Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Letter to CJ Chivers of the New York Times about the improbable narrative on Syrian gas attacks

Mr Chivers,

There are several things about the alleged Syrian gas attack at Ghouta story which don’t seem to pass the smell test.

I’m dubious about the claims that Syrian regular forces were responsible given the use of IRAM (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition) as a delivery mechanism. Isn’t this more likely to be some militia such as Hezbollah or Al Nusra or one of the US contra fronts?

Given the internecine fighting between anti government forces and the extreme brutality used in these fights, I don’t think it is a given that an attack on rebel territory is ipso facto certain to be of government regular troops origin.

A number of qualified commentators have commented on how the medical and other personnel have been able to handle the bodies without protective gear and without any apparent ill effects. Very odd if we are looking at sarin don’t you think?[1]

Cui bono? There is every motive for the FSA forces who are losing the war to try to change the equation. Likewise there is no motive for the government, which is winning the war, to do so.

Finally, the explanation for why the inspectors were unable to reach a site a few miles from the city center from Damascus just doesn’t hold water. We are told they came under fire from snipers, but no-one was injured.

We both know that is at best utterly improbable. Snipers just don’t work that way.

Snipers disabled the lead vehicle and took out the front windshield and then… did nothing? Really?[2]

Given the “dodgy dossier” and Dr. Kelley’s subsequent “suicide” with almost no blood found at the scene and no fingerprints recoverable from the knife or other objects allegedly found at the scene[3], and the blatant lies pedaled by Colin Powell and credulously amplified by the media including the Times in the leadup to the Iraq war, and given the lack of any direct confirmation at all of the origin of this attack, I smell a rat.

If you do too, please have the courage to go public with your concerns and skepticism.

Also being elided in the Times coverage seemingly is that waging aggressive war is a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Principles. There is no possible justification for an unprovoked US attack on Syria under customary law absent an attack on the US or a UN Security Council resolution.

And under the US Constitution such actions require a declaration of war from Congress, the in my view, unconstitutional War Powers Act notwithstanding.

Is the New York Times going to repeat all its mistakes from the Judy Miller years? Have you learned nothing at all? You are all falling for the exact same tricks of disinformation again, if not actually knowingly and intentionally going along for the ride.

best regards,

–Henry

[1] AFP reports:

“At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the
people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and
without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the
Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”

John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen
the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be
compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.

“Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them
show pinpoint pupils… this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus
nerve agents,” he said.

Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in
chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the
chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses
in its stockpiles.

“We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses… are becoming
fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we
would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,”
Winfield told AFP.
Syria opposition says 1,300 dead in chemical attacks by army

Haaretz reports:

Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at
least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical
substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious
conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a
leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from
the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or
photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective
gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.” This
would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons,
including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would
not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient
quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of
contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in
unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition,
he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see
in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of
casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control.”
Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous
material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with
Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that
“from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over
a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of
chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the
casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are
not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”
Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the
timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that
a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims
of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the
Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few
weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on
central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons
attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any
external signs of trauma?
Following alleged sarin attack || Defense Minister: Assad used chemical weapons multiple times in Syria But Western experts are skeptical that nerve gas was used Wednesday, and describe other viable scenarios.

[2]
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site
Source: NYT

LONDON — Snipers opened fire Monday on a convoy of United Nations inspectors heading toward the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, disabling the lead vehicle with multiple shots to the tires and windshield, the United Nations said, but the inspectors still managed to visit two hospitals, interview witnesses and doctors and collect patient samples for the first time since the attack last week that claimed hundreds of lives.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he had instructed his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the safety of the inspectors after the assault. There was no indication that any member of the inspection team had been hurt.

Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window, ultimately it was not able to travel further.”

Mr. Haq said the inspectors, who numbered about a dozen, resumed their trip to a suspected attack site in a Damascus suburb after the vehicle was replaced, visiting two hospitals and interviewing witnesses, survivors and doctors. “They took a number of relevant samples, they feel very satisfied with the results of their work,” Mr. Haq said. A second visit was planned for Tuesday.
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement after the assault that he had told his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the inspectors’ safety. There was no indication that any inspection team member had been hurt.

Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window.”

“Ultimately,” he said, “it was not able to travel farther.”

Kerry Cites Clear Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria

[3] New suspicion over Kelly death – MP

Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy

28 August, 2013 Posted by | chemical warfare, customary law, gas, international law, lies, military, news, politics, propaganda, scanlyze, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Response to “Occupy Wall Street: How Should it be Covered Now”

Response to “Occupy Wall Street: How Should it be Covered Now“.

To: Arthur S. Brisbane
Public Editor of the New York Times

I find it amazing that these pundits, looking at a crowd of people carrying signs, come away scratching their heads asking, “what specifically do OWS demonstrators want?”

The conspiratorial questions about “who is the leader, who is really behind it” also show how far out of touch, and indeed, clueless, these members of the chattering classes truly are.

Let me tackle the first part of Tim Kelly’s list:

Who are the protesters?

A few groups are here.

1. Old New Leftists, now part of the establishment, going once more unto the breach.
2. First-time protesters, most idealistic young people.
3. Ideological extremists (a small, but visible minority).
4. War veterans, now home and un- or under-employed.

Who are the leaders?

The internet is the leader. There is no person who can be described as leading the movement. Intellectually, the movement is led by Noam Chomsky, probably more than any one other living figure.

Who’s really behind all this?

Adbusters started it. I think it amazed them and has long since left their control.

Who’s going to pay for the cleanup?

Presumably this will fall primarily to municipalities.

What do they hope to accomplish?

Reducing wealth and income inequality.
Enhancing civil rights.
Holding the richest and most powerful to account.

What can citizens do to take part in the protests, or avoid them?

Really? A former newspaper editor has no idea how to Google about “occupy wall street” plus (name of town) and either go there or not go there?

What is happening inside the camps?

I have been to the Boston settlement twice and I have found it peaceful, clean and orderly, with many thought-provoking discussions, books, tracts, and signs.

This degree of confusion and inability to observe the plainly obvious makes me think that, as in the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, that these wealthy pundits and apologists for the plutocratic class quoted above, see only that which they wish to see and nothing more.

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

See also: To: His Lordship, the Right Honorable Richard John Carew Chartres, Bishop of London Re: Occupy London

David Brooks of the New York Times and the Occupy Wall Street movement

Regarding the Wall Street protests

7 November, 2011 Posted by | capitalism, civil rights, coverage, demonstration, economics, freedom, journalism, media, news, Occupy Wall Street, politics, press, protest, reporter, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To: His Lordship, the Right Honorable Richard John Carew Chartres, Bishop of London Re: Occupy London

To: His Lordship, the Right Honorable Richard John Carew Chartres,
Bishop of London
Re: Occupy London

Your Lordship,

I read with concern in today’s New York Times* that you were quoted
regarding the Occupy London camp outside St. Paul’s, “the time has
come for the protesters to leave, before the camp’s presence threatens
to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address.”

I respectfully assert that this is a morally and ethically incorrect
approach to this issue.

You are not behaving as a follower of Jesus; rather, you speak like a
Pharisee. Are you more concerned with making money than with serving
and advocating for the needs of the poor and oppressed?

If Jesus is among us today, he is outside on the lawn at St. Paul’s,
where you have shut the doors of the church against him.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Psalms 82:3-4 KJV

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy
Somerville, MA USA

* http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/10/26/business/AP-Occupy-Glance.html?hp

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

26 October, 2011 Posted by | media, news, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

David Brooks of the New York Times and the Occupy Wall Street movement

David Brooks of the New York Times and the Occupy Wall Street movement

Mr. Brooks, in “The Milquetoast Radicals” errs in describing the “core theme” of the Occupy Wall Street protests as “If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.”

As proof, he offers a link to a pdf file allegedly from a 2004 issue of a Canadian left-wing magazine.

This is a straw man argument. It is so shallow because only Mr. Brooks is making this argument, falsely attributing it to Occupy Wall Street by guilt by association in order to make a facile refutation.

Then Mr. Brooks goes on to make a very deceptive and misleading analysis of proposals to tax the rich by considering only those individuals making one to ten million dollars per year and downplaying the supposed impact of increasing taxes on these individuals by ignoring all individuals making more than ten million dollars per year and by comparing the revenue gained not to the balancing effect on the yearly budget but rather to the total, historic, US debt. Mr. Brooks also ignores any discussion of the desirability and effectiveness of increasing corporate taxes and closing corporate loopholes.

Then while castigating the protestors as too extreme, he also attacks them as a “milquetoast” group whose “members’ ideas are less radical than those you might hear at your average Rotary Club”

Mr. Brooks apparently has an axe to grind with the protesters; well and good. His dissent is welcome. But he should not engage in guilt by association or what appear to be outright falsehoods in making his case.

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

12 October, 2011 Posted by | David Brooks, demonstration, media, news, non-violence, Occupy Wall Street, protest, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Regarding the Wall Street protests

Dear Ms. Bellafante,

I read your article in the Sunday New York Times website with great interest:

Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim

It is a remarkable piece of right-wing propaganda masquerading as a news story.

You pretend to have had difficulty discerning what the message of the groups involved is.

Please allow me to summarize for you.

The message is that the USA is becoming more and more a plutocracy.

They decry that this growing economic inequality is accompanied by growing political inequality, the destruction of the middle class, and social and economic disenfranchisement of the poor.

They criticize, as you pointed out in a backhanded way, the doctrine of corporate citizenship, wherein corporations are given “rights” covalent with, and contrary to, the rights of citizens.

They point out the injustice of a legal system which mandates the judicial killing of a poor black man in the name of justice even though the evidence against him is largely now discredited.

If you were having trouble taking seriously the criticism of corporatism as antithetical to popular democracy, I suggest you read Prof. Joel Bakan’s “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power“.

As Robert Reich pointed out in his piece, “The Limping Middle Class” in the New York Times on September 3, 2011, the 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to research from Moody’s Analytics. As Reich noted,

“When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt — which, as we’ve seen, ends badly… The economy won’t really bounce back until America’s surge toward inequality is reversed.”

Your article was not objective coverage. You made your lede not the “5 w’s and h” of a real news story. Instead you chose to focus on the most freakish and unbalanced participant, from the perspective of normative values, that you could find. Your entire piece was belittling and apparently intended to “otherize” and isolate the participants.

You seem to have the opposite idea of the duty of the news media from that articulated by former CBS News President and Edward R. Murrow producer Fred Friendly, “Our job is not to make up anyone’s mind, but to open minds — to make the agony of decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking.”

Your article seems to have been deliberately constructed to belittle, to obscure the message, and to give people reasons not to think, and not to question authoritarianism and greed as organizing principles of society.

You made no mention of the shocking and illegal police-state tactics being used against these brave and principled, nonviolent protestors.

Shame on you, Ginia Bellafante. Shame, shame, shame.

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy
Somerville, MA, USA

PS This letter and your entire unedited response may be posted on my social media platforms and on my blog, https://scanlyze.wordpress.com

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

25 September, 2011 Posted by | media, news, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments