American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family,” Kennedy said his mother’s secretary was waiting for him. “Jinx Hack told me my father had been shot, but I was still thinking he’d be okay. He was, after all, indestructible.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his older sister Kathleen and brother Joe flew to Los Angeles on Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s plane, Air Force Two.
At Good Samaritan Hospital, Kennedy wrote, his father’s head was bandaged and his face was bruised. A priest had already delivered last rites. His mother was there.
“I sat down across the bed from her and took hold of his big wrestler’s hand,” he wrote. “I prayed and said goodbye to him, listening to the pumps that kept him breathing. Each of us children took turns sitting with him and praying opposite my mom.
“My dad died at 1:44 a.m., a few minutes after doctors removed his life support. My brother Joe came into the ward where all the children were lying down and told us, ‘He’s gone.’ “
– – –
Part of a continuing series about events of the past that remain relevant.

A great piece on “the blatant conspiracy” behind RFK’s murder

The Blatant Conspiracy behind Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Global Research, May 28, 2018
 

Early in 1968, Clyde Tolson, F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover’s deputy and bosom buddy, a key player in the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed both the hope and intent of those making sure that there would never be another president by the name Kennedy, when he said about RFK that “I hope someone shoots and kills the son of a bitch.” Earlier, as reported by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in his new book, American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family, the influential conservative Westbrook Pegler expressed this hope even more depravingly when he wished “that some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter [Robert Kennedy’s] spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.”

These sick men were not alone. Senator Robert Kennedy was a marked man. And he knew it. That he was nevertheless willing to stand up to the forces of hate and violence that were killing innocents at home and abroad is a testimony to his incredible courage and love of country. To honor such a man requires that we discover and speak the truth about those who killed him. The propaganda that he was killed by a crazed young Arab needs exposure.

When he was assassinated by a bullet to the back of his head on June 5, 1968, not by the accused patsy Sirhan Sirhan, who was standing in front of RFK, but by a conspiracy that clearly implicates U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, not only did a precious and good man die, but so too did any chance for significant political change through the official political system, short of a miracle. We are still waiting for such a miracle.

Robert F. Kennedy’s death, following as it did the assassination by U.S. government forces of Dr. Martin Luther King two months earlier, marked an emphatic end to the sense of hope that marked the election to the presidency of his brother John in 1960. Henceforth, efforts to change the political system from within became moot; the coup d’état effected on November 22, 1963 with the CIA’s assassination of JFK was signed and sealed. RFK’s murder added the period to this sentence of rule by murderous deep state forces. And despite valiant efforts of dissent from outside the system since, the systemic war machine has rolled on and the economic stranglehold of the elites has tightened over the decades. An RFK presidency was this country’s last chance from within to save itself from the tyranny that has ensued.

We now live in a country that would be unrecognizable to anyone who died prior to 1968. All protest has become symbolic as the American Empire has expanded abroad through countless ongoing wars, coups and the undermining of foreign governments; civil liberties have been eviscerated; the wealthy elites, ably assisted by a corrupt political establishment, have made a mockery of economic justice; an endless war on terror and a national emergency engendered by the insider attacks of September 11, 2001 and enshrined in public consciousness with the planted emergency telephonic meme of 9/11 have been instituted to justify massive profits for the military-industrial complex; and a new and very dangerous Cold War with Russia has been resurrected to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation.

All this and more has vigorously been supported by every U.S. President since, Democrats as well as Republicans, with no exceptions, including the icons of the neo-liberals, Clinton and Obama, who have bombed and droned the world wide, smiling all the way. We live in very dark times indeed. If significant change ever comes to the United States, it will be a result of pressures from without, for the political system is rotten to the core, and almost without exception our political leaders are cowards and liars. This seems obviously true to me, though it pains me to admit it.

Fifty years have passed since RFK’s murder, and for those fifty years very few Americans have thought to question what is a conspicuous conspiracy. It is as though a painful exhaustion or a veil of denial set in in 1968, a year in which 536,000 plus American troops were waging war against the Vietnamese and the slaughter was horrendous. Body bags and slaughtered Vietnamese filled the TV screens. Chicago cops rioted and beat antiwar demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. American cities were exploding. Then the “peace candidate” Nixon, together with Kissinger, assumed the mantle of power only to increase the horror. War criminals ruled. It was a year when mere anarchy was loosed upon the world and the truth of Robert Kennedy’s assassination was lost in the storm. The manifest truth became latent, and there it has remained for most people all these years. All most people “know” is that RFK was assassinated by a crazy Arab guy. His name? Oh yeah, Sirhan Sirhan or something like that. It was so long ago and, anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore.

But it does matter greatly. Unless we choose to remain children forever, children in denial of the truth of their childhood traumas, the truth about RFK’s murder will haunt us and poison any hope we still might harbor for our country. Killers seized the levers of power with the murders of JFK, MLK, and RFK (and Malcolm X, Thomas Merton, et al.), and they have never relinquished them.

It is time that each of us decide: Do we stand with the killers or their victims?

Finally a Kennedy family member has spoken out on the case. As reported by Tom Jackman in The Washington Post, May 27, 2018, Robert f. Kennedy, Jr., after studying the case at the instigation of Paul Schrade, RFK’s assistant, who was the first person shot that night, and visiting Sirhan in prison, has publicly said that he doesn’t think Sirhan killed his father and has called for a reinvestigation of the case, a most mild request. Who will do the reinvestigation? The authorities in the government and press that have covered up the truth for fifty years? Nevertheless, Jackman’s article and RFK, Jr.’s statement bring needed attention to the assassination while focusing on the fact of a second gunman and therefore a conspiracy. Its focus is on the ballistics of the case, which are of course crucial.

While the FCC is pushing 5G on the rest of us, the (honest) scientists oppose it.

A warning unreported by "our free press," out of fealty to Verizon/Sprint/AT&T—just as, over decades, they were silent on the risks of smoking, back when the cigarette companies were their biggest advertisers.

(Thanks to Douglas Yates for the attached document.)

MCM

Scientist-5G-appeal-2017.pdf

5G—”a massive health experiment” on you and yours—is on its way (and “our free press” is not reporting it)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5784487/The-roll-5G-wireless-service-massive-health-experiment-public-health-expert-warns-a.html

The roll out of 5G wireless service is ‘a massive health experiment,’ public health expert warns as cell companies install 800,000 towers across the US

  • The latest generation of wireless service – 5G – is being rolled out across select cities in the US 
  • Networks will transmit data 100 times faster using shorter radiation waves 
  • The new network will require 800,000 new ‘small cell’ towers 
  • Some research has suggested that cell phone radiation may be carcinogenic 
  • The new millimeter waves used in 5G have hardly been studied and introducing them constitutes an ‘experiment,’ warns a public health professor 

By Natalie Rahhal For Dailymail.com

PUBLISHED: 18:10 EDT, 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:21 EDT, 29 May 2018

Wireless carriers are constructing cell towers a stronger, faster 5G network, but some experts warn that the updated service’s health effects are unknown and potentially dangerous.

Today, there are 154,000 cell towers in the US, according to wireless communication association, CTIA. By 2026, it estimates another 800,000 will be needed to support 5G.

The network update will bring more Americans into closer proximity with milimeter waves, very short-wave radiation.

Research on cell phone radiation has yielded mixed findings, but some studies have linked older wireless service generations to cancers of the heart and reproductive organs, and 5G’s health effects have hardly been studied.

Wireless providers have begun installing 800,000 'small cell' towers to support the roll out of the new 5G cellular network, but some public health experts warn they may endanger humans

Wireless providers have begun installing 800,000 ‘small cell’ towers to support the roll out of the new 5G cellular network, but some public health experts warn they may endanger humans

The new network is slated to support at 100 billion devices, connecting to the internet at anywhere between 10 and 100 times the speeds that information travels through the 4G network.

In order to facilitate these speeds, the new network communicates through millimeter waves (MMWs) rather than microwaves, as previous generations have.

The microwave networks are nearly saturated, hence the switch to the virtually untouched, lower frequency MMWs for 5G.

But smaller waves cannot travel as far, or through as many types of materials.

This means that there will need to be far more individual ‘small cell towers’ closer together – some have suggested they will be on every street corner in the US.

The 5G technology is too new to have been thoroughly tested and studied by many parties outside of cell service providers.

According to Dr Joel Moskowitz, a public health professor at the University of California, Berkeley, MMWs could pose a very real danger.

‘The deployment of 5G, or fifth generation cellular technology, constitutes a massive experiment on the health of all species,’ he told Daily Mail Online.

Because MMWs are weaker than microwaves, they are predominantly absorbed by the skin, meaning their distribution is quite focused there,

‘Since skin contains capillaries and nerve endings, MMW bio-effects may be transmitted through molecular mechanisms by the skin or through the nervous system,’ Dr Moskowitz writes on his blog.

He also told Daily Mail Online that he’s concerned that ‘5G will use high-band frequencies, or millimeter waves, that may affect the eyes, the testes, the skin, the peripheral nervous system, and sweat glands.’

‘Millimeter waves can also make some pathogens resistant to antibiotics,’ he added.

Dr Moskowitz is not alone in aprehensions.

The International Society of Doctors for the Environment, its subsidiaries in 27 countries and more than 200 doctors and scientists are all calling for a stop to be put to the roll out of 5G, ‘due to concern that 5G radio frequency radiation will have adverse health effects,’ Dr Moskowitz says.

So far, their warnings have gone unheeded.

Verizon began rolling out their 5G small cell towers in 11 cities 2017, and AT&T started installing the new generation of service in Waco and Dallas, Texas, as well as in Atlanta, Georgia this year.

Whole Foods quietly stops labeling GMOs

... and it sure won't be reported in Jeff Bezos' Washington Post.

MCM

https://www.blacklistednews.com/article/66104/whole-foods-quietly-halts-gmo-labeling.html

WHOLE FOODS QUIETLY HALTS GMO LABELING REQUIREMENTS

Published: May 28, 2018

A year after Whole Foods was acquired by internet retail giant Amazon, the food company is backing off its commitment to ensuring that food suppliers inform the consumer and the store itself if their food products contain GMOs.

There is some confusion about the decision by Whole Foods to walk back on its commitment but one thing is for sure – it is walking back.

It an email sent by Whole Foods President and Chief Operations Officver A.C. Gallo announced that the company is pausing its GMO Food labeling requirements. The requirements, which were scheduled to take effect on September 1, would have required that suppliers disclose on their packaging whether or not their products contained genetically modified ingredients. The requirements, which were announced five years ago, were three months away from being implemented.

As Business Insider reports,

In a copy of the announcement obtained by The New Food Economy, Gallo and two vice presidents write that the pause is a response to suppliers’ concerns about having to comply with two competing sets of rules: Whole Foods’ own GMO labeling requirements, and rules newly proposed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which are currently open for public comment.

“As the USDA finalizes the federal regulation in the coming months and the food industry assesses the impact, we do not want our Policy to pose further challenges for you and your business,” the letter reads.

All this begs a question: is Whole Foods softening its commitment to GMO-labeling transparency?

The confusion is understandable. As currently proposed, the USDA policy would make several substantive changes to the way GMOs have traditionally been defined by the food industry — starting with the terminology itself. The government’s preferred nomenclature is “bioengineered” (BE), which only refers to a food that has had another organism’s genes spliced into it by a process called transgenesis. Other types of genetic modification, including some produced by gene-editing tools like CRISPR, would not need to be labeled.

As currently written, Whole Foods’ requirements would be more stringent than the proposed USDA rules in at least two significant ways. First, USDA has suggested letting companies label BE ingredients by QR code, meaning that customers would need to be directed to a website via smartphone to find out what’s in their food — a method that has been criticized as a cumbersome extra step. Whole Foods has never planned to allow QR codes to count as GMO disclosures, Project Nosh reports. Second, USDA rules contain perplexing carveouts for meat products, which are regulated under a different system, as explained here and here.

Whole Foods now faces a choice: It can move forward with its original plan, or defer to the government’s less comprehensive new rules. The company has the ability to be clearer and more stringent than the federal regulations, requiring all foods that might contain genetically modified ingredients to say as much. Deferring to USDA rules would, instead, require only that some GMO-containing products are labeled as such — likely a sore point for non-GMO advocates, and not necessarily great for the Whole Foods brand. It would mean that a company that’s long claimed the moral high ground would be no more transparent, as far as GMO labeling goes, than any other grocery store.

The chain’s new position is in direct contrast to the one it announced five years ago in 2013 when co-CEO Walter Robb said in a statement that “We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumers’ right to know.”

Unfortunately, Whole Foods has pulled up the stake on their promise. It remains to be seen how much the corporation will be hurt by this move since a sizeable portion of their customer base is opposed to consuming GMOs.

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Open war on Gaza (WITH LINKS FOR DONATIONS)

As "our free press" is largely not reporting, Israel is openly at war with 

Gaza. Since Hamas took the bait, firing rockets into Israel a few hours ago, the Gaza Strip is under heavy shelling.

This will only worsen the humanitarian disaster over there; so please consider making a donation to the nurses caring for the wounded. (If you're going to do it, DO IT NOW, as such donations may be blocked across the board.)

Www.youcaring.com/run

Paypal account
eb.erouq@gmail.com

MCM
 
From Amal Arafa:
 
Since Tuesday morning, Gaza has been subjected to a fierce attack from the Israeli occupation. Sites, land and residential buildings have been hit hard and the shelling continues. I write this mail and hear the sounds of explosions shaking the Gaza Strip.
 
The sounds of the planes do not leave the atmosphere of Gaza
 
The Israeli occupation forces also arrested 18 people, including two women while they were sailing at sea, traveling to the Greek Cypriot coast to ask for help. The fate of these people has yet to be known
 
We do not know what will happen and we are in great concern about it, and we need those who support us from journalism and support on the 
pages of communication.
 
We need more donations to secure ourselves.
 
Amal