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‘All Journalists at Risk’ if Assange Handed to US Jailers

By Ben Chacko

Global Research,

All journalists will be at risk if Julian Assange is extradited to the US and jailed for publishing classified information, a packed debate at London’s Frontline Club heard today.

Mr Assange faces up to 175 years behind bars if convicted of charges relating to the publication of documents, video and diplomatic cables exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Intervening from the floor, National Union of Journalists president Tim Dawson said that we needed to urgently wake up to the “monstrous” case against Mr Assange.

“If successful this will place every journalist under fear of it being used against them,” he said, citing advice from the Law Commission to the Theresa May government which recommended legal changes to allow those in receipt of classified information to be prosecuted as well as those who leaked it.

“When I published information relating to Britain’s complicity in torture I knew I risked going to jail,” former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said. “But I’m shocked at the implication that the journalists who take and publish that information could go to jail.”

The Legal, Systemic and Reputational Implications of the Assange Case debate saw UN special rapporteur on torture Professor Nils Melzer describe the conclusions of two independent medical experts who examined Mr Assange that he was a victim of psychological torture.

“I was sure the British government would investigate,” he said. “After all this is not some rogue state.”

Yet all he received was an insulting tweet from then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accusing him of interfering in the British judicial system.

It took the government five months to formally reply to his report.

Pointing out that Mr Assange’s lawyers complained of being denied access to their client, he concluded:

“This case is in the hands of the public, because the judiciary has proved unable or unwilling to assure due process.”

Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said that governments in Britain and the US increasingly tried to conflate “national security with political embarrassment,” while former New York Times general counsel James Goodale warned that the arrest of Glenn Greenwald in Brazil indicated other governments were already using the precedent of Assange’s prosecution to clamp down on critical journalism.

The debate, which took place under Chatham House Rules, also heard from journalist Peter Oborne on his dismay at the willingness of so many journalists to ignore or collude in the prosecution of Mr Assange.

Mr Oborne warned that the “rule of law, parliamentary democracy and free speech” were under attack across the West.

Former Foreign Office official Claire Smith spoke about the need for accountability on the part of organisations such as WikiLeaks.

It had been due to hear from former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, but he cancelled at late notice.

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THE CAIRNCROSS REVIEW: IT WAS A CON

Brian Cathcart

The Cairncross Review: it was a con

Why has the government binned the key recommendation of its own report on the future of journalism? Because it was only ever meant as a distraction

Two years ago, when the government was desperately struggling for a majority in the Commons to support scrapping part two of the Leveson Inquiry, the then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock came up with an idea.

An inquiry such as Leveson 2 into the criminal activities of the upper reaches of the national press, he decided, was ‘backward-looking’. (He might try saying that today to the Dowler family, who have just read allegations that a second newspaper was illegally trolling them and their murdered daughter.) 

Instead of looking back, Hancock told us, we needed a ‘forward-looking’ inquiry into the future of ‘high-quality journalism’, as he called it (and in his book this seemed to include the Sun and the Mail).

So in March 2018 he set up the Cairncross Review as an implicit substitute for Leveson 2 – and the gesture may well have helped politically because Leveson 2 was eventually cancelled by a margin of just nine votes.

But the Review had been promised, so it duly went ahead, with a cast of personnel that might have been (and probably were) handpicked by the big newspaper groups. And it eventually produced a report that, I will admit, was not as bad as I had warned it might be. 

But the report was just so many words. Only today, a year later, have we learned what the government will actually do about this set of recommendations. And its response amply confirms Matt Hancock’s gross dishonesty on this matter. 

Because his successor, Nicky, Baroness Morgan, has done what we can safely assume was always likely. She has binned the Cairncross Review’s central recommendation that we need an Institute for Public Interest News – ‘a dedicated body [that] could amplify efforts to ensure the future sustainability of public-interest news, working in partnership with news publishers and the online platforms’.

And the excuse Morgan gives is this: the idea ‘risks perceptions of inappropriate government interference with the press’. (As if, for example, having a Tory peer and ex-government minister running the press complaints body IPSO doesn’t risk such perceptions.)

This is a transparent pretext. If the government really wanted to set up the Institute in a way that made it independent of political influence it could easily have done so. Indeed Cairncross herself said in her report: ‘Its governance [that is, the governance of the Institute] should be carefully designed to ensure complete freedom from any obligations, political or commercial.’ 

Morgan could have got someone to do the careful designing but she didn’t. Which reveals the real explanation: the whole exercise was a sham from the start, an illusion conjured up by Matt Hancock to trick MPs into scrapping Leveson 2 and letting an army of corrupt, mostly Tory-supporting press bosses escape the scrutiny which his own party had promised to their victims and to the country.

This is not to suggest that Dame Frances and her panel were all insincere. But whatever their motives,  they have been used in a political game designed to shield the gang of people who oversaw industrial-scale phone hacking and data theft in the press. 

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Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed

by P. SAINATH

Photograph Source: John Reed, the American Communist – Public Domain

‘If Mark Twain or John Reed were alive today and looking for work, would they find it at your newspaper or channel? Could Twain have a column? Would you carry Reed’s despatches?’

That was a question I put to several American editors and journalists in 2000. I was touring the USA as an Eisenhower Fellow and meeting, often interviewing, many media personalities there. My focus was on mavericks, anti-establishment, progressive and radical journalists, including Studs Terkel, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn and Adam Hochschild. However, I did meet some very mainstream ones, including Walter Cronkite, well past 80, but quite alive and articulate. Also, Joe Lelyveld of The New York Times. I usually asked these questions at the end of those very different meetings.

Cockburn spilt his coffee laughing out loud at the idea of a Twain or Reed finding a place on staff in the contemporary corporate media. Terkel, though unwell, stood up and enacted a scene he’d been through in the McCarthy period, when he’d been blacklisted and was an untouchable in the media. ‘I gotta act this out. Watch me’, he said. ‘I’m a great ham’. Vidal (another ‘blacklister’ of the time) joked he probably wouldn’t find a job with them himself – in 2000. Cronkite said he thought Twain might get a column or show but would lose it very quickly – mainly because ‘Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ contempt for the bosses of our time would surface quickly and hilariously’. Clemens was Twain’s real name. Of Reed, Cronkite said, pausing a few seconds, that after six decades ‘in our profession, I’d think you’d have to give that perspective a place’.

Lelyveld pondered a moment and said upfront, ‘Twain probably would not find a column here…or in most mainstream publications…we do have a Bob Herbert, but…’ It seemed to me he felt Twain’s scathing irreverence would not easily find a place in any major paper. My question on Reed either did not register, or he did not find the author of Ten Days That Shook the World worthy of consideration at all. Since it was one posed as I was stepping out of his office, we couldn’t pursue it.

This was late September 2000, less than a year away from 9/11. Not long after which The New York Times, which would have dismissed the credentials of John Reed, enthusiastically published Judith Miller’s many Words of Mass Deception on mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Miller would later be ‘embedded’ with a US military unit in that country. She would be forced to resign from The Times in 2005, but her job as an embedded hack was done.

John Reed was embedded in the reality of the Russian Revolution – and before that the peasant uprising in Mexico. He was not cocooned with military or mercenary protection. In the chaos of the revolutionary uprising of 1917, he came close to being shot or otherwise killed by people on different sides of the battle. But, though exuberant, he did not mythologise or romanticise himself. And never lost his sense of humour. His account of the first hotel he went to in Moscow after November 7, ‘we entered an office lit by two candles’. Reed and his companions were welcomed in this hotel office. ‘Yes, we have some very comfortable rooms’, they were told, ‘but all the windows are shot out. If the gospodin does not mind a little fresh air’. It is important to remember that the gospodin, the Russian word for ‘mister’, would have to suffer below freezing temperatures in his room. Reed was not going to live the high-life as a reporter. He would stay in a room that opened out to the Moscow air, and would eat whatever he could find,

We dined at a vegetarian restaurant with the enticing name, ‘I eat nobody’, and Tolstoy’s picture prominent on the walls, and then sallied out into the streets.

John Reed was a reporter and journalist. Not a stenographer to the powerful. Nor embedded with the oppressors of those he was covering. That, of course, did not go down too well with Big Media even in his time.

For Charles Russell, who reviewed the book for the New York Times (April 27, 1919), Reed’s message boiled down:

To revolt for the sake of revolting, to fight for the joy of fighting, to slay valiantly, to ride furiously, to shout vehemently are activities glorious. This we can easily perceive from Mr. Reed’s book, as from the others. But as to why we should revolt, fight, slay, ride, and shout we are left darkling.

So it was nice to see the New York Times acknowledge him in its Red Century Series this year. That includes a thoughtful and reflective piece by London-based journalist-author Jack Schenker. There is also a piece in that series on the ‘10 days still shaking the world’ by – no kidding – Condoleezza Rice (October 17, 2017). It was Rice, as then US Secretary of State and a great supporter of the WMD fabrications, who in 2002 wrote a major piece in – you guessed it – the New York Times, on ‘Why We Know Iraq Is Lying’. Before she joined the administration of George W. Bush, Rice was a Soviet specialist at Stanford University. Despite the title ripping off on his own, Reed gets just a few words in her Red Century piece. But they’re interesting words,

Ten Days That Shook the World captures the excitement of that moment. The author, John Reed, was an American who made no secret of his Bolshevik sympathies. He nevertheless provided a riveting and vivid — if not impartial — account of the most pivotal phase of the revolution, as viewed from the ground.

From his vantage point, Reed could only tell a part of the story, however.

No single report or book can ever tell more than a part of the story of something so large as the Russian Revolution of 1917. Yet, as AJP Taylor (probably the most popular British historian of the 20th century) wrote in his preface (Penguin 1977) to Ten Days That Shook the World,

Reed’s book is not only the best account of the Bolshevik Revolution, it comes near to being the best account of any revolution.

Reed the journalist himself made no claim to being impartial.

In the struggle, my sympathies were not neutral. But in telling the story of those great days I have tried to see events with the eye of a conscientious reporter, interested in setting down the truth.

The authenticity of his writing on the revolution gained from its being a first-hand, eyewitness account. Seen from the streets and barricades, drawn from the meeting halls and fiery debates. Acute powers of observation, aligned always with a sensitivity towards ordinary people. Not ‘experts.’ Quite unlike the eager-to-embed hacks who would decades later go all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq and work from briefings of the U.S. military units that had them on a leash – only to produce stories that could have been written just as easily in Washington D.C. Some of them probably were. Reed always sought to escape censorship from governments. Very unlike the steno-serfs of our time who would each day meekly submit their copy to their military for approval. (It sort of gave the word ‘copy’ a new meaning).

Reed’s writing skills lent excitement and urgency to his account. Painting vivid pictures in words, he captured a moment, many moments, in time.

Describing Petrograd ‘on the eve’,

Up in the Nevsky in the sour twilight, crowds were battling for the latest papers, and knots of people were trying to make out the multitudes of appeals and the proclamations posted in every flat place. …An armoured automobile went slowly up and down, siren screaming. On every corner, in every open space, thick groups were clustered; arguing soldiers and students. Night came swiftly down, the wide-spaced streetlights flickered on, the tides of people flowed endlessly…It is always like that in Petrograd just before trouble.

Inside the Smolny, where the revolution set up its offices,

… the long, gloomy halls and bleak rooms seemed deserted. No one moved in all the enormous pile. A deep, uneasy sound came to my ears, and looking around, I noticed that everywhere on the floor, along the walls, men were sleeping. Rough, dirty men, workers and soldiers, spattered and caked with mud, sprawled alone, or in heaps, in the careless attitudes of death. Some wore ragged bandages marked with blood. Guns and cartridge belts were scattered about…

In the upstairs buffet so thick they lay that one could hardly walk. The air was foul. Through the clouded windows, a pale light streamed. A battered samovar, cold, stood on the counter, and many glasses holding dregs of tea…

Reed came from a privileged background. He was – like Walter Lippmann – a Harvard graduate. He was – unlike Lippmann – never a war propagandist for his government. Reed, when covering Pancho Villa’s revolt, wrote of Mexicans without that racial disdain that so much of US journalism still reeks of. In Ten Days That Shook the World and elsewhere, he wrote of Russians, Americans, Europeans and others without a trace of prejudice. He was dealing with human beings.

Lippman knew Reed. And had once even praised his coverage of the Colorado Coalfield War as ‘undoubtedly the finest reporting that’s ever been done’. In the years that followed, Reed stayed on the Left. Lippmann became a pillar of the establishment, churning out reams of US war propaganda. He would even peddle his own, to push his government towards interning fellow citizens in prison camps on US soil during World War II. Well over two-thirds of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were thrown into these camps were US citizens, born in that country. Orphans were not spared, nor even Japanese children adopted by white American parents. None of those interned was charged with a crime. They were incarcerated anyway.

In a dreadful piece, ‘The Fifth Column On The Coast’ (February 12, 1942), Lippmann targeted Japanese Americans. He warned of the ‘imminent danger of a combined attack from within and from without’. He did concede that ‘there has been no important act of sabotage on the Pacific coast’. For him, that only proved ‘that the blow is well organised and that it is held back until it can be struck with maximum effect’. Veteran journalist Richard Reeves believes Lippmann’s piece pushed President Roosevelt into giving California authorities the go-ahead for the prison camps. Reeves is author of the heat-rending book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II.

Years later, Lippman was to look back on the propaganda of the war: ‘It seemed impossible to wage the war energetically except by inciting the people to paroxysms of hatred and to utopian dreams’. He did not, though, mention the tragic event. Lippmann is celebrated as the father of modern journalistic objectivity. Harvard’s key journalism institution, the Nieman Foundation, is housed in a building named after him. Of fellow-Harvardian Reed, Lippmann once wrote, ‘By temperament, he is not a professional writer or reporter. He is a person who enjoys himself’ (The New Republic, December 26, 1914). In today’s Big Media jargon, Reed would be labelled an ‘activist’, not a journalist.

There was also this difference between Reed and so many of the ‘star journalists’ of today. He did not return from exotic locales with ‘war stories’ of which he was himself the focus. No ‘Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad’ nor ‘Anderson Cooper on Syria’s border’ – where the war in those countries is less important than the mere presence of these television icons on their soil, however briefly. CNN’s own promos leave you in do doubt as to who makes the story – and it’s not the natives, not even the friendly ones. Ten Days that Shook the World was not promoted as ‘John Reed from Red Square.’ There was a revolution in Russia. He covered it. He was not invisible in his reporting, but was clear that he wasn’t the story. And he was consistent: the principles he stood for in Mexico and in Russia were also those he practiced at home. Within the United States he covered – and participated in – the struggles of workers, miners, and other poor people.

As the historian Howard Zinn put it of Reed,

He rushed into the centre of wars and revolutions, strikes and demonstrations, with the eye of a movie camera, before there was one, and the memory of a tape recorder, before that existed. He made history come alive for the readers of popular magazines and impoverished radical monthlies.

Reed was moved by the silk weavers and workers strike in Paterson, New Jersey. And was arrested in 1913 while trying to speak for the strikers. (The first of many times he would be arrested in his lifetime). Deeply moved by the brutal crackdown on the workers, he went on to stage a pageant recreating scenes from those battles – in New York’s old Madison Square Garden. As many as 1,200 strikers were reported to have participated in the pageant. Many thousands more came to watch the spectacle. Reed probably hoped the pageant would also work as a benefit performance for and by the strikers.

In Colorado, he covered the miners’ strike of 1913-14 which the Rockefellers and other mining interests of the day moved to crush with great barbarism. Reed arrived there a few days after the infamous Ludlow massacre which saw the Colorado National Guard attack a settlement of over a thousand workers. The workers fought back.

Estimates of the number of deaths vary but are all saddening. In all, perhaps, over two dozen people died at Ludlow, several in firing – the Guard used machine guns– and also 11 children and 2 women who suffocated to death in the miners’ camp, owing to fires the Guard had set to burn the tents. More lives were lost in the days that followed, in Guard action and in rioting. Still more were slain in the other battles of the ‘Colorado Coalfield War.’ Overall, from differing estimates, it would seem the total ran to over a hundred deaths in the ‘war.’

In Reed’s powerful prose,

In three hours every striker for 50 miles in either direction knows that the militia and mine guards had burned women and children to death. Monday night they started, with all the guns they could lay their hands on, for the scene of the action at Ludlow. All night long the roads were filled with ragged mobs of armed men pouring towards the Black Hills. And not only strikers went. In Aguilar, Walsenburg and Trinidad, clerks, cab drivers, chauffeurs, school teachers, and even bankers seized their guns and started for the front. It was as if the fire started at Ludlow had set the whole country aflame.

Contrast that with the New York Times’ calling for the use of force in the Colorado War,

With the deadliest weapons of civilization in the hands of savage-mined men, there can be no telling to what lengths the war in Colorado will go unless it is quelled by force … The President should turn his attention from Mexico long enough to take stern measures in Colorado.

John Reed didn’t just speak ‘truth to power’ – he spoke the truth about power. Relentlessly, passionately, powerfully.

Reed was fiercely independent, truthful, but did not pretend to be neutral–a distinction completely lost with the onset of corporate-driven journalism.

Reed set out in his early days viewing himself as a poet – but his poetry was not distinguished. It was certainly not his strong point. However, some of his prose borders on and melds with the poetic. And that comes out best in his first book Insurgent Mexico. A spellbinding account of the uprising in Mexico of the poor and the destitute led by Pancho Villa, one of the great figures of the Mexican revolution. But that’s another book, another story. It still seems worthwhile to repeat the lines about Reed by Alfredo Varela in the preface to the Argentinian edition of Insurgent Mexico,

In the end he is a mural painter. The great fresco is his speciality, the panoramic picture which reveals history in a thousand details.

By the time John Reed reached Russia, he had seen and developed his own understanding of class war. If Insurgent Mexico was near poetry, Ten Days That Shook the World is pulsating prose. It is also takes the reporting of the marginalised to yet another, incredible level. Reed works in documents, declarations, debates a great deal more than in his earlier writings, yet the excitement never flags. And he sets the record straight on many things including ‘the loot of the Winter Palace’.

Reed saw ordinary people becoming ‘self-appointed sentinels’ to protect the treasures of the Palace. And where the poor themselves were ransacking anything,

The paintings, statues, tapestries and rugs of the great state apartments were unharmed…The most highly-prized loot was clothing which the working people needed. In a room where furniture was stored, we came upon two soldiers ripping the elaborate Spanish leather upholstery from chairs. They explained it was to make boots with…

Indeed, some precious stuff was also stolen. He cites the Bolsheviks then and later repeatedly appealing for the return of the ‘inalienable property of the Russian people’, of the ‘valuable objects of art that were stolen’. The new Soviet government created ‘a special commission comprised of artists and archaeologists to recover the stolen objects’. Even more appeals were made.

About half the loot was recovered, some of it in the baggage of foreigners leaving Russia.

Reed was to return to the United States where, of course, he was indicted for sedition. The trials of Reed and his editor Max Eastman ended with hung juries. Reed had already returned to Russia where he died of typhus in 1920.

His wife Louis Bryant wrote to his editor Max Eastman while Reed’s illness raged. She wanted him to take plenty of rest before he returned to the United States where she feared he would be imprisoned.

Early in his sickness I asked him to promise me that he would rest before going home, since it only meant going to prison. I felt prison would be too much for him. I remember he looked at me in a strange way and said, ‘My dear Little Honey, I would do anything I could for you but don’t ask me to be a coward’.

Ten Days That Shook the World did more than give its fans a good read. It raised questions, it carved out a kind of journalism that would allow the marginalised in society to be heard in their own voice. It inspired readers rebels, revolutionaries. As Howard Zinn would write of him,

John Reed could not be forgiven by the Establishment for refusing to separate art and insurgency, for being not only rebellious in his prose but imaginative in his activism. Protest joined to imagination was dangerous, courage combined with wit was no joke. Grim rebels can be jailed, but the highest treason, for which there is no adequate punishment, is to make rebellion attractive.

References.

Charles E. Russell, ‘Bolshevism, in Theory and Practice, As Friend and Opponent See It’, New York Times, April 27, 1919.

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper & Row, 1980).

John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (D. Appelton and Co., 1914).

Louise Bryant, Six Red Months in Russia (George H. Doran, 1918).

Shaking the World: John Reed’s Revolutionary Journalism, ed. J. Newsinger (Bookmarks, 1999).

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The Media and the Military Mindset

by MELVIN GOODMAN

Photograph Source: Beverly & Pack CC BY 2.0

U.S. national media have been lazy in their treatment of our military—pandering to the military itself and using retired general officers with ties to the military-industrial complex as spokesmen.  The United States is largely in an arms race with itself, but the media typically ignore bloated defense spending.  It is past time to reinforce Martin Luther King’s address to the Riverside Church in 1967 that linked chronic domestic poverty and military adventurism.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Department of Defense has been playing an outsize role in the implementation of U.S. foreign policy and has too much clout in the production of intelligence analysis.  The administrations of Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump have given the Pentagon an unprecedented position of power and influence, including huge increases in defense spending and a dominant voice in the making of national security  policy.  The media, relying for the most part on retired general officers, have been insufficiently critical of this militarization.

The news on cable television relies on retired general officers to analyze and assess the military actions of the United States.  Nearly all of these retired generals and admirals have high-level positions at various arms manufacturers, but this is rarely noted.  General Jack Keane, one of Donald Trump’s favorite generals, is a frequent analyst on Fox News, but it is never mentioned that the retired general is executive chairman of AM General, a leading defense contractor, best known as the manufacturer of the Humvee and other tactical military vehicles.  Keane obviously has a direct financial interest in the use of force.

NBC News and MSNBC, the so-called liberal voice of cable television, rely on a former student of mine at the National War College, retired Admiral James Stavridis, who is described as the networks’ “chief international security analyst.”  The networks never mention that Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, currently works for the Carlyle Group, advising Carlyle on its multibillion-dollar portfolio of defense companies.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, CBS’s in-house military expert is retired Admiral James Winnefeld Jr., a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but also a member of the board at Raytheon, a major defense manufacturer.  CNN relied on retired General James Marks in the early years of the Iraq War, without mentioning Marks’ role in obtaining military and intelligence contracts for McNeil Technologies.  Marks is back at CNN, but the network never mentions that now he is a venture partner and adviser to a company that invests in military companies.

The Washington Post is guilty of the same kind of enabling of the military.  In the wake of the killing of Qassim Soleimani, Stephen Hadley, President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, endorsed the actions of the Trump administration, arguing that the killing could open the door to diplomacy.  The Post needed to mention that Hadley is a director at Raytheon, which manufactures components of the drone that killed Major General Soleimani.  In other words, it should be noted that Hadley has a vested financial interest in the war.  As a letter writer to the Post noted, drone targeting systems aren’t cheap.

In the field of intelligence reporting, MSNBC relies almost entirely on the views of former CIA director John Brennan and deputy director John McLaughlin.  Brennan is a peculiar choice because he supported the policy of torture and abuse while serving on the executive staff of the Central Intelligence Agency as well as aiding in the cover-up of the CIA’s role in shooting down a missionary plane over Peru in a botched mission to stop drug trafficking.  Brennan was also responsible for the order to CIA lawyers and technicians to hack into the computers of the Senate intelligence committee to remove sensitive documentary evidence of the sordid acts of CIA officers.

McLaughlin is a bizarre choice as an intelligence analyst because he led the effort to craft the spurious speech that Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the United Nations only six weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  The speech was designed to convince a domestic and international audience of the (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction in Iraqi inventories.  The speech was particularly successful in fooling the editorial and oped writers of the Washington Post, who claimed they were “convinced” that Iraqi WMD justified Bush’s war.

The U.S. reliance on military force has damaged U.S. national interests at a time when the global community is facing severe economic stress.  The Iraq and Afghan wars have cost trillions of dollars and have not made America more secure.  The war on terror has created more terrorists than it has eliminated, and recent secretaries of state have failed to question the strategic and geopolitical implications of a wider war in Southwest Asia.  The budget of the Department of Defense, exceeding levels reached during the worst days of the Cold War, receives overwhelming bipartisan support.

Even so-called liberal organizations are attracted to these policies.  The Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and their scholars—Michael O’Hanlon and Robert Kagan, respectively—have advocated the use of military force in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, the media largely ignore the loss of civilian life as they do the destruction of civilian economies, including hospitals, schools, and infrastructure.

Nearly sixty years after President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex, the United States must come to terms with its elevation of the role of the military; its cult of military spending that has become sacrosanct; and the culture of militarism that has placed U.S. bases all over the globe.  The American public is in danger of knowing only those military policies and actions that the government wants it to know, and the media are insufficiently aggressive in uncovering the nature of U.S. militarism the world over.

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Roaming Charges: All the Pretty Missiles Are Going to Hell

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

LA River beneath Highway 101. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ We have reached that critical moment in world affairs where when the White House hotline rings at 3:30 in the morning, two-thirds of the planet’s population hopes that Barron picks up….

+ I feel fortunate to live in a country that takes freedom of speech so seriously that even the criminally insane have their own TV network: “This president will unleash holy hell on that regime…There will be retaliation and it will be disproportionate,” thundered Sebastian Gorka. “We are not a superpower anymore. We are a hyperpower.”

+ To this point at least, Iran appears to have acted with restraint. It didn’t target Pompeo Maximus or Mike Pence, which might have been considered a “proportionate” response to the assassination of Suleimani. It didn’t strike the diplomatic base at the US embassy. Instead, the regime launched a brace of missiles at military targets, two airbases in Iraq, inflicting, apparently, minimal casualties. Iran is in for the long game. They want the US out of Iraq. And that prospect is getting more and more likely every day.

+ The only way to deal with a bully is to confront him head on, which Iran did immediately and forthrightly, and Trump, like the nervous little man he is, backed down. Now the Iraqis need to treat Trump just as resolutely in their demands that the US leave Iraq once and for all.

+ Trump’s statement the morning after Iran fired a dozen warning shots at two military bases in Iraq was one of his weirdest yet. He entered the room out of a halo of light that must have been staged to excite his evangelic disciples who have anointed him as God’s representative on earth. A cadre of generals stood rigid as pallbearers behind him. He wheezed and sniffed through his text, stumbling over “Suleimani,” “Quds” and repeatedly butchering the word “accomplishment.”

+ As the great Buck Henry, who died at about the same time Trump delivered his speech, once said: “We need a president who is fluent in at least one language.” (Sadly, even the high IQ presidents–Obama, JFK, Clinton–have proved just as ruthless, and a good deal more cunning, than the imbecilic Bush and Trump.) Still it’s bracing to contemplate the possibility that Trump’s drugged-out, incoherent babble this morning may have knocked off Buck Henry, the screenwriter of Catch-22, in an absurd kind of collateral damage that both Henry and Joseph Heller might have appreciated.

+ It’s difficult to enter Trump’s mind under the best of circumstances, but the task is almost impossible when he is reading, perhaps for the first time, words written for him by someone else.

+ The speech felt like a Jared Kushner/Tucker Carlson production to me. There was no Bannon-like talk of carnage and body parts. Instead, Trump began by saying, oddly: “Americans should be happy!”

+ Suddenly, Trump the Unilateralist was NATO Man, making pronouncements like this:  “Today I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process.”

+ Still Trump seemed drugged. Many suggested he’d been stuffing his mouth with Sudafed. Others claimed he was wired on Adderall. Isn’t Adderall meant to increase the powers of concentration? Does this mean the wheezing, huffing, sniffing display we got treated to today is Maximum Trump?

+ A few sentences into the speech and the president was already laboring for air, out of breath simply from the mental exertion of reading the teleprompter. If the staffers had set the speed any faster, Pence might have called on to assume command…

+ President Huff-n-Puff: “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, while I’m president.” You just made it a certainty, buddy.

+ Trump praised the “advance warning system” for preventing US casualties. What was the warning system? A notification to the Iraqi Prime Minister from Iran that bombing the Al-Asad and Irbil bases would occur after two hours…The fact the Iranian missiles weren’t knocked down with the advance warning doesn’t say much for US missile defense systems.

+ It’s pretty easy to see why Trump backed down. Middle East wars just don’t sell like they used to.

Trump’s handling of Iran:

Approve 37%
Disapprove 54%

@Reuters/@Ipsos 1/6-7

+ Of course, it’s striking that Trump didn’t have anyone on his speed dial tell him that if he wanted to sell a war, his first call should have been to Hill & Knowlton.

+ Now, if Trump wants to shift those polls numbers, he might have to hire Ari Fleischer, Margaret Tutwiler and Paul Bremer…

+ Maybe Madeliene Albright will come out of retirement to help Trump tighten the screws on Iraqi kids and cancer patients again…

+ If Bolton shows up at the White House banging on the door saying all is forgiven, don’t let him back in…

+ The “adults in the room” were precisely the ones who presented Trump with the extreme option of striking Suleimani, supposedly with the idea of making the other targets appear more reasonable…

+ Republican senator Mike Lee blasted the Trump administrations post-Iran briefing, saying they were told they could not dissent from Trump, couldn’t debate it, and if Trump needed justification to go to war “I’m sure we could think of something.” MIKE The Soleimani briefing “worst I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in 9 years I’ve served in the Senate,” Lee said, adding: “What I found so distressing is one of the messages was do not discuss, do not debate appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran.”

+ Even Ilhan Omar was lamenting Tuesday tonight the danger to US troops in Iraq, instead of the Iraqi conscripts who were killed in the missile strikes. But to put that “threat” in perspective, here’s a stat from a Jon Krakauer story on Mt Everest, in his new collection Classic Krakauer. The death rate for sherpas ferrying millionaires up and down the peak is 12 TIMES higher than for US troops at height of Iraq war–2003 to 2007. The old rule from Vietnam, I believe, was that US troops killed 100 Vietnamese for every American combat death. In Iraq, it was probably more like 500 to 1.

Morning Consult asked voters to identify Iran on an unlabeled map. Only 28% got it right, but 47% support airstrikes regardless of where Iran is. Stephen Miller, of course, pointed to Mexico…

+ Trump’s let’s seize their oil and destroy their cultural legacy (one of the richest in the world) is ISIS with predator drones and cruise missiles. Was the tomb of Cyrus the Great (see below) on the target list?

+ Caution: Constitutional Scholar at Work…

+ Moments after Suleimani’s death was confirmed (by a ring taken from his macerated corpse, allegedly), Trump tweeted this:

+ How many coffins will it decorate?

+ The “imminent attack” justification is falling apart almost as soon as it was deployed: US officials told NBCNews that Soleimani was killed for plotting to strike US targets in Syria and Lebanon, but Congressional aide briefed on the intel said lawmakers saw nothing explicitly linking him to imminent attack and the planning and coordination did not originate with ordinary for Quds Force.

+ Pompeo: “There were a series of imminent attacks. We don’t know when, we don’t know where.” (Gotcha.)

+ In killing Suleimani, the US assassinated a high ranking official of the Iranian government, who was traveling through Iraq on a diplomatic visa, even though the US is not at war with Iran, without authorization from the Iraqi government or US congress, based on evidence no one has seen or is likely to see. Bush was more transparent.

+ Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Mike Pence’s specious attempt to link Suleimani with 9/11: “One thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is to not believe our government when it comes to matters of war. Johnson and Nixon lied about Viet Nam. Bush and Cheney lied about WMD’s in Iraq. Now Pence is lying about Iran/Soleimani’s supposed involvement in 9/11.”

+ Trump: “We have no issue with the Iranian people.” Then why is ICE rudely interrogating Iranian-Americans at the border?

+ The more brazen the war crime, the louder the US proclaims its innocence.

+ Pompeo after the assassination of Suleimani: “We have every expectation that people in Iran will view the American action last night as giving them freedom.”

Dick Cheney, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq: “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

+ Michael Bloomberg castigated Sanders for accurately calling the droning of Suleimani “an assassination.” “That’s an outrageous thing to say.” On the proper way to speak about his death, Bloomberg said: “I don’t know, get a dictionary and take your pick.”

+ Warren feeds the flames…

+ Contrast this toxic drivel with Ralph Nader: “As expected, Bloody Donald opens his 2020 re-election campaign with a ‘wag the dog’ act of war against encircled Iran. All without Congressional authority going back to Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

+ Unlike Trump, American liberals don’t want to rashly commit mass murder and cultural genocide. They want a plan for doing so. One that “works.” “Biden called on President Trump to share his plan to keep American troops, embassy personnel, and interests in the region safe, adding that “Iran will surely respond.”

+ The “civil Nikki Haley” was a useful media creation when they wanted an internal foil against Trump. Any reading of her statements as UN Ambassador revealed her to be a bloodthirsty hawk, just as rapacious as Jeane Kirkpatrick or Samantha Power…

+ It could get worse and probably will…Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump are two of the top four choices for Republicans in 2024, along with Pence and Nikki Haley.

+ This pretty much confirms the Wag the Dog Theory, doesn’t it? House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested on Tuesday that Trump wouldn’t have ordered a drone strike on a Suleimani if House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had not pursued impeachment. Isn’t that itself an impeachable offense?

+ Trump on Nov. 16, 2011:

“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective. So the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected — and as sure as you’re sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.”

+ When Trump says he’s ending Middle East Wars you can take his word to the (blood) bank

+ Trump raged that “Iran will pay” for the protests outside the US embassy in Iraq. But, of course, Iran has already “pre-paid” with the airstrikes Trump launched in the previous days…and all the shit before that.

+ Here’s Pompeo Maximus once again invoking Cyrus the Great (601 BCE – 530 BCE), who the Evangeli-Cons have adopted as a strange precursor for Trump from Classical Antiquity. (Over to you, Herodotus…)

+ Surprisingly, not only are the evangelical Trumpians (who want to replace the clerics with a Shah-like monarch so devoted to Israel that he will ignite the historical fuse that sucks us all toward that final glorious conflagration at Megiddo) fixated Cyrus, but so apparently was their historical nemesis Thomas Jefferson, the agnostic slave mastah, who owned a densely-annotated copy of Xenophon’s Cyropodea–in dual Latin and Greek translations, thank you very much. Jefferson’s obsessive reading of the ancient text is alleged to have deeply influenced (sorry Mr. Locke) the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. But the influence almost certainly derived more from Xenophon than Cyrus and what Xenophon, whose Anabasis is one of the greatest adventure stories in western literature, knew about government he mostly learned at the feet of his master….Socrates, himself no small-d “democrat” (See: IF Stone’s The Trial of Socrates).

+ I prefer the Omen kid…

+ In 2013, Sheldon Adelson urged Obama to nuke the Iranian desert and then threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Tehran, if Iran didn’t submit to American demands. There’s every reason to think he still believes it, and the casino magnate does have at least as much influence on Trump as his other top NatSec advisor, Sean Hannity…

+ Trump reportedly held out for 15 minutes before deciding to assassinate Suleimani, which is a whole 12 minutes longer than he lasted with Stormy Daniels.

+ It’s why they play the game…Increased tensions with Iran are boosting US defense stocks.

+ Bingo!

+ Donald Rumsfeld, November 2002: “I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”

+ Calling Lisa Murkowski a “moderate” Republican is like calling Ted Bundy a serial killer with empathy for his victims.

+ Sarah Sanders, now a FoxNews talking head, on war powers: “I can’t think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy … The last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress’ hands and take them away from the president.” (How could James Madison have gotten it so wrong!)

+ Meanwhile, the CIA’s election fixers have arrived in post-coup Bolivia…

+ Sound familiar? Here’s Tacitus’ account of the first great Scot, Calgacus, speaking to his troops on the eve of his battle with the Roman general Julius Agricola at Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in 83 AD: “Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.”

These days land is at too much of a premium for the imperial powers to annihilate you and leave behind only  “solitude” (often translated as “desert” or “wasteland”). Instead, as Pompeo Maximus said of the Israeli “settlements” in Palestinian territory, they steal your land and call it peace.

+ So many blatant acts of malfeasance to go after HRC over and the Trumpians breathlessly pursued manufactured conspiracies, many concocted by John Solomon and Peter Schweitzer, that fizzle out in their own investigations instead. Of course, the Republicans are complicit in HRC’s true crimes: meddling in Ukraine, the Honduran coup, the globalization of fracking and the overthrow of Qaddafi.

+ After Harris & Castro dropped out & the media spent more than a month pumping liquid oxygen into her campaign, Klobocop is still 14 points behind Sanders in the only state she has a chance of winning before her own. Yet she goes on, scolding every progressive impulse of her rivals.

The latest Iowa poll results from the Des Moines Register…

Sanders 20 (+5)
Warren 17 (+1)
Buttigieg 16 (-9)
Biden 15 (-)
Klobuchar 6 (-)
Yang 5 (+2)
Booker 3 (-)
Steyer 2 (-1)
Gabbard 2 (-1)

+ A general strike was declared in India on Weds., the Bharat Bandh, where 250 MILLION people walked off their jobs in protest of the government’s “anti-people” policies. Wake up, America. It doesn’t have to be like this. The election isn’t going to save us, even if Bernie wins. We have to take our fate into our own hands. And we can. Look around…

+ The incredible, shrinking Liz Warren. First she looted her own health plan, then she called Suleimani a “leading terrorist,” and now she’s announced her support for Trump’s NAFTA v. 2.0.

+ Joe Biden, the senior citizen’s friend, in 1995: “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare & Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits….And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a 3rd time & I tried it a 4th time.”

+ The world’s 500 wealthiest people gained $1.2 trillion this year, boosting their collective net worth 25% to $5.9 trillion.

+ Michael Bloomberg’s net worth:

1996: $1.0 billion
2019: $56.1 billion

+ The percentage of income America’s 10 richest billionaires donated to charities in 2018:

Ellison: 0%
Page: 0%
Brin: 0%
Bezos: 0.1%
D. Koch: 0.1%
C. Koch: 0.5%
Zuckerberg: 0.7%
Bloomberg: 1.5%
Gates: 2.6%
Buffet: 3.9%
(Source: Public Citizen)

+ San Francisco’s black population has evaporated over the thirty years, down to only 5% of the city’s total poulation, but blacks still remain a ripe target for police. 26% of all stops carried out by the San Francisco PD last year were of black people, the largest racial disparity of any city in California.

+ Michael Bloomberg, asked about his prior support for how New York City cops and prosecutors handled the Central Park Five case, regurgitated with this disgusting nonsense, which puts him on a moral level with Trump: “There was an awful lot of evidence presented at that time that they were involved. There’s been questions since then about the quality of that evidence.”

+ Professional xenophobe & political bigot Ken Cuccinelli, who CNN employed as a “political commentator,” tweeted that a U.S. citizen accused of stabbing five Jewish people with a machete probably did it because his dad came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant and received legal status more than 30 years ago.

+ Just a taste of what we’ve missed as a culture not to have had Richard Pryor around to help us make sense of the last 20 years…

+ Ain’t that America, for you and me…”At least two people were shot and killed today at the Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, while the service was live streamed on YouTube. Witnesses say armed security guards were present.”

+Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno on the #MeToo movement “I feel that women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date, and no one holds the door open for them, and no one tells them that they look nice.”

+ Too bad Charles Bukowski and Scott Fitzgerald didn’t live to see this…While the number of Americans dying from cancer is down, the number of Americans drinking themselves to death has more than doubled.

+ Younger Americans are much more likely than their parents or grandparents to admit there are better countries than the United States. Keep those places a secret, kids, lest we bomb them.

+ I spent two days this week driving the 1000 miles from Portland to Los Angeles. It poured for the first 300 miles down I-5 to Ashland, then, as so often, the clouds dissipated and the rain stopped over the Applegate Valley. The much feared Siskiyou Summit (highest on the I-5 corridor) was dry and soon Shasta emerged in her twin-summited glory…

Mt Shasta. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ I love Mt. Hood, because I know almost every inch of it, but like Rainier, Shasta is a giant among mountains, rising almost fully-grown off the basalt plains. It has magnetism, so strong it creates its own weather.

+ When I think of the words that make up our polyglot language here in the Northwest, Shasta is surely the most beautiful. Maybe one of the most beautiful words in any language. The secessionists of southern Oregon and northern California would be much better advised to name their dream state Shasta rather than Jefferson…

+ I hit Red Bluff around 8 PM, after a good 10 hours on the road.  I checked in at the normally reliable and cheap Super 8 south of town. When I tried to log on to the motel’s WIFI, these were the choices offered me. Who knew Red Bluff was an outpost of sedition?

+ On Monday morning, I zigzagged from Red Bluff up to Paradise, a minor detour on my way to LA. Most of the burnt structures have been fully dismantled and many homes and businesses are being rebuilt, right in the fire zone. Much of the town and surrounding neighborhoods are fenced off. Only the ruins of a carwash and stacks of burnt cars remain, relicts of the once and future Apocalypse….

Gates of Paradise. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Insurance Claim Problems, Paradise. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Paradise Car Wash, ruins. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Car Crypt of Paradise. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Car Crypt of Paradise, 2. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Car Crypt of Paradise, 3. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ The state of Louisiana still hasn’t completed investigations into 540 oil spills after Hurricane Katrina. The state is likely leaving millions of dollars in remediation fines on the table, money that environmental groups say is sorely needed as storms get stronger.

+ The federal Superfund program now has the biggest backlog of unfunded toxic clean-up projects in at least 15 years. Projects in 34 sites in 17 states and Puerto Rico languished for lack of money in 2019.

+ The WSJ warns that Australia’s fires may “upend the way people live.” Let’s hope so. But the evidence from the fire-ravaged towns of the American West, which are rebuilt again and again, doesn’t give one much hope…

+ Where will Australians flee in a few years, when the beaches are under water?

+ With satellite imagery documenting the rapid retreat of glaciers around the world, we may have to stop referring to “slow movements” as a “glacial pace”…

+ Thank Obama, Biden & HRC for the fracking boom that drove a fatal nail into the coffin of the planet…”In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that in 2019, the U.S. would be producing about six million barrels of oil a day. The reality? We’re now producing 12 million barrels of oil a day.”

+ The enduring Obama Legacy: frackingdeportations and drones (more drone strikes in first year in office, than Bush authorized in his entire presidency)…if only Trump had the guts to undo any of these.

+ A new policy “clarification” from the Trump administration pretty ends any effective punishment for the  illegal killing of wild and migratory birds. These people are forcing the OED to redefine both “pro” and “life”…

+ This must come as a relief to Kanye has he attempts to construct his “mediation bunker” in habitat for the critically endangered sage grouse….

+ At least 10 indigenous people were murdered this year in the Brazilian Amazon; seven were leaders, the highest number in two decades.

+ December 21 was the darkest day ever recorded in the history of Seattle.

Darkness, darkness, hide my yearning
for the rent we can’t afford to pay.
Keep my mind from thoughts of burning
Amazon’s headquarters along my way…

+ On a brighter note, a pack of wolves has been sighted in Colorado for the first time in 70. Keep your heads down, pals…

+ Martin Scorsese on his day-to-day routine, “I go out, they put me in a car, they take me somewhere, they take me out, put me back on a table, take me in. I go in a room, somebody talks to me, I say, ‘Yes.’ Then I come home and try to get in this door without the dogs going crazy.”

+ I was shocked to learn of the death of Neal Peart. I think I saw Rush’s first gig in Indianapolis, which, aside from a 20 minute version of Working Man, wasn’t great, frankly, and I’m not entirely sure that Neil was the drummer in that concert. Then a couple of years later I made a film on Super 8 film with a couple of friends of the 2112 LP, financed by my Grandmother, which was pretty good. Peart was a workhorse and stopped playing live when he couldn’t play has furiously has he had in his youth…

+ Inevitably, Peart’s death sparked an online debate over who’s the greatest drummer: Neil Peart, John Bonham or Keith Moon? How about none of the above and we begin the discussion debating the merits of Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Bernard Purdy, Sly Dunbar, Steve Gadd, Ziggy Modeliste, Al Jackson, Jr., Benny Benjamin and Ringo Starr?

+ Ringo and Charlie Watts basically defined the rhythm sound for modern rock, until Mitch Mitchell came along to show drummers, like Bonham and Peart, how they could play beneath a guitar that screamed as loud as a fighter jet…

+ The smaller the kit, the more accomplished the drummer.

+ For me, the real test for a “rock” drummer is not a 12-minute solo, like Moby-Dick, but how much you could drive the sound in a 3 minute song and no one has done that as well as Al Jackson, Ringo, Watts, Benny Benjamin, DJ Fontana, Steve Gadd, Sly Dunbar and Bernard Purdie…

+ Nick Schou: “Neil Peart was the greatest drummer who also wrote Ayn Rand lyrics.”

+ Soviet propaganda slogan: “Today you play jazz, tomorrow you betray the motherland.”  (Drug warrior Harry Anslinger’s US equivalent was: if you play–or even listen to– jazz, you’ll smoke dope and rape a white woman.)

+ Marx to Engels, 1861: ‘In the meantime, may I wish you in advance every happiness for the new year. If it’s anything like the old one, I for my part, would sooner consign it to the devil’. (H/T Vijay Prashad.)

+ Here’s a New Year’s resolution from Steven Salaita that I’ll try to keep myself and impose as an editorial diktat on CounterPunch writers: “In the new decade, resolve to avoid the phrase ‘Palestinian rights,’ a favorite of pundits and intellectuals auditioning for corporate media. Try ‘Palestinian liberation,’ instead.”

+ Trump Koan of the Week:  “I never understood wind, I know windmills very much, I’ve studied them more than anybody…tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere, you know we have a world, the world is tiny compared to the universe.”

You’re Still Breathing, But You Don’t Know Why

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Sketches of the Criminal World
Varlan Shalamov
Trans. Donald Rayfield
(NYRB)

Canyon Dreams: a Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation
Michael Powell
(Blue Rider Press)

Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick: Stories From the Harlem Renaissance
Zora Neale Hurston
(Amistad)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Saturnian Queen of the Sun Ra Arkestra
June Tyson
(Modern Harmonic)

Ism
Junius Paul
(Internatinonal Anthem)

Up and Rolling
North Mississippi All-Stars
(New West)

The World’s Oldest Nation

“Many countries in the Middle East are artificial creations. European colonialists drew their national borders in the nineteenth or twentieth century, often with little regard for local history and tradition, and their leaders have had to concoct outlandish myths in order to give citizens a sense of nationhood. Just the opposite is true of Iran. This is one of the world’s oldest nations, heir to a tradition that reaches back thousands of years, to periods when great conquerors extended their rule across continents, poets and artists created works of exquisite beauty, and one of the world’s most extraordinary religious traditions took root and flowered.” (Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men)

Posted in MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on Roaming Charges: All the Pretty Missiles Are Going to Hell

British press runs fake news on General Soleimani assassination

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The British press has a long history of making up stories about Iran

The UK appears to have developed a three-pronged strategy in relation to the fallout from the terrorist-style assassination of General Qassem Soleimani by the US government.

At an official level, the UK has endorsed the assassination, as foremost demonstrated by the statements of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and foreign secretary, Dominic Raab.

At a more practical level, the UK is maneuvering to support the US in any potential military action against Iran. The Sun newspaper ran a well-sourced article yesterday claiming that a nuclear-powered British submarine is in “striking position” of Iran.

The third prong of the strategy consists of propaganda and the planting of fake stories in the press. The best example is the following headline in today’s The Times newspaper: “We will kill UK troops, warns Iran”.

The Times relies on a single alleged source for the article, namely an unnamed commander in Iran’s Quds force. This is almost impossible to believe as neither the Quds force, nor any other part of the Iranian military, are allowed to give unauthorised interviews or information to foreign media.

Indeed, the story has been strenuously denied, notably by the Iranian ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad.

Hamid Baeidinejad@baeidinejad

As the Ambassador and high representative of my country in the UK, I strongly condemn the vicious lie and provocative news by #Times today. I will ask the concerned UK authorities to take swift action to stop such malicious false propaganda in this very sensitive time.

View image on Twitter

2,67510:05 AM – Jan 6, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy1,439 people are talking about this

On closer inspection, this three-pronged UK strategy is better thought-out than it would initially appear, especially as the second and third components are mutually complementary.

The UK media make up lies about Iran’s purported intention to target UK troops, whereas in actual fact it is the UK military which is taking important steps to support its US ally in any potential military operation against Iran.

Posted in Campaigns, MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on British press runs fake news on General Soleimani assassination

British journalist destroys MSM lies on Syria

Posted by:Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Exclusive interview with British Journalist Tom Duggan in Damascus at the French Hospital tells us about the chemical attacks accusations.

Interview conducted by Hanin Elias

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Assange and Manning: The Slow Execution of the Voices of Freedom

By Massoud Nayeri

Global Research,

Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning have exposed corrupt officials and criminal politicians

Assange and Manning are prisoners of conscience

How to free Assange and Manning?

Be the Voice of Assange and Manning in your community by any needs necessary.

***

Australia’s Naval Base in Papua New Guinea: Power Play in the South Pacific against China

Posted in Human Rights, MULTIMEDIA, Media, UKComments Off on Assange and Manning: The Slow Execution of the Voices of Freedom

An Intentional Attempt to Keep Palestinian Journalists Away

Yousef Munnayer, executive direction of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, described Nazi violence as “an intentional attempt to keep Palestinian journalists away from capturing these images and bringing them to the world to see.”

 

Seven Palestinian journalists, all wearing clothing clearly identifying themselves as members of the press, were shot by Nazi forces during last Friday’s “March of Return” in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. One reporter, photojournalist Yaser Murtaja, succumbed to his wounds.

Despite Nazi indiscriminate targeting of Gazans over the past two Fridays, resulting in 29 deaths and over a thousand injuries, the U.S. media and government has paid very little attention to the situation.This despite Nazi Defense Minster Avigdor Lieberman blatantly admitting that the Israeli military views all of Gaza’s two million inhabitants—trapped in a small strip of land under an air, land and sea blockade enforced by the Nazi regime and it’s Puppet in Egypt—as Hamas agents and thus legitimate military targets. “There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip,”  he told  Zionist public radio. “Everyone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists.”

Appearing on MSNBC this weekend (see video above), Yousef Munnayer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, described Nazi targeting of journalists as a blatant attempt to prevent local journalists from showing the world images of Palestinian suffering and Nazi aggression.

As Nazi escalates its attacks on unarmed civilians and journalists, it’s essential that everyone contact their elected officials to demand that Nazi regime be held accountable and continue to support independent news outlets that give voice to the brave journalists operating on the ground in Gaza. 



Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on An Intentional Attempt to Keep Palestinian Journalists Away

Fake News: A “Weapon of Choice” for a Handful of Countries

NOVANEWS

It goes without saying that recently ‘fake news’ has become one of the most trending search phrases on the net. Moreover, representatives of Collins English Dictionary have gone as far as to name it official Word of the Year for 2017, and there’s a very good reasons for this term to enjoy such popularity. For instance, it was used by American President Donald Trump, who accused leading Western media sources of spreading deceitful reports by describing them as ‘fake news’.

The uncontested prevalence of such news could be observed during all the major political campaigns of recent years: presidential election in the US and France, parliamentary elections in Germany, Brexit and Catalan referendums… Perhaps there is no country in this world that escaped fake news as they are being manufactured and distributed via social media on the global scale, as there are whole “troll factories” and even all sorts of government bodies that justify their existence by claiming that they’re engaged in a “fight against disinformation”.

The Guardian experts tasked with analyzing disinformation campaigns in the online media came to a conclusion fake news is not just a Western problem, as it can be found in the media space of pretty much every corner of the world. In Brazil, for example, since early 2016, the popularity of false news reports has exceeded the coverage enjoyed by the mainstream media. This can be explained by the corruption scandal and the subsequent impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. According to the BBC, out of the five most popular (according to the number of reposts) news reports in Brazil, three were false. In India, the main distributor of false reports is the WhatsApp messenger, as The Guardian adds.

Fake news – an integral attribute of information wars, which, in turn, accompany real wars. One of their most striking manifestations in recent years has been the so-called fight against “Russian propaganda” in Europe, which has recently become an obsession in a number of European countries, reaching the European Parliament.

In the course of the information war that is being waged against Russia for years, Western and especially European media sources suddenly faced a situation when their readers would cease trusting their reports on the situation in Ukraine. This mistrust manifested itself in the so-called Salisbury incident staged by London and Washington as a part of its Russophobic campaign, as no facts were being presented to Western readers to support their anti-Russian arguments, so readers preferred to look the other way.

Therefore, the results of a social survey carried out by the Monmouth University, which showed that at least six out of ten Americans, regardless of their political views, believe that the Western mainstream media intentionally deceives by presenting fake reports can hardly be described as surprising.

In Europe, especially among the so-called new EU member states, the absence of any possibility to challenge the Russian narrative about the presence of unknown foreign-backed actors at the EuroMaidan protests or about the ongoing war crimes Kiev is committing in Donbass, politicians decided to label their attempts to silence truthful reports by branding them as a “fight against Russian propaganda”, restricting access to the information provided by Russia’s media sources and launching various anti-Russian media projects, while spreading disinformation in a bid to distract people’s attention.

As early as 2015, it became known that the EU created a special group to combat “Russian propaganda.” In the UK there is a new governmental agency being created that, according to London’s official rhetorics, will specialize in “countering misinformation and fake news.” According to BritishPrime Minister Teresa May, this agency will allow London to ensure the preservation of its national security priorities and will allow it to deter British opponents more systematically. According to Evening Standard, this body will be working under the supervision of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, which has already shown its adherence to fake reports during the Salisbury incident.

Moreover, at the beginning of the year France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced a new legislative initiative to be transformed into a law aimed at countering fake news.

The issue of fake news and propaganda is now being supervised by the EU Parliamentary Commission, which has already demanded Facebook and Twitter to provide them reports on this matter.

Lately it’s become known that a special unit to counter “fake” information was created under the supervision of the European Parliament. The unit is tasked with the goal of preserving the reputation of the European Parliament and responding to false reports, which can be published by both foreign and local media sources. From 2018 to 2020, this team will be receiving 1.1 million euros annually.

However, there’s little doubt that when the heads of Western countries talk about fighting “fake news”, they, first of all, mean strict censorship of the information space. And the more often Western leaders pronounce the phrases “struggle for democracy”, “freedom of speech” and the fight against “fake news”, the more rigid a form of total surveillance we are going to encounter. And we clearly see today that the fight against the alternative narrative in a great many of Western countries starts to take truly Orwellian shapes.

Against this backdrop, a special attention must be paid to a report published under the title of the Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation drafted by an independent group of expert on “fake news” and disinformation. The group, which is supervised by the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) was established on behalf of the Chairman of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker last January with the goal of providing advice to the European Commission members on the issue of “fake news.”

It was formed out of 39 various practitioners, including media representatives (RTL, Mediaset, SkyNews), IT experts (Facebook, Twitter, Google), the scientific community, along with various NGO representatives. The group was presented with a list of following tasks: identifying the phenomenon of misinformation, provide info on existing measures of combating it, proposing the creatia of choosing the tools for countering disinformation disseminated on the Internet, facilitating the development of a common EU strategy in this area, its key principles and goals for short and long terms.

According to Vice-President of the European Commission, François Timmermans, in an era when an unprecedented amount of information and false information is being published every day, it is especially important to “provide citizens with tools for identifying false news” and managing the information received.

A careful examination of the report prepared by the European Commission shows that the departure of the group of experts from the term “fake news” in favor of “misinformation” is an attempt to make the subject of its study less odious and more scientific in nature. According to the authors, they studied the best practices in this field. Apparently for this reason, the report does not mention the Strategic Communication Group East operating within the structure of the European foreign policy service, the main task of which is exclusively to draft false reports about “hybrid threats” and “all-powerful Russian propaganda.”

The report emphasizes that the basis for measures to combat disinformation should be the preservation of the absolute priority of freedom of speech and journalistic freedom in order to avoid any forms of censorship. The red line is the idea of the importance of minimum legal regulation while encouraging “horizontal” coordination of stakeholders. Putting high hopes on the consciousness of the latter, the commission emphasizes self-regulation. To do this, it is proposed to create a kind of “coalition” that would unite online platforms, media, journalists, legislators, civil society and other players.

One can only hope that this report of the European Commission will allow to unite the efforts of all countries to wage a real war against “fake news” and political disinformation, without strengthening of the ongoing censorship of the publications of alternative media sites that are trying to convey to the population of countries true information about the criminal activities of individual political figures and uncover lies in various mainstream publications.



Posted in MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on Fake News: A “Weapon of Choice” for a Handful of Countries

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