Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Queen's University Talk: The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech

Second detailed submission on proposed Penzance Heliport by Tim Veater.

Monday 18th June, 2018.



Low flying helicopters or sudden helicopter noise likely ahead -  DOT 558.1


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


  1. A well known aphorism states, "There are lies, damn lies and statistics." The same could be said of the treatment and interpretation of physical data and its measurement.
  2. Great reliance has been placed upon a report by acoustic experts 'WYG' employed by the applicant for the proposed Penzance Heliport, Tresco Estate, but despite its factual content being accurate, its overall assessment that the increase in noise "is not considered to be significant" is unreliable and misleading.
  3. This is achieved in essentially two ways: by the playing up of background noise and the playing down of helicopter source noise.
  4. The choice of monitoring points is critical. The fifteen chosen for long (LT) and short (ST) term measurement appear to have been chosen to unduly reflect road noise and are therefore not truly representative of the much quieter residential or rural acoustic environment. All other predictions are based on theoretical modelling that depend for their accuracy on the reliability of the input data.
  5. The chosen criteria of measurement (Leq) used throughout, although scientifically acceptable, is an arithmetical average over a given period. This has the effect of giving the appearance of higher background noise and lower source noise. As the projections of nuisance and health impacts are based upon the difference between the two, the adoption of this measurement unit is critical.
  6. The 'WYG' report chooses to ignore completely the expert opinion that any assessment of helicopter noise should include a loading of up to 15 dB to take account of its unique and impulsive characteristics. (1) For this reason it is inappropriate to make direct comparisons between traffic and helicopter noise without qualification.
  7. A more accurate picture of nuisance and health consequences would be given if in addition to Leq units, peak noise levels are compared with L90 background levels. The difference between the two is immense.
  8. Although the application is for 17 flights a day, the fact that this actually involves 34 passing trips over the Penwith Peninsula, landings and take-offs is virtually ignored. Nor is irregular frequency of flights within the 12 hour window discussed.
  9. Proposed conditions are significantly relaxed in comparison to the previous operation. In particular the inclusion of Sunday flying cannot be justified in any way.
  10. The report gives absolutely no consideration to the proven psychological and physical adverse effects of environmental noise or the depressing effect of noise on the quality and value of property adversely affected estimated to be in the region of 2% per decibel.
  11. Little attention is given to other environmental impacts such as the smell and pollution from turbine engine exhaust or the use of hydrocarbons and their by-products contrary to Government objectives.




1.  Introduction

This submission should be read in conjunction to my earlier report and the response of 'WYG' to it.

First let me state clearly I have no general objection (subject to the following reservations) to the recorded short-term (ST 1-9) and long-term (LT 1-6) noise measurements that are tabulated in some detail in both 'WYG' reports. 

As long as the noise measuring equipment was calibrated and operated properly and the results transferred to paper accurately, they cannot be challenged and should be taken as valid. 

This however is not to say they are either accurately reflective of the true background noise level experienced in residential or other sensitive locations or reliable for predicting the actual nuisance value of the proposed helicopter operation for the reasons subsequently detailed below.

Any new survey of ambient noise levels should be located at residential and rural locations at set distances from the proposed site on the same day and at the same times for comparative purposes. It should also include noise sensitive locations such as hospitals/Nursing Homes (e.g. St Teresa's, Tolverth, Ponsandane, W.Cornwall Hospital) and schools (e.g. Ludgvan, Gulval, Newlyn)

In addition these sites should be used to monitor the actual noise of a helicopter operational cycle at the Jelbert Way location, rather than what appears to have been the case, measurements taken elsewhere in dissimilar topographical location and transposed to a theoretical model.

2.  Long-term (LT) measuring sites.

It is not clear what the thinking was behind the choice of these six locations. Nor are we aware of the precise location of the measuring equipment. This rather obviously can have a huge impact on the recorded values obtained. The six LT sites are:

LT1          Adj. to Gulval Nursery (Adjoining Long Lane)
LT2          Adj. to Poniou Farm (Adjoining very noisy by-pass)
LT3          Adj. to 59 Godolphin Road (150 yds S. of by-pass)
LT4          Rear Sainsbury's Supermarket (between 2 arterial routes)
LT5          East of Marazion Marsh (Adj. railway line)
LT6          Newtown Lane, Marazion. (Adj. busy feeder road)

Each of the LT sites follow a similar pattern of monitoring between the 14th and 24th July, 2016. 

Please note this correlates with the peak season both for background and projected helicopter noise. Again the effect of this is to provide worst case scenario background noise mitigating the added noise from the helicopter.

Sampling periods follow a similar pattern for each of the six sites, namely a short (4 x 1 hr) between 06:30 and 07:30 and 19:30 and 20:30 weekday; about 50 hrs between 07:30 - 19:30 over four days. In addition one sampling day to cover these same time periods (1hr; 12hrs; 1hr) for Saturday and Sunday.

It is difficult work out why it was thought necessary to have two sampling points (LT1 and ST4) only yards apart in Gulval unless to achieve higher sound levels by locating on a steep incline?

Why locate LT6 next the busy road when St Teresa's Nursing Home, set back from the road cried out to be monitored. Both LT2 and LT3 appear to have been positioned as close the noisy Long Rock by-pass as possible. Why place LT5 so close to the HST railway?

It should be noted that ALL these monitoring locations - the exception of LT5 which is positioned close to the HST railway line - are either adjacent or very close to busy roads although LT1 is less so. The consequence of this is to reflect the noise thus produced which is generally much higher than that experienced in most outdoor house garden space, particularly in quiet locations.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the LT results are skewed and do NOT represent typical domestic property background noise levels. From an expert acoustical point of view, it is hard to see this as other than intentional.

3.  Short-term (ST) measuring sites.

In large part these nine (9) locations are subject to the same criticism. Sometimes they duplicate a LT site or may not. As the name suggests they are consistently of shorter duration - usually 15 mins. with variations as in 10/15/20/30/35/40 even one of 120 mins.
The reasons for these variations is not explained but can lead to discrepancies and/or bias.

The locations are as follows:

ST1        Junc. Quay Street and Quay (Adj. main town traffic route)
ST2        Junc. Penare Rd. and Castle Road (Adj. busy HILL junct)
ST3        Junc. Posses Lane and Jelbert Way (Adj. busy road junct)
ST4/LT1        Gulval to east of church (Adj. busy HILL junct)
ST5        Field N. Tolver (Should be quietest of the ST locations)
ST6/LT2        Poniou Farm (Adj. Long Rock by-pass)
ST7        Entrance Chy an Mor (Adj. busy by-pass round-a-bout)
ST8/LT3        48 Darlington Rd (100 yrds S. of by-pass)
ST9/LT5        Marazion Marsh (Aprox. 150 yds SE from rail line)

It should be noted that all these sites with the exception of ST5 are disproportionally influenced by road and/or rail noise. This has the effect of raising the L90 (background) and Leq (average) noise levels against which all future additional helicopter noise is compared and judged. 

Note also that none of these monitoring sites attempts to represent domestic gardens, quiet residential areas unaffected by extraneous traffic noise or sensitive locations such as schools or medical establishments. 

The importance of this omission cannot be over-stated. It renders all the results and conclusions unreliable.


4.  Computer-generated predictions


The 'WYG' report uses a third category of noise measurements that are not measured but predicted on the basis of computer programmes and algorithms. These are listed "R 1 - 25) and are clearly dependent on the multiple variables on which they are based. 

In the 'WYG' response to the criticisms contained in the independent 'AAD' report and my own, additional comparative information is provided in tabulated form. Two tables relate to weekday and Sunday 12 hr periods on the fifteen sites where noise measurements were taken.

In a majority of these cases the sensitivity model produces results which are slightly lower than the recorded ones, which apart from two, vary by no more than +/- 2.1 which it is claimed "verifies the method". Whether this is statistically significant is not determined.

These assumptions may be reliable, but bearing in mind the aphorism "rubbish in, rubbish out", it should be remembered that if the entered parameters are deficient in some way, the predictions will be equally so. 

I am not clear what the methodology was for choosing these sites or predicting the noise levels at them, nor is it anywhere explained as far as I can see. However the majority appear to replicate locations where traffic noise can be expected to have a large contribution, making any notional additional input from the helicopter less pronounced.

5.  Environmental (computer-generated) predictions

In the 'WYG' document a fourth set of figures are introduced labelled "E 2-11" for "Environmental" (I cannot see an 'E 1'!) that are concentrated around ecologically sensitive Marazion Marshes, of which only two appear to be actually measured, namely 'LT6' and 'ST9/LT5'. Again I presume these are predicted based upon the tainted recorded figures and other computer generated parameters that may or may not be valid.

6. Units of measurement

For each of the locations where LT and ST readings were taken five sets of dBA values are recorded and reproduced. At first sight these can be very confusing especially to persons new to the subject. The danger of course is that they are given superficial attention and that conclusions based upon them are adopted without critical examination. Some basic knowledge of their implications is therefore beneficial. 

Because the ambient noise environment is continually fluctuating, different units of measurement provide insight into different aspects of sound characteristics. Noise is essentially unwanted, annoying, physically or psychologically harmful sound. Three characteristics are important: the intensity or loudness; frequency characteristics or pitch; and periodicity or how frequently the noise occurs. 

Intensity is commonly measured in decibels on a logarithmic scale to make it manageable. This means that pressure doubles with every 3 dB. But loudness is only one aspect and so in interpreting any noise, account must be taken of these additional factors that loudness alone cannot provide. This is particularly important when considering aircraft with their high-pitched or impulsive elements.

The columns 1 - 5 in the 'WYG' Report are therefore as follows:

Column 1  Leq   This effectively is the arithmetic average sound level over a sampling period that varies but is defined.
Column 2  Lmax or peak value which is the highest noise level record
Column 3  Lmin or lowest sound level recorded
Column 4  L10 or the level exceeded for 10% of the time
Column 5  L90 or the level exceeded for 90% of the time, which when averaged out provides a figure regarded to approximate to the 'background' noise level

The significance of this is that throughout, 'WYG' has used Leq which is consistently lower than the L90, sometimes by as much as >10 dB (see figures for LT1) This is repeated throughout the six LT sites and the nine ST sites.  The long established BS 4142 Method for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound, recommends using the L90 level but Leq has become the unit of choice. 

However if in fact the L90 portrays 'background' noise level better, it might be expected these would have been factored in for comparative purposes. If they turn out to be lower than the Leq throughout this obviously makes a bigger dB gap between the two, indicating greater intrusion and nuisance likelihood.

This consideration is avoided by the "WYG" report. 

We would have to conclude that even for the noisiest locations, true background noise levels have really been overestimated by a considerable degree. The helicopter noise will therefore be more intrusive than suggested.

Here are a few examples from the 'WYG' report.

LT1Gulval 07:30-19:30 Week Leq 54.3 L10 43   Lower by 11.3 dB
   "       "         "         "     Sat       "   50.5    "   40   Lower by 10.5 dB
   "       "         "         "     Sun      "   47.7    "   40   Lower by   7.7 dB

Not once in no less than 129 results, is this trend reversed. In other words to varying degrees the L90 background noise is ALWAYS less than the Leq. This is strongly indicative that the background noise is actually much lower than the Leq figure used to support the general argument.

7.  Measurement criteria as applied to helicopters.

Helicopters have essentially three sources of noise. The first two are the engine and mechanical gearing or transmission. These tend to be fairly constant but are proportional to engine size and power output/revs. The other is the noise generated by the revolving rotor blades cutting through the air. This element is determined by speed and angle of attack. The latter is both directional and impulsive, which adds to its distinctive and intrusive quality.

In its response, 'WYG' assures us that the noise profile of the AgustaWestland - AW139 (now Leonardo) helicopter was obtained under full load conditions. However the hilltop aerodrome chosen does not replicate the distinctive amphitheatre-like Penzance and Mounts Bay location. The topography may be expected to amplify the sound directed to the south until it has gained altitude. It is not clear whether this has been taken in account in the predictions.

Making direct comparisons between traffic noise and aircraft noise is simply not valid. They are different sorts of noise with a different wave band frequency and characteristics. It is for this very reason that the 2008 Salford University study (1) recommends that "helicopter noise because of its distinctive characteristics should for nuisance calculation purposes, be given a loading of 15 dB over any measured level".

Even the existing optimistic predictions, make the proposal quite impossible to conform to planning (PPG) guidelines that impose restrictions on the approval of noise creating applications. We must ask why the Planning Authority appears to be prepared to ignore these statutory guidelines?

8.  Leq as applied to helicopters

Throughout the 'WYG' report, "Leq" has been adopted to represent the noise generated by the helicopter. "Leq - equivalent continuous sound level - is the preferred method to describe sound levels that vary over time, resulting in a single decibel value which takes into account the total sound energy over the period of time of interest." 

In other words the noise level when averaged over the measurement time period, whether that be an hour or twelve. It takes little imagination to realise the practical consequence of this. It reduces the absolute dB level to a time-averaged figure, which thereby appears far less intrusive, as compared to the background level already discussed.

This in itself may be acceptable in scientific terms but it is not acceptable in human terms. The reason I say this is because humans will respond to the peak noise levels not the averaged ones. 

Now it is true that people may put up with the occasional loud noise that they know will disappear such as a helicopter or jet passing overhead, but the Leq in no way represents the nuisance value of either the short-term peak values as the air craft lands, idles whilst off-loading and taking on passengers, followed by taxiing and take-off, nor the repetition of this occurring seventeen or thirty-four times during a twelve hour period.

So the 'WYG' report is seriously deficient in being wholly reliant on Leq values for the generated aircraft noise and basing all its assumptions as to nuisance on them. At the very least it should have supplemented them with L10 or linear peak figures for a much more rounded view of the likely impact.

9.  Noise/movement time line

Nowhere in the 'WYG' is there a graphical representation of the practical impact of flights on the twelve hour period or segments of it. This is a serious oversight. It is one thing to speak in general terms about average noise levels as we have said, quite another to represent graphically the noise/time profile to illustrate how twelve hours a day, seven days a week this distinctive noise profile will be repeated.

The Salford document, contains an example on page eight (Figure 1: Simulated time history (SPL) of sporadic helicopter flyovers compared with 16hr Leq. See below) Although it is not an accurate representation of the prospective Penzance operation it is indicative of what should have been provided.





The following graphs are given for illustrative purposes only.

Image result for helicopter noise graph
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=helicopter+noise+graph&rlz=1C1ARAB_enGB463GB464&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiVofT1mN3bAhVlIsAKHW-vBzkQ7AkIRg&biw=1280&bih=891#imgrc=SMDyNMEyjDP29M:


For the following graph note: "If the aircraft noise spectrum has pronounced tonal content, then an additional correction of up to 6.7 dB is added to the perceived noise level (LpN)) to give a tone-corrected perceived noise level LTPN. The total subjective effect of an aircraft’s flyover must take into account the time history of the flight. This is accounted for by integrating the tone-corrected, perceived noise level to produce the effective perceived noise level, LEPN. Full details can be found in the ISO 3891 standard."

Image result for helicopter noise graph
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=helicopter+noise+graph&tbm=isch&tbs=rimg:CSGxc9_1gdV65Ijg-dtObkWedMiQ90ZAgJ1yIiPKfBlxrjVEqZgY8vrwwn997oo-n8jatPDN4Cn0PsqAj-IUo8b-hRCoSCT5205uRZ50yEZ6cme2y9nZJKhIJJD3RkCAnXIgRWmdmUbsuh2oqEgmI8p8GXGuNUREL2cAPX5cmGyoSCSpmBjy-vDCfEVB4eh3LPnpSKhIJ33uij6fyNq0RQxEcjU9xmqEqEgk8M3gKfQ-yoBEZJ6MpmiDjKioSCSP4hSjxv6FEEVDDB2Z8OduN&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi48sLwnN3bAhWD0xQKHT6RA3AQ9C96BAgBEBs&biw=1280&bih=891&dpr=1#imgrc=1iYrBNvj7dvKGM:






We have not been informed of the time cycle when the noise first appears, through the landing/unloading/loading process before it taxis and takes off again. At peak times averaged calculations are unlikely to apply. No planning conditions are envisaged to limit the number of flights in any segment of the day as far as I am aware. Noise output at certain times could therefore well exceed the predicted Leqs. The maps indicative of noise impact using contours and other devices are similarly highly suspect and disingenuous.

10.  Flightpath noise over peninsula virtually ignored

The 'WYG' report gives virtually no attention to the noise footprint or periodicity of up to 34 flights over the Penwith Peninsula and its settlements, principally St Buryan and Sennen. Very little attention is given to Newlyn either, directly under the flight path. As far as I see the maps do not cover these areas and no recorded background levels were taken in these areas. The two figures given for Newlyn appear to be theoretical predicted and are not compared to the passing peak noise level created.

11.  Other pollution and financial aspects

No irrevocable planning decision should be entertained until ALL the ecological, pollution and financial implications have been fully explored. To date this appears not to have been the case. The implications for a greenfield site outside the existing built up area, bird and animal life and the effects on property values affected, are all either not considered or dismissed. This does not do these issues justice.

12.  Human heath implications of environmental noise

This critical topic to which local GP Mark Russell has drawn particular attention, has been given scant if any regard. He has pointed out that 15,000 people are potentially affected by the proposed noise and that any noise over 55dBA has recognised well-being and health consequences that are not lightly dismissed.

In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report titled ‘Burden of disease from environmental noise’. This study collated data from various large-scale epidemiological studies of environmental noise in Western Europe, collected over a 10-year period.

The authors concluded that ‘there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population’ and ranked traffic noise second among environmental threats to public health (the first being air pollution). The authors also noted that while other forms of pollution are decreasing, noise pollution is increasing. (5)(6)(7)

13.  Conclusions


  1. The choice of the 15 monitoring sites and the results from them though accurate, give a misleading impression of background noise levels because they are disproportionately influenced by their proximity to traffic routes.
  2. As a result the background noise levels against which the helicopter noise is judged is unrepresentative of the true rural and residential noise levels experienced. This completely undermines the whole rationale and conclusions of the report.
  3. The conclusion that there will be no significant impact by the imported helicopter noise is made using only the Leq unit of measurement, which being an arithmetic average, plays up background noise (as compared to L90) and plays down the helicopter noise because total energy is averaged over a 12 hour period. It in no way represents therefore the health and nuisance aspects of periodic (<34 times per day) peak noise input to a much quieter environment than predicted.
  4. Insufficient weight has been afforded to the extent of potential financial, nuisance, well-being, psychological and physical health impacts of the increase in noise and other pollution.
  5. A failure to properly consider these issues within the context of a fresh independent approach to obtaining and interpreting monitored results prior to making any irrevocable planning decision could render the Cornwall Council to a further Judicial Review. (8) (9)
14.  Recommendations

  1. The planning application should be deferred until the issues in this document are addressed.
  2. A new noise monitoring exercise should be carried out at rural and residential sites that accurately reflect true ambient noise levels
  3. Any new assessment should provide accurate background and peak noise values to accurately predict the intrusiveness and annoyance of the proposed helicopter noise
  4. Proper weight should be given to other pollution, economic, ecological, psychological and physical health consequences prior to any planning decision on the matter.




REFERENCES

1. https://vtol.org/files/dmfile/ResearchintotheImprovementoftheManagementofHelicopterNoise2.pdf

2.  https://nparc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/view/fulltext/?id=5b4e1fb6-bf62-4d92-b70c-6e6be4d2f2fe

3. Typical sound of helicopter here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TMTWAwktbc

4.  file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/TCDS_EASA_R006_LH_AW139_Issue20.pdf

5.  https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/health-effects-environmental-noise-pollution

6. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/372165/11-Quality_of_life--quality-of-life-assessment.pdf

7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286412976_Living_with_aircraft_noise_Airport_proximity_aviation_noise_and_subjective_wellbeing_in_England "The negative association between aircraft noise and peoples’ sense of worthwhile (b = 0.126, p < 0.01) was around half that associated with being a smoker"

8. http://www.richardbuxton.co.uk/what-we-do/aircraft-noise "In relation to compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973 for new development at Plymouth City Airport, we intervened in a case which was about to be conceded by the government in favour of the airport, enabling residents to obtain compensation for helicopter operations."

9.  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/09/plane-justice-ltd-v-caa-gatwick-route-4-court-case-passes-its-first-big-test/















Sunday, 17 June 2018

Penzance Proposed Heliport Up-date

Image result for aw139 images
Leonardo – formerly AgustaWestland - AW139



To whom it may concern,

Dear .................


Open letter 17.6.18.
Unresolved issues concerning Penzance Heliport planning application.

We are a coalition of concerned local residents, environmental groups and health professionals asking that Cornwall Council and the members of the Strategic Planning Committee defer their consideration of Penzance Heliport from the meeting on 28th June in order to give time to investigate several serious outstanding issues.

We are writing this open letter because we do not feel we are being heard.

We absolutely agree that Scilly needs robust and reliable transport links and that they have at times been let down in the past.

1.  However, there are several unresolved issues. These cannot be dealt with between now and the 28th June 2018 and so a pause in the planning application process is vital to avoid any decision made being legally unsafe. Since aircraft noise is exempt from noise nuisance control there will be no possibility of restricting operations once planning permission has been granted.

An independent acoustic assessment (May 2018) by Applied Acoustic Design (AAD) concluded that “without further clarification and further information, it would be unsafe to base a decision to grant planning consent for the heliport on the WYG report”. 

WYG have responded but failed to clarify how the use of high background noise readings taken from busy road junctions accurately reflects the loss of amenity for the majority of the 15,000 people, within 2.5km, who live in quiet residential areas.

The 55dB noise contour needs to be properly determined, accounting for the reflective properties of the sea, the amphitheatre shape of Mounts Bay and the fact that the aircraft when fully loaded will need to hover and rise to 250 feet before they can move away. 

Furthermore, reference should be made to the University of Salford Report (NANR 235, 2008) entitled Research into the Improvement of Management of Helicopter Noise. This states clearly that much of the nuisance from helicopters is caused by their low frequency and impulsive noise, that flight events fewer than 1 per hour can be highly annoying and that helicopters should be regarded as 15dBA more annoying than fixed wing aircraft. WYG is wrong to conclude that overflights will cause no significant harm.


  1. Airports Commission guidelines from 2014 need to be complied with in order to properly quantify the psychological and physical health impacts on those living within the 55dB contour. Reference should be made to the Lawton and Fujiwara review of 2016 (Living with Aircraft Noise) and the CAA report of 2016, Aircraft Noise and Health Effects (CAP1278). Estimations should be made of the predictable loss in quality of life and increases in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease for those living within the 55dB contour. Gulval School is 1000m from the site. There is clear evidence that noise nuisance at this level can cause cognitive impairment in children. The WYG data suggests 1,300 people will be affected. Our view is that the noise impact is understated and that the figure is likely to be more than 5,000. This is a critical concern and requires independent review.

  1. Helicopter emissions exceed those of other modes of transport. We call on the Council to commission an independent study examining the health and environmental impacts from harmful emissions, including NO2 and particulate matter.

  1. Since 11th May, local opposition to the Heliport has increased by 151% (from 33 to 84). To date, despite reasonable requests from concerned local residents, a public meeting on the planning application has not yet been convened, contrary to Cornwall Council’s planning protocol.

  1. 95% of registered support is from holidaymakers who do not live in Cornwall and who have been canvassed for their support. There should be a breakdown of the data to demonstrate the true level of local support. The desire of holidaymakers for increased convenience must be appropriately balanced against the permanent harm to health that will result from this development.

  1. On the natural environment impacts, Natural England have stated in its May 2018 submission that “significant effects cannot be ruled out”. We call for the impact on the environment and wildlife to be properly and independently assessed.

  1. The current proposal is for 80 hours flying time over 7 days compared to the pre 2012 level of 60 hours over 6 days. This represents a significant escalation of the previous noise nuisance. Airports Commission guidelines make it clear that Cornwall Council has a duty to mitigate harm and all health and wellbeing consequences should be properly quantified to enable the necessary degree of mitigation to be calculated. This still needs to be done.

For the above reasons, we call on you – as our locally elected representatives – to listen to the local community, defer your judgment and ensure you arrive at the right decision for all stakeholders.

Yours sincerely,

Signed by local GP and five others.

Israel’s secret assassinations

Israeli television recently aired a video of two Israeli soldiers filming themselves in the act of shooting a Palestinian protester at the Gaza boundary while cheering. Filming one’s own crimes against humanity – shooting Palestinians for sport – suggests a sense of security in never being held accountable.
Even more evidence of this impunity is apparent in Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by veteran Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court might want to consider this book Exhibit A if Israeli government and military officials are ever indicted for war crimes. It contains open admissions of guilt in plotting and executing extralegal assassinations in violation of international law.
“Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world,” Bergman writes. In many cases, these so-called targeted killings over the last two decades also involved the deaths of nearly a thousand bystanders, according to Bergman’s calculations – those numbers, however, fail to include the tens of thousands killed in overt acts of war and collective punishment that mostly go unmentioned in this book.
That Israeli officials were willing to be quoted and identify others by name implies a certainty of never being held accountable in a court of law. Consider, for example, the instruction given by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Avi Dichter, at that time Shin Bet’s director, in reference to Hamas. Sharon, in an open admission of intent to commit genocide, stated: “Go for it. Kill them all.”
It was not just assassinations. Bergman writes, “‘state security’ was used to justify a large number of actions and operations that, in the visible world, would have been subject to criminal prosecution and long prison terms: constant surveillance of citizens because of their ethnic or political affiliations; interrogation methods that included prolonged detention without judicial sanction, and torture; perjury in the courts and concealment of the truth from counsel and judges.”
Rise and Kill First details the lengthy history of Israeli political assassination, dating back to British Mandate Palestine. It includes the period of the so-called Border Wars (a term used by historian Benny Morris in his book Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-1956), the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1960s, the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1970s, the first and second intifadas in the occupied territories beginning in the 1980s and the ongoing military campaigns against Hizballah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Radical Front) that continue today.
As the decades went on, assassinations became increasingly frequent, in part due to improved surveillance through drones and computer technology, enabling intelligence agencies to carry out hundreds of operations per year as opposed to only a few previously.

“Collateral damage”

The book’s title derives from the Talmudic command that a person has the right to “rise and kill first” as a preemptive measure.
This concept formed both the moral and legal basis for the policy, which many human rights groups consider invalid under international law because execution without trial makes a mockery of due process and erases the distinction between combatants and civilians. Many of the victims were political and even religious figures who were most likely not involved in planning attacks against Israel, Bergman asserts.
The Haganah – the paramilitary precursor to the Israeli army – defined assassinations as “personal terror operations,” targeting leaders of the Palestinian national movement. After 1948 all of Israel’s intelligence agencies, including the military intelligence department Aman, the Mossad and Shin Bet, became involved in extralegal killings.
The assassination policy allowed for the murders of Palestinians and other Arabs simply because they were part of the resistance against Israeli settler colonialism.
The people killed to avenge the holding of hostages and deaths of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, for example, indicate that Israeli intelligence simply picked out leaders or representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization, not those directly involved in the Black September group that planned the abduction. Palestinian Wael Zuaiter, who was translating One Thousand and One Nights from Arabic to Italian while living in Rome and serving as a local PLO representative, was one of the murder victims, as was a misidentified Moroccan waiter living in Lillehammer, Norway.
That a racist code existed is undeniable, particularly given the distinction Israeli intelligence officials often made between “collateral damage” involving Arabs and non-Arabs: If Arab bystanders or family members might be killed, the operation was still likely to be given the go-ahead; if non-Arab bystanders might die, it was to be avoided. As Bergman notes, “as long as the targets were located in enemy countries, and as long as the innocent civilians were Arabs, the finger on the trigger became quicker.”
Israeli government and intelligence officials even planned the downing of commercial airliners in the hope of assassinating leading PLO officials. Although the plan was never implemented, Israeli officials developed an elaborate scheme to shoot down such aircraft in radar-free zones over the Mediterranean Sea so that discovery of the wreckage would be more difficult and the crime conceivably concealed.
News accounts seized on a separate incident detailed by Bergman in which the planned downing of an aircraft believed to be carrying PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat was narrowly averted in 1982. The plane was carrying wounded Palestinian children, and Arafat was not aboard.

Missing the point

Many of Bergman’s revelations are so shocking that one wonders why an apparently loyal Israeli journalist would expose them. But he is hardly the first reporter to venture into the realm of exposing the secrets of intelligence agencies, even if they tarnish the state’s carefully cultivated image.
The rationale is usually that the documented crimes represent “mistakes” that the exposé hopefully corrects without fundamentally challenging the nature of the state that carries them out. This journalistic genre largely misses the point. Intelligence agencies are not gatherers of information to protect state security, but are rather covert actors engaged in implementing the state’s hegemonic ambitions by any means necessary.
Intelligence agencies protect their secrets. It’s the rare journalist who can ferret them out by diligent investigation.
Most often, intelligence or government officials themselves leak secrets because of policy disagreements, splits within ruling factions or political ambitions. Bergman acknowledges this fact and makes it obvious that his principal source was the late Meir Dagan, an army general who became head of the Mossad under Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Unfortunately, Bergman is little more than a transcriber, bringing minimal analysis or historical background. For example, Dagan’s covert program to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists is cited as a better method than overt military action to halt Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. The diplomatic negotiations that resulted in an international agreement and a rigorous inspections regime for Iran’s nuclear program are simply ignored.
The book has numerous other failings as well, including giving short shrift to the efforts of Israeli human rights organizations to halt extrajudicial killings and framing the Israeli narrative in a way that omits the numerous acts of collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people since 1948. The words “collective punishment” appear only once in its 784 pages in reference to a home demolition.
Omitted are references to Deir Yassin and the dozens of other massacres that occurred during the Nakba of 1948-49, the massacre at Khan Younis in 1956, the numerous military provocations Israel carried out in Syria’s Golan Heights prior to the 1967 war and Israel’s flagrant violations of the ceasefires with Hamas in Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 that resulted in the deaths of thousands, including children.

Rendition and torture

To his credit, however, Bergman does delineate the similarities between the Israeli and US intelligence agencies, including recruiting journalists as spies, setting up false-front organizations to interfere in other countries, working with ex-Nazis and helping identify left-wing political activists under authoritarian regimes for the purpose of having them tortured or murdered.
Aman’s Unit 504, which engaged in kidnappings, anticipated the CIA’s rendition and torture program following the 11 September 2001 attacks. And Bergman makes it clear that both former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley under President George W. Bush approved and supported the Israeli assassination policy.
Ultimately, the belief in the effectiveness of extrajudicial executions rests on the idea that individuals, not social forces, make history: Eliminate a single person and history is changed. Following the killing of a Hizballah leader, Bergman reports that some in Israeli intelligence came to recognize that “Hizballah wasn’t one-man’s guerrilla force – it was a movement … a legitimate grassroots social movement.”
Bergman makes the dramatic claim that Israel’s intelligence agencies, having come to realize the futility of an assassination policy against Palestinian resistance, embrace the two-state solution, leaving them at odds (though “quietly”) with the current Netanyahu government. Dagan, in particular, appeared to have been motivated to leak some of Israel’s most damaging secrets due to a rift with Netanyahu over his opposition to a Palestinian state.
The likelihood of an eventual binational state if the two-state solution failed was an outcome that Dagan feared more than anything. In one of his last remarks at an Israeli political rally, Dagan explained his worries: “I do not want a binational state. I do not want an apartheid state. I do not want to rule over three million Arabs. I do not want us to be hostages of fear, despair and deadlock.”
After reading Rise and Kill First, one wonders: Had Dagan lived, would he have ordered the assassinations of those advocating a binational democratic state?
Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Libya "Before And After" Photos Go Viral

(Well done the West. Yet another success story. Can it be coincidence that this also happened to Iraq and Syria and that Iran is now in the cross hairs?)

From: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-12/libya-and-after-photos-go-viral

A Libyan man who took photos of himself posing at various spots across Beghazi in 2000 has revisited the same locations 18 years later to photograph life under the new "NATO liberated" Libya. 
The "before and after" pics showing the utter devastation of post-Gaddafi Libya have gone viral, garnering 50,000 retweets after they were posted to an account that features historical images of Libya under Gaddafi’s rule between 1969 and 2011. 


It appears people do still care about Libya even if the political elites in Paris, London, and Washington who destroyed the country have moved on. Though we should recall that British foreign secretary Boris Johnson was caught on tape in a private meeting last year saying Libya was ripe for UK investment, but only after Libyans "clear the dead bodies away."  
We previously detailed in Libya's Slave Auctions And African Genocide: What Hillary Knew how Libya went from being a stable, modernizing secular state to a hellhole of roving jihadist militias, warring rival governments, and open-air slave auctions of captured migrants. 
Yet what the viral photos confirm is that Libya was once a place of sprawling hotels, wide and clean city streets, functioning infrastructure, and lively neighborhoods. But these very places are now bullet-ridden ruins rotting amidst the political backdrop of the 'Mad Max' style chaos unleashed immediately after US-NATO's bombing the country into regime change. 
View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
A young Libyan man took pictures in the city of Benghazi in 2018 in the same places where he had taken pictures in 2000.
Hillary still says that she has no regrets even after Obama timidly voiced a half-hearted and too-little-too-late Libya mea culpa of sorts in 2016.
Though Hillary's beloved Libyan Al Qaeda ..."rebels" — legitimized and empowered through broad support from the West — are now among the very militias hosting slave auctions and fueling the European refugee crisis, she's never so much as hinted that regime change in Libya left the country and much of the region in shambles. Instead, she simply chose to conclude her role in the tragic story of Libya with her crazed and gleeful declaration of "we came, we saw, he died."
Regime change enthusiasts everywhere please take note of what your blind jingoism has wrought.
* * *

A year before the NATO bombing of Libya the UN Development Programme (UNDP) assigned a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of 53 to Libya (out of 169 countries ranked, Libya ranked highest on the African continent). 

Right up until the eve of NATO's air campaign against the Libyan state, international media outlets understood and acknowledged the country's high human development rankings, though it later became inconvenient to present the empirical data. A February 2011 BBC report is a case in point. 

The 2011 war and aftermath created a failed state with a once economically independent population now turned largely dependent on foreign aid and relief. 
Currently considered to be at "emergency levels" of need, prior to NATO intervention Libya was not even on the Word Food Program's radar, yet is now considered a dire humanitarian disaster zone.
* * *
Among the few editorials written in major Western publications in the midst NATO's war on Libya warning of the consequences to come in real time was a 2011 piece for The Telegraph by Brendan O'Neill.
Though apparently now scrubbed from the internet [this no longer exists on The Telegraph site or in its archives: “The narcissism of the iPad imperialists who want to invade Libya,” Brendan O’Neill, The Telegraph (blogs), 25 February 2011], O'Neill's article is worth revisiting.
The article is preserved and quoted extensively in the book, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO's War on Libya and Africa, which contains essential summary context laying out the role that international media played in 2011 and after in lying the public into war. 
Below is an extensive excerpt from O'Neill's "The narcissism of the iPad imperialists who want to invade Libya"... relevant as ever when in comes to the West's continuing role in Libya, or in places like Syria, Yemen, or Afghanistan.
* * *
In a modern political sphere that has its fair share of narcissists and ignoramuses, no one is quite as narcissistic or as ignorant as the liberal interventionist. From the comfort of his Home Counties home, possibly to the sound of birds tweeting on the windowsill, the liberal interventionist will write furious, spittle-stained articles about the need to invade faraway countries in order to topple their dictators. As casually and thoughtlessly as the rest of us write shopping lists, he will pen a 10-point plan for the bombing of Yugoslavia or Afghanistan or Iraq and not give a second thought to the potentially disastrous consequences.
Now, having learned nothing from the horrors that they cheer-led like excitable teenage girls over the past 15 years, these bohemian bombers, these latte-sipping lieutenants, these iPad imperialists are back.This time they’re demanding the invasion of Libya. In the Guardian Ian Birrell brushes aside the eight-year nightmare of Iraq in one sentence – we shouldn’t be “scarred by the foolishness of the Iraq invasion”, he says – as he calls on the international community to spearhead a “rapid intervention” to save the people of Libya. It’s like an “apocalyptic Hollywood film” and there are even “rumours of systematic male rape”, he says, proving once again that there is no situation so bad that it cannot be made to sound even worse by hacks seeking to emotionally blackmail NATO into dropping a couple of tonnes of bombs.
Over at Slate, a headline sums up the outlook of Libya-concerned liberals: “It’s time to intervene.” Apparently world leaders can send a message to the broader Arab world by getting a grip on the Libyan crisis now. “Before the region descends into protracted civil conflict, the international community has the opportunity, in Libya, to set an important precedent and save thousands of lives in the process.” Meanwhile, a gaggle of human rights groups is calling on the UN and the EU to intervene to “protect Libyan civilians from government killings”. The White Man’s Burden is alive and well, it seems, though it has been thoroughly de-Kiplingised and turned into a super-liberal, PC endeavour.
The ignorance of liberal interventionists is captured in the fact that they seem to have wilfully forgotten the disastrous interventions of the past 15 years, all of which, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Iraq, exacerbated local tensions and led to more, not less, bloodshed. It takes a special kind of arrogance to be able to demand yet another international military venture when the terrible consequences of your last one are still plain to see. And their narcissism is contained in the fact that the real reason they are making these demands for war is to make themselves feel good, to demonstrate that they care with a capital C. They know nothing of the countries that they want to see invaded, and care little about the potential of such invasions to destabilise things further. No, all that matters is that in saying “Forget Iraq, let’s now attack Gaddafi!”, they can publicly demonstrate their own moral indefatigability.