#AceNewsReport – July.07: This is an attack on journalism, a cornerstone of our rule of law”, King Willem-Alexander told reporters during a state visit to Berlin: And as such it is an attack on our constitutional order.”
PRESS FREEDOM: Shooting of Dutch crime reporter attack on democracy, king says: De Vries, the best-known crime reporter in the Netherlands and winner of an international Emmy award for his work investigating the disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, was shot on an Amsterdam street on Tuesday evening. read more
Reuters: July.07, 20219:23 AM BSTLast Updated 33 minutes ago
He was taken to a hospital, where he was fighting for his life, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said.
The Dutch royal house does not generally comment on individual incidents, so the king’s remarks were a sign of how de Vries is a hugely popular figure and a household name who has featured on television for decades.
Natalee Holloway’s mother Beth, who worked closely with De Vries on the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance, told Dutch broadcaster SBS she was “devastated” by the news of the attack.
“I am trying desperately to get through to his family”, she said. “I am shocked.”
The attack on De Vries also drew outrage throughout Europe.
“This is a crime against journalism and an attack on our values of democracy and rule of law,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a tweet.
“We will relentlessly continue to defend the freedom of the press.”
The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli said that the media was the backbone of democracy.
“Attacks against journalists are attacks against all of us,” he said.
Police said three suspects had been detained in the hours following the attack, including the possible shooter, but gave no further details.
Reporting by Bart Meijer, Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Angus MacSwan:
#AceNewsReport – Apr.16: Investigative site Bellingcat is the toast of the popular press. In the past month alone, it has been described as “an intelligence agency for the people” (ABC Australia), a “transparent” and “innovative” (New Yorker) “independent news collective,” “transforming investigative journalism” (Big Think), and an unequivocal “force for good” (South China Morning Post). Indeed, outside of a few alternative news sites, it is very hard to hear a negative word against Bellingcat, such is the gushing praise for the outlet founded in 2014:
How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press
For a self-proclaimed citizen journalism outfit, an alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds, including high-level positions in military and intelligence agencies.
The repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research.
Citizen journalism staffed with spies and soldiers
An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.
Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading.
Bellingcat fails to inform its readers of even the most glaring conflicts of interest
There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well. Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence companyheadquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”
For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.
A Bellingcat article covering the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a story covered heavily by the organization. Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP
All of this matters if a group is presenting itself as independent when, in reality, their views align almost perfectly with the governments funding them. But yet again, Bellingcat fails to follow basic journalism ethics and inform readers of these glaring conflict of interests, describing Kaszeta as merely the managing director of a security company and someone with 27 years of experience in security and antiterrorism. This means that unless readers are willing to do a research project they will be none the wiser.
Other Bellingcat contributors have similar pasts. Nour Bakr previously worked for the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office while Karl Morand proudly served two separate tours in Iraq with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.
Government and intelligence officials are the opposite of journalists. The former exist to promote the interests of power (often against those of the public) while the latter are supposed to hold the powerful to account on behalf of the people. That is why it is so inappropriate that Bellingcat has had so many former spooks on their books. It could be said that ex-officials who have renounced their past or blown the whistle, such as Daniel Ellsberg or John Kiriakou, have utility as journalists. But those who have simply made the transition into media without any change in positions usually serve only the powerful.
Who pays the piper?
Just as startling as its spooky staff is Bellingcat’s source of funding. In 2016 its founder, Eliot Higgins, dismissed the idea that his organization got money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as a ludicrous conspiracy theory. Yet, by the next year, he openly admitted the thing he had laughed off for so long was, in fact, true (Bellingcat’s latest available financial report confirms that they continue to receive financial assistance from the NED). As many MintPress readers will know, the NED was explicitly set up by the Reagan administration as a front for the CIA’s regime-change operations. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” said the organization’s co-founder Allen Weinstein, proudly.
Higgins himself was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, NATO’s quasi-official think tank, from 2016 to 2019. The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of state power, from war planners like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to retired generals such as James “Mad Dog” Mattis and H.R. McMaster. It also features no fewer than seven former CIA directors. How Higgins could possibly see taking a paid position at an organization like this while he was still the face of a supposedly open and independent intelligence collective as being at all consistent is unclear.
Bana Alabed, an outsoken anti-Assad child activist, promotes Bellingcat at an Atlantic Council event. Photo | Twitter
Other questionable sources of income include the Human Rights Foundation, an international organization set up by Venezuelan activist Thor Halvorssen Mendoza. Halvorssen is the son of a former government official accused of being a CIA informant and a gunrunner for the agency’s dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s and the cousin of convicted terrorist Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez in turn was a leader in a U.S.-backed coup in 2002 and a wave of political terror in 2014 that killed at least 43 people and caused an estimated $15 billion worth of property damage. A major figure on the right-wing of Venezuelan politics, Lopez told journalists that he wants the United States to formally rule the country once President Nicolas Maduro is overthrown. With the help of the Spanish government, Lopez escaped from jail and fled to Spain last year.
Imagine, for one second, the opposite scenario: an “independent” Russian investigative website staffed partially with ex-KGB officials, funded by the Kremlin, with most of their research focused on the nefarious deeds of the U.S., U.K. and NATO. Would anyone take it seriously? And yet Bellingcat is consistently presented in corporate media as a liberatory organization; the Information Age’s gift to the people.
The Bellingcat to journalism pipeline
The corporate press itself already has a disturbinglyclose relationship with the national security state, as does social media. In 2019, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s online psychological operations unit. Coming at a time when foreign interference in politics and society was the primary issue in U.S. politics, the story was, astoundingly, almost completely ignored in the mainstream press. Only one U.S. outlet of any note picked it up, and that journalist was forced out of the profession weeks later.
Increasingly, it seems, Bellingcat is serving as a training ground for those looking for a job in the West’s most prestigious media outlets. For instance, former Bellingcat contributor Brenna Smith — who was recently the subject of a media storm after she successfully pressured a number of online payment companies to stop allowing the crowdfunding of the Capitol Building insurrectionists — announced last month she would be leaving USA Today and joining The New York Times. There she will meet up with former Bellingcat senior investigator Christiaan Triebert, who joined the Times’ visual investigations team in 2019.
The Times, commonly thought of as the United States’ most influential media outlet, has also collaborated with Bellingcat writers for individual pieces before. In 2018, it commissioned Giancarlo Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy to publish an op-ed strongly insinuating that the Venezuelan state murdered Oscar Perez. After he stole a military helicopter and used it to bomb government buildings in downtown Caracas while trying to ignite a civil war, Perez became the darling of the Western press, being described as a “patriot” (The Guardian), a “rebel” (Miami Herald), an “action hero” (The Times of London), and a “liberator” (Task and Purpose).
Until 2020, Fiorella ran an opposition blog called “In Venezuela” despite living in Canada. Leroy is now a full-time producer and investigator for the U.K.-government network, the BBC.
Bad news from Bellingcat
What we are uncovering here is a network of military, state, think-tank and media units all working together, of which Bellingcat is a central fixture. This would be bad enough, but much of its own research is extremely poor. It strongly pushed the now increasingly discredited idea of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, attacking the members of the OPCW who came forward to expose the coverup and making some bizarre claims along the way. For years, Higgins and other members of the Bellingcat team also signal-boosted a Twitter account purporting to be an ISIS official, only for an investigation to expose the account as belonging to a young Indian troll in Bangalore. A leaked U.K. Foreign Office document lamented that “Bellingcat was somewhat discredited, both by spreading disinformation itself, and by being willing to produce reports for anyone willing to pay.”
Ultimately, however, the organization still provides utility as an attack dog for the West, publishing research that the media can cite, supposedly as “independent,” rather than rely directly on intelligence officials, whose credibility with the public is automatically far lower.
Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University and an expert in the connections between the deep state and the fourth estate, told MintPress that “the role of Bellingcat is to provide spurious legitimacy to U.S./NATO pretexts for war and conflict.” In far more positive words, the CIA actually appears to agree with him.
“I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. “Whenever we had to talk to our liaison partners about it, instead of trying to have things cleared or worry about classification issues, you could just reference [Bellingcat’s] work.” Polymeropoulos recently attempted to blame his headache problems on a heretofore unknown Russian microwave weapon, a claim that remarkably became an international scandal. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.
Bellingcat certainly seems to pay particular attention to the crimes of official enemies. As investigative journalist Matt Kennard noted, it has only published five stories on the United Kingdom, 17 on Saudi Arabia, 19 on the U.S. (most of which are about foreign interference in American society or far-right/QAnon cults). Yet it has 144 on Russia and 244 under its Syria tag.
In his new book “We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People,” the outlet’s boss Higgins writes: “We have no agenda but we do have a credo: evidence exists and falsehoods exist, and people still care about the difference.” Yet exploring the backgrounds of its journalists and its sources of funding quickly reveals this to be a badly spun piece of PR.
Bellingcat looks far more like a bunch of spooks masquerading as citizen journalists than a people-centered organization taking on power and lies wherever it sees them. Unfortunately, with many of its proteges travelling through the pipeline into influential media outlets, it seems that there might be quite a few masquerading as reporters as well.
Feature photo | Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins talks to the press at College Green in London, October 9, 2018. David Mirzoeff | PA Wire | Alamy
#AceNewsReport – Apr.11: NCA investigators found that prior to getting the flight, he had attempted to take a Eurostar train from Amsterdam but walked out of the station before being questioned by UK officers at the immigration control:
NCA Investgation uncovers a drug smuggler who swallowed dozens of lethal cocaine pellets: Martinus Gunning, 42, was investigated after arriving at London Gatwick Airport from the Netherlands on 10 January 2021: When stopped by Border Force, he initially claimed he was in the UK to visit a girlfriend but shortly afterwards said he had swallowed 50 packages and a total of 463g of the class A drug was ultimately recovered.
Later that day, he took a flight to Gatwick instead.
The purity of the cocaine in the packages was between 76% and 78%, which NCA forensic experts estimated would be worth £37,040 once cut to street level purity.
Yesterday [7 April] at Lewes Crown Court, Gunning was sentenced to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to the importation of Class A drugs.
NCA Branch Commander Mark McCormack said: “This method of smuggling is dangerous. The rupture of a single one of the 50 pellets in the body could have been fatal: Organised crime groups use individuals like Martinus Gunning to transport drugs across borders for profit, with no thought for the safety of either the smuggler nor users of the drug, who should understand the unpleasant reality of how what they consume can be transported: “Working with Border Force, we have ensured that these drugs did not reach the UK market. The NCA continues to work with partners to tackle the class A drugs trade, which fuels violence and exploitation in the UK and around the world.”
#AceNewsServices – AMSTERDAM – October 07 – International prosecutors accused the Kenyan government on Tuesday of failing to hand over phone and bank records they said would help them show President Uhuru Kenyatta paid collaborators to take part in post-election violence in 2007.
‘ President Uhuru Kenyatta ‘
Kenyatta denies charges of co-orchestrating the wave of violence in which 1,200 people were killed and a government representative dismissed the prosecutors’ allegations. Kenyatta’s lawyers have argued that the requests were a cover for a lack of evidence.
Both sides were speaking at a hearing of the International Criminal Court to decide whether the Hague-based court should drop the case against Kenyatta or agree to a prosecution request to delay it pending the handover of the requested evidence.
Kenyatta is expected to attend proceedings on Wednesday, becoming the first sitting head of state to do so.
The case is a major test for the 11-year-old court, which has had a string of collapsed cases and been accused of singling out Africans for prosecution.
#AceWorldNews – GazaCity – July 21 – As hundreds of protesters looted shops, burnt cars and attacked a synagogue, as an unauthorized anti-Israeli rally turned violent in a Parisian suburb. Simultaneously, thousands participated in peaceful pro-Palestinian marches across the globe.
Despite a ban by authorities, an anti-Israel demonstration was held on Sunday in a Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, dubbed ‘Little Jerusalem’ for its large community of Sephardic Jews. It was the second in a row unauthorized protest in the French capital to turn violent over the weekend.
Several hundred people gathered for protest in Sarcelles by 3pm local time, with dozens of youths then setting cars on fire, smashing shop windows and raiding the shops, throwing stones at police. Protesters shouted: “F*** Israel!” and “Israel assassin.”
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue, Le Figaro reports.
The police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and detaining at least 13 rioters, according to the Local.
The decision to ban pro-Palestinian protests in Paris raised controversy as the rallies happened anyway and turned violent. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the decision not to allow protests, saying the unrest that broke out “justifies all the more the brave choice by the interior ministry to ban a demonstration,” AFP reported.
Elsewhere in Europe pro-Palestinian protests appeared to be relatively peaceful.
The largest one in Europe drew 11,000 of people to the streets of Vienna, who marched across the city center to the official residence of the country’s president.
Pro-Palestinian protesters shout slogans and hold signs during a demonstration against Israel’s military action and violence in the Gaza strip, in Vienna July 20, 2014. (AFP Photo / Joe Klamar)
In Amsterdam, some 3,000 participated in the march, demanding an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza. People carried signs reading “Stop the war” and “Israel war criminals.” Just one person was detained for refusing to obey a police order, the Netherlands’ NOS reported.
“It just has to stop. Children are being killed and they are innocent,” said protester Ekrem Kara, as cited by AFP.
Protesters carry a banner depicting the Palestinian flag reading “Sound the alarm, Stop the War” as they take part in a demonstration in Amsterdam on July 20, 2014, to protest Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and show their support for the Palestinian people. (AFP Photo / John Thys)
A similar rally in Stockholm gathered 1,000 participants.
In the US massive pro-Palestinian protests were held on Sunday in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
Thousands marched to the Israeli Consulate in Chicago, home to a quarter million Palestinians, demanding a halt to Israel’s military action in Gaza.
In response, the consulate general released a statement defending the military operation.
“Today is a tragic day,” the statement reads as cited by WGN_TV. “13 Israeli soldiers were killed by the terrorist organization Hamas. We regret the loss of civilians on both sides. Hamas continues to brutally attack 6 million Israeli citizens and puts its own population in danger. We have to stop it.”
Pro-Palestine supporters, protesting against violence in the Gaza strip, march on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California July 20, 2014. (Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn)
Some 2,000 protesters took to the streets of Sydney in opposition to the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. Parents took their children with them for the rally.
“I’m here as a mum to raise awareness of what’s happening in Gaza,” Buthania Saeed, 41, told AAP. “All we’re seeing is women and children being murdered, houses are being burnt down and families are being vanished.”
Children sit in front of dolls on stretchers as they and other members of the Australian Palestinian community hold a protest against Israel’s military action in Gaza, in Sydney July 20, 2014. (Reuters / David Gray)
Hundreds of mainly Islamist Jordanian protesters burnt Israeli flags in Amman on Sunday, Reuters reports. Demonstrators called on Palestinian Hamas militants to step up rocket attacks against Israeli towns and cities to avenge civilian deaths caused by Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Lebanese activists staged a protest outside the US embassy in Awkar north of Beirut on Sunday. The rally participants burned the American and Israeli flags, while chanting slogans in support of the Palestinians, the Daily Star reports.
A girls holds up the Palestinian flag during a protest near the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on July 20, 2014, against the Israeli military offensive on the Palestinian Gaza Strip. (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)
Moroccan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people and against the ongoing Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, on July 20, 2014, in the capital Rabat. (AFP Photo / Fadel Senna)
A Palestinian protester holds a placard and a fake weapon during a demonstration to support the resistance in Gaza and to protest against the Israeli military offensive on the Palestinian Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)
Thai Muslim students display placards to protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza at a mosque in Thailand’s southern province of Pattani on July 20, 2014. (AFP Photo / Tuwaedaniya Meringing)
#AceBreakingNews – UKRAINE – July 17 – (Reuters) – A Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
Malaysian#AceWorldNews – UKRAINE – July 17 – A Malaysia AirlinesBoeing 777 with 295 people aboard was reportedly hit by a missile and crashed Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry.
Anton Gerashenko, the adviser, says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, the Associated Press reports.
A similar launcher was seen by AP journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
It was no immediately clear who would have been in control of such a launcher in the restive area where Ukrainian forces are battling ethnic Russian separatists.
Malaysia Airlines said on Twitter that it “has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.”
Russia‘s Interfax news agency, quoting an unidentified aviation source, said Malaysia Airlines flies an Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur route that crosses Ukraine and Russian territory.
Greek Public Order Minister Nikolaos Dendias is chairing Thursday’s meeting in Luxembourg.
Upon arrival, he told reporters that it was prompted by a deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month and the subsequent arrest of a suspected French jihadi whom officials say had been in Syria.
#AceNewsServices – MOSCOW – April 10 – Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) has warned against hosting Internet resources on the network addresses of the CloudFlare service, making it possible to accelerate the work of websites and protect them from outside threats.
The press service of the Russian communications watchdog said on Thursday that hosting in this system increased the risk of inclusion of a website in the black lists of resources with banned information.
The CloudFlare project had been created in the United States in 2009 and the network of this service is now located in San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, New Jersey, Dallas, as well as in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
“Cases of inclusion of network addresses of the CloudFlare service in the unified register of banned information have become more frequent. It is caused by the active use of this service by the websites that violate Russian legislation,” Roskomnadzor said. It added that such websites hide information on the location of their hosting provider.
“This makes interaction of Roskomnadzor with the real hosting provider more difficult and factually excludes the possibility of timely removal of illegal information for the restoration of access to blocked resources,” the agency explained, adding that CloudFlare representatives refuse from co-operation and do not reply to Roskomnadzor’s official notifications.
Due to the absence of response from the service, many conscientious Internet resources, using its services, are blocked by communications operators in Russian.