Archive | December 17th, 2016

Disgraceful US Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

NOVANEWS
Image result for Anti-Semitism Awareness Act CARTOON
By Stephen Lendman 

Long ago, anti-Semitism was an issue in America, very much so when I grew up. No longer. Today it’s in vogue to be Jewish.

As a Jew, I’m fiercely critical of Israeli ruthlessness, a state run by fascists, Zionist ideologues and religious fundamentalists. I intend no letup in my activism.

Unanimous Senate passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is a bone to Israel and AIPAC, its main US lobby. House passage followed by Obama signing it into law is virtually certain.

The measure has nothing to do with addressing a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes” – everything to do with targeting vitally needed Israeli criticism and BDS support, especially on college campuses.

The measure aims to “codify the definition as one adopted by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”

It disgracefully conflates justifiable criticism of Israel with attempts to “delegitimize” its status as a Jewish state, along with wanting it held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity and other human rights abuses.

America and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes. Each fascist regime supports the other.

The measure requires the Department of Education to redefine Title VI rules of alleged discrimination violations – to suppress pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses.

Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli ruthlessness? At its core, Zionism is fundamentally racist, extremist, undemocratic and militant.

It espouses Jewish supremacy, exceptionalism and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people.” It relies on occupation, oppression, violence and dispossession.

It justifies Jewish ethnocracy based on structural inequalities. It rules by force, not coexistence. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy and the rule of law.

It’s viciously undemocratic, denying Arabs the same rights as Jews, committing slow-motion genocide against millions of Palestinians – with full US support and encouragement.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is one of many examples of governance in America off-the-rails – a nation doing more harm to more people over a longer duration than any other in history.

Students nationwide should ignore the new measure aimed solely at supporting Israeli ruthlessness. The time for dissent and civil disobedience is now- needed more than any previous time in my memory.

Either we confront growing tyranny in America or face losing all fundamental rights – ruled by bipartisan tinpot officials infesting Washington.

Posted in USA, Europe, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Disgraceful US Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

OBABA KILLS CHILD WITH BOMB IN DAMASCUS

NOVANEWS
OBABA KILLS CHILD WITH BOMB IN DAMASCUS IN TERRORIST ACT BY HIS RODENTS!; SYRIAN YOUTH SPEAK OUT AGAINST TERRORISM!; ALEPPO EVACUATION ON HOLD AFTER TERRORISTS VIOLATE AGREEMENT; CAUGHT TRYING TO SMUGGLE AMERICAN CIA SPIES FROM CITY

DAMASCUS:

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Al-Maydaan District in Damascus:  If you can believe the savagery of Obama’s vicious killers, you will believe this.  Yesterday, a little girl who had just reached the age of 8 years was cajoled by terrorists into carrying a small remote-controlled bomb into the police station here.  As soon as she went into the station to tell the police she was lost, the rodents triggered the device killing the girl and slightly injuring an officer inside.  GOD BURN YOU IN HELL, OBAMA!  YOU MURDERING, STINKING GANGSTER FREAK.  MAY YOUR DAUGHTERS BE ROASTED ALIVE OVER A FIRE AND FED TO YOU BEFORE YOUR DESCENT INTO HELL.

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The remains of the little girl blurred out by Ba’ath Party sources.  She was blown to bits. 

_______________________________________________

Bashar Murtada sends this magnificent exposition of what Syrian young people think about Syria, terrorism and their president, Dr. Bashar Al-Assad:

https://www.facebook.com/Friends.Of.SAF/videos/1257997664261104/

 

ALEPPO:

image: http://jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/113053.jpg

تعليق عمليات إجلاء المسلحين وعائلاتهم من شرق حلب جراء اخلالهم بالاتفاق American terrorist allies stuck in East Aleppo tried to escape as kidnapped Syrian soldiers last evening but were identified and the evacuation was stalled.  Part of the agreement with Obama’s murdering savages was that all kidnapped individuals and soldiers held by the terrorists would be released in exchange for the evacuation.  This is why the Syrian government agreed to send in buses at its own expense.  In truth, the government not only wanted the kidnapped soldiers and citizens, they also wanted the 11 Americans and 2 retired British SAS operatives who could not escape East Aleppo.  The publicity from such a capture of foreign agents would be priceless and prove that Obama and the limeys were 100% complicit in the murder of Syrian citizens.  This is the reason why the United States and its allies in Europe are ramping up the clamor over the cease fire.  They were actually hoping to extract their murderers and criminals without exposure.  That is not going to happen any time soon.  As a note, there appear to be many Turkish soldiers among the rats.  Remember, no foreigners are part of the agreement.

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When the Syrian government refused to continue with the cease fire after discovering the terrorist stratagem of smuggling out American and British spies, they opened fire on the convoys of buses and ambulances standing still at the Al-Raamoosa Crossing.   This is what the Americans probably ordered to stop the flow of terrorists and their families out of the city – essentially leaving the cell of U.S. terrorists alone inside to fend for themselves.

As of today, 8,079 rodents have left the city in the span of 24 hours before the cease fire broke down.  They left in 10 tranches of vermin.  There are a few thousand still left at Al-Raamoosa after the Syrian Red Crescent and the Red Cross called off the transportation while the rodents fired at the buses and ambulances.

Other reports provide more clues as to why the evacuation was suspended.  Some sources claim the rodents were smuggling heavy weapons out in violation of the agreement in addition to prisoners.

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(Thanks, Jonathan Wald)

Dayr Haafir:  4 suicide trucks were destroyed 60 kms east of Aleppo City by the Syrian Army.  No other details.

HOMS:

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PALMYRA:  52 rats belonging to ISIS were killed by the Syrian Army today west of the city in a massive rocket attack that also destroyed 6 suicide trucks, 3 pickups with 23mm cannons and 3 armored vehicles.  Among the dead ISIS rodents were these so-called leaders:

Maskhadov Khan (Chechen monkey spunk)

Abu Turaab Al-Makki (Saudi pig licker)

Hamdi Al-Hijaama (Saudi rectum)

 

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Al-Za’faraana and Al-Ghantu:  SAA rocket units pummeled Nusra/Alqaeda positions here near Talbeesa and destroyed an IED factory killing these vermin:

Mustafaa Al-Humaydi

Sameer Abu Taalib

Muhammad Wardaan

Lu`ayy ‘Assaaf

Khaleel Al-Mismaari

Muhammad Ka’ka

‘Ali Al-`Aaghaa

Burhaan Samhaat 

 

West of Al-Rastan:  Another great day for SAA artillery and rocket fire.  This time the rockets struck gold by hitting another factory for rockets and IEDs operated by Nusra/Alqaeda.  No other details.

 

Posted in SyriaComments Off on OBABA KILLS CHILD WITH BOMB IN DAMASCUS

Indian Conspiracy behind East Pakistan’s Separation

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Image result for INDIA PAKISTAN FLAG

By Sajjad Shaukat

16th December is the day of tragic memory when Pakistan was dismembered and a new state of

Bangladesh was created in 1971 as part of Indian conspiracy which still continues against the

integration of Pakistan.

India has a long-gone history of many centuries, based upon religious prejudice against the

Muslims. In this respect, Indian intelligence agency, RAW which was founded in 1968, has

assumed a significant status as invisible actor in formulation of India’s domestic, regional and

global policies, particularly directed against Pakistan.

Hindus give credit to Indira Gandhi who in the late 1970s gave RAW a new role to suit her

‘Indira Doctrine’ specifically asking it to undertake covert operations in neighboring countries,

especially Pakistan which comprises majority of Muslims. RAW was given a green signal to

mobilize all its resources by exploiting political turmoil in East Pakistan in 1971 which this

agency had created through its agents who provided Bengalis with arms and ammunition for

conducting guerrilla acts against the Pakistani defense forces.

Regarding the separation of East Pakistan, Indian RAW had unleashed a well-organized plan of

psychological warfare, creation of polarization among the armed forces, propaganda by false

allegations against West Pakistan, creation of differences between the political parties and

religious sects of East and West Pakistan, control of media, manipulating linguistic, political and

economic disputes in order to malign the Bengalis against Islamabad.

There is no doubt that one can note political, economic and social disparities almost in every

Third World country. India, itself, contains these disparities on larger scale. In seven states of

India, separatist movements are at work. But, New Delhi which has not recognized the existence

of Pakistan since partition, left no stone unturned in planting and exploiting differences between

the people of East and West Pakistan.

RAW has a long history of sinister activities in the East Pakistan, backing secular areas of Hindu

minority who had played an important role in motivating Bengali Muslims against West

Pakistan. RAW’s well-paid agents had activated themselves in East Pakistan in the 1960’s so as

to dismember Pakistan. For this aim, it took the responsibility of funding Sheikh Mujibur

Rahmans’ general elections in 1970 and the members of his party, Awami League. It colluded

with the pro-Indian persons and had paid full attention in training and arming the Mukti Bahnis

(Terrorists). RAW, playing with the bloodshed of Muslims, succeeded in initiating a civil war in

East Pakistan. However, huge quantity of arms started entering East Pakistan. Meanwhile, India

welcomed the refugees from East Pakistan, providing them with every facility to provocate them

against West Pakistan.

Majib was already in connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. In this connection,

Asoka Raina in his book, ‘Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service’, discloses, “Indian

intelligence agencies were involved in erstwhile East Pakistan…its operatives were in touch with

Sheikh Mujib as the possible ‘Father’ of a new nation-Bangladesh, who went to Agartala in

1965. The famous Agartala case was unearthed in 1967. In fact, the main purpose of raising

RAW in 1968 was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh. Indian army officers and RAW

officials used Bengali refugees to set up Mukti Bahini. Using this outfit as a cover, Indian

military sneaked deep into East Pakistan…the story of Mukti Bahini and RAW’s role in its

creation and training is now well-known.”

Asoka further explained, “Indian sources including journalists have put on record how much

RAW had established the network of a separatist movement through ‘cells’ within East Pakistan

and military training camps in Indian territory adjoining East Pakistan…carrying out acts of

sabotage against communication lines so that Indian forces simply marched in at the ‘right’ time.

RAW agents provided valuable information as well as acting as an advance guard for conducting

unconventional guerrilla acts against the Pakistani defense forces.”

It is mentionable that before the 1971 war, Mujibur Rahman, had announced a separate national

flag for East Pakistan in his six points which also included that currency of East Pakistan should

be different along with a separate military.

His six points created prejudice among Bengali people especially against West Pakistan. The

famous slogan, during his addresses and rallies was, “Punjabi dogs go back.” It was due to

Mujib’s instigation that besides Punjabis, Bengalis had also tortured and killed Biharis,

Pashtoons and Balochis, while their women were raped.

Now, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid and her ruling party Awami League

have continuously been pursuing Indian directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign.

In connivance with New Delhi, Bangladesh government and Awami League have launched a

massive media campaign in order to spread venom against Pakistan and its armed forces and

against all those Bangladeshi nationals who were loyal to the state during 1971 crisis.

Since Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajid came into power; India has been

employing various tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its

strategic interests. In this context, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has continuously been pursuing

Indian directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign. Therefore, after passing of 42 years to

the events of 1971, which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan, Abdul Qadir, the leader

of Jamaat-e- Islami (JI) was hanged because of his loyalty to Pakistan. Executions of Mujadid

and Chaudry of JI were also part of the same scheme. Regarding all these executions,

international community raised doubts and noted flawed proceedings.

People of Pakistan have shared moments of happiness and sorrows with the people of

Bangladesh. The tragedy of dismemberment of East Pakistan was aimed at creating a compliant

country through Indian trained and financed terrorists (Mukti Bahini) who had killed thousands

of Pakistanis in cold blooded activities. In this connection, while addressing a ceremony during

his Bangladesh tour, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly stated on June 7, 2015 that

Indian forces helped Mukti Bahini to turn East Pakistan into Bangladesh. He elaborated that

former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had played an active role in separating Bangladesh

from Pakistan, and he had also come to Delhi in 1971 to participate in the Satyagraha Movement,

launched by Jana Sangh as a volunteer to garner support for the Mukti Bahini members.

Now, India Prime Minister Modi is trying to implement the same job in Balochistan where

Indian RAW is supplying arms to the separatist elements and is encouraging the anti-Pakistan

Baloch leaders like Brahamdagh Bugti to continue opposing the federation of Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Indian leadership by exploiting the concerns of Bangladesh Army over the raising

of “Jatiyo Rakhi Bahini” (National vanguards) in 1972 once again created volatility in

Bangladesh by patronizing the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. The supplementary purpose of

the incident was to make 1974 tripartite agreement dormant, as by the agreement Sheikh Mujib,

the father of Bangladesh had wished cordial relations among Pakistan, India and Bangladesh,

declaring “Bangladesh knows how to forgive and forget.”

To further keep the people of Bangladesh in desolation, fueling the hatred and creating

extremism in the society, Sheikh Hassina Wajid was incorporated into the Bangladesh Politics.

Since then through devious judicial trials, she has been executing elderly opposing politicians

and as an extension of her personal and political vindictive posture by manipulating the fateful

1971 event to further the Indian interests. Turmoil, so shaped continues to haunt people of

Bangladesh, as she is refusing olive branch offered by people of Pakistan.

Ironically, Awami League’s purported nationalism is based on fabricated figures about the

killing of three million Bengali people in 1971. Sheikh Mujib uttered this figure during an

interview with the British broadcaster, David Frost. It was not authenticated by independent

researchers or international institutions. During the conflict, only two division of Pakistan’s

Army with limited small weapons was deployed in East Pakistan and it has no motivation to kill

so many people in such a short conflict being fought in unfavorable operational situation.

However, genocide committed by Indian trained terrorists in East Pakistan cannot be ruled out.

Awami League’s delusions, under Sheikh Hasina’s are expected to create grave problems for

Bangladesh. The growing discontent in the country over authoritarian and vindictive rule of

Awami League vis-à- vis antagonistic approach towards Pakistan is causing a division in

Bangladeshi society.

A regards the so-called genocide of the Bengali people, a famous Bengali journalist Sarmila

Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough

investigation. She terms the number, a gigantic rumor, while Hamoodur Rahman Commission

Report considers even 26,000 as an exaggerated figure. Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose in book

titled “War and Secession: Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh” and Gary Bass in his

book “The Blood Telegram” clearly admit that figures about so-called genocide were Indian

purported.

At present, the situation is turning bleak as foreign investments are evaporating and

unemployment is multiplying. The growing socio-economic degeneration is causing discontent

suiting the terrorist outfits like the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) ISIS

(Daesh) and their financers to take full advantage to recruit the combat terrorists and train them

in contiguous Indian area for further insertion in various regions. Its fallouts in Bangladesh are

evident. Western media has reported about presence of ISIS in Bangladesh. The ISIS militants

attacked on the Holey Artisan Bakery (Restaurant) in the diplomatic district of Dhaka on July 2,

this year and killed at least 20 hostages and two police officers. It includes nine Italians, seven

Japanese and one American. ISIS claimed responsibility for terror attack on the restaurant. But,

without any investigation, Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan blamed home-

grown Islamist terrorists and Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI for the restaurant assault by

adding, “There is no IS or al-Qaeda presence in Bangladesh…the hostage-takers were all home-

grown terrorists and not members of IS or any other international Islamist outfits.” His statement

was contrary to the country’s top officials who have claimed that ISIS exists in Bangladesh.

Earlier, ISI has accepted responsibility for a number of past attacks in Bangladesh. On July 7,

2016, terrorists killed two policemen and a woman in an attack at Eid congregation near Sholakia

Eidgah in Kishoreganj, Bangladesh. The incident came, a day after the ISI video on social media

in which, three Bangladeshi youths appeared, threatening more attacks in the country, as the

sources of Bangladesh disclosed. It also proves that Bangladesh’s home-grown militants have

connections with the ISIL. However, availing the opportunity of the Dhaka restaurant attack,

Indian media also began a campaign, accusing ISI.

In the recent past, two foreigners were shot, while a Shia gathering was targeted in the country.

Extremist groups like Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and Jamaat-ul- Mujahideen Bangladesh

have established affinities with ISIS and are very active these days. Some of the Western

countries even advised their citizen not to travel to the country.

It is optimistically suggested to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other leaders of Awami

League that without indulging into a blame game, creation of Bangladesh may be acknowledged

as one of the most tragic chapters in the history of Pakistan—tragedies test the resilience of the

nations to survive and progress. Living in past sends the message of hopelessness, leadership

must rise to the occasion and guide the nation towards integration and prosperity.

Pakistan’s eagerness in fostering good relations with Bangladesh can be gauged from huge

investments in Bangladesh by Pakistani traders.

Bengalis must know that in the backdrop of Modi’s statement, role of India in dismemberment of

Pakistan through state sponsored terrorism (Insertion of Mukti Bahni) and Indian support to

separatist elements in Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan have already been exposed, as

Islamabad has recently presented solid evidence to the UN and the US in this respect.

Besides, world must take notice of Indian interventionist and hegemonic policies vis-à- vis her

neighbors. India occupied Sikkim, subdued Bhutan, sponsored terrorism in Sri Lanka and is now

teasing Nepal.

While rectifying the historical record regarding the events of 1971, government of Bangladesh

must mention that two Divisions of army (20000, which latter grew to 34000) operating in

adverse environment has no motivation to go on civilian killing spree. It must know that if total

number of troops was 34000, then how come the much publicized figure of 93,000 troops is

true?

People of Bangladesh may identify their real enemies which are India and Awami League which

are creating conditions for break up of Pakistan and has made Pakistanis and Bengalis to fight

with each other. Now, they are again active to promote pro-Indian feelings through Awami

League and Sheikh Hasina’s government and gag the opposition, so that it can be turned into a

fully compliant state.

Nonetheless, as part of old anti-Pakistan campaign, Awami League conceals facts about the

Indian conspiracy behind the separation of Pakistan.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in India, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Indian Conspiracy behind East Pakistan’s Separation

Chocolinda in the Balkan World

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Adelina Marini

Right when the Croatian market is being shaken by findings of salmonella in the chicken and minced meat, as well as an obvious weak food control, society was scandalised by a chocolate problem. Chocolate had no other problems besides being… Serbian. On December 6th, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited Dubrovnik on the occasion of the Day of Dubrovnik War Veterans, who defended the town from the Yugoslav People’s Army in the beginning of the 1990’s. In the course of her visit the president gave gifts to war veterans’ children consisting of sweets and a photograph of herself with an autograph. Instead of the latter, the scandal was caused by the chocolate bars in the packs, which turned out to be manufactured in Serbia. The parent of one of the children in the kindergarten vented their outrage on Facebook from the fact that right on the day of Dubrovnik war veterans Kolinda (as she is called in Croatia) gave the kids Serbian chocolates.

The parent’s reaction is understandable and it is not the problem. The reaction of the president of an EU member state is what is causing perplexity. Mrs Grabar-Kitarović apologised for the gaffe, explaining that she was not aware of the chocolate’s origin and was even more outraged for it turned out that the chocolates were packaged by a Croatian company in … Vukovar. She promised that those, who do not want these, will receive Croatian-made chocolates, for her role was, besides all else, to promote Croatian produce.

There are several problems with this story

The first one is that Croatia has made a commitment, restated on multiple occasions by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović herself, to help Serbia along its way towards European membership. There are still a multitude of unresolved issues between the two states from the war for the separation of Croatia from the former Yugoslavia, which are extremely serious, and which require strong political will. It is due to some of those that Zagreb initiated the blocking the opening of negotiation chapters with Serbia. Current authorities in Belgrade have enough transgressions which need being pointed out and Croatia should get the support of its EU partners for it. Among those problems is the relativisation of crimes committed by the Milošević regime with crimes of the Ustaša regime during World War Two. Among those are also the attempts of Serbian authorities to play down the Milošević regime crimes and even allow calls for its exoneration.

Serbia still has much to do regarding cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, hate speech, unresolved property and cultural issues, border disputes, unsolved cases of Croatian nationals gone missing in action during the war, and the treatment of minorities. It is a long list and it is articulated generally in the European Commission’s annual reports on Serbia’s progress towards EU membership. And this is just regarding neighbourly relations. Serbia’s domestic political issues with the rule of law, democracy, and media freedom are a whole different story.

The second problem is that Zagreb is part of the EU common market and in this sense it is bewildering when a case of protectionism arises. Certainly, the particular cause is a different one, but the president’s reaction reveals an inclination towards protectionism. This comes in direct contradiction with Croatia’s European commitments towards the EU and countries of the enlargement process. Instead of attempting to promote Croatian-made products, the head of state should fight for raising the levels of productivity and competitiveness in Croatia, and also for having Croatian products break through on the European market. The latter, apropos, is a problem, pointed out in the economic reports on the European semester. In the end of the day, if Croatian products are more competitive they will also be demanded more not only on the domestic, but also on the European and regional markets.

Moreover, there is another perspective missing in the whole chocolate drama. If the chocolate bars were packaged by a company in Vukovar, it has probably opened X jobs, which are feeding families in one of the Croatian towns which gets abandoned the quickest. There was no mention of the share of this company’s business in the town’s economy and how could it be a problem that Serbian raw materials are being used in a town, where there are Serbs living as well. This company probably pays taxes and social security contributions.

Reaction from Serbia was one to be expected. Minister of Foreign and Domestic Trade and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić said on the occasion of the chocolate affair that it is obvious that Serbian products are not welcome in Croatia. “The statement of Croatia’s president is undemocratic, un-European, and un-economic”, he said, quoted by Tanjug. One could often see in Serbian press the disappointment that while Serbs like Croatian products, Serbian ones are obviously problematic in Croatia. “What reconciliation could we be talking about”, was an often asked question. And a very legitimate one. If a bar of chocolate could be a problem in relations between two countries, attempting to resolve their post-war problems, as was a movie as well this year, then there is something very wrong.

Croatia served as an example for all other countries from the Western Balkans that transformation in this region is possible. Such jingoistic fussiness, however, seriously damages Croatia’s image of an intermediary between the EU and those countries, which still have a long way to go until they catch-up with the, alas ever eroding, standards of the European Union. Instead of showing that it has outgrown petty nationalism and is a truly mature European democracy and a free market, Croatia shows with such reactions that it has not stepped out of Balkan-ism. In her wish not to lose the votes of war veterans and nationalist-minded voters, the president is doing harm in the long term to the future of her country in the region and the EU in general.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić likes very much to say, although he is not being too convincing in proving this wish of his, that he wishes for relations in the region to be like those between France and Germany, which from warring countries turned into the engine behind EU development. To achieve this, however, it is necessary that both states – Serbia and Croatia – turn away from pettiness and everyday politics and look strategically towards each other and towards the region in general. This was done by France and Germany not only for their own good, but for the benefit of the entire continent. Croatia has shown many times how it is done, but has been failing to do so lately. Moreover, such actions only feed fuel to the engine of hate-propagators like Vojislav Šešelj, who took immediate advantage of the latest gaffe of the Croatian president, while from the beginning of autumn Croatia has been making an impression of returning politics back to the flow of normalcy. It is a pity if a chocolate bar can derail this process.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in CroatiaComments Off on Chocolinda in the Balkan World

BBC Propaganda Watch: Tell-Tale Signs That Slip Through The Cracks

NOVANEWS

Image result for BBC Propaganda CARTOON

Even the most powerful systems of propaganda inadvertently allow uncomfortable truths to slip out into the public domain. Consider a recent BBC News interview following the death of Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro. Dr Denise Baden, Associate Professor in Business Ethics at the University of Southampton, who has studied Castro’s leadership and Cuban business models, was asked by BBC News presenter Justine Mawhinney for her views on Cuba and Castro. It’s fair to say that Baden’s responses didn’t follow the standard establishment line echoed and amplified in much of the ‘mainstream’ media.

Mawhinney kicked off the interview with the standard Western propaganda line about Castro:

‘He ruled with an iron fist, didn’t he?’

Baden immediately challenged the cliché:

‘Well, that’s something that everyone’s fond of saying. But when I talk to the people who live in Cuba, and the Cubans who’ve come to live in the UK, that’s not the story that I get. The feeling that comes through is of Fidel Castro almost as a father figure. So, the older generation tend to see him as a hero of the revolution. They’re aware that many of them wouldn’t even be here if it wouldn’t have been for the health advances and the equalisation of resources that he provided.’

The academic, who visited the island in 2013 and 2014, ‘drawn by its record on sustainability’, then pointed out that it was the crippling US embargo on Cuba that was responsible for much of the hardships suffered by the Cubans for over five decades: a crucial point that the BBC interviewer significantly did not pursue.

Mawhinney then raised Castro’s human rights record. Baden addressed the issue of free speech first:

‘When I went to talk to people in Cuba, I found it remarkable how freely they all spoke about Fidel Castro, and Raul Castro, and the policies. I was expecting from the discourse we hear that people would be afraid to speak out. And that wasn’t what I found – people spoke out very freely.’

The BBC interviewer pressed her on whether Cuban people really did speak out:

‘Did they criticise the regime?’

Baden:

‘Oh yes. I had the head of a topical newspaper who was quite critical of the government in some ways. Not all ways, but some ways. And I think what it is, is the [Western] media’s been dominated by America. So, for example, when Obama visited Havana [in March 2016] you had the Cuban Ladies in White come out to protest against the human rights abuses. And so, of course, that dominates the headlines. But they’re paid for by Americans – people don’t realise that; an American agency pays for them. The Cubans don’t take them seriously.’

Once again, the BBC interviewer did not pick up the uncomfortable point about US support, including financial sponsorship, of anti-Castro activism. Imagine the reverse case if Cuba, or another foreign power, were responsible for funding or otherwise fomenting activism inside the United States. Indeed, look at the media outrage at alleged interference by ‘Putin’s Russia’ in the recent US election, with a new explosion of coverage devoted to evidence-free assertions made by anonymous CIA officials.

The BBC interviewer returned to Castro:

‘But he did carry out human rights abuses. Look, let’s just take one section. Gay people and those with Aids – completely persecuted.’

Again, Baden’s response deviated from the ‘mainstream’ script:

‘I think when you look back at the time at which the revolution was considered to be a little bit homophobic, which was in the 60s, I’m not sure many countries could hold their heads up high and say that they were as open as they should be. So, I think you have to look at it in context of the period as well.’

Trying a different tack, Mawhinney continued:

‘You seem quite fond of Fidel Castro.’

Rather than rise to this personalised bait, Baden pointed out that, like many Western consumers of news broadcasts, she had long ‘been exposed to the Miami voice [often privileged Cuban exiles], which is the very dominant voice, and I think I was just surprised when I went there not to find this browbeaten people who felt oppressed.’

She continued:

‘And I think that made me a little bit cross actually because I think we have been exposed to a lot ofmisinformation, and this quite small minority in Florida has dominated the headlines today and over the past fifty years.’

This implicit criticism of BBC News was left hanging in the air.

By now sounding quite incredulous, the BBC interviewer asked:

‘So, are you saying that what he did, the things that we would see as a human rights abuse was okay?’

Baden’s calm challenge was professorial:

‘Well, do you want to be more specific?’

Mawhinney followed up in hand-waving fashion:

‘Well, the prisoners, the political prisoners, the problems with gay people, et cetera, et cetera.’

Baden replied:

‘Well no, I don’t think political prisoners are ever okay. And I don’t think persecuting gay people is ever okay.’

Crucially, the academic then made the point that matters:

‘What I’m disputing is that Fidel Castro of Cuba was any worse than any other country. I think if you expose America to the same lens, then you’d have a stack of crimes that would overshadow what Fidel Castro has done.’

It’s a rare moment when even a mention of American crimes is carried on BBC airwaves, never mind stating that they would dwarf the alleged crimes of an Official Enemy.

Baden continued with the context that was routinely missing from, or downplayed in, recent coverage of Cuba following Castro’s death:

‘I think the important thing to realise is the moment Fidel came into power in the revolution, at the time at which there was very strong anti-Communist feeling, the Americans did everything they could to subvert that. They invaded in the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis was a response to an expected additional invasion, and there was, I think, an estimated 638 CIA-sponsored attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. So, I think you have to understand the responses and the fear of open speech in context of a constant aggression coming from ninety miles over the water.’

Again, the notion of ‘constant aggression’ from the US is virtually verboten on the BBC.

This remarkable segment of BBC News would most likely have been lost down the Memory Hole were it not for Media Lens reader Steve Ennever who captured it, uploaded it to YouTube, and then informed people about it (including us). The clip quickly went viral. At the time of writing, it has had around 140,000 views on YouTube, with around half a million views on the Media Lens Facebook page and 2.7 million views via EvolvePolitics. This truly shows the power of social media.

Most public commenters were highly appreciative of the way Baden handled the BBC interview. A few preferred to say instead: ‘Well done BBC for showing this’, as though the corporation had upheld its commitment to impartiality. But those people are rather missing the point. The BBC line of interviewing – in reality, assertions with a token question mark added at the end – consisted of propaganda bullet points. Thanks to Baden, here was a rare and welcome example of that propaganda line being dismantled live on BBC News.

Yes, it is possible to praise the interviewer, or BBC News, for ‘allowing’ that to happen here; Justine Mawhinny did at least refrain from constantly interrupting the interviewee in the way of Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr or John Humphrys. By ‘balancing’ praise with criticism, some argue, the BBC will be ‘encouraged’ to ‘improve’ its performance. Perhaps marginally. But, as seen over many years, the very structure of the BBC means there is a systemic bias in favour of the state, big business, elites and power. Praising a prison guard for being a little less harsh is futile when the prison system remains essentially unchanged. Are we really meant to be pathetically grateful for tiny bits of comfort?

Such are the perils of live television, then, for BBC News. An interviewee may end up querying, perhaps rejecting, the ideological script presented by a BBC News journalist. The script may even be turned on its head, by pointing out that the West is guilty of far worse crimes than the Bogeyman in question – Fidel Castro, as we saw above.

‘A Grand Bargain’

Another potentially vulnerable moment for the BBC in maintaining the correct ideological stance is the live artificial ‘chat’ that takes place between a BBC News presenter and a journalist who is on location, or sitting across a glossy table from the presenter in the studio. Normally these are such tightly managed affairs between two highly trained and carefully selected media professionals that nothing ‘untoward’ happens. But very occasionally, the impromptu language allows over-reaching or unguarded thoughts to spill out, making alert viewers do a double-take.

For example, BBC Business Editor Simon Jack inadvertently delivered a tasty morsel of newspeak on BBC News at Ten last month (BBC One, November 21, 2016). Jack was describing Prime Minister Theresa May’s keynote speech to business leaders at the CBI conference. Supposedly, her tone was more ‘conciliatory’ compared to a previous ‘withering attack’ a week earlier when she had pointed out ‘some abuses she saw in capitalism and their [business leaders’] behaviour in some corners of British business’. May’s vague words then about curbing ‘the worst excesses of capitalism’ did not exactly herald a revolution. Instead, they smacked of appeasing ‘populism’ in the wake of Brexit and Trump’s US electoral win.

Jack paraphrased May’s key message to the CBI:

‘I know you’ve got some problems. And there’s going to be a grand bargain. I’ll do some things, I’ll lower taxes, I’ll invest in productivity. You clean up your act and make sure the wealth is shared.’

BBC viewers may well have thought: ‘Run that past me again?’ Did you really report without comment, far less journalistic scrutiny, that the Prime Minister instructed business elites to ‘make sure the wealth is shared’? Is the British public expected to believe that big business will actually ‘make sure the wealth is shared’? As ever, there was no proper scepticism towards government pronouncements or policy. In reality, Jack’s role is the BBC News editor for business – and government. Sometimes the bias is that blatant.

Another point in BBC News where viewers can be rewarded for particular vigilance is at the start of the programme; or when a specific news story is being introduced. Here the required establishment view – the perspective of ‘our’ government or big business – is sometimes especially obvious.

For example, on November 16, Fiona Bruce introduced an item on BBC News at Ten with:

‘In Iraq, special forces are slowly pushing back so-called Islamic State in the country’s second city, Mosul. But the fighting is hard…’

This was propaganda-style reporting once again from BBC News; no doubt similar to how the Russian media report on Russian forces pushing back against terrorists in Syria. Indeed, as we have pointed out before, there are many parallels between British and Russian/Soviet propaganda reporting of foreign policy and military action (see here, here and here).

‘The World Wants America As Its Policeman’

And then there are those brave people who enter the labyrinthine den of the BBC ‘complaints system’. This is a soul-crushing experience that even the former BBC chairman Lord Grade once described as ‘grisly’ due to a system that is ‘absolutely hopeless’. So what hope for us mere mortals? Anyone who makes the attempt is surely forever disabused of the notion that BBC News engages with, or indeed serves, the public in any meaningful way. Long-time readers may recall that Helen Boaden, then head of BBC News, once joked that she evaded public complaints that were sent to her on email:

‘Oh, I just changed my email address.’

One of our favourite cases was a challenge made about an article by that avuncular epitome of BBC gravitas, World Affairs Editor John Simpson. In a 2014 article, ‘Barack Obama’s best years could still be ahead of him’, Simpson claimed that:

‘The world (well, most of it) wants an active, effective America to act as its policeman, sorting out the problems smaller countries can’t face alone.’

One of our readers (name withheld) read the article, then submitted a complaint to the BBC, noting that:

‘In an international opinion poll by Gallup this year the US was found to be the greatest threat to peace in the world, voted three times more dangerous to world peace than the next country. The BBC article is therefore, at worst, incorrect and biased or at best highly inaccurate. Will you be retracting the statement?’

Needless to say, the BBC did no such thing. In fact, Sean Moss, whose job title reads ‘BBC Complaints Adviser for BBC News website’, delivered a comical reply (forwarded to us, 13 November 2014):

‘In fact the poll referenced in your complaint was from the end of last year rather than this year. It is an annual end of year survey which in this edition “explores the outlook, expectations, hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world” from 2013.

‘Given that we’re now nearly at the end of 2014 and they will be conducting a new poll next month we’re unclear on what basis you feel these views are still applicable.’

‘Unclear’ if ‘still applicable’? Far from being a rogue result, the US regularly tops polls of global public opinion as the world’s greatest threat to peace. As Noam Chomsky noted in an interview earlier this year when discussing nuclear weapons:

‘Iran is not a threat, period. The world doesn’t regard Iran as a threat. That’s a U.S. obsession. You look at global—polls of global opinion taken by Gallup’s international affiliate, the leading U.S. polling agencies—agency, one of the questions that they ask is, “Which country is the greatest threat to world peace?” Answer: United States, by a huge margin. Iran is barely mentioned. Second place is Pakistan, inflated by the Indian vote, that’s way behind the United States. That’s world opinion. And there are reasons for it. Americans are protected from this information.’

Not only Americans. British – indeed, global – audiences too; thanks in no small measure to the BBC.

The requirement to keep awkward facts hidden or marginalised is especially pressing on those BBC journalists who are entrusted to report from the United States. Thus, in an online report titled ‘The decline of US power?’, the BBC New York correspondent Nick Bryant had to tread carefully in even mentioning America’s ‘approval rating’, as measured by Gallup:

‘In Asia, America’s median approval rating in 2014, as measured by Gallup, was 39%, a 6% drop since 2011.

‘In Africa, the median approval went down to 59%, the lowest since polling began, despite Obama hosting the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington in August, last year.’

There was no mention that, as mentioned, global public opinion regularly regards the US as the greatest threat to world peace, and by a considerable margin.

However, there was plenty of space for Bryant to churn out the usual BBC boilerplate about America’s ‘national interest’ and Obama’s ‘pragmatism’ and ‘diplomatic dexterity’; all this about a leader who boasted he had bombed seven countries, rapidly escalated a killer drone programme and broke his pledge to shut down the US Guantanamo torture camp in Cuba.

Dying In A Ditch For BBC News ‘Impartiality’

The irony in the ongoing corporate media allegations about ‘fake news’ (see our previous media alert) is that, as Glenn Greenwald noted, ‘those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.’ That is because the corporate media fears losing control of the media agenda.

As for BBC News, its privileged, publicly-funded position as supposedly the world’s most trusted broadcaster is under threat. So, while reasonable questions can be asked of the growing behemoths of the media landscape – Google, YouTube and Facebook – ‘mainstream’ journalists know full well not to publicly scrutinise their own industry’s output of state-corporate ‘fake news’.

Thus, BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones can safely hold Facebook up to the light and ask:

‘If Facebook or something similar had not existed, would Donald Trump still be heading for the White House?

‘That is hard to say but what does seem likely is that social media served to polarise views in what was already a bitter election and may have encouraged a few hesitant voters to come out for Mr Trump.

‘This makes Facebook’s claims that it just a technology platform, rather than a hugely powerful media company with Mark Zuckerberg as editor-in-chief, look very thin indeed. But there are few signs that the company is ready to face up to this heavy responsibility or engage in some serious soul-searching.’ (our emphasis)

It would be virtually unthinkable for a BBC journalist to write of his employer:

‘there are few signs that the broadcaster is ready to face up to this heavy responsibility or engage in some serious soul-searching.’

But then, as John Pilger noted recently:

‘Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia — and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.’

As a prime example, consider Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor. Last week, Press Gazette awarded her the accolade of ‘Journalist of the Year’. She told the trade paper proudly that:

‘I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC.’

Two former senior BBC figures would dispute that self-serving depiction of wonderful BBC ‘impartiality’. Greg Dyke, a former BBC director general, believes that:

‘The BBC is part of a “conspiracy” preventing the “radical changes” needed to UK democracy.’

He says that a parliamentary commission should look into the ‘whole political system’, adding that

‘I fear it will never happen because I fear the political class will stop it.’

And Sir Michael Lyons, former chairman of the BBC Trust , said earlier this year that there had been ‘some quite extraordinary attacks’ on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the BBC.

Readers may recall that Kuenssberg was behind the on-air resignation of a Labour shadow foreign minister in an apparent attempt to manipulate the news agenda and heap pressure on Corbyn. Former British diplomat Craig Murray describes her as:

‘the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC’.

Up to and including dying in a ditch, Kuenssberg would do anything to defend the impartiality of the BBC. Well, perhaps notanything. Asked for her ‘impartial’ view on why 35,000 members of the public had signed a petition calling for her to be sacked for her bias, Kuenssberg replied rather less heroically: ‘I’m not going to get into that.’

Des Freedman, Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, notes that the kind of bias displayed by Kuenssberg:

‘isn’t an accident or a one-off example of “bad journalism” but is built into a media system that is intertwined with the interests that run the country.’

He adds:

‘This doesn’t mean that there’s a smoke-filled room somewhere where anti-Corbyn people get together. I think you just call it a routine editorial meeting. The point is many senior journalists … reflect the dominant strain that runs through their newsrooms – one based on the assumed benefits of neoliberalism and foreign intervention and the undesirability (or the sheer madness of the idea) of redistribution, nationalisation and people like Jeremy Corbyn who don’t share the same social circles or ideological commitments.’

As Freedman rightly concludes:

‘We need a wholly different media system: one that’s not afraid to challenge power because it’s not steeped in power in the first place.’

 

Posted in Media, UKComments Off on BBC Propaganda Watch: Tell-Tale Signs That Slip Through The Cracks

With Jesus’ birth, why does the Bible list two different family trees?

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Image result for bible photos

 

THE QUESTION:

In the accounts of Jesus’ Nativity in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, why are the genealogies so different?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Because there are no Christmas-y questions from readers awaiting answers, The Guy raises this Yuletide classic himself. When Matthew and Luke recount the birth of Jesus they present different genealogies with fascinating intricacies. The following can only sketch a few basics from the immense literature on this.

The Bible provides no roadmap, leaving us to ponder who was included, who was omitted, how the passages were structured, and what all this might mean. Reader comprehension is difficult due to multiple names given the same person, the lack of specific Hebrew and Greek words so that a “son-in-law” was called a “son,” legal adoption, and “levirate marriage” where a widow wed her late husband’s brother to maintain the family line.

Family trees were of keen importance for the Hebrews and carefully preserved. The central purpose in both Gospels was to establish Jesus within King David’s family line, a key qualification for recognition as the promised Messiah.

Matthew starts right off with the genealogy in the first 17 verses of chapter 1. Beginning from the patriarch Abraham, it extends through three sections of 14 generations each, down to the conclusion with “Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” The passage then immediately specifies that Joseph was not the biological father because Jesus was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit (1:18-21).

In Luke, which also depicts this “virgin birth,” the genealogy appears later on (3:23-38) after Jesus in baptized by John and a heavenly voice proclaims him the Son of God. Here the chronology is reversed, starting from Jesus “the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, and son of Heli,” moving backward through 77 generations, beyond David and Abraham all the way to Adam.

Experts tell us Matthew built the scenario on Abraham, the founder of the Israelites, because the Jewish writer(s) compiled this Gospel largely for fellow Jews. Luke was framed especially for Gentile converts, so the genealogy traces to Adam to announce Jesus as the savior of all humanity, though also a Jewish descendant of Abraham and David.

Despite the Jewish audience, Matthew hinted at the same universality when the Gentile Magi appear to worship in chapter 2, and explicitly at the end of the final chapter when Jesus issues his commission to reach “all nations.” Exegetes see an echo of the Bible’s creation story because Matthew 1:1 can be translated “book of the genesis.” Also compare the first words of the Book of Genesis with Luke 1:2 (“from the beginning”), Mark 1:1 (“the beginning”) and John 1:1 (“in the beginning”).

The general consensus on the differences is that Matthew depicted Jesus’ legal descent from David, on the assumption Joseph adopted him. If Mary had no brothers, by common custom Joseph would have been his father-in-law’s legal “son” and heir through the marriage. Luke defined Jesus through Mary as a blood descendant of David. Some Luke texts insert a “Jacob” between Joseph and Heli, but these are late manuscripts judged unreliable.

Matthew’s listing is selective rather than naming each and every generation, since there are royal omissions a Jew would have noticed. Perhaps these unnamed personalities were scorned. Omissions were nothing usual in family trees since, for example, the succession in 1 Chronicles 3:10-14 omitted monarchs we know about from the Bible’s historical narratives.

Matthew’s first set of 14 covered patriarchs, the second listed only royalty, and the third named private citizens. The stylized structure of three 14’s was either because that’s double the sacred number of seven, or because in gematria (Jewish number symbolism) the name David adds up to 14 and his is the 14th name, doubly listed. Or all the above.

Since ancient family trees traced through males, it’s striking that Matthew made a point of including four women in addition to Mary. Moreover, three (Rahab, Ruth, Tamar) were Gentiles and possibly also the fourth (Bathsheba). Equally surprising is that alongside evil kings we find Rahab who was a prostitute, the incestuous seducer Tamar, and “the wife of Uriah” (the adulterous Bathsheba didn’t even deserve mention by name!).

Interpreters see here a forthright message: Jesus is the savior of both men and women, of Jews and of Gentiles, and even of notorious sinners.

Luke’s different structure consisted of eleven groups each naming the sacred number of seven, for a total of 77 generations. As in Matthew there are evident omissions (we’ll sidestep humanity’s chronology after Adam as seen by strict literalists and “creationists”).

The two listings are identical between Abraham and David, but from David to Jesus the lines diverge. Luke traced the family tree through David’s son Nathan, while Matthew followed the ruling line of David’s son Solomon. The traditional explanation is that Joseph and Mary descended from King David but by these two different paths.

Unlike Matthew, Luke omitted Jehoiachin, the three-month king of the Exile in Babylon, possibly to shun memory of that horror. Scholars say this king ended Judah’s royal line so a curse in Jeremiah 22:30 said he should be recorded “as if childless” (NIV) although the Bible says in fact he sired seven offspring.

Only two names between David and Jesus appear in both genealogies, Shealtiel and his son Zerubbabel (also transliterated as Salathiel and Zorababel), who helped restore the Jerusalem Temple after the Exile (see Ezra 3). If the Religion Guy presented even a summary of the discussion on that, this article would be twice as long.

Posted in EducationComments Off on With Jesus’ birth, why does the Bible list two different family trees?

When Pastors Live In Multimillion Dollar Mansions

NOVANEWS
When Pastors Live In Multimillion Dollar Mansions, It’s Not A Sign Of God’s Blessing– But Our Sinfulness

A year ago this week I took these images while working in slums of Mumbai, India. As I was walking along with the local pastor I was spending the day with, he cautioned me saying:

“Be careful where you step, Pastor Benjamin, this is where the children make their shit”.

It took me a moment to get past the fact that a pastor had just said “shit” before I realized that there were human feces almost everywhere.

Such is life in the slums where there are no bathrooms, running water, and where homes look like American storage lockers.

Even with a level of poverty that most Americans could hardly imagine, the people of Mumbai– the people of India in general– are some of the happiest and most generous people I’ve ever been blessed to spend time with. It is one of the many reasons I continue to go back and why part of my heart is always somewhere on a dusty road in India.

While I would desire that all Americans be able to spend some time in the slums of Mumbai or other international traveling geared towards experiencing poverty instead of Club Med, the truth is most Americans probably couldn’t handle it. The reality of global poverty to many, would simply be too disgusting. However, it isn’t to me. The poor and oppressed of this world are my people– because they’re Jesus’ people– and I love being with them.

However, if you take a 16 hour flight from Mumbai back here to the United States, you’ll find some things that I actually do find disgusting: the association between Christianity and wealth.

This unholy matrimony between Jesus and cash is becoming especially true with many Christian leaders. It’s not just televangelists who are about Jesus + bling– this is a poison that is sickening churches of all sizes in America.

We have Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church who just built a multimillion dollar mansion.

Jan Crouch from TBN who has a 50 Million dollar jet, 13 mansions, and a $100,000 mobile home for her dogs.

We have fear-peddlers such as John Hagee who was reported to be making over $1 Million a year before making his salary secret, guys like Kenneth Copeland who have their own fleet of jets, and folks like Ed Young who receives a $240,ooo PER YEAR housing allowance in addition to a $1 Million dollar salary.

Even in small towns like mine, you have churches of African refugees without enough money to care for themselves or even purchase Bibles for the church while two miles down the road, one can find a mega church with multimillion dollar building campaigns.

In the past, this gross association between wealth and Jesus was largely a thing for slimey televangelists, but sadly it isn’t anymore– this illness has permeated into much of American Christian culture, and it’s making all of us sick. With new mega churches cropping up every few days, the Christian idolatry of buildings, bodies, and bucks combined with secular idolatry that promotes the God of “me”,  we have been polluted by money to the point that it is hindering the Kingdom and keeping us from following Jesus.

However, it’s easy for us to stand back and point our finger at these rich poster children for American Christianity as somehow we’re off the hook and innocent parties in all this. We’re not! These folks get their money from…. us.

Let me be prophetically clear: rich pastors and mega church budgets are not a sign of God’s blessing but of our own (corporate) sinfulness.

The body of Christ in America, is guilty. Sure, not all of us use our money to make pastors rich– but we do spend most of our money on ourselves which is even worse. As a result, we are among the richest people in the world while we’re often oblivious to the way the rest of the world lives.

Oblivious to slums. Oblivious to communities where girls are such a financial burden that they’re killed on the day they’re born. Oblivious to a world where a leading cause of death is lack of access to clean water. We– rich, American Christians, are often oblivious to the world around us.

This association with wealth is inappropriate for those who wish to follow Jesus. Jesus is not the one who said “let me show you how to live your best life now” or “Come, let me show you eight steps to having the life you want”.

Instead, Jesus was the man who said: “Want to be perfect? Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” (Mt 19:21)

Jesus is the one who said: “If you want to follow me, you should first remember that I am a homeless person.” (Mt 8:20)

Jesus is the one who said: “If you want to follow me, grab a shovel and start digging your grave now.” (Lk 9:23)

Jesus is the one who said: “If money is what motivates you, it’s impossible for you to follow God.” (Mt 6:24)

Admittedly, I tricked you with the title of this post– because it’s not so much about calling rich Christian pastors to repent, as it is about calling me and you to repent.

Instead of the rich, American version of Christianity we must reclaim the truth:

Having an over abundance of wealth kept for ourselves is not a sign of God’s blessing, but damning evidence of our own sinfulness.

So the question becomes: how are we supposed to show solidarity with our poor and hungry brothers and sisters in the world when we’re driving in cars that have televisions and surround sound?

How are we suppose to bring healing to the nations when as Christians we’re spending almost all of our money on ourselves?

Today, I’m remembering the time I had to dodge a field of human feces in the slums of Mumbai. I’m also thinking about the association between American Christianity and wealth.

And to be honest, only one of those two things disgusts me.

 

Posted in USA, EducationComments Off on When Pastors Live In Multimillion Dollar Mansions

Trump Is Inheriting Power to Assassinate Anyone, Including US Citizens, With No Oversight

NOVANEWS

By John Knefel, Truthout 

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout; Adapted: Charles Tilford)

Of all the people the United States government killed in the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, one of the most controversial targets was Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen and imam who at the time of his death had become the face of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The US killed Awlaki in a drone strike in late September of 2011 — despite having never charged him with a crime or presented evidence of his guilt in court — marking what The New York Times described as the “first time since the Civil War [that] the United States government had carried out the deliberate killing of an American citizen as a wartime enemy and without a trial.”

Now, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office after a campaign in which he promised to carry out war crimes, such as killing the families of suspected terrorists and reviving the torture program, Awlaki’s death is getting renewed attention. If Awlaki, a US citizen, could be deprived of life without judicial oversight, what limits will there be on Trump’s authority to carry out similar strikes against citizens and non-citizens alike?

Jameel Jaffer, author of the new book The Drone Memos and director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, explained to me that at its core, the Awlaki case was about centralized power in the executive branch.

“My concern is, the Obama administration claimed the authority to kill people far away from conventional battlefields without ever having to account for its action to any court,” Jaffer told me in a phone interview. “And the al-Awlaki case was really about that question: Should the government be able to kill its own citizens without explaining to a court why it’s doing it? The Obama administration was very successful in persuading the courts to defer to the executive branch. The result is that this awesome power is not subject now to any meaningful oversight by the judiciary. And that power will now be available to the next administration.”

That worry is echoed by Naureen Shah, director of national security and human rights at Amnesty International. “The concern that I raised for several years was that President Obama was acting as judge, jury and executioner with the drone program,” Shah told me. “And if you apply that to President-elect Trump, I think a lot of people would be very frightened.”

Although the first known US drone strike was carried out under President George W. Bush, Obama significantly accelerated the pace of so-called “targeted killings” via drones during his time in office. An independent estimate from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism places the total number of deaths from semi-covert strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia between 3,322 and 5,267. After years of sustained criticism from human rights groups, much of it centering on the Obama administration’s extreme secrecy around the drone program, the White House released a three-page report detailing the number of civilians believed to have been killed by US drone attacks. Their number was significantly lower than the totals reached by outside observers, and the report was criticized for being light on details.

“Despite Obama administration claims of increased transparency and restraints on strikes outside areas of active hostilities, we still know very little about how the US determines who can and cannot be killed in these strikes, the factual claims in support, and the legal authority used,” Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel at Human Rights Watch, told me. “Limits placed on them should apply to everyone equally — not only, or to any greater degree, on US citizens. ”

Pitter’s argument that restrictions on the killing programs should not be limited to US citizens is widely shared amongst human rights groups. Still, as Jaffer told me, if there were going to be any limiting factor on these authorities, US citizenship is one place courts should look. “If even an American citizen isn’t entitled to any form of judicial process, then there’s no argument that a non-citizen would be entitled to it,” he said.

That’s why the Awlaki killing generated so much attention, and why the legal precedent it set is so troubling. In August 2010, the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Awlaki’s father Nasser al-Awlaki, attempting to stop the Obama administration from carrying out the assassination. That suit was dismissed, as was a subsequent one filed after Awlaki’s death.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico, and at the age of seven moved with his family to Yemen while his father went to graduate school. He returned to the US to attend college at Colorado State, later making a name for himself as a talented young imam in Denver and San Diego. He shot to national prominence in the wake of 9/11, including being interviewed by the Washington Post as a source who could explain Islam to a US audience. He had been described as a translator between Yemen and the US.

Accounts vary of when Awlaki began to develop from a mainstream preacher to a more radical one, but the global war on terror carried out under the Bush administration, and then continued by Obama, clearly played a role in radicalizing his political and religious views. If the Obama administration was hoping to silence Awlaki by ordering his death, it could not have been more unsuccessful. In making him a martyr, the administration ensured his influence would grow. Most recently, a knife-wielding student at Ohio State mentioned Awlaki on a Facebook post just before his attack, and at least 30 other attackers have made similar reference to his sermons.

Central to the Obama administration’s claim to have the legal authority to kill Awlaki was its assertion that he was not just a popular YouTube sensation calling for attacks on the US, but that he was directly responsible for carrying out operations — including offering support in 2009 to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day underwear bomber. When Awlaki went from propagandist to “operational,” he became a legitimate target, according to the administration. The public evidence for Awlaki’s operational role in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula relies largely on one of several confessions Abdulmutallab made in US custody. For Jaffer, that’s inadequate. “There’s a big difference between allegations, however compelling they may seem, and evidence that’s tested in an adversarial process,” he said.

It’s still unclear exactly what Trump will do with the vast war-making powers he will inherit, but with his announcement that he has selected retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis for secretary of defense, his top national security team is coming into focus. Though Mattis is well respected throughout the military, his nomination raises plenty of concerns. For one, he’ll have to get a waiver from Congress, since the law requires a person to have been out of the service for seven years before becoming defense secretary, a provision designed to ensure civilian control of the military remains paramount.

For another, Mattis was pushed out of his role as head of US Central Command for his hawkish stance on Iran. And he has signaled strong support for continued indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, a position likely to find a home in the new administration. Unsurprisingly, given his job history, Mattis has a penchant for killing, saying at one point, “It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.”

To his credit, Mattis has rejected some of Trump’s proposals, including a ban on Muslims entering the US and a return to torture. The rest of Trump’s cabinet, however, is stocked with unapologetic Islamophobes.

For the past eight years, critics of Obama’s secret assassination programs and mass surveillance operations have made two critical points. The first is that even if you trust Obama, these kinds of broad authorities invite abuse, mistakes and errors, even if those calling the shots are operating in good faith. But the second point, now made painfully relevant, is that someday you might not trust the people calling the shots. You might realize, instead, that they are terrifying. That day has come.

“The truth is, I worried about these powers even when President Obama was in charge,” said Jaffer. “I think there’s at least as much reason to worry, or more reason to worry, now.”

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Resistance and Resilience: The Cultural Legacy of the Black Panther Party

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Image result for Black Panther Party LOGO

The Black Panther Party combined Black Power’s militancy with socialist ideology, and infused funk music with Franz Fanon’s writings. Their impact on American Culture, from music to style to community organizing, continues to resonate today. Fifty years after the birth of the Black Panther Party, we take a look at the lasting cultural legacy of the Black Panther Party through the eyes of the generations that followed. Special thanks to this show’s host Eric Arnold.

Featuring:

  • Cat Brooks, artist and organizer with the Anti Police-Terror Project
  • René de Guzman, curator of “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at Fifty” at the Oakland Museum of California
  • Sadie Barnette, Panther cub and artist
  • Refa Senay, Panther cub and artist
  • Hodari Davis, co-director Young Gifted and Black, organizer Life is Living
  • Keba Konte, founder and owner of Red Bay Coffee
  • Kaleb Houston, Director of Coffee for Red Bay Coffee

Credits:

  • Host: Eric Arnold
  • Producers: Anita Johnson, Marie Choi, Monica Lopez, R.J. Lozada
  • Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
  • Audience Engagement Director/Web Editor: Sabine Blaizin
  • Development Associate: Vera Tykulsker

Music:

Posted in USAComments Off on Resistance and Resilience: The Cultural Legacy of the Black Panther Party

“It’s All Collapsed”: New Chomsky Documentary Details Death of American Dream

Noam Chomsky, in a still from the documentary "Requiem for The American Dream." (Image: PF Pictures)

Noam Chomsky, in a still from the documentary Requiem for The American Dream. (Image: PF Pictures / Gravitas Ventures)

In this documentary, recently released on DVD, Noam Chomsky gives an overview of the miasma of the current political, sociological and economic situation of the United States. Filmed over the course of four years, Requiem for The American Dream shows Chomsky detailing in 10 points his sweeping understanding of the seemingly intractable inequities and lack of a robust democracy we find in our society.

The filmmakers ensured that this would not be just another talking head discourse: It is both innovatively animated and trenchantly informative, an incisive dissection of the disastrous impact of the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few.

Posted in USAComments Off on “It’s All Collapsed”: New Chomsky Documentary Details Death of American Dream

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