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ATTN’s videos may exceed 1.5 billion monthly views – Progressive except for Palestine?

ATTN’s videos may exceed 1.5 billion monthly views – Progressive except for Palestine?

ATTN: co-founder Jarrett Moreno
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | August 8, 2017

Look for an array of of short, snappy, professionally made social media videos to expose injustice, racism, and numerous other issues in the coming months.

But don’t expect them to expose Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, or the role of the Israel lobby in pushing for war.

In fact, if past actions are any indication, the videos may instead extoll the virtues of Israel, despite the country’s ongoing record of human rights abuses, systemic discrimination, and violent militarism.

A new digital media company known as ATTN: is forming partnerships with traditional media companies and others to produce “social issues” videos with a potential reach of well over 1.5 billion video views per month.

ATTN: stands for “attention.” The colon is part of the official name. The company was founded in 2014 with $4 million seed money that quickly grew to $22 million. By 2016 it was reportedly already getting over 400 million monthly video views and receiving more than 2 billion monthly impressions.

The media partnerships are with ABC News and the Tribune Media Company, which are eager to reach younger, Internet-focused audiences, and are expected to increase ATTN:’s already extensive reach.

The videos will be disseminated on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and will especially target younger audiences who rarely watch TV news programs. ATTN: sees its main audience as what it calls “mature millenials” – people in the 25-34 year-old range. While the segments will be designed for social media, they may also appear on ABC News’ TV broadcasts.

This is part of a larger strategy in which ATTN: is working with clients such as HBO, Bloomberg, and REI to produce videos that will drive consumers to their companies.

‘Issues-driven to make a social impact’

ATTN: calls itself “an issues-driven media company. Reuters reports that ATTN: “produces video and news pieces focused on a variety of political and social issues such as abortion and anti-Semitism.” Its commercial angle, as an Ad Week article put it, is to produce “socially-minded branded content.”

The New York Times reports that the company is “targeting progressive-leaning young people,” and its work is reliably leftish. Its website announces: “At our core, ATTN: believes in informing people to make a social impact.” The Los Angeles Business Journal calls it a “politically liberal news and advocacy site,” and its collection of videos largely bear this out.

There is one subject area, however, in which its progressive stance seems to be missing: Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Past actions suggest that the company and its founders may be what are known as “PEPs – Progressive Except Palestine.”

PEPs typically oppose racism and oppression and support indigenous peoples, equal rights, justice, freedom, and the rights of prisoners – except when it comes to Palestinians.*

On that topic, they support Israel’s “right to exist,” (i.e. its right to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population and discriminate against Muslims and Christians) and tend to overlook, minimize, or even justify its periodic slaughters in Gaza; its vast imprisonment of men, women, and children, often without even a semblance of judicial process; its confiscation of farmers’ land; demolition of family homes; its seemingly never-ending military occupation; and its systemic discrimination against Palestinians and other non-Jews.

Invisible Palestinians

ATTN:, despite its record of covering almost every current social justice issue, sometimes multiple times, seems to have ignored Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. In fact, what articles and videos ATTN: has produced on the subject praise Israel and ignore the Palestinians entirely.

An ATTN: video praising Israel describes “an idyllic secluded greenhouse nestled in the mountains of Galilee.” The ‘social issues’ video, which has received over 5.3 million views on Facebook, fails to mention the plight of Palestinians in Galilee.

One example is “The Major Way Israel Is Putting America to Shame on Marijuana,” which states: “The Israeli government’s stance on medical marijuana research and the country’s cultural landscape make it far friendlier to marijuana than the puritanical policies of the U.S. government.” The piece, quite likely, is helpful to Israeli companies marketing marijuana to the U.S.

The article discusses “an idyllic secluded greenhouse nestled in the mountains of Galilee,” but does not mention that the Galilee is notorious for the Israeli governmental policies that discriminate against the Christian population and that are increasingly squeezing Palestinians out.

Salah Sawaid stands on the last area of arable land available to the village of Ramya in the Galilee. An Israeli court ruled that the Palestinian village must be bulldozed. (Photo Jonathan Cook)

The article quotes an Israeli who says: “The Jewish people also feel a responsibility to perform ‘tikkun olam,’ repairing the world and improving the human condition.” The Israeli links Israel’s policies on medical marijuana to “its social and culture valuation of life, as characterized in the Talmud.”

While Israel’s marijuana policies may be as enlightened as the article says, the claim about Israeli culture’s “valuation of life” seems more questionable, given Israeli policies and practices.

In fact, Israel’s numerous aggressive wars and invasions of the Palestinian Territories and surrounding countries, its consistent killing of large numbers of civilians, the fact that Israelis who have killed Palestinians in cold blood are rarely or minimally punished, and the sometimes very explicit statements by some Israeli personages suggest that Israel’s “valuation of life” often only applies to Israeli life.

ATTN:’s mention of the Talmud ignores the uncomfortable fact that like probably all religious texts, the Talmud’s messages are mixed. Among the Talmud’s many benevolent passages are some that are deeply problematic, and these are particularly relevant to extremist portions of the Israeli public and leadership.

Israeli author Israel Shahak, who was endorsed by progressive icons Noam Chomsky and Edward Said, translates some of these passages in his books, and reports that some religious teachings have very different meanings than are commonly portrayed:

“In numerous cases general terms such as “thy fellow,” “stranger,” or even “man” are taken to have an exclusivist chauvinistic meaning. The famous verse “thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself” (Leviticus, 19:18) is understood by classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism as an injunction to love one’s fellow Jew, not any fellow human. Similarly, the verse “neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow” (ibid., 16) is supposed to mean that one must not stand idly by when the life (“blood”) of a fellow Jew is in danger; but, as will be seen in Chapter 5, a Jew is in general forbidden to save the life of a Gentile, because “he is not thy fellow.” (Shahak’s book, Jewish History, Jewish Religion,, can be downloaded or read online here.)

Israel’s alleged “valuation of life” is hard to square with the statement by Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, who called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don’t stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million.”

Some booklets distributed by the Israel Defense Forces rabbinate called for the killing of civilians. The chief rabbi taught that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned.” A book by two Israeli rabbis, The King’s Torah, teaches that killing infants is permissible.

Writer Stephen Lendman reports that some Israeli rabbis teach that “the ten commandments don’t apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to the chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council: ‘There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them…. A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.’”

Similar statements by Israeli officials are reported frequently in the Israeli media, even on the filtered English language websites. They are also sometimes taught in the United States. Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman, “world-renowned author, lecturer and philosopher; and co-founder of Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies,” wrote:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

Friedman wrote that “living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations.”

Again, ATTN: misses the situation for Palestinians

Another ATTN: article and video is How One Country Nailed the Solution to Its Drought, about Israel’s desalinization projects.

The video, which got over 30 million views on Facebook, tells how Israel’s desalinization work is superior to the U.S., while leaving out the fact that the U.S. gives Israel $10 million per day. According to the video Israel now has “a surplus of water.”

The laudatory video repeats some of the founding myths of Israel, while omitting the fact that Israel gets much of its water by taking it from the Palestinian Occupied Territories and its neighbors. Reporter Charlotte Silver writes in her investigative article “Israel’s water miracle that wasn’t“:

Israel credits its use of desalination plants and drip-irrigation with enabling the desert to bloom – the iconic image reinforcing the still-lingering notion that the land of historic Palestine was a dry one, while further impressing Israel’s world audience with the young country’s wizardry with water.

Less attention is given to the Knesset report commissioned in 2002, nearly four decades after Israel’s national water carrier began diverting the Jordan river to Israeli citrus orchards in the Negev region. The report concluded that the region’s ongoing water crisis – a desiccated Jordan river and shrinking Dead Sea – was “primarily man-made”.

In 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with California Governor Jerry Brown and bragged that, unlike California, “Israel doesn’t have a water problem.”

Silver writes: “The visit – and the message it carried – are just the latest in the PR ploys aptly called ‘bluewashing’. Israel doesn’t have a ‘water problem’ because it steals water from Palestinians.”

Camilla Corridin similarly reports in “Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians:

Since it occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israel has laid hands on Palestinian water resources through discriminatory water-sharing agreements that prevented Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure through its illegal planning and permit regime. As a result, thousands of Palestinians are unable to access sufficient water supplies and became water-dependent on Israel.

By building on the myth of a water-scarce region – Ramallah has more rainfall than London – Israel has deliberately denied Palestinians control over their water resources and successfully set the ground for water domination, granting itself a further tool to exercise its hegemony over the occupied population and territory.

ATTN: founders Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno

Entrepreneurs Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno founded ATTN: in 2014. (Photo from the OurTime.org “Generation Now Inaugural Youth Ball,” January 19, 2013. The two also co-founded Our Time.)

At 32 and 31, ATTN: co-founders Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno are part of the generation they’re hoping to influence. Both seem to be Israel partisans.

An ATTN: article by Segal (who will now also be an ABC on-air contributor) criticizes the nonviolent movement known as BDS (boycott, divest, sanction), which is attempting to use financial pressure to  push Israel to end its violations of Palestinian human rights and of international law.

In his article Segal claims that BDS is a “catalyst” for antisemitism. He quotes the pro-Israel Simon Wiesenthal Center’s claim that BDS is a “thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ‘rejectionists’ who have refused to make peace with Israel,” which reverses reality (see also this , this, and this).

Segal quotes Jewish students who oppose BDS, but provides no information from the diverse collection of students who support it, many of whom are also Jewish, and ignores the Israeli violence against and subjugation of Palestinians that elicited the BDS movement.

A featured ATTN: video continues this theme in a video entitled “The Rise of Anti-Semitism in the United States.” Like Segal’s article, the film connects criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism.

The video highlights an unsubstantiated claim by the ADL that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States jumped 86 percent in one year,” superimposing the statement on a photo of Jewish children in Israel.

The video claims that anti-Semitism on the left is due to “anti-Israel sentiment,” and includes a warning by the UK’s Mark Gardner about the alleged prevalence of anti-semitism.

What the scare video doesn’t reveal is that The ADL and Mark Gardner are pro-Israel partisans who conflate criticism of Israel with “anti-Semitism,” and that this conflation is part of an ongoing campaign to change the meaning of the word.

What Jarrett Moreno missed on his visit to Israel

ATTN: co-founder Jarrett Moreno shows a similar pro-Israel bias.

In 2013 he posted a series of Instagram photos during a trip to Israel. As an individual responsible for an organization that claims to be socially concerned and against racism, Moreno shows a surprising lack of awareness about Israel’s past and present oppression of Palestinians.

In one of his posts, Moreno is wearing a hat with an Israeli flag emblem on it and  writes: “An American feeling at home in the ancient city of Tzfat.”

Another name for Tzfat is Sefad or Safad. It’s an ancient, religiously mixed site (some have speculated that it was the location of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, although most today believe this to have been at another nearby location.)

In 1945 Safad’s population of 12,000 was approximately 80 percent Palestinian. In 2003 the Palestinian population was under one percent. Jewish, Muslims and Christians having been forced out by Israel’s founding war and its policies since.

In 2010 an Israeli journalist called it “the most racist city in Israel.” Its 18 senior rabbis had ordered residents not to rent to non-Jews and some Palestinian homes were attacked to chants of “Death to the Arabs.” In 2016 Safed’s chief rabbi posted on Facebook that the Israeli army should stop arresting Palestinians and instead should “execute them and leave no one alive.”

Another Instagram post says: “Iced coffee & goofy smiles in #Israel #KiryatGat”.

Former San Francisco Chronicle journalist Henry Norr gave some background on this city in his 2008 article “The Nakba, Intel, and Kiryat Gat“:

Sixty years ago, there was no Kiryat Gat. The land it now occupies was divided between two Palestinian villages, al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya. While the area is well within the Green Line, Israel’s 1949-67 border, its history is in one way unique: Israeli forces never captured it during the 1948-49 war. Egyptian forces occupied it in late May 1948, and although later Israeli counter-offensives broke up their front and laid siege to the two villages — known at the time as the “Faluja pocket” — the 4,000 Egyptian troops deployed there (including a young officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser, soon to become president of his country) held out until Egypt and Israel agreed to an armistice on 24 February 1949.

That’s when the Nakba befell al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya.*

Stranded and surrounded, the Egyptians were in no position to stay in the area. To their credit, however, they insisted as a condition of their withdrawal that Israel guarantee the safety of the civilians in the area — about 2,000 locals and some 1,100 refugees from other parts of Palestine.

In principle, Israel accepted the Egyptians’ demand. In an exchange of letters that were filed with the United Nations and appended to the main armistice agreement, the two governments agreed that civilians who wished to remain in al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya would be permitted to do so, and that “All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.”

Within days, however, it was clear that the agreement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Under the direction of Yitzhak Rabin (later Prime Minister of Israel), and probably with the direct approval of founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, according to historian Benny Morris, Israeli troops promptly mounted “a short, sharp, well-orchestrated campaign of low-key violence and psychological warfare designed to intimidate the inhabitants into flight.”

Residents of al-Faluja flee in 1949. (Palestine Remembered) Members of an American Quaker relief mission who were in the area at the time kept a diary of the violence they observed, such as the case of a man brought to them with “two bloody eyes, a torn ear, and a face pounded until it was blue.” And UN observers reported not only beatings and robberies, but also cases of attempted rape and “promiscuous firing” on civilians by Israeli soldiers.

What Morris labels “low-key,” however, probably didn’t seem so to the victims. He himself quotes a survivor’s testimony that the Israeli army “created a situation of terror, entered the houses and beat the people with rifle butts.”

Members of an American Quaker relief mission who were in the area at the time kept a diary detailing the violence they observed, such as the case of a man brought to them with “two bloody eyes, a torn ear, and a face pounded until it was blue.” And UN observers reporting to Ralph Bunche, the distinguished African-American diplomat then serving as chief UN mediator in Palestine, noted not only beatings and robberies, but also cases of attempted rape and “promiscuous firing” on civilians by Israeli soldiers.

Israel supporters, of course, are quick to dismiss even such eyewitness accounts as exaggerations if not outright fabrications. But even the most ardent Zionist can’t easily dismiss one other source who documented what happened in the Faluja pocket: Israel’s own foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett. Observing the blatant contradiction between the solemn diplomatic commitment his government had just undertaken and the behavior of its forces on the ground, he worried that it might jeopardize Israel’s campaign to gain UN membership. On 6 March 1949, just ten days after the agreement with the Egyptians, he fired off an angry memo to the Israeli army, charging that its actions in al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya were throwing into question “our sincerity as a party to an international agreement.” Noting that Israel was trying to argue at the UN that it was not responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem, he wrote, “From this perspective, the sincerity of our professions is tested by our behavior in these villages. … Every intentional pressure aimed at uprooting [the local population] is tantamount to a planned act of eviction on our part.”

Sharett objected not only to the overt violence, but also to what he said was a “whispering propaganda campaign” conducted covertly by the Israeli army, threatening the civilians with “attacks and acts of vengeance by the army” if they didn’t leave the area. “This whispering propaganda is not being done of itself,” Sharett continued. “There is no doubt that here there is a calculated action aimed at increasing the number of those going to the Hebron Hills [then controlled by Jordan] as if of their own free will, and, if possible, to bring about the evacuation of the whole civilian population” of the Faluja pocket.

… By mid-March all of al-Faluja’s residents had abandoned their homes; the residents of ‘Iraq al-Manshiya held out longer, but after several shootings by Israeli sentries, the last of them — some 1,160 people — left in Red Cross-organized convoys on 21 and 22 April.

Five days later, Rabin ordered the demolition of both villages.

In sum, they fell victim to the same tactics Israeli forces had perfected during the ethnic cleansing of the rest of their new state over the previous year. The only thing unusual about al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya was that Israel had formally promised not to do what it did, that so many Westerners were on hand to document the process, and that even a top Israeli official provided confirmation of their accounts.

Gaza enters the picture, sort of

Jarrett Moreno (right) with Israeli Guy Amir (posted on Instagram July 27, 2014)

In 2014, the year after Moreno’s trip, Israel invaded Gaza, yet again (its previous major invasion had been 2008-9). Moreno, now back in the U.S., responded with a July 27 Instagram photo of himself with an Israeli friend. He comments:

“Thinking of my friend Guy Amir and many thousands of Israelis who dropped school and work to respond to more than a decade of rocket attacks from Hamas.”

In the “decade of rocket attacks” that Moreno mentions, rockets from Gaza had killed 23 Israelis. Moreno doesn’t mention that during the same period, Israeli forces had killed about 4,000 Gazans and injured tens of thousands.

Moreno’s post goes on to say:

Hoping for safety and peace for my friends through the Middle East, the citizens of Gaza + Israel, and Jews who’ve been victims of violent protest around the world.”

A boy sits amid the rubble of his destroyed house in the Gaza Strip, July 2014. Israeli forces damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, displacing an estimated quarter of a million people.

The Red Cross reported in 2010 that the Israeli blockade had caused a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in Gaza.

While Moreno’s post suggests that Israelis and Gazans were suffering equally, the reality was far from equal.

Gazans were living in what many have described as an open air concentration camp in which food, medicines, building supplies, and the ability to come and go were severely restricted by Israel. Children were suffering malnutrition and some died from treatable conditions.

During Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” invasion of Gaza, the period when Moreno posted, Israelis killed more than 2,100 Palestinians (three-quarters were civilians); Palestinians killed 72 Israelis (six were civilians).

The day before Moreno’s post, Israeli forces had killed a two-and-a-half year old, an 18-month-old, a seven-year-old, a five year-old, two one-year olds, an eleven-year-old, and a four-year-old among the at least 494 Palestinian children killed by Israel during the invasion. No Israeli children were killed.

A few months later Moreno posted a grinning selfie:

The bottom line

So far, ATTN:’s marketing strategy has paid off.

Its Facebook page has 4.7 million followers; one video alone got over 60 million views. A spokesperson says the company is “benefiting from a trust halo.”

Matthew Segal’s net worth is now reportedly $2.1 million. (Jarrett Moreno’s is unknown but is likely similar.)

ATTN: proclaims that it covers ‘important issues and calls to action, breaks down complex issues for its viewers, and starts conversations around issues that matter with hundreds of millions of people every month.’

Its promo video has a clip of Joe Biden noting “the power of social media and the power of communicating a view.”

Given ATTN:’s record so far and the views of its founders, this ‘social issues’ powerhouse that plans to ‘make an impact’ does not bode well for Palestinian men, women, and children – or for the Israelis who oppose their government’s actions and have long called for the U.S. to “stop Israel.”

If ATTN: continues its present course, both may continue to lose out – as well as Americans, whose politicians from both parties, give Israel massive amounts of our tax money, year after year.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.  


* Conservatives seem to have a similar phenomenon – where for some people ‘America First’ changes to ‘America Second’ when Israel comes into the picture, and fiscal conservatism turns into massive hand-outs when money to Israel is involved. Politicians from both parties who desire donations from Israel partisans and who desire favorable coverage from pro-Israel media – which includes almost everyone, from Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz – are a mainstay of both groups.

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August 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unsung Summit of Putin and Trump

From Hiroshima To Hamburg

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | August 8, 2017

This week marks the 72nd anniversary of the criminal US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And as is the case each year, there is much discussion and lamenting over this atrocity, as there well should be. For the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary for victory; Japan had already sued for peace. It was the opening salvo, a brutal one, in the first Cold War in which the world was nearly incinerated during the Cuban missile crisis.

This week is also the one month anniversary of the first in-person meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin at Hamburg on July 7 in the shadow of the G20 meetings. This comes at a time when we find ourselves years into a New Cold War. Given the tensions between Russia and the US, the leading nuclear powers, one would think that there would be rejoicing over the prospect of relieving the tensions between the nuclear superpowers. For that was the agenda of the Trump-Putin summit, as such meetings were called during the first Cold War. Unfortunately, such rejoicing was not to be heard, quite the opposite – with a few rare exceptions

This is lamentable, to say the least, because as tensions grow between the superpowers, the chance for nuclear war increases.  During his lengthy interviews with Vladimir Putin, Oliver Stone showed him the movie “Dr. Strangelove” which Putin had never before seen. Putin commented that the movie captured, among other things, a technical truth with its depiction of the Doomsday Machine. That is, said Putin, nuclear weapons grow increasingly harder to control with every passing day. Given this, the failure to applaud the Trump-Putin on the part of those who were full of praise for the UN vote on denuclearization made me wonder whether there was any thought behind their chatter. Hatred of Trump and Putin seemed to blot out a rational concern for human survival. Are we living in a mad house? Did we not learn our lesson when we narrowly escaped Armageddon in Cold War 1?

In the face of such madness, let us take the time to offer full-throated, unmistakable praise for the Trump-Putin summit meeting. The parley was a long time coming because of the relentless attack on Trump over Russiagate, a Big Lie blared out relentlessly these many months and only now collapsing for want of so much as a smidgen of evidence. Although Trump had promised to hold this summit with Putin even before he was inaugurated, he could not do so because of the intense Russia-gate related pressure against it – from the Elite of both Parties but with the Democrats far in the lead. But Trump pushed ahead with the meeting anyway; as we learned during the 2016 campaign, this is not a guy who gives up despite the odds.

To begin, the summit was undeniably a success with solid achievements and follow-ups. Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, and one of the few to offer praise for the meeting, summed up the meeting’s four main accomplishments thus:

… formalizing and symbolizing the new détente partnership* between the American and Russian presidents; agreement to cooperate in Syria against terrorist forces there, not only in the limited ways announced, but in more expansive ways, which meant agreeing with Moscow that Syrian President Assad must remain at least until ISIS is fully defeated; creating a bilateral US-Russian channel for negotiating a settlement of the Ukrainian civil and proxy war, thereby bypassing, or reducing, the role played thus far by Germany and France, which has largely failed; and agreeing to discuss ways to limit the dangers of cyber technology in international affairs. Though Trump was forced to talk back this agenda item, no doubt it remains on the US-Russian agenda, a subject of negotiation, as it should be, considering the ways in which cyber attacks could undermine nuclear security on both sides.

To these I would add the cease-fire in southwest Syria which was arranged in the run-up to the meeting and announced there. This cease-fire is still holding, and Russian FM Lavrov has announced that more ceasefire zones are in the works in Syria. Any time that the guns fall silent, the killing stops and people can return to their homes, there should be jubilation – especially in the outlets devoted to peace. Sadly that has been far from the case in the progressive press or the MSM.

The cooperation on Syria continued with a thunderbolt in the form of a Trumpian tweet on Monday night, July 24:

“The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad…..”

A superb assessment of this tweet marking Trump’s order to end the CIA’s regime change op and its de facto support for jihadis in Syria comes from David Stockman here:

Occasionally one of Trump’s tweets slices through Imperial Washington’s sanctimonious cant. Indeed, Monday evening’s 140 characters cut right to the bone. Needless to say, we are referencing not the dig at the empire of Bezos, but the characterization of Washington’s anti-Assad policy as “massive, dangerous and wasteful”.

No stouter blow to the neocon/Deep State “regime change” folly has ever been issued by an elected public official. Yet there it is – the self-composed words of the man in the Oval Office.

Stockman follows with a brief history of the U.S.’s covert war on Syria and Syria’s historical mistreatment at the hands of earlier Western Empires. (It is to the credit of Antiwar.com for publishing Stockman’s piece – in contrast to the far more widely published feverish denunciation by John McCain: “If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.” Thus, is any initiative for peace greeted from the two wings of the War Party.)

On top of this there is Secretary Tillerson’s statement that cooperation on Syria is continuing and developing, mirroring the statement of FM Lavrov.

I fully expect that this evaluation will bring a storm of condemnation. Some will accuse the author of parroting the “Kremlin line,” or being a Putin puppet, dead giveaways for the old Cold War mindset. But I would offer one word of advice to such naysayers. Support the good in what Trump does and oppose the bad. Very simple. And certainly, the good includes New Détente with Russia since it may well mean the survival of humanity. We might not get another shot at it. No other major national political figure, other than Rand Paul, is calling for it, which means we are in very deep trouble, perhaps mortal trouble.

* The symbolism of the two Presidents meeting, shaking hands and “getting along,” to use a phrase often invoked by Trump in the 2016 campaign, should not be underestimated. It can have a great effect on public opinion and show people that to feel friendly toward Russia and Putin is legit. After all the President feels that way. jw

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

August 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

‘No Time For Shallow Diplomacy Christians’ In The Religious War On Churches In The Holy Land

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | August 2, 2017

A month ago, after reading a desperate cry for help from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine (NCCOP) addressed to the World Council of Churches, I emailed eight churches in my locality asking whether that heart-rending appeal had trickled down to them at parish level.

If not, I hoped to find out where the break in communications occurred, as this wasn’t the first time churches in the Holy Land had sought support from Western Christendom. Previous appeals were largely ignored and left to civil society for action.

Now, say the Palestinians, the situation is “beyond urgent”. So had the NCCOP’s latest plea actually arrived on the desks of parish priests in my neighbourhood? And if so, how were grass-roots Christians responding?

I included a link to the actual crisis document, which should have made every churchman sit up, and a gentle reminder that their faith and their job of work are rooted in the Holy Land. “So what are the chances, I wonder, of seeing concerted action from Western churches before it’s too late? And what part can local parishes play?

The key point was this: it’s beyond urgent. So are our spiritual leaders, those upstanding ‘men of the cloth’, mobilising their troops?

Only one of the eight replied — the local Catholic vicar-general — who dismissed the subject in two sentences. So there you have it. If this local bunch are representative of the Christian community in the UK, they don’t give a four-X for their brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And they are utterly indifferent to the fact that the place where Christianity was born is being stolen from under their noses.

If that’s a wrong interpretation, and Christians in the West do actually wish to help, the issue is straightforward enough. Churches in Palestine are asking churches here to call things as they are: to recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and the UN report which says so. They are concerned that States and churches are still dealing with Israel on a business-as-usual basis, as if the situation were normal, and ignoring the criminal reality of military occupation.

Churches came together in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and helped end it. Why haven’t they done the same in Palestine?

They ask us to unequivocally condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust, and they rightly demand that the UK asks forgiveness and compensates the Palestinian people for their losses. Theresa May’s government, however, plans to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and has invited Mr Netanyahu to the fun.

Clearly Mrs May, God-fearing churchgoer that she is, needs to feel the heat of His wrath. The woman is so arrogant that her government intends to appeal against the recent decision by the Royal Courts of Justice defending our right to boycott Israel.

End the ‘Ecumenical Deal’, put interfaith dialogue through the wringer

The Palestinians want us to take the strongest possible stand against any theology or group that seeks to justify the occupation. That means of course challenging our religious dialogue partners and withdrawing from those partnerships if they won’t condemn Israel’s brutal occupation.

But I can hear our canting clerics muttering: “Oh dear, no, no, no. We mustn’t upset our interfaith colleagues. That would never do.”

Churches that sell their holdings or otherwise divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian lands often take years of agonising confab to reach such a commonsense position. But they needn’t think just moving their money is enough. A recent example is the Mennonite Church USA, where it took (they say) a three-person writing team and a 10-member reference group working intensely during the past two years and consulting widely across the church and with Palestinian and Jewish partners, to come up with a modest proposal. And to sugar the divestment pill they declared that “the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians”. What the Palestinians had to do with Jewish suffering or ever did to deserve having their lands and homes confiscated, isn’t explained. But it is used to provide an excuse to call on Mennonites to strengthen relationships with Jewish communities.

Why? Can they not understand that you have to be consistent in boycotting Israel? It involves boycotting the people who also support and advocate for Israel including those who fail to condemn the Zionist regime’s vile policies that hurt our Palestinian friends. As George Galloway has said, you simply don’t engage with them.

Christians who cannot grasp what is really going on out there, and don’t see what is needed to stop it, might find Robert Cohen’s excellent article Brace Yourselves for Costly Palestinian Solidarity helpful in pointing towards proper, meaningful action.

He explains why the Christian-Jewish dialogue needs re-setting. Central to the problem is the so-called Ecumenical Deal, a reluctance to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of interfaith reconciliation following the Holocaust.  We appear to have cast ourselves in the self-defeating role of repenting for age-old Christian anti-Jewishness. Breaking out of it and criticising Israel would be seen as a re-emergence of that anti-Jewishness.

I’m not aware of Christian anti-Jewishness although continuing failure on the part of Jewish leaders to condemn the cruel policies of the Israeli regime, aka ‘the Jewish State’, is surely asking for it. Does anyone inside or outside the bubble of the Church seriously buy into this repentence stuff? From outside, among people who would never set foot in a church again but still call themselves Christians because they were brought up according to the Christian code, it looks pathetic.

Christians in Palestine, says Cohen, despair of our Church leaders’ endless hiding behind the cover of political neutrality and their unwillingness to offend their religious dialogue partners. Consequently, he predicts, Jewish-Christian dialogue “is about to go through the wringer”.

Time for some ‘really uncomfortable conversations’

Pressing the re-set button means “refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel”. It also means “listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation”.

Operating the wringer, of course, will be followed by a distinct chill in relationships forcing Church leaders, local ministers and their congregations, as well as the Jewish leaders they have dialogue with, out of their comfort zone. Good. As Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace, recently wrote in Haaretz, after 70 years of dispossessing and expelling Palestinians, 50 years of Israeli military occupation and 10 years of blockading Gaza, it is time for Jewish communities “to have some really uncomfortable conversations”.

Palestinians say no to ‘shallow diplomacy’ but it’s all they’re likely to get

How does the World Council of Churches react to those urgent pleas from Palestine?

They will study and analyse. “As we at the WCC consider our plans for 2018 and beyond, we want churches in Palestine to know that their perspective is heard and it is vitally important,” said the WCC’s general secretary. “We will continue with the same passionate spirit to work on specific objectives, strategies and partners for advocacy to end the occupation and to work for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

The WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has been asked to contribute a thorough analysis of the changing political landscapes and dynamics in the Holy Land with an eye toward developing a more specific advocacy strategy that works through nations and organizations with significant influence.

WCC has also started an online campaign, Seek #JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land, which features profiles of peacemakers and various cries for justice.

WCC also plans to “explore theological reflections, studies and projects that will bring a perspective on just peace in the Holy Land from all parts of the world”, and strengthen communication about the situation in Palestine so that it can “help churches and other ecumenical partners address their constituencies and governments in a more systematic way”. This includes developing a set of principles and practices of responsible pilgrimages of justice and peace to the Holy Land.

Will the Palestinian churches be impressed? Their cry for help stated specifically: “We stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.”

They stressed that religious extremism is on the rise, with religious minorities paying a heavy price. “We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians.”

When I called the Church of England press office yesterday they didn’t think any response had been made. Such concern, then. And when I ran through the members of the WCC’s Central Committee I noticed the two representatives from the Church Of England were both based in Europe. How helpful is that?

The power of hope

Christianity sometimes has great trouble telling right from wrong and doing something about it. The Holy Land is a case in point. Evil reigns there. Christianity across the world cowers. What would Christ say to that?

I know what Michel Sabbah says. He is a former Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a courageous man of the front line and one of the great heroes of the struggle.

“The current situation is hopeless. In reality, there are no signs of hope at all for the Palestinian people. In spite of that, we hope.

We hope because we are Christians, and God is present.
We hope because we believe in the fundamental goodness of the human being, Israeli and Palestinian. Human goodness will prevail at the end upon the human power of evil.

We hope because Palestinians are persevering in claiming their rights.
It is a source of hope that we never gave up….

We hope because among Israelis, there are people who are trying to work with Palestinians for what is right. And there are an increasing number of movements for peace, strong in will….

If we had no hope we would not live. Hope is life, and history gives us hope. What is right will prevail.”

Michel Sabbah
Catholic Patriarch Emeritus

I fear that if he pins any hopes on the wets of the Western churches he’ll be disappointed. But he already knows that, surely.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Deep State” Then and Now

By Edward Curtin | July 17, 2017

“… since grasping the present from within is the most problematic task the mind can face.” – Frederic Jameson

Have you ever seen a photograph of yourself from the past and laughed or grimaced at the way you were dressed or your hair style? It’s a common experience. But few people draw the obvious conclusion about the present: that our present appearance might be equally laughable. The personal past seems to be “over there,” an object to be understood and dissected for its meaning, while the present seems opaque and shape-shifting – or just taken-for-granted okay.  “That was then,” says the internal voice, “but I am wiser now.” Historical perspective, even about something as superficial as appearance, rarely illuminates the present, perhaps because it makes us feel ignorant and unfree.

This is even truer with political and social history.

In recent years there has been a spate of books and articles detailing the CIA’s past Cold war cultural and political propaganda efforts, from the creation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) with its string of magazines, to its collaboration with many famous writers and intellectuals, including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Richard Wright, Irving Kristol, et al., and its penetration and working relationships with so many publications and media outlets, including The New York Times, the Paris Review, Encounter, etc. These exposés show how vast was the CIA’s propaganda network throughout the media and the world, and how many people participated in the dirty work.

Joel Whitney, in his recently published book, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (the word “tricked” ignores the eager accomplices), tells this scandalous story in illuminating detail. His account informs and nauseates simultaneously, as one learns how the CIA penetrated NGOs, television, universities, magazines, newspapers, book publishing, etc., finding willing collaborationists everywhere – scoundrels eager to spy on and betray even their friends as they deceived the public worldwide; how well-meaning leftist writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Garcia Marquez were tricked into lending their names and work to propaganda publications; how leftists were set against leftists in an elaborate effort to sow paranoia and confusion that could be used to put the Soviet Union in the worst possible light; and how many front organizations were created to secretly funnel money to support these endeavors and make and break careers. The story makes your skin crawl.

But that was then. What about now? Whitney doesn’t say, presumably because he doesn’t know; doesn’t have documentary evidence to name names.  This is not a criticism.  He does say that “we understand vaguely that our media are linked to our government still today, and to government’s stated foreign policy,” and he wonders if the ideology that drove the CIA’s past endeavors “remains with us. (I am reminded of Emerson’s words: “What you do (or don’t) speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”). Despite his use of tepid language about the present, especially that word “vaguely,” it seems that Whitney thinks similar propaganda activities are going on today, which is why a blurb for Finks at his publisher’s website (OR Books) and at amazon.com by James Risen of the New York Times, who has written two books about the CIA, strikes such an odd note. It reads:

It may be difficult to believe that the American intellectual elite was once deeply embedded with the CIA. But with Finks, Joel Whitney vividly brings to life the early days of the Cold War, when the CIA’s Ivy League ties were strong, and key American literary figures were willing to secretly do the bidding of the nation’s spymasters.

“Difficult to believe.” For whom?

“Once.” When? In the bad old days?

“When the CIA’s Ivy League ties were strong.” Does the CIA now recruit from community colleges?

Are these the good old days? Such language usage makes one wonder: is it just a quickly scribbled blurb or carefully chosen words?

The Future is Now

No doubt the archives and sealed documents will be pried loose through repeated FOIA requests in thirty or forty years and the moans and groans about today’s bad old days will fill the air. How could they have done such things? It’s just outrageous! But that was then, not now. It’s different now; we are older but wiser.

It’s hard to suppress a sardonic laugh, so I won’t. Today we are obviously drowning in CIA propaganda throughout the corporate mainstream media, and in the alternative online media as well. One has only to see “what they do, or don’t.” The documentation is in the doing, and it doesn’t take a genius to grasp how blatant it is. It is in no way “vague.” But it does take good faith, and a passion for truth, which is sorely lacking.  Why this is so is a key issue I will return to.

As in the past, some propaganda is obvious and other subtler and indirect. Yet it is relentless. There may or may not be a comparable Congress for Cultural Freedom today, but with advanced technology and the internet, it may not be needed. Methods may change; intentions remain the same. What was once done surreptitiously is now done blatantly, as I wrote in January: the deep state has gone shallow. Fifty years ago the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to be used to dismiss the truths expressed by critics of its murder of President Kennedy, and those of Malcom X, MLK, and RFK. All the media echoed the CIA line. While they still use the term to dismiss and denounce, their control of the MSM is so complete today that every evil government action is immediately seconded, whether it be the lies about the Attacks of September 11, 2001, the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc., the coup in Ukraine, the downing of the Malaysian jetliner there, drone murders, the looting of the American people by the elites, alleged sarin gas attacks in Syria, the anti-Russia bashing – everything. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc. – all are stenographers for the deep state.

Denying Existential Freedom

One of the first things an authoritarian governing elite must do is to convince people that they are not free. This has been going on for at least forty years, ever since the Church Committee’s revelations about the CIA in the mid-seventies, including its mind-control programs. Everyone was appalled at the epiphany, so a different tactic was employed. Just have “experts,” social, psychological, and biological “scientists,” repeat ad infinitum that there is no longer any mind control since we now know there is no mind; it is an illusion, and it all comes down to the brain. Biology is destiny, except in culturally diversionary ways in which freedom to choose is extolled – e.g. the latest fashions, gender identity, the best hair style, etc. Create and lavishly fund programs for the study of the brain, while supporting and promoting a vast expansion of pharmaceutical drugs to control people. Do this in the name of helping people with their emotional and behavioral problems that are rooted in their biology and are beyond their control. And create criteria to convince people that they are sick.

We have been told interminably that our lives revolve around our brains (our bodies) and that the answers to our problems lie with more brain research, drugs, genetic testing, etc. It is not coincidental that the U. S. government declared the 1990s the decade of brain research, followed up with 2000-2010 as the decade of the behavior project, and our present decade being devoted to mapping the brain and artificial intelligence, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Project and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. How convenient! George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump — what a difference! But this is science and the welfare of the world. Science for idiots.

Drip by drip, here and there, articles, books, media reports have reiterated  that people are “determined” by biological, genetic, social, and psychological forces over which they have no control. To assert that people are free in the Satrean sense (en soir, condemned to freedom, or free will) has come to be seen as the belief of a delusional fool living in the past, a bad philosopher, an anti-scientist, a poorly informed religionist, one nostalgic for existential cafes, Gauloises, and black berets, but being totally out of it. One who doesn’t grasp the truth since he doesn’t read the New York Times or watch CBS television.

The conventional propaganda – I almost said wisdom – created through decades-long media and academic (don’t forget the pathetic academy) repetition, is that we are not free. Let me repeat: we are not free.

Investigator reporter John Rappoport has consistently exposed the propaganda involved in the creation and expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) with its pseudo-scientific falsehoods and collusion between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. As he correctly notes, the CIA’s MKULTRA mind-control program has morphed into modern psychiatry, both with the same objectives of disabling and controlling people by convincing them that they are not free and are in need of a chemical brain bath.

Can anyone with an awareness of this history doubt there is a hidden hand behind this development? Once you have convinced people that they are not free in the most profound sense, the rest is child’s play.  Convinced that they are puppets, they become puppets to be played. Who would want to get people to believe they were not free?

Terrified to See the Current Truth

There are many excellent writers who, because they are truth seekers, have used logical analysis to deconstruct the patent propaganda of deep state forces and their media scribes. They do so through close reading (a skill once taught in schools) and historical knowledge without waiting for documentation, though sometimes it arrives from sources such as Wikileaks, FOIA requests, or government leakers like Edward Snowden or Chelsey Manning.  While not always definitive, many of these analyses clearly raise disturbing questions that give the lie to the presstitutes’ claims of innocent objectivity. Their arguments are laid bare so the CIA’s and deep-state’s handiwork shines through.  Robert Parry, Michel Chossudovsky, Paul Craig Roberts, John Pilger, James Petras, David Ray Griffin, Graeme MacQueen and many others have so demolished the propaganda that the question of why so many liberals and left-leaning people still refuse to accept the obvious echoes in the ears of those familiar with the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s machinations to set leftists and liberals against each other through media manipulation. While left and right-wing disinformation collaborationists are everywhere and the CIA obviously has its people placed throughout the cultural and media landscape, it is clear to me that there is something else involved.

So much of the ongoing propaganda travels under the banner of “the war on terror,” which is, of course, an outgrowth of the attacks of September 11, 2001, appropriately named and constantly reinforced as 9/11 in a wonderful example of linguistic mind-control: a constant emergency to engender anxiety, depression, panic, and confusion, four of the symptoms that lead the DSM “experts” and their followers to diagnose and drug individuals.  The term 9/11 was first used in the New York Times on September 12, 2001 by Bill Keller, the future Times’ editor.

Douglas Valentine, a true expert on the CIA and author of The CIA as Organized Crime and The Phoenix Program, has shown that the CIA’s highly structured assassination program in Vietnam – the Phoenix Program – is the template for “the war on terror.”  In other books he has shown how the CIA’s role in drug trafficking is directly linked to the massive increased usage of heroin and other street drugs, another face of the drugging of the country. Thus the “institutional” structure and consequent practices of one of the most ruthless propaganda and terrorist organizations of the United States’ deep-state (the Phoenix program) continues to this day here and abroad. To think that the Agency’s handiwork once carried on under the banner of the Committee for Cultural Freedom does not continue today would take extreme naïveté, the inability to reason, historical ignorance, plain bad faith, or a combination thereof.

Which brings me back to the issue of why so many “liberal” Democrats – those whose bibles are the New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, etc. – can only see propaganda when they can attribute it to Donald Trump or the Russians. Why has this group, together with their Republican and conservative fellow travelers, embraced a new McCarthyism and allied itself with the deep-state forces that they were once allegedly appalled by? It surely isn’t the policies of the Trump administration or his bloviating personality, for these liberals allied themselves with Obama’s anti-Russian rhetoric, his support for the U.S. orchestrated neo-fascist Ukrainian coup, his destruction of Libya, his wars of aggression across the Middle East, his war on terror, his trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization, his enjoyment of drone killing, his support for the coup in Honduras, his embrace of the CIA and his CIA Director John Brennan, his prosecution of whistle-blowers, etc. The same media that served the CIA so admirably over the decades became the media that became liberals’ paragons of truth. Why?

Let me try to answer by referring to two articles that appeared side-by-side in The New York Times Magazine for May 28, 2017. Their content, style, and juxtaposition suggest an answer to the schizoid subtleties of master manipulators, and how cultural/political propaganda works in oblique ways off the front pages.

The cover story for that issue, “Aleppo After the Fall,” accompanied by the words “Life And Loss Amid The Ruins of Syria’s Fractious And Devastating Civil War” and a photo of a demolished Aleppo district, sets the tone, especially the lie in the words “civil war.” The war was started under President Obama in March 2011 by the United States/NATO/Israel with the arming of Islamist “freedom fighters” in an effort to overthrow President Bashar al Assad. But the Sunday morning Times reader is immediately told otherwise, as they have been for the past six years of carnage. Most probably don’t notice the deception as they flip to the table of contents where they see a photo of cream puffs and coffee.

As they sip their morning coffee and think about cream puffs, let’s imagine our readers turning to the first major story preceding the Aleppo piece by Robert F. Worth, a contributing writer for the magazine. It is an article titled “Empire of Dust” by Molly Young, also a contributing writer. It is a title that suggests further disintegration of a most serious nature (no, not the American Empire), yet it is an article about Amanda Chantal Bacon and the rise of the wellness industry. A photo of this “beatific” 34 year old entrepreneurial guru in a flowing white gown in a half-lotus position, seated on a marble kitchen countertop surrounded by some “magical” rocks, takes up an entire page. The photo, a Barthian signifier if ever there were one, is clearly meant to be deciphered by the Times’ clientele for secrets to the beautiful, luxurious, and peaceful life due to one of means and exquisite taste, one who will spend five dollars on a newspaper and live a balanced, Epicurean life of self-care and sophistication. Bacon’s massive light-filled kitchen with its marble countertops – a sine qua non of today’s “good life” – serves the usual elitist function of drawing in readers with a discerning, moneyed eye.

Alternately fawning and critical, Young begins by telling the reader, “The amount of time I waste finding and consuming alternative-medicine supplements for ‘brain function’ has made me at least 10 percent dumber, and that paradox is not lost on me. It was that impulse that made me pause last year at a fancy store in Brooklyn when I spotted a glass jar labeled ‘Brain Dust’.” From there Young takes us to Los Angeles, where she interviews the lifestyle guru Bacon, and we hear about Spirit Dust, Beauty Dust, Sex Dust, vaginal steaming, spirit truffles, and sunbathing the vagina, and to the Hamptons where she again spots Brain Dust in an expensive store that also sells “boeuf-bourguignon-flavored dog biscuits.” Young, having traversed the golden triangle – Brooklyn, L.A., and the Hamptons – tells us how Bacon captures her imagination even as she “was ashamed of its capture.” She drinks Power Dusted coffee with the Moon Juice founder who tells her, “I was told growing up in NYC that I had learning disabilities and mental illness. That was all the rage in the ‘90s.” (Presumably they are raging no longer.) After offering mild criticisms’ and writing that after visiting Bacon’s house she “wanted to move to California and eat bee pollen,” Young covertly orders bee pollen from her phone and ends by telling us that the Moon Juice bee pollen she has ordered “would arrive in two to four business days.” The reader is left to wonder who is dumber or smarter despite or because of the Brain Dust.

But if one is feeling brain dead, one can move or jump-cut to the next article, a piece of cosmopolitan gravitas meant to clarify who are the good guys and who the bad in the Middle East, specifically Syria.

Turning to this article on Aleppo, a juxtaposing of pornographic proportions, one is greeted with a two page photo of totally destroyed buildings in front of which walk a woman pushing a toddler in a stroller and a man pushing another toddler in a makeshift wooden cart covered in plastic sheeting. One flips from “Sex Dust” to disgust and heartbreak in a page turn. The reader is walked step-by-step into a piece of political propaganda, as Robert Worth tells us that “The Syrian tragedy started in a moment of deceptive simplicity, when the peaceful protesters of the 2011 Arab Spring seemed destined to inherit the future.”  This deception is then quickly followed with the claim that Assad used “chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in early April,” an assertion backed by no evidence and clearly refuted by Seymour Hersh, among others. Worth tells us that “the Syrian regime (note the sly use of the word regime, a staple of linguistic mind-control) and its Russian allies repeatedly bombed hospitals and civilian areas,” and that in the United States such actions were “widely deplored as a war crime comparable to the worst massacres of the Bosnian war during the 1990s.” One has to give credit to Worth for a masterful double-deception here, first by accusing the Syrians and Russians but not the United States of repeatedly bombing hospitals and civilian areas, and then segueing to the “Bosnian” war with nary a mention of the U.S./NATO conspiracy to dismantle Yugoslavia through proxies and the subsequent massive bombing of Serbia and Serbian civilians that were clearly war crimes committed by the liberal saint, Bill Clinton. Throughout this piece Worth repeatedly accuses the Assad government of war crimes and atrocities while whitewashing the United States. Immediately following his assertion of Syrian war crimes, he tells the Sunday Times’ readers that “ the State Department released satellite photographs suggesting that the regime is burning the bodies of executed prisoners in a crematory at the Sednaya prison complex, north of Damascus, in an alleged effort to hide evidence.” This claim is based on a totally discredited claim  made in February 2017 by Amnesty International, and Worth, knowing that there is no evidence for this, cagily uses the words “suggesting” and “alleged.” But juxtaposed with the war crimes assertions, only a careful reader searching for truth would notice the trick, surely not a Time Magazine reader already predisposed by the daily Times’s constant flow of government lies. Quoting a speech by Assad in which he claimed there was a “huge conspiracy” to dismantle and destroy Syria, Worth dismissively rejects this obvious truth by quoting an anonymous former regime official (a common tactic) who says he was shocked by the speech. If Assad had given a different speech, Worth notes, “the past six years would have unrolled very differently, and oceans of blood might have been spared.” This is the imperial mindset at its finest, all rolled into an extensive New York Times Magazine article meant to enlighten and inform its alleged sophisticated readers.

What I am suggesting with these magazine examples is that the old trick perfected by the Congress for Cultural Freedom to juxtapose cultural pieces with political ones is alive and well today, even if the CCF or its equivalent doesn’t exist, since it isn’t needed. Illiteracy has become the norm and stupidity the rule as the electronic revolution has destroyed people’s ability to concentrate or stay focused long enough to realize they are being taken for a ride by propagandists and that they are being purposely overloaded with information meant to create a felt need for “Brain Dust.” This has been going on for so long that to admit one is still being taken for a ride is equivalent to admitting to gullibility so profound that it must be denied. It is one thing criticize the politicians you hate – George W. Bush and Donald Trump for liberal Democrats and Bill Clinton and Obama for conservative Republicans – and to call them liars; but to contemplate the fact that the CIA has been lying to you through all these mouthpieces and your vaunted news sources are stenographers for the intelligence agencies is too much reality to bear. “I might have looked funny in that old photograph, but today I am with it and stylish.”

Sure.

Everything has become style today, and no doubt the CIA has learned that the trick is to hide truthful substance behind the style. Evidence is beside the point. Just assert things in a slick style. Assert them repeatedly, even when they have been proven false or fraudulent. Sex Dust and Power Dust may be absurd con jobs, but they sell. They meet a “need,” a need created by the society that has slyly equated power with sex for a population that has been convinced they have neither and need drugs to endow them with both. A piece about Brain Dust may not have the drawing power of a Paris Review interview with Ernest Hemingway or Boris Pasternak, but then there were no “lifestyle gurus” in those days when people read real literature, not today’s New York Times best sellers. Propaganda was more literary in those days; it had to have substance. In a “wellness culture,” it has to have style. Today the only time you hear the word substance, is in “substance abuse,” which is fitting.

The CIA is in the styling business; they’ve gone shallow. Everyone looks great that way, or so they think.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Guardian’s Propaganda on Venezuela

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | July 25, 2017

With the Constituent Assembly elections due to take place on July 30th, the Guardian published a piece titled “Venezuela elections: all you need to know”. But instead of breaking through the fog of falsehood and misinformation that is typical of the mainstream media’s coverage of Venezuela, the Guardian comes up with another propaganda piece laden with lies, distortions and omissions. In this article we go through the Guardian’s piece, clarifying the falsehoods, adding the conveniently omitted information and questioning the whole narrative that is presented.

*****

What is happening on 30 July?

To be fair to the Guardian, there is one almost-informative paragraph, where the electoral procedure is explained. In a previous article the Guardian stated that

“[…] election rules appear designed to guarantee a majority for the government even though it has minority popular support”,

instead of presenting said electoral rules and letting the reader decide if they are so designed. This time they do present the rules, only omitting to say that everyone not currently holding public office can run for a seat. But then the Guardian brings in the propaganda artillery to ensure the reader’s conclusions do not stray too far off from those of the State Department.

“[…] voter turnout will be exclusively pro-government – and likely very low, given that Maduro’s approval rating hovers around 20%” 1

One assumes the Guardian is citing Datanalisis, their favourite Venezuelan anti-government pollster. Putting aside the fact that other, more reliable polls, demonstrate larger levels of government support, and the massive turnout for last Sunday’s dry-run, there are two obvious questions here. If turnout will be so low, why is the opposition hell-bent on stopping the vote from taking place, barricading streets and killing candidates? And if the opposition has such an overwhelming majority, why did they decide not to participate? This might have been their chance to introduce a Platt Amendment into the Constitution.

“The current constitution was written by an assembly called in 1999 by Maduro’s predecessor and political father, Hugo Chávez. But Chavez made sure he had popular support for the rewrite, by calling a referendum first. This time around, Maduro ordered the constituent assembly by decree.”

Chávez needed to call a referendum because he was working within the legal framework of the 1961 Constitution which did not have anything about such a mechanism. In the 1999 Constitution, article 348 states who can convene a Constituent Assembly.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly urged opposition leaders to engage in dialogue and has backed the Constituent Assembly to guarantee peace.

“On 16 July, a symbolic plebiscite against Maduro’s initiative held by the opposition drew more than seven million people – more than those who voted for Maduro in the 2014 election.”

When it comes to the Venezuelan opposition, the Guardian checks all the journalism tools at the door. In a recent Investig’Action article we examined the opposition’s highly doubtful numbers, Venezuelanalysis did the same. At least the Guardian refrained from explicitly saying this vote could have recalled Maduro, something the opposition could not manage even with a lot of number-cooking (see footnote 2).

“Amid mounting pressure, Maduro vowed last month to hold a popular vote at the end of the process to approve or reject the new constitution.”

This was announced almost two months ago, and if it had been due to “mounting pressure” the mainstream media would have done a victory lap. Here another question springs up: why are the Venezuelan opposition and the Guardian so scared of this process? If they represent this huge majority, can they not just vote down the Constituent Assembly proposal?

Why did Maduro call this vote?

The final paragraph of this section contains the mandatory red-baiting and waving of the Cuban bogeyman.

“Venezuela has been rocked by nonstop street protests since the government’s attempt in late March to strip Congress of its right to legislate. Although the move was partially reversed, demonstrations have continued against an increasingly authoritarian government widely blamed for the country’s tanking economy and soaring crime rate.”

Again, there is very little journalism here to be found. It was not the government that overrode the National Assembly, but the Supreme Court. And they did it because the National Assembly is currently in contempt of court. Three legislators from Amazonas state are being investigated for electoral fraud, and despite repeated warnings from judicial authorities, the opposition went ahead and swore in these legislators. One can agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s initiative, but omitting this fact is pure dishonesty.

This is also a good point to notice how only the “authoritarian” government and the “beleaguered” president have earned adjectives. “Protests” are referred to five times without a single reference to their violent nature, and a few adjectives (“divided”, “US-backed”, “coup-plotting”) also come to mind when describing the opposition.

“[…] violence and state repression have escalated since, with more than 100 people killed and hundreds arrested.”

Sophisticated newspapers like the Guardian are careful not to state directly that everyone was killed by state repression, only heavily implying it. A breakdown of the cases shows that it is the opposition’s political violence that has been responsible for the large majority of casualties.

What does the opposition say?

“The coalition of opposition forces known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (known by its Spanish initials, MUD) rejected the move from the start. But criticism extends far beyond the political opposition. According to one pollster, eight out of 10 Venezuelans oppose a new constitution and would prefer general elections.”

One would think this would be an opportune moment to remind readers of the opposition’s constant, repeated calls for a Constituent Assembly in the recent past. And according to a different pollster, 79% of Venezuelans agree that the process should take place, 54% think the process will defend social gains of recent years, and 65% agrees with holding elections in 2018.

Opposition leaders Freddy Guevara and Maria Corina Machado had called for a Constituent Assembly in the past. (Tweets by Misión Verdad)

What happens next?

“Pressure is set to rise after the MUD called a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday, and then mass protests dubbed the “taking of Caracas” on Friday.”

To anyone familiar with the recent history of Venezuela these announcements sound eerily like the events leading up to the failed 2002 coup. In fact, this would be the time to mention that many of the opposition leaders, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, were directly involved in the 2002 coup attempt. Why is there never a mention that the opposition leadership is full of protagonists from that US-backed military coup that ultimately failed? Quite simply because it would undermine the entire “democracy vs. dictatorship” propaganda narrative.

“Maduro has been very vague about the scope of the new constitution – prompting fears that this is simply a move to tighten the government’s hold on power rather than to solve the country’s many problems.”

This is again a distortion. Maduro proposed nine issues to be tackled by the ANC, including the economy, national sovereignty, social missions, communes, and more. Granted, there is some ambiguity on what a “post-oil economy” stands for, with radical sectors looking for a deepening of the Revolution and business leaders looking for more incentives to private investment. But is down to the individual candidates to bring forward their proposals during the campaign. If Maduro specifically said what changes he wanted made to the Constitution, would he not fit into the “authoritarian” label that the Guardian loves to use?

“Maduro threatened to jail two high profile opposition leaders for “treason to the motherland”…”

Once more, it would be useful to put the actions of the Venezuelan opposition in context. There is hardly any other place in the world where opposition leaders openly call for a US military invasion or urge foreign agents to create a financial blockade against their own country!

“According to human rights groups…”

Which rights groups? Why not link to the reports and disclose who funds these groups? Because groups like Human Rights Watch have been beyond partisan when it comes to Venezuela, not to mention the revolving door that puts former US officials as human rights “guardians”. UNICEF, for example, has criticised the use of children in the opposition’s violent protests and the opposition’s attack against a maternity hospital.

“The next presidential elections – which Maduro seems likely to lose – are currently scheduled to be held in 2018, but it is unclear whether this would remain the case under a new constitution.”

Maduro has said that, rain or shine, there will be a presidential election in 2018. And he said it after convening the Constituent Assembly. The omission of this statement is again plain dishonest journalism.

Chavistas march on May 1st. The Venezuelan opposition is fearful of a large turnout for the Constituent Assembly elections on July 30th.

What is the international community doing?

“The Organization of American States has tried repeatedly to chastise Venezuela diplomatically, but Caracas has used oil diplomacy to ensure that small Caribbean states reliant on subsidised oil voted against critical resolutions or abstained.”

It is amazing that countries that are part of PetroCaribe are bullied by oil diplomacy, and yet countries that receive billions in US (military) aid and host US military bases are moved by a genuine love for democracy and human rights. Does it not occur to a journalist that, for a small Caribbean country, if a US-dominated organisation such as the OAS is dictating to Venezuela which elections can take place and when, then soon enough the same will happen to them? By rejecting this interference they are actually asserting their own independence.

It is precisely because this kind of bullying that Venezuela left the OAS. On the other hand, regional organisations that have been formed in the last decade precisely to counter US hegemony, like ALBA or CELAC, have come out in support of Venezuela and its sovereignty. International meetings like the People’s Summit or the Foro de São Paulo have also rejected the imperialist aggression against Venezuela.

“Previous US sanctions have targeted Venezuelan officials accused of drug trafficking or involvement in human rights abuses.”

These accusations have always been very big in terms of publicity and very thin in terms of evidence. They are always based on dubious sources mentioning all-powerful, yet unheard-of, drug cartels, Hezbollah training camps in Latin America and the like.

In summary, the Guardian is passing a pure propaganda piece under the guise of clarifying the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela. Quite clearly the next few days will be crucial, as the opposition ramps up its violent regime change efforts and the US blares out its threats, while on the other side chavismo is mobilising for this important step and (true) solidarity movements are standing with the Venezuelan poor and working-class.

As for the Guardian, whenever they ask you to support “quality, independent journalism”, you should look for it someplace else…)

  1. Even if this number were true, that would still make Maduro more popular than the presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, staunch US allies in the region.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Dems are recklessly raging over Trump ‘treason’

By Jonathon Turley | The Hill | July 18, 2017

“So now you’d give the devil benefit of the law!” Those were the words of William Roper in one of the most riveting scenes from “A Man For All Seasons.

He was chastising his father-in-law, Sir Thomas More, for elevating the law above morality. Roper, who was himself a lawyer and member of Parliament, was the face of resolve — and relativism — in the law. When More asked if Roper would “cut a great road through the law to get after the devil,” Roper proudly declared that he would “cut down every law in England to do that.”

After the 50th anniversary of the classic movie, we seem to be living in the “Age of Roper” — and rage. There is a constant drumbeat in the news as experts declare prima facie cases for indictment and impeachment against President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner. Trump has been denounced as threatening free speech, the free press, and even the democratic process.

However, the push for criminal charges could well create the very dangers that critics associate with Trump. Few have considered the implications of broadening the scope of the criminal code and handing the government wider discretion in criminalizing speech and associations. Once you declare someone to be the devil, there is no cost too great to combat him or his spawn.

Trump has certainly become a diabolic figure for many (though his popularity among Republicans remains above 80 percent). This hatred has blinded many to the implications of pulling up the roots of our criminal laws “to get after the Donald.” In particular, they should consider the cost to free speech and the political process if they hand the government the power to criminalize some of this conduct.

Treason

In the chorus of criminal charges following the disclosure of the Russia meeting, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was not to be outdone. Where others were arguing election fraud, Kaine declared that the case has moved to a potential treason charge. Likewise, Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, has said that, while rarely charged without a declaration of war, “the dictionary definition” of treason and the “common understanding” is “a betrayal of one’s country, and in particular, the helping of a foreign adversary against one’s own country.”

Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman declared the emails to be “almost a smoking cannon” and added that “there’s almost no question this is treason.” Even if there is a reluctance to bring a direct treason charge, Painter insists that “we just use other statutes because most of what is treason would have violated another statute anyway.”

Article III of the Constitution defines this crime as consisting “only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” With neither a declaration of war nor an act of levying of war, such a charge is both absurd and dangerous. Many countries like China routinely charge communications with foreign organizations to be treason.

Indeed, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip President Erdogan this week pledged to “chop off the heads” of some of the thousands of Turks arrested as supporting the failed coup last year, including political opponents. That is precisely why the Framers, and later courts, have narrowly defined this crime and why relatively few treason cases have been brought and even fewer have succeeded in this country.

Espionage

Some lawmakers, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have suggested that if the Russians were hacking or spying on the Democrats, Trump Jr. and others participated in the crime of espionage. Like treason, the effort to construe this meeting as espionage would rip the crime from its statutory roots. There is no evidence that Trump Jr. gave any sensitive information to Russian officials or sought to hurt U.S. national security. If this were espionage, a host of campaigns and citizens could be investigated as traitors or spies for using information from a foreign source.

Conspiracy

Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin has declared the Trump Jr. emails to be “a shocking admission of a criminal conspiracy.” However, the crime itself requires a showing that Trump Jr. sought to “conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States.”

MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler identified the crime as “conspiring with the U.S.’ sworn enemy to take over and subvert our democracy,” and declared it is now clear that “what Donald Trump Jr. is alleged to have done is a federal crime.” The suggestion that acquiring opposition research is an effort to “defraud” an election would, again, criminalize a host of political speech and associations.

It would allow the government to call campaigns into grand juries to answer for discussions of how they obtained information or who they consulted. We live in a global marketplace of ideas and exchanges. The line between information given as part of political speech and information given to defraud could vanish… with a great deal of our political discourse.

Obstruction

I have previously discussed how the firing of former FBI Director James Comey has prompted many to declare a prima facie case of obstruction. Like many others, Akerman declared the matter resolved, saying, “Our president is guilty of obstruction of justice for endeavoring to obstruct an FBI investigation.”

However, an obstruction charge is based on obstructing a grand jury or other pending proceeding. FBI investigations are not generally considered a pending proceeding and case law has rejected such claims. Moreover, it would allow the government to broaden the element of trying to “corruptly” influence to an extent never reached in any prior case.

Under such an ambiguous standard, prosecutors could charge people willy nilly for a host of interactions with witnesses or documents in the earliest stages of an investigation. Prosecutors could force pleas or testimony under constant threats of obstruction charges. That is why courts have narrowed the language of obstruction.

Election fraud

The same chilling results would occur if, as a host of experts have declared, the receiving information from any foreigner would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act. The law makes it illegal to “solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation… of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national in connection with a federal election. Experts have declared the law as all but satisfied as a basis to charge Trump’s son.

Nick Akerman, a former Watergate assistant special prosecutor, declared, “It’s illegal campaign contributions. It would be conspiring to commit campaign violations.”   Likewise, Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel, has declared, “There is now a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements of the law.”

Of course, no court has ever reached such a conclusion and hopefully would never do so. If the receipt of opposition research from a foreigner is now equivalent to receiving illegal campaign funds, the law would extend to foreign academics, public interest groups, nongovernment organizations, and journalists supplying information to a campaign.

An environmental group might have given Hillary Clinton’s campaign a dossier on Trump’s business practices. All of those interactions could be investigated and prosecuted — sweeping a wide array of political speech into the criminal code. If successful, these experts and advocates would hand the next administration the ability to harass and pursue political opponents and groups.

During the Obama administration, Democrats tossed aside the principles of separation of powers and supported President Obama’s use of unilateral authority to circumvent Congress. The Democrats acted as if Obama would be our last president in abandoning core constitutional principles. Trump is now enjoying the very unilateral powers that the Democrats so unwisely embraced.

Trump will not be our last president — just as Obama was not. These laws will be left to the next president to use in the same broad fashion against others. Democrats have simply replaced blind loyalty under Obama with blind rage under Trump.

In the movie scene with Roper, More cautions those who too willingly discard or twist laws to achieve desired ends, saying, “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

More shows the recklessness of Roper’s resolve — the dangerous tendency to make the law bend to your will in the name of a higher cause like Roper’s desire “to get after the devil.”

As satisfying as it may be to “get after the Donald” or his progeny, the engorged criminal code that would be left would then be handed to the next president. That president would then have a less obstructed range for the investigation of opponents and critics. If that day should come, we must ask ourselves how we will “stand upright in the wind that would blow.” As More noted, it is a question worth asking not for Trump’s sake, but for our own.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Palestinians protest Radiohead’s support for ‘apartheid’ Israel

MEMO | July 17, 2017

A group of Palestinians from the UK, besieged Gaza, occupied West Bank and Israel have co-authored a letter to the British rock band, Radiohead, over their controversial decision to hold a concert in Israel later this week.

The band’s decision to go ahead with the concert is a “slap in the face to Palestinians across the world” and a “betrayal of all social justice movements”, the group said. They urged Radiohead to reconsider their decision, which activists say grants legitimacy to an apartheid regime and gives support to political oppression.

Earlier this month Radiohead, who became a worldwide hit in the 1990s, announced their decision to play at a concert in Israel. Their decision angered fans and supporters of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s half a decade occupation of Palestine. Protests against the decision by the rock band, however, fell on deaf ears as the group insisted on playing in Israel while maintaining that “music, art and academia is about crossing borders, not building ones”.

In the two page letter, the group, which consists mainly of Palestinian academics and students, accused Radiohead of hypocrisy and supporting apartheid. They describe Radiohead’s “excuses” as no different to the excuse used by artists who played in South Africa during the height of the anti-apartheid movement against white rule. “Based on your responses to BDS, we wonder if you too would have performed in Sun City while Nelson Mandela and others rotted in Robben Island prison?” they asked.

They pointed out that hundreds of South African organisations and trade unions support the BDS campaign because in Israel they see very similar – if not exactly the same – system of political subjugation. “Indeed many South Africans,” the group stressed. “who have visited Palestine concluded that the situation is ‘worse’ than apartheid.”

The group urged Radiohead to open its eyes and see the routine violence and indignity faced by Palestinians, the daily human rights violations and abuses carried out by Israel before re-considering their decision.

Describing details of the their ongoing persecution, the group said:

We are segregated, held and humiliated at hundreds of checkpoints, we watch our houses be demolished, we are denied freedom of movement, equal access to water, healthcare, education and face a separate discriminatory legal system. We live under Israeli F16s and Elbit Drones, we face Merkhava tanks, and electricity cut to three hours a day. This, Radiohead, is known as apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

In their letter, they urged Radiohead to take a moment and think what it is like to live in Gaza: “[A] child as young as eight has had to endure three brutal Israeli bombing campaigns,” they wrote, adding: “Think what it must be like to live in perpetual exile in refugee camps sometimes only a few kilometres from home and yet forbidden from returning.”

Radiohead was also encouraged to consider the discriminatory political system that governs the lives of Palestinians: “Think what it must be like to live under an intricate system of apartheid that forbids you from travelling on certain roads, living in certain places and even accessing fundamental resources such as water.”

“Millions of us are imprisoned behind walls and barriers and if we want to cross we have to beg our occupiers for permission which is often denied to us. Everyday Palestinians in Gaza are dying because they cannot leave the outdoor prison Israel has created and access lifesaving medical care.”

Everyday Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, harassed, turned away and sometimes even shot.

The Palestinian group described their frustrations over Radiohead’s attitude towards activists attempting to raise these concerns. The letter mentions that when activists tried to bring this matter to the attention of the band they were called “fucking people” and that one of the members stuck their middle finger at them.

“These people were not just allies of Palestinians who have fought tirelessly for our freedom, they were also Radiohead fans,” the group said. “Fans who have seen you engage with politics and various causes for social justice around the world over the decades.”

The letter cites activist and author Naomi Klein who is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause including BDS. Radiohead is apparently an avid fan of the Canadian author but in the letter the Palestinian group accuse the band of hypocrisy, because of their claim to support social justice on the one hand while also attacking the global BDS movement.

One of the activists who signed the letter spoke to MEMO about her campaign to stop Radiohead performing in Israel. British-Palestinian, Huda Ammori, a student at Manchester University, mentioned that Radiohead performed at her university on 5 July. Activists from Manchester Palestine Action held a demonstration outside the venue and spoke to thousands of Radiohead fans about the need for a cultural boycott of Israel. She said that she managed to push her way to the front to protest Radiohead’s decision by showing solidarity to the Palestinian case for all the spectators to see.

“Radiohead performing in Israel is a mockery of the suffering of the Palestinian people. Radiohead have continued to disregard the Palestinian people and have mocked the supporters of the Palestine cause,” Ammori said. She pointed to the hypocrisy of Radiohead. “They claim to care about ‘social justice’ by showing some support for the people of Tibet and through their lyrics,” she said, “however, now their lyrics scream hypocrisy.” Performing music, she added, should not have to be a political choice, “however when it comes to apartheid, performing in Israel is a political choice. A choice between standing with the oppressor or standing with the oppressed.”

In Israel, the letter explained, Radiohead would be playing in front of an audience which “will be mostly Israelis who have served in the Israeli armed forces that are slaughtering our people; 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days in the winter of 2008-9 then more than 2,200 in 50 days in 2014, including over 500 children.”

They concluded their letter saying: “We are the abused, the imprisoned, and the occupied and we expect people of integrity to show solidarity and to not patronise us. We will not stop fighting for justice and we will remember those who stood with us when it was not fashionable to do so, who refused to entertain apartheid. And as with South Africa, history will judge you when we have our freedom.”

To read the full letter please click here

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Dems Start Coordinated Bid to Obtain Trump Records, Force Votes on Russia

Sputnik – 14.07.2017

WASHINGTON – Democrats in the US House of Representatives have launched a coordinated effort to order the release of records related to President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and to force floor votes on the matter, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a briefing on Friday.

“Today we are announcing a new coordinated effort to force votes to get answers for the American people. We will force Republicans to take votes on the record… [and] we will expose House Republicans in action for their willful, shameful enabling,” Pelosi told reporters at a joint news conference with eight other lawmakers.

Seven members of Congress announced that they would introduce Resolutions of Inquiry on Friday as part of the coordinated effort.

The goal of the procedural measures is to hold Republicans accountable for their “complicity” with Trump, Pelosi said.

“They [Republicans] have become enablers of the violation of our Constitution, the attack on the integrity of our elections, the security of our country,” Pelosi said.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters said she and other Democrats on the Financial Services Committee introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Treasury secretary to provide any documents related to credit extended by Russian banks or Russian government officials to the president, his immediate family, his associates or his properties and businesses.

In a similar vein, Congressman Bill Pascrell said he would introduce a Resolution of Inquiry to force the release of Trump’s tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee.

Meanwhile, Congressman Joaquin Castro introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Secretary of State to provide Congress with any documents or communications records related to efforts to modify or revoke sanctions against Russia.

“If during the campaign or since the president’s inauguration members of the Trump team have considered altering sanctions on our adversary Russia, Congress and the American people need to know and have a right to know,” Castro told reporters. “House Republicans shouldn’t be providing cover for the administration and its affection for Russia.”

Congresswoman Pramilia Jayapal and Congressman David Cicilline said they would draft a Resolution of Inquiry, as well as letters to the chair of the Judiciary Committee demanding more information about Jared Kusher and Donald Trump Jr,’s affairs and meetings with Russian government officials.

Jayapal said the resolution seeks to expose the full extent of the ties between Donald Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin.

“I fear that we are witnessing a betrayal of our nation that is unlike anything we have ever seen before in American politics. And we have a responsibility to uncover the truth and to lay the facts bare for all to see and judge for themselves,” Cicilline told reporters.

For her part, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman drafted a Resolution of Inquiry calling on the Department of Homeland Security to provide the House Homeland Security Committee with all documents of payments made by the agency to Trump organizations or Trump family travel in furtherance of Trump family business.

In addition, Congressman Hank Johnson, Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure, drafted a resolution to force the General Service Administration to produce documents related to a 60-year lease agreement for the Trump Organization to develop the iconic Old Post Office building in Washington.

“We need to ensure that President Trump is not enriching himself while serving in the ultimate position of public trust,” Johnson said.

Republicans are unlikely to back any of the resolutions, but Democrats could use the recorded votes as political fodder during next year’s midterm elections.

The issue of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election has become a political weapon in Washington, with Democrats seeking to portray Trump and his Republican party as soft on Russia.

Russia has repeatedly denied interference in the US presidential election and has called such allegations absurd and intended to deflect public attention from revealed instances of election fraud and corruption as well as other domestic concerns.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats Gone Mad: The Year of Living Stupidly

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | July 12, 2017

For more than a year now, the collective U.S. ruling class, with Democratic Party and corporate media operatives in the vanguard, has frozen the national political discourse in a McCarthyite time warp. A random visit to a July 26, 2016, issue of the New York Times reveals the same obsession as that which consumes the newspaper today: “Following the Links from Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election,” “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.” A year later, the allegations persist, piled ever higher with innuendo and outright nonsense. However, proof of the predicate act — that Russia, not Wikileaks, penetrated the DNC — remains totally absent.

What is the purpose of this torture-by-media? Clearly, the Trump White House has been crippled by the tsunami that never ebbs, but the Democrats have not been strengthened in the process, and the corporate media’s standing among the public erodes by the day. A poll conducted last month showed majorities of voters want Congress to ease up on Russia investigations and get to work on healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. Almost three out of four respondents to the Harvard-Harris poll said lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the issues that are important to them — including 68 percent of Democrats. Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House “collusion” with Russia, and 64 percent think the investigations are hurting the country.

The non-stop vilification of Russia and Trump has seriously backfired on the corporate media. Another poll by Harvard-Harris, conducted back in May, showed that two out of three Americans believe the so-called “mainstream” press is full of “fake news” — including a majority of Democrats. The Russiagate blitzkrieg, designed to delegitimize Trump and demonize Vladimir Putin, has exacerbated an already existing crisis of legitimacy for the entire U.S. political system. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other,” said poll co-director Mark Penn.

The only unequivocal winner is the bipartisan War Party, which has used the manufactured crisis to drench the nation in anti-Russian hysteria – worse than back in the bad old days of the Red Scares. By March, Black Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was using much the same language as Dick Cheney to describe the Kremlin. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” said the hopelessly brainwashed representative of the Black Misleadership Class. “Liberal” Democratic Maryland Rep. Ben Cardin called the nonexistent “attack” a “political Pearl Harbor.”

If the U.S. Congress actually took seriously its Constitutional powers to declare war, the human race would already have been exterminated.

So insane have the Democrats become, that we are probably better off with war powers effectively in the hands of Donald Trump, than with California’s Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She was in her “right mind” then, but no longer. Trump’s willingness to talk with the leader of Russia, in Hamburg, infuriated Rep. Lee, who tweeted: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?” A better question is: When and where did Lee join the War Party?

The dogs of war at U.S. intelligence agencies have led the charge against Trump since they encamped at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, last year. The spoiled oligarch was not trusted to maintain the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked war against Libya. The state of war must be preserved, whatever the cost to the empire’s domestic institutions. Skilled in the arts of regime change, the spooks joined with their longtime partners in corporate media propaganda, to foment a “color revolution” at home. Barbara Lee is a recent recruit.

Although the Democrats will ultimately harm themselves with the electorate by folding into the War Party, it suits the purposes of party leadership and the fat cats that finance them. The ruling class has nothing to offer the people except the total insecurity of gig-jobs and austerity. The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago. They can campaign as if there really is a clash of ideas about the organization of society, but they must propose nothing that fundamentally conflicts with the steady consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchy (the American one, not the Russians). That goes for Bernie Sanders, too. Heard anything about single payer from him, lately?

The “all Russiagate, all the time” information regime — which also prepares the public for a wider war scenario – provides the illusion of motion that passes for “resistance” to the rule of the rich, as personified by Donald Trump. But there has been no Democratic program to reorder society for at least a generation. And now, under the New McCarthyism, the only politics that is allowed is war politics, consisting of denunciations of those who threaten “our fundamental democratic principles” – which need not be defined or even proven to exist.

That’s why it has been an empty year, albeit a very loud one. As Gil Scott-Heron sang in “Winter in America,” “Nobody’s fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.”

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Forgetting the ‘Dirty Dossier’ on Trump

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

Yes, I realize that the editors of The New York Times long ago cast aside any journalistic professionalism to become charter members of the #Resistance against Donald Trump. But the latest frenzy over a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was dangling the possibility of information about the Democrats receiving money from Russians represents one of the more remarkable moments of the entire Russia-gate hysteria.

Essentially, Trump’s oldest son is being accused of taking a meeting with a foreign national who claimed to have knowledge of potentially illegal activities by Trump’s Democratic rivals, although the promised information apparently turned out to be a dud.

Yet, on Monday, the Times led its newspaper with a story about this meeting – and commentators on MSNBC and elsewhere are labeling Trump Jr. a criminal if not a traitor for hearing out this lawyer.

Yet, no one seems to remember that Hillary Clinton supporters paid large sums of money, reportedly about $1 million, to have ex-British spy Christopher Steele use his Russian connections to dig up dirt on Trump inside Russia, resulting in a salacious dossier that Clinton backers eagerly hawked to the news media.

Also, the two events – Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer and the Clinton camp’s commissioning of Steele’s Russia dossier – both occurred in June 2016, so you might have thought it would be a journalistic imperative to incorporate a reference or two to the dossier.

But the closest the Times came to that was noting: “Political campaigns collect opposition research from many quarters but rarely from sources linked to foreign governments.” That would have been an opportune point to slide in a paragraph about the Steele dossier, but nothing.

The Times doesn’t seem to have much historical memory either. There actually have been a number of cases in which American presidential campaigns have ventured overseas to seek out “opposition research” about rivals.

For instance, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush took a personal role in trying to obtain derogatory information about Bill Clinton’s 1970 student trip to Eastern Europe, including to Moscow.

That effort started out by having senior State Department officials rifle through the passport files of Clinton and his mother, looking for a purported letter in which some Republican operatives thought Clinton might have renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Bush and his team were called out on that caper, which became known as “Passport-gate.” During the Oct. 11, 1992 debate, Clinton even compared Bush’s tactics to Joe McCarthy’s during the 1950s Red Scare. But the Bush campaign didn’t let the issue entirely go.

Czech-ing on Bill

In the days after the debate, phone records revealed a flurry of calls from Bush’s campaign headquarters to Czechoslovakia, another stop on Clinton’s student tour. There were also fax transmissions on Oct. 14 and 15, 1992, according to a later official investigation.

On Oct. 16, what appears to have been a return call was placed from the U.S. Embassy in Prague to the office of ad man Sig Rogich, who was handling anti-Clinton themes for the Bush campaign.

Following those exchanges, stories about Clinton’s Prague trip began popping up in Czech newspapers. On Oct. 24, 1992, three Czech newspapers ran similar stories about Clinton’s Czech hosts. The Cesky Denik story had an especially nasty headline: “Bill Was With Communists.”

The Czech articles soon blew back to the United States. Reuters distributed a summary, and The Washington Times, over three consecutive days, ran articles about Clinton’s Czech trip. The Clinton campaign responded that Clinton had entered Czechoslovakia under normal procedures for a student and stayed with the family of an Oxford friend.

Despite those last-minute efforts to revive the Clinton’s loyalty issue, the Democrat held on to defeat Bush in a three-way race (with Ross Perot).

You also could go back to Republican contacts with South Vietnamese officials to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 and similar meetings with Iranian emissaries to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980, including a curious meeting involving senior Ronald Reagan campaign aides at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But the Steele dossier is a more immediate and direct example of close Hillary Clinton supporters going outside the United States for dirt on Trump and collaborating with foreign nationals to dig it up – allegedly from Kremlin insiders. Although it is still not clear exactly who footed the bill for the Steele dossier and how much money was spread around to the Russian contacts, it is clear that Clinton supporters paid for the opposition research and then flacked the material to American journalists.

The Mystery Dossier

As I wrote on March 29, “An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp’s contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump’s; it was Hillary Clinton’s.

“And, awareness of this activity doesn’t require you to spin conspiracy theories about what may or may not have been said during some seemingly innocuous conversation. In this case, you have open admissions about how these Russian/Kremlin claims were used.

“Indeed, you have the words of Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, in his opening statement at [a] public hearing on so-called ‘Russia-gate.’ Schiff’s seamless 15-minute narrative of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with Russia followed the script prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was hired as an opposition researcher last June [2016] to dig up derogatory information on Donald Trump.

“Steele, who had worked for Britain’s MI-6 in Russia, said he tapped into ex-colleagues and unnamed sources inside Russia, including leadership figures in the Kremlin, to piece together a series of sensational reports that became the basis of the current congressional and FBI investigations into Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow.

“Since he was not able to go to Russia himself, Steele based his reports mostly on multiple hearsay from anonymous Russians who claim to have heard some information from their government contacts before passing it on to Steele’s associates who then gave it to Steele who compiled this mix of rumors and alleged inside dope into ‘raw’ intelligence reports.

Besides the anonymous sourcing and the sources’ financial incentives to dig up dirt, Steele’s reports had numerous other problems, including the inability of a variety of investigators to confirm key elements, such as the salacious claim that several years ago Russian intelligence operatives secretly videotaped Trump having prostitutes urinate on him while he lay in the same bed in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton used by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“That tantalizing tidbit was included in Steele’s opening report to his new clients, dated June 20, 2016. Apparently, it proved irresistible in whetting the appetite of Clinton’s mysterious benefactors who were financing Steele’s dirt digging and who have kept their identities (and the amounts paid) hidden. Also in that first report were the basic outlines of what has become the scandal that is now threatening the survival of Trump’s embattled presidency.”

The Trump Jr. Meeting

So, compare that with what we know about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, which Donald J. Trump Jr. says he agreed to because someone was claiming knowledge about Russian payments helping Hillary Clinton.

Sergei Magnitsky

Trump Jr. said Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya “stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

According to Trump Jr.’s account, Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to President Vladimir Putin’s cancellation of an adoption program which had sent Russian children to American parents, a move he took in reaction to the so-called Magnitsky Act, a 2012 punitive law passed by the U.S. Congress in retaliation for the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian jail.

The death became a Western cause célèbre with Magnitsky, the accountant for hedge-fund executive William Browder, hailed as a martyr in the cause of whistleblowing against a profoundly corrupt Russian government. After Magnitsky’s death from a heart attack, Browder claimed that his “lawyer” Magnitsky had been tortured and murdered to cover up official complicity in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme involving companies ostensibly under Browder’s control.

Because of Browder’s wealth and political influence, he succeeded in getting the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress to buy into his narrative and move to punish the presumed villains in the tax fraud and in Magnitsky’s death. The U.S.-enacted Magnitsky Act in 2012 was an opening salvo in what has become a new Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

Only One Side Heard

The Magnitsky narrative has now become so engrained in Western geopolitical mythology that the storyline apparently can no longer be questioned or challenged. The New York Times reports Browder’s narrative as flat fact, and The Washington Post took pleasure in denouncing a 2016 documentary that turned Browder’s version of events on its head.

The documentary was essentially blocked for distribution in the West, with the European Parliament pulling the plug on its planned premiere in Brussels shortly before it was scheduled for showing.

When the documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial branded the documentary Russian “agit-prop.”

William Browder (r) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with EU parliamentarians.

The Post sought to discredit the filmmaker, Andrei Nekrasov, without addressing his avalanche of documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

The Post concluded smugly: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

Given the fact that virtually no one in the West was allowed to see the film, the Post’s gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

What the Post didn’t want you to know was that Nekrasov started off his project with the goal of producing a docu-drama that accepted Browder’s self-serving narrative. However, during the research, Nekrasov uncovered evidence that revealed that Magnitsky was neither a “lawyer” nor a whistleblower; that the scam involving Browder’s companies had been exposed by a woman employee; and that Magnitsky, an accountant for Browder, was arrested as a conspirator in the fraud.

As the documentary unfolds, you see Nekrasov struggling with his dilemma as Browder grows increasingly abusive toward his erstwhile ally. Nekrasov painfully concludes that Browder had deceived him.

But, don’t worry, as a citizen in the Free World, you probably will never have to worry about viewing this documentary, since it has been effectively flushed down the memory hole. Official references to Magnitsky are back in the proper form, treating him as a Martyr for Truth and a victim of the Evil Russians.

Plus, if you rely on The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media for your news, you won’t have to think about the far more substantive case of the Steele Dossier in which Hillary Clinton’s allies spent gobs of money seeking out sources in Russia to serve up dirt on Donald Trump.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbara Lee’s Slam on Trump-Putin Meeting

The Democratic Party’s embrace of the New Cold War and New McCarthyism – to counter President Trump – has spread to Rep. Barbara Lee, a brave voice against the post-9/11 war frenzy, as Norman Solomon notes in an open letter.

By Norman Solomon | Consortium News | July 10, 2017

Dear Congresswoman Lee:

More than a decade and a half ago, your eloquent words and courageous vote set a high bar as you stood up against a war frenzy on the House floor. Three days after 9/11, you implemented the kind of brave wisdom that we desperately need in a world beset by the massive violence of warfare and the overarching dangers of nuclear holocaust.

Since then, like many other people opposed to perpetual war, I’ve deeply appreciated your leadership in advocating for diplomacy instead of reckless confrontation in international relations. Year after year, following your lone vote against a blank check for war on Sept. 14, 2001, you’ve been a steadfast voice for the necessity of diplomatic initiatives.

Until now.

Your longtime wisdom is antithetical to the tweet that you sent out after the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin from your official “Rep. Barbara Lee” Twitter account: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?”

In mid-September 2001, when you implored the Congress and the country to “think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control,” the words of your speech were beacons of sanity in a propaganda storm for war. But now, as I watch a video of those two transcendent minutes, some of your old words echo in a newly haunting way.

Now it falls to peace advocates who read your new words to urge you to “think through the implications” of the political line you’ve just taken, “so that this does not spiral out of control.” And now, peace advocates must remind you of other insightful words from your historically prescient speech nearly 16 years ago: “Some of us must urge the use of restraint.”

Your declaration on Friday that you are “outraged” by a meeting between the presidents of the world’s two nuclear-weapons superpowers is the opposite of restraint. Likewise, your baiting of Trump with the question “Where do his loyalties lie?” echoes the accusations of treason hurled at you for years. Such rhetoric is far beneath you — and beneath any leader with a responsibility to encourage diplomatic discourse, especially between two nations brandishing huge arsenals of nuclear weapons.

Let’s not forget that past top-level diplomacy between Russia and the United States was hardly led by saints. Fifty years ago, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was the leader of a government far more repressive than the one headed by Vladimir Putin today, while President Lyndon Johnson was in the midst of escalating a mass-murderous war in Vietnam. Yet their Glassboro Summit was notable diplomacy that reduced tensions between the two countries and reduced the dangers of nuclear war.

Now, for whatever reasons, you have opted to participate in a profoundly irresponsible meme that castigates instead of encourages diplomatic discourse between the highest levels of the American and Russian governments. To use a word from your historic 2001 speech, it’s essential that we think through the “implications” of such a political line of attack. They include increasing the likelihood that escalated tensions between Russia and the United States could “spiral out of control.”

I’ve long thought of you as a heroic champion of pursuing alternatives to war and, quite possibly, helping to prevent a nuclear holocaust that scientists believe would render the Earth “virtually uninhabitable.” But now, you seem to have lost your way.

To counteract what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” we must get off a partisan bandwagon when it is heading toward military catastrophe. That requires — as you so wisely urged in 2001 — supporting diplomacy, urging restraint and thinking through the implications of our actions today.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The Democrats’ Russia-gate Obsession

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is one of the leading “lights” of the “progressive Democrats” pushing the Russiagate nonsense. Pettiness or misguidedness is not their sin but criminal complicity in putting humanity —and all life on this planet—at the risk of extinction in pursuit of abject goals.

By Norman Solomon | Consortium News | July 6, 2017

Some leading Democrats in Congress are eager to turn the summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin away from avenues for improvements in U.S.-Russian relations, even if that means deflecting it toward World War III.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that “the White House announced that the meeting with Mr. Putin would be a formal bilateral discussion, rather than a quick pull-aside at the economic summit meeting that some had expected.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized the lack of a “specific agenda” for the Trump-Putin discussion and tweeted “the first few things that come to my mind” — with 10 items denouncing Russia and not a single step to help avert a nuclear war between that country and the United States.

What a contrast with another Democrat, former Sen. Sam Nunn, who signed a June 27 open letter that urged Putin and Trump to focus on “urgently pursuing practical steps now that can stop the downward spiral in relations and reduce real dangers.” The letter emphasized “reducing nuclear and other military risks.”

But these days, apparently, the Democratic leadership in Congress has much bigger fish to fry than merely trying to avert a global nuclear holocaust.

The Democratic Party leaders on Capitol Hill can’t be bothered with squandering much political capital or sound-bite airtime on the matters highlighted by the open letter, which Nunn — a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — signed along with former top British, German and Russian diplomats.

Four Proposals 

The open letter offered four crucial proposals for the meeting between Trump and Putin:

— “The starting point could be a new Presidential Joint Declaration by the United States and the Russian Federation declaring that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. This would make clear again that leaders recognize their responsibility to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe, and would be positively received by global leaders and publics.”

–“A second step could be to increase military-to-military communication through a new NATO-Russia Military Crisis Management Group. Restarting bilateral military-to-military dialogue between the United States and Russia, essential throughout the Cold War, should be an immediate and urgent priority. The focus of these initiatives should be on reducing risks of a catastrophic mistake or accident by restoring communication and increasing transparency and trust.”

–“A third step could be to collaborate to prevent ISIS and other terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials through a joint initiative to prevent WMD terrorism. There is an urgent need to cooperate on securing vulnerable radioactive materials that could be used to produce a ‘dirty bomb.’ Such materials are widely available in more than 150 countries and are often found in facilities, such as hospitals and universities, that are poorly secured.”

–“Fourth, discussions are imperative for reaching at least informal understandings on cyber dangers related to interference in strategic warning systems and nuclear command and control. This should be urgently addressed to prevent war by mistake. That there are no clear ‘rules of the road’ in the strategic nuclear cyber world is alarming.”

Low Priority

But top Democratic Party leaders hardly give high priority to such concerns. On the contrary: For many months now, their preoccupation has been to double, triple and quadruple down on an insidious — and extremely dangerous — political investment. Party leaders have positioned themselves to portray just about any concession from Trump in bilateral talks as a corrupt payoff.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was ringing a familiar bell when she proclaimed on CNN in mid-May: “Every day I ask the question, ‘What do the Russians have on Donald Trump financially, politically or personally that he’s always catering to them?’”

“Given their vehement political investment in demonizing Russia’s President Putin,” I wrote in late April, “Democratic leaders are oriented to seeing the potential of détente with Russia as counterproductive in terms of their electoral strategy for 2018 and 2020. It’s a calculus that boosts the risks of nuclear annihilation, given the very real dangers of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow.”

Days ago, looking ahead to the scheduled discussion between the two presidents at the G-20 summit in Germany, the home page of the Washington Post carried this headline: “Months of Russia controversy leaves Trump ‘boxed in’ before Putin meeting.” The tagline noted that “whatever course Trump takes will likely be called into question.”

Powerful custodians of the USA’s hugely profitable military-industrial complex prefer it that way. They aren’t much interested in any course toward Russia other than antagonism if not belligerence. There is enormous commitment to heading off the “threat” of genuine diplomacy and rapprochement.

‘Madness of Militarism’ 

Elite guardians of the U.S. warfare state, committed to what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” certainly don’t want a modern-day incarnation of the “spirit of Glassboro” that emerged 50 years ago when President Lyndon Johnson met at length with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.

Standing next to Kosygin at the end of their summit at a New Jersey college, Johnson said: “I have no doubt about it at all” that “it does help a lot to sit down and look a man in the eye all day long and try to reason with him, particularly if he is trying to reason with you.”

If Trump says anything like that after meeting with the Kremlin’s leader this week, you can expect some misguided Democratic partisans to denounce him as a Putin tool.

While many people are eager for constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia, on Capitol Hill the efforts to prevent such a possibility are fierce and unrelenting. Ultra-hawks like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are among quite a few Republicans doing all they can to prevent genuine diplomacy between Washington and Moscow. But much of the most unhinged rhetoric is coming from Democrats, often with the “progressive” label.

To sample just how far downhill the discourse has gone in the frenzy to take genuine U.S.-Russian diplomacy off the table, consider this tweet that a longtime member of Congress with an antiwar past, Democrat Maxine Waters, sent out a week ago: “When Trump goes to kiss Putin’s ring at the G20 meeting, maybe he should just return to Russia w/ him & their favorite amb. Sergey Kislyak.”

The director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Matthew Rojansky, pointed out days ago: “The momentum in relations between the world’s two big nuclear powers is now so negative, that it really is time to call a halt to anything that looks like further escalation or deterioration.”

Yet that negative momentum is what many members of Congress are trying to increase. Words like “irresponsible” and “reckless” don’t begin to describe what they are doing.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment