Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs"

Some pictures speak volumes. Others speak libraries.

Jews in Israel -- the same ones who allegedly fear rocket fire (which took no casualties) -- are gathering on hillsides to cheer the bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza. It's a spectator sport, for these Israelis. They bring drinks and snacks.
 

The thud of shellfire, flash of an explosion and pall of smoke are greeted with exclamations of approval. "What a beauty," says one appreciative spectator.

Shimrit Peretz, 19, has come with her off-duty soldier boyfriend, Raz Sason, whose army-issue assault rifle is slung across his shoulders.

"We come to look at the bombing," Peretz says, adding that this is their fourth visit to the hilltop. They plan to stay several hours: "It's interesting." The pair have brought a backpack filled with bottles of water and bags of crisps.

Peretz says that she doesn't worry about the Palestinian civilians caught in the bombing...
On Facebook, writing in Hebrew, the Israelis have segued into full-blown psychosis:
Many Israeli Facebook users have posted violent and disturbing content on their personal accounts. Talya Shilok Edry, who has more than one thousand followers, posted the following “status”: “What an orgasm to see the Israeli Defense Forces bomb buildings in Gaza with children and families at the same time. Boom boom.”
Writing about the murdered sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, who was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli youth, she stated: “Sweet settlers, next time you kidnap an Arab boy, call me and let me torture him!! Why do you get to have all the fun?”
That, my friends, is how Israeli Jews talk when they think gentiles aren't watching. David Sheen has found that the most overtly genocidal sentiments have come from young Jewish women.
"From the bottom of my heart, I wish for Arabs to be torched"
"In the end there will be no more Arabs, God willing"
"I spit on you, you stinking Arabs"
"We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs"
"Arabs may you be paralyzed & die with great suffering!"
That's what Israeli Jews really want. Dismiss everything they say to placate Americans. We uncover their true character when we learn what they say to each other.

And here's what's happening to the innocent victims. Warning: These photos are not easy to see.


Each of those bags contains the body of a child. The doctor is weeping.







When I ran photos of this sort on a previous occasion, a Jewish reader sneeringly left a comment about "atrocity porn." I sincerely hope that this reader, or someone of a similar mentality, offers that kind of observation in response to this post.

The fiends who applaud what Israel is doing are so caught up in their own depravity and pride that they've lost sight of how their vile words will affect normal people. By all means, let us give platforms and bullhorns to these monsters. Let them speak. Their own callous words will awaken the world's conscience and bring a much-deserved end to a racist state built on stolen land.

That's why I'm glad that Benjamin Netanyahu isn't censoring himself. He has gone so far around the bend as to allow himself to say these words on CNN:
They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.
Please go on, Mr. Netanyahu!

Glenn Greenwald (who found an exactly similar Nazi statement claiming that Jews were deliberately exploiting their own victimhood) notes that the very point of this assault on Gaza is to create as many "telegenically dead" civilians as possible.
Even stalwart Israel supporter Thomas Friedman has previously acknowledged that Israeli assaults on Lebanon, and possibly in Gaza, are intended ”to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties” because “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians” (which, to the extent it exists, is the classic definition of “terrorism”).
In other words: Netanyahu deliberately murders babies, then he claims that the dead babies are a Palestinian ploy.

Nothing you or I can say will bring an end to Israel nearly so effectively as letting Israel's scorn-riddled, self-righteous defenders speak for themselves. These people have lost both their humanity and their reason, and they no longer know or care when their own words hurt their cause. Decades of religious brainwashing has created a generation of insane haters who can no longer hide their madness, even when doing so would give them a tactical advantage. At this point, they can offer no more than the curled lip, the flared nostrils, the furled brow, the muttered I don't give a fuck what you think.

The arrogance of these genocidal racists has segued into psychosis.

Let the racists have their say. Let them alienate and repel everyone else in the world. Let them bring about their own destruction. Study history: The arrogant always fall -- and the cause of that fall is always, always their own arrogance.
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Wha...?



So the American people, laudably and understandably, want peace -- but they think a Republican congress is more likely to keep us out of war? (From here.)

Has 2003 become a distant memory? Have Americans gone insane?

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Comments:
The poll question is a simple sounding question that contains many interpretations.

Americans probably believe that republicans will keep the flow of oil coming more reliably than Barack Obama and the democrats.

Since there seems to be no sense of urgency to get energy alternatives up and running, the republicans gain an edge.
 

Most libertarians are Republican and some have been passionate and vocal about non-intervention abroad. It follows that from the view of a person in a particular congressional district, the GOP candidate may be a superior peace candidate than the Democrat, even if they Republican party as a whole is worse.
 
I think the telling stat is 28% are 'unsure' though I agree that citing Republicans [a party the Politico deems 'modestly' more hawkish than Dems] is a sign of utter confusion.

Have the respondents forgotten so easily? Are they insane?

Yes & yes. The psychosis that appears to be spreading.

Peggysue
 
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Koched up

Jim DiEugenio, a brilliant historian and a friend to this blog, has written a superb piece about the Koch brothers and their malign influence on our current politics. The essay derives from the suppression of the documentary Citizen Koch, which PBS refused to air for fear that that David Koch would withdraw support from the network.

Even if you think you already know the story, I urge you to give DiEugenio's work your attention.
Perhaps as a reaction to his experience with Stalin, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the far-right John Birch Society. In fact, he was on the Executive Committee which met monthly to plan Birch Society strategy. In 1961, Fred Koch sponsored a major Birch Society event in Wichita, introducing the founder of that group, Robert Welch, to a town hall meeting of 2,000 people.

To understand today’s Koch brothers – and why they now say President Barack Obama is a socialist – it’s necessary to recall just how reactionary the John Birch Society was. Some Birchers thought that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent.

Echoing this nonsense, Koch self-published a pamphlet which said, “Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican parties.” Koch also wrote about the nascent civil rights movement: “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America.”
The current mania for libertarianism owes much to the Koch family's predatory influence:
By the late 1960s, Charles Koch was among a group of high-level Birch members infatuated with Robert LeFevre, who created the Freedom School which touted the mystique of the Austrian School of Economics. From his fondness for LeFevre, Charles went on to become the sugar daddy of the Libertarian movement.
Seeking to build a movement that challenges government regulations, Charles and David Koch became major benefactors of the Libertarians, spending millions to fund the libertarian Cato Institute.

In 1980, David Koch also ran for Vice President on a Libertarian ticket headed by attorney Ed Clark. Some reports state that the Kochs spent about $2 million on the 1980 campaign, boosting the Clark/Koch partnership to the highest percentage for a Libertarian ticket ever received.

The platform was considerably outside the mainstream, even to the right of Republican candidate Ronald Reagan, whom they attacked for representing “no change whatsoever from Jimmy Carter and the Democrats.” (CNN.com, June 2, 2014, “The Truth about the Koch Agenda”.)
This last point is important. Modern Republicans revere Reagan, yet the conservative movement is largely controlled by a family that despised his alleged "moderation."
After 1980, the Kochs decided they personally would not seek political office. Instead, they would advance Libertarian ideas from behind the curtains. According to Doherty, the Kochs came to look at politicians as “actors playing out a script.” The Kochs would concentrate on writing the script’s themes and the words for these actor/politicians to speak.
There's much, much more at the other end of the link.

I've also been reading Bob Woodward's The Price of Power, which tells the story of Barack Obama's struggles on the economic front. Much of the book won't be news to you. Indeed, the big revelation here is that the story you've been told is, more or less, what actually happened.

Obama, for all of his many faults, really did try to stand up to a far right machine that was ready to destroy the economy in order to further the goals of eviscerating Social Security and reducing the tax rates for the wealthy. For that, he deserves praise.

I feel a bit astonished to admit that, at this stage in this presidency, my main problems with Obama concern foreign policy. If Obama failed, he did so by accepting the construction that deficit reduction had to be the goal that trumped all others -- a view which, as Paul Krugman points out, was always based on a delusion.

Yet can we blame Obama? Nearly everyone around the globe -- right and left -- had fallen prey to that same hallucination. Our ill-educated citizenry stupidly thinks that lower taxes equal higher revenue. They also think that Reagan achieved an economic recovery through belt-tightening, even though the exact opposite occurred: He ran up a deficit exceeding all previous deficits combined. Since 2009, there has been enormous populist pressure on Obama to "do something about the debt," because our populace has been brainwashed into thinking that debt reduction equals prosperity.

Boehner, his opposite number, may have grumbled about the president's "arrogant" style and his allegedly shortsighted negotiating methods, but those complaints don't address the real problem. The real problem has always been the far right, funded by the Kochs and fueled by a messianic vision. These people insist on imposing strict libertarianism on a country that does not want it. Even Boehner, I think, despises the insanity within his party, yet he knows that the modern GOP is a party in which one either goes mad or goes away.

In a recent Salon piece, writer Thomas Frank argues that the main failure in these economic standoffs/negotiations was Obama's. Frank says "right-wing obstructionism could have been fought." He structures his argument around a forecast of how Obama's presidential museum will frame this period in history.
Well, duh, his museum will answer: he couldn’t do any of those things because of the crazy right-wingers running wild in the land. He couldn’t reason with them—their brains don’t work like ours! He couldn’t defeat them at the polls—they’d gerrymandered so many states that they couldn’t be dislodged! What can a high-minded man of principle do when confronted with such a vast span of bigotry and close-mindedness? The answer toward which the Obama museum will steer the visitor is: Nothing.

In point of fact, there were plenty of things Obama’s Democrats could have done that might have put the right out of business once and for all—for example, by responding more aggressively to the Great Recession or by pounding relentlessly on the theme of middle-class economic distress. Acknowledging this possibility, however, has always been difficult for consensus-minded Democrats, and I suspect that in the official recounting of the Obama era, this troublesome possibility will disappear entirely. Instead, the terrifying Right-Wing Other will be cast in bronze at twice life-size, and made the excuse for the Administration’s every last failure of nerve, imagination and foresight.
As much as I dislike Obama, I cannot agree with this assessment, at least not fully.

The forces of irrationality are too powerful; The Crazy is too well-funded. Had Obama been a much more passionate president, had he spoken with a tongue of divine fire, he still could not have talked down this foe.

To prove the point, consider the role of Eric Cantor, the leader of the Crazy Faction throughout the period Woodward chronicles. He seemed willing to take this country into default -- to drive the locomotive right over the half-completed trestle, laughing maniacally while the train plummeted toward the rocks. Yet in the end, Cantor wasn't crazy enough to please the conservative movement.

Something unnerving is abroad in this land. It's an evil force which no Democratic president can successfully confront.

The people say that they want bipartisanship, but the Kochs want nothing of the kind. They want libertarianism or apocalypse.
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Comments:
Who was it who put together the so-called "Catfood Commission" dedicated to wanting to destroy Social Security? Who was it who kept trying to put Social Security on the table to "negotiate" with the Republicans? Who was it who took his marching orders from billionaire Social Security hater Peter J. Peterson? Hint: It wasn't the Kochs or their machine.

Obama is just as bad if not worse because he still hides behind the "D" when he is nothing of the kind. For all your criticism of Obama, you still think he is "better" than the batshit crazy fascists on "the other side."

You still believe this even though they have identical goals in destroying the public sector for private gain. It's just that the fake Democrats like Obama "sound reasonable." In that sense they are MORE dangerous because they seem more benign.

It's disgusting the two parties are shells of what they were 40 or 50 years ago, when there were meaningful differences between the two and they operated in a spirit of cooperation.
 
Good article, and I generally agree.

However, I would still argue that Obama could have been stronger, and gotten more done, in the first 9-12 months of his presidency. But he and his advisers clung to their fantasy self-image of him as the all-wise Great Conciliator. He didn't want to be the leader of the Democratic Party. He preferred to be above the fray, even selling out the Democrats to achieve some mythical Grand Bargain.

Spike Lee had him pegged early on. Remember? The Magic Negro.

I say that if he had been tough and deliberate, he could have won more battles before he reached the end of the leash the RW eventually put on him.
 
Breaking this into two parts due to the undocumented 4096 character limit for comments.

Blaming the right wing for Obama's apparent fecklessness is just naive, Joseph. Obama hasn't accomplished anything "progressive" because he never wanted to in the first place, not because he was somehow overwhelmed by the forces of reaction. He's been a corporate tool for his entire political career - anybody who took the time to examine his backers in Illinois already knew that.

I find this sentence to particularly disingenuous:

"Obama, for all of his many faults, really did try to stand up to a far right machine that was ready to destroy the economy in order to further the goals of eviscerating Social Security and reducing the tax rates for the wealthy."

Let's not forget that Obama, on his own initiative (to the extent that the words "Obama" and "initiative" can be used correctly in the same sentence), organized the infamous Peterson "Catfood Commission" and proposed chained CPI. Have you really forgotten this little gem from the 2010 State of the Union:

" But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. "


 
Continuation of the previous comment:

That was followed very shortly by:

" More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s."

That's not the voice of the people's advocate. It's not even the voice of a weak, dithering incompetent (which is probably the nicest thing I could say about the President). When it comes to Social Security, "pay as you go" translates to:

1) maintain the regressive cap on FICA taxation (speaking as someone who personally benefits from that cap),
2) reduce the benefits that workers have paid for over decades, either through outright cuts or through rigging the CPI, and
3) essentially defaulting on the trillions of dollars of debt obligations the Federal government has already incurred by borrowing against the FICA trust over the last few decades.

That's not the voice of passive bipartisanship - that's the voice of a man aggressively seeking to strip retirement security from millions of American workers, probably to set the stage for eventual privatization.

As for the Koch brothers, yes they're attempting to pervert public policy to their own economic advantage at the expense of hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens (many of whom are already in dire economic straits). Yes, they want to eviscerate what few economic and political protections ordinary citizens have.

This does not make them a unique force of evil in American politics. It makes them typical of their class. They're not particularly worse than the Silicon Valley whiz kids who seek to legalize age discrimination, who collude illegally to depress wages, who push for increased H1B visas as millions of US STEM workers are unemployed or underemployed, and who conduct mass surveillance and psychological experimentation on millions of unconsenting Americans. They're certainly not worse than the Obama-backing investment houses who tanked the real economy and have continued to push the agenda of wage reduction, offshoring, and disemployment throughout this recession.

The rhetoric is all haka. Trust me, the Kochs (and our other kleptocratic overlords) couldn't be happier with Obama in the White House. That "socialist" BS is just for the rubes.
 
The present state of inertia is very satisfying to politicos of both mainstream parties, who can swim in comfortable seas of campaign funds.

Both parties can engage in fundraising campaigns indulging in hysterical fear-mongering of what the other side will do if you don't dig deep, and neither side is expected to actually accomplish anything. The Republicans can claim that their heroic efforts have narrowly preserved us from the spectre of a red flag flying over the White House; the Democrats can claim that we'd live in a middle class paradise if not for those obstructionistic Republicans, and the citizens sigh and turn just a little bit more cynical day by day.
 
a Kucinich would have taken the battle to the Kochs.
and fought for single payer and to
imprison the banksters.
and broken up the big banks.
and not exonerated the Cheney crime team.
and not surged in Afghanistan, for nothing as it turns out.
or drone bombed across the Mideast and beyond, killing thousands of innocents.
that is, if he could have got Pelosi out of the way.
and worked with Ron (not the sellout Rand) Paul to get her and Boehner out of the way.
the public on both sides is afraid of the ultimate confrontation and the Gazans and Syrians must pay, that we not be polarized to war in the streets and final settlement of the issues here.
The final settlement is but delayed, the blood will flow the more because of that.
 
What does "all other deficits combined" mean? Annual ones, in 2014 dollars?
 
b: The phrase was commonly used during Reagan's second term, so I will presume that the calculation was made in the dollars of that time.

Others: I think you should read Woodward's book before giving yet another version of The Recitation. It was clear that both the Republicans and Obama White House were fighting viciously over what they considered matters of principle. A lot of people lost a lot of sleep. Both Obama and Boehner reached points where they will willing to sacrifice their positions (as President, as Speaker) in order to insist on non-negotiable items.

And yet many citizens who didn't follow the details of those battles presume that they were simply going through the motions.
 
Woodward. Is. A. Tool.
 
I should add that Michael has it right. Obama's Grand Bargain included things that most Dems would consider unthinkable. Yet he was still a damnable socialists to his Republican opponents. I can't see any way past this problem.

Some years back, I would have said "Maybe we should let the libertarians have their way. Maybe the only way to discredit their philosophy is to let it run its course." But if even Dubya could not kill conservatism...
 
Michael, in part you are right. But his Obama-era books have been valuable.
 
The other day there was a birthday party outside my window, for some child. Very noisy. Leaving the flat I looked through a window on the opposite side of the building, and in through the window of the building next door, wherein was a large piece of cloth hanging on the wall decorated with an inverted pentagram. Red on black, very rock and roll.

Sound or Satan? Noise or necromancy? Who is the better neighbour?
 
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A prediction about an ass

I was going to attempt another round-up of MH17 conspiracy theories, but I just can't. Right now, I feel sick at heart. Everywhere one turns, one encounters new evidence of our media's biased, dishonest nature.

Let's look at just one example. From the Jerusalem Post:
Terrorists in Gaza attempted to attack IDF soldiers with an explosives-laden donkey on Friday, the military said.

IDF forces operating in the Rafah area near the Gaza-Egypt border located the donkey suspiciously approaching their position and were forced to open fire at it, causing the explosives to detonate.

No injuries were sustained to the soldiers.
Are they kidding? A lethal military force is murdering civilians in a pathetic strip of land bereft of an army or navy. These people are so thoroughly outmatched, so vulnerable, so miserable that they resort to strapping bombs on a donkey. And we are supposed to feel sorry for the fucking IDF because the victims of Israeli occupation did what they could to defend themselves? We're supposed to call the Palestinians "terrorists," simply because they are doing what they can to protect their children?

(By the way: The American military has used bomb-laden dolphins in warfare.)

I want to make a prediction.

I prophesy that this explosive ass will receive more coverage in the American news media than has the IDF's destruction of the El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital.

Most Americans don't know, will never know, that bloodthirsty, racist Israelis destroyed a hospital -- for no reason other than the sheer joy of seeing Palestinians die.
The Israeli army targeted and destroyed the Gaza strip’s only rehabilitation hospital even though Israeli authorities said they did not believe weapons were inside of the facility. El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, which treats long-term injuries and physical disabilities, was heavily shelled Thursday evening causing an emergency evacuation of all staff and patients.
The recent coverage of Gaza has been absolutely indefensible. Perhaps the most obscene article I have seen is this article by Jeffrey Goldberg. I can bear to give you only a small portion of a thoroughly hideous piece of hate-speech. Get ready to vomit:
The goal of Hamas—the actual, overarching goal—is to terrorize the Jews of Israel, through mass murder, into abandoning their country. If generations of Palestinians have to be sacrificed to that goal, well, Hamas believes such sacrifices are theologically justified.
"Mirror imaging" may be a term of art used in the intelligence community, but it should also see usage in the field of psychology. (I suppose "projection" is a cognate idea.)

It is painfully obvious -- and has been for decades -- that the reverse is true: The Jews of Israel hope to make life unbearable for the Palestinians, forcing them to leave. The Jewish American writer Michelle Cohen Corasanti has summed up the situation very well...
In November, 1947 we began to execute our Plan Dalet to ethnically cleanse Palestine of the non-Jewish majority. We took, by force of arms, the cities of Haifa and Jaffa, creating hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the process. Having seen the devastation and injustice caused by Plan Dalet, five Arab countries decided on military intervention, but the 60,000 poorly armed and trained Arab soldiers were no match for the 90,000 heavily armed and well trained Zionist soldiers. When we won the war and took even more Palestinian land than the UN gave us, we told the world that David beat Goliath and the west was happy to believe it.

But we need to be honest. The Palestinians have paid the price for the Holocaust. We ethnically cleansed as many as we could, which is well-documented by Israeli historians, including from the left Ilan Pappe to the right Benny Morris. We kicked them out and refused to let them back in. We looted their houses, we took the beautiful ones for ourselves and then we razed 500 of their villages so they wouldn’t have a place to come home to. We were once made refugees in Europe and now we have immigrated to Palestine and made the Palestinians refugees. When we wouldn’t let them return, they resorted to violence, so we called them terrorists and made it stick.

Only awareness can set us free, because awareness leads to understanding, and understanding leads to change. We cannot turn a blind eye to the truth.
This report makes the same point:
“In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, cruel methods are employed to ‘exhaust’ the communities, exploit and subjugate them, make life so unbearable that Palestinians will leave or communities be destroyed, including evidence of ethnic cleansing methods, and evidence of intention to destroy the population at least in part (i.e. genocide).”

“(Israel practices) strangulation of the Palestinian economy with forced dependency upon the colonial Israeli State and Israeli economy (with no independent Palestinian economy), border controls of imports and exports, exploitation of natural resources, de-development of Palestinian industries and businesses, violation of the full range of employment/workforce rights - including through closures.”

“(There are) Israeli policies and methods designed to impoverish the Palestinians (more than 1 million under poverty line) and strangulate their economy; through movement restrictions denying or hindering access to humanitarian aid and assistance, food and water, medical supplies and aid, hospitals, work and education. Concerns as to starvation in some areas; illegal control and exploitation of Palestinian natural resources (including water) and tourism. Women and children have been particularly affected by lack of access to humanitarian aid, including prevention of access to pre natal, and post natal care; and access to immunisation/health services for children.”

“(Israel conducts) military attacks on civilians, including those amounting to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention (namely war crimes) and systematic gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Evidence of systematic ethnic cleansing methods and the intention to destroy at least in part the population (i.e. genocide). Heavy weaponry normally used in full combat warfare is being used against a Palestinian civilian population in situations where there is no military or security need (including civilians in homes, schools, workplaces, hospitals, field clinics, ambulances).
Writers like Jeffrey Goldberg are pure evil. They are beyond rationality, beyond human discourse.

And yet Goldberg -- not the humane Michelle Cohen Corasanti -- is published in The Atlantic.

For far too many years, our "journalists" have been lying about Israel's despicable war crimes against a completely innocent population whose land was stolen from them. These propagandists have turned Americans against their own interests, and against the interest of humanity. These so-called "reporters" should face a Nuremburg-style tribunal -- and then they should  meet with the same much-deserved fate that befell their spiritual forebears, Julius Streicher and Josef Goebbels.
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Comments:
This bunk about the "poor" Palestinians I read about everywhere has got to stop. I support Israel and with good reason: they are not bloodthirsty savages using civilians as shields firing rockets into public places with the one goal of killing innocents, theirs and the enemies. Hamas started this, turned down a peace plan because they wanted something for starting this, and now are paying a heavy price for their stupidity. You do realize that the Israelis are living in bomb shelters 24/7 due to he constant rocket fire? Do you actually know any Israelis, like I do, or are you just repeating what our worthless media tells us? Hamas WANTS civilian casualties for sympathy which sites like this offer. Muslim extremists are not our friends and neither is Hamas which needs to be wiped from this face of this Earth and as long as the public supports them, which a lot of people do, this will never end. Peace is possible but only if they stop with the claims of the right to return and the destruction of Israel. I feel bad for the people of Gaza but not so much that I condone attacks upon civilians and then defend their right to terrorism. No one seems to remember that the Israelis give a lot of money to Gaza for aid, more than Hamas, and have had several peace plans that have been rebuffed because the Palestinians refuse any sort of compromise, ala the GOP with Obama who gets the same flack. You can't negotiate with people who want you dead. Yasser Arafat in 1999 got a deal that gave him 90% of what he wanted and he still spit on it. And yet Israel is to blame for defending themselves. If rockets were being fired from Mexico, I doubt we would be as sympathetic to Mexicans as Israel has been to Gaza.
 
Goldberg - "When you repeatedly fire rockets at civilian targets in a neighboring country, that country usually responds militarily."

Goldberg quoting Obama - "There is no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets."

This talking point is carefully crafted. There is inherent common sense in its formula which generates agreement. But, of course, the formula never applies to the Palestinians. Their civilians are targeted, but they are never allowed to respond, and if they do it is painted as something monstrous, not as an inherent right.

The element of doublethink incorporated into the talking point is enabled by the word "rockets". When the Goldberg statement is rephrased with "attack" replacing "fire rockets at" - ""When you repeatedly attack civilian targets in a neighboring country, that country usually responds militarily." - the one-sidedness of the talking point dissolves.
 
Agreed. On all points. And speaking of media - you know something is extremely wrong when coverage and overt bias is mirrored at both CNN and FOX. Amazing, isn't it?

Also, more amazing is that a lot of them know what they are doing, that it's wrong, but don't the guts or morality to do anything about it. Another prediction: Israel will, without question, be THE cause of humanity's first nuclear conflagration. It's inevitable. Everyone knows it. The trigger has been itching ever since they stole the damn things.
 
I find it odd when liberals support a fascist dictatorship over a liberal democracy.
 
Me too, small j.
 
being part native american on both sides, the extermination of the Palestinians sounds suspiciously like the invasion & conquest of Turtle Island - a holocaust that killed 18 million people & forced assimilation on the survivors... uh, that's three times the holocaust of WWII...
 
In a liberal democracy, everybody gets to vote. In Israel, everybody gets to vote. In fascist dictatorship, nobody gets to vote. In Gaza, nobody gets to vote (they had one election, in 2006, and apparently will not have another). In a liberal democracy, everybody has a right to speak at the public square. In Israel, Gideon Levy has a column in Haaretz. In a fascist dictatorship, opposition voices are silenced. In Gaza, there are no dissidents. In a liberal democracy, wealth is spread among the entire population. In Israel, wealth is not concentrated in a few hands. In a fascist dictatorship, only the ruling class has privileges. In Gaza, the elite are comfortably ensconced in hotels while the rest are left out in the cold.
 
When the west gave the Jews Palestine it wasn't an empty piece of land. It was a country with its citizens. It had schools,roads,business,buildings,hospitals etc. People who lived were kicked out of their homes in the middle of the night and later slaughtered. To put the victim and the criminal at the level is just obscene. Not giving up their rights is heroic in my opinion
 
I find it odd that a so called liberal like Bill Maher defends the right of Israel to commit crimes against humanity in his last show.

 
When will you stop lying to yourself, small j? The real power in the Occupied territories is of course, the occupying force, for whom none of the occupied peoples have voted. Arguments about what technically constitutes occupation are casuistry.

America was technically a democracy -- the finest democracy in the world -- when we were murdering Indians by the millions, and enslaving blacks by the millions. Calling yourself a democracy does not justify ghastly behavior, and you damned well know it.
 
There is no liberal democratic government in the middle east, (small j) joseph. Not sure where you got that idea from, but it couldn't be from Israel. No democracy can be based on race or religion (or both). When Israel stops collective punishment (a war crime established at Nuremberg, no less), then perhaps I will be sympathetic to their situation (as I certainly don't condone terrorism in any form).
 
Question for you: Sometime in the past year, I read an account (not sure where) that claimed Israel's right-wing party had engineered political evens in Gaza to ensure that the radical Hamas came to power instead of more moderate factions. I don't claim that this is what really happened, but I would like to read more about the theory and assess it on my own. Is this a familiar argument? Can you suggest reporting or scholarship that falls either way on the topic? Thanks in advance.
 
"I find it odd that a so called liberal like Bill Maher supports the right of Israel to commit crimes against humanity in his last show." The issue isn't politics, but race, Anonymous. Bill Maher is a member of the Master Race, and so he supports Israel even if they were roasting Palestinian children on spits or casting them into the open flames of Moloch. Race trumps politics every time. As a member of the (Self) Chosen People, Maher has to provide apologies for his tribe even if they are drinking the blood of children in one of their periodic pogroms paid for by the US taxpayer. Firing shells into hospitals, machine-gunning children, bombing schools, and murdering civilians for fun are just expressions of Israeli culture, and if you don't understand that, then you are an anti-Semite and a racist who doesn't deserve to be allowed to state your opinions.
 
cracker, your own reaction is itself racist. Maher is Catholic. His mother was born a Jew, but this fact was not known to him until later in life.

The racism of Israel is no different than the racism of white America during the slaughter of the Indians.
 
Smallj,
Haven't you got anything better than "Israel has the right to defend itself" against an occupation army with rockets that 99% of the time cause no casualties?
Or, "Hamas did not honor a cease fire" that was brokered by Egypt and Israel and Mahmood Abbass in their absence?
Or are you of the opinion that one Israeli dead equals 1000 dead and wounded Palestinians?
Or Is it that Muhammad the warrior, and Jesus the peace maker just don't get Moses the "coward" who told God, my poeple are just evil period.
 
"Or Is it that Muhammad the warrior, and Jesus the peace maker just don't get Moses the "coward" who told God, my poeple are just evil period." What the hell is that supposed to mean?
 
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Ukraine, Gaza and media manipulation

Whenever the Ukrainian civil war heats up, the manipulation of our media becomes as painfully obvious as a missing nose.

Yesterday, I heard a ninny-noodle "journalist" on NPR talk about the separatists and their (presumed) use of a Buk surface-to-air missile system to bring down MH17. Only the Russians could have given them this system, the reporter said. Moreover, these weapons were so complex, so difficult to use, that the separatists could not have shot down that jet unless they had Russian handlers standing nearby, guiding them every step of the way.

This is nonsense. I'll give two reasons.

First: A lot of the separatist fighters used to be in the Ukrainian military, which has its own surface-to-air missiles. As some of you will recall, an errant Ukrainian missile brought down a Russian civilian airliner in October of 2001. It is ridiculous to presuppose that today's fighters could not send up a missile without help from a Russian babysitter.

Second: To prove that the separatists had gotten hold of a Russian surface-to-air missile system, this same journalist pointed to a series of tweets sent by separatist leaders -- tweets which mysteriously disappeared shortly after the disaster. As you may recall, this humble blog has, in a previous post, linked to those very same tweets. What the NPR reporter neglected to tell her audience was that these messages clearly state that the Buk missiles came from Ukrainian stores.

Not from Russia.

In other words, that NPR reporter was lying and she knew she was lying. The evidence she cited conflicted with the "Evil Putin" narrative that she hoped to convey.

The RT double standard. Many people have used the resignation of London-based Russia Today correspondent Sarah Firth as proof that RT lacks all credibility.
Firth, who joined the channel in 2009, told BuzzFeed that she decided to resign from the Kremlin-funded news channel because she felt it was “disrespectfully” attempting to pin the blame for Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster on the Ukrainian government.

“When this story broke I ran back into the newsroom and saw how we were covering it already and I just knew I had to go,” she said.

“It was the total disregard to the facts. We threw up eyewitness accounts from someone on the ground openly accusing the Ukrainian government [of involvement in the disaster], and a correspondent in the studio pulled up a plane crash before that the Ukrainian government had been involved in and said it was ‘worth mentioning’.

“It’s not worth mentioning. It’s Russia Today all over, it’s flirting with that border of overtly lying...
But it is worth mentioning. That's why I have mentioned the 2001 incident on a couple of occasions.

As noted above, the 2001 downing disproves NPR's recent claim that a Ukrainian could not possibly have sent up a surface-to-air missile without a Russian standing nearby. Moreover, there is the uncomfortable but undeniable fact that the Ukrainian government lied its head off about the incident for quite some time. A government capable of lying then may also be lying now.

So Firth seems to have quit because RT mentioned something which was, in fact, quite relevant. In other words, she was the one who wanted to hide the truth.

Compare our media's treatment of Firth to a couple of other recent incidents -- specifically, to the coverage of Gaza.

Ayman Mohyeldin is an NBC reporter who reported on the death of four Palestinian boys. Israeli shells killed them shortly after they had played soccer with Mohyeldin. His coverage received widespread praise.

Despite this praise -- or, more likely, because of it -- NBC removed him from the scene.
According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
"Security concerns"? Nonsense. In all likelihood, Mohyeldin was pulled because he had criticized the State Department.

William Booth of the Washington Post covered the same tragedy, ending its story on a note likely to insure his continued employment:
They [the IDF] promised that the incident would be investigated but blamed Hamas for its "cynical exploitation of a population held hostage."
In other words, the Palestinians did it to themselves.

In response to Booth's coverage, Jonathan Cook writes:
But I suspect something else is at work here, something revealing about the business of journalism.

Most of the time, we write not for ourselves or our readers but for our editors – in short to keep our jobs. Here Booth was called on to stop being the careerist and connect with his humanity. That, rare though it is in journalism, was what the moment required: to see, really see the desperate, terrified little boys in front of him. Instead, all he could think about was technique and what his editors might want.
Then we have the case of Diana Magnay.
CNN has removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”

“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

“She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew," the spokeswoman continued. "She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”

The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow.

Magnay appeared on CNN Thursday from a hill overlooking the Israel-Gaza border. While she reported, Israelis could be heard near her cheering as missiles were fired at Gaza.

After the liveshot, Magnay tweeted: “Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum.”
As I see it, Magnay wrote nothing requiring an apology -- and removing her was pure censorship.

If Sarah Firth wants to experience true media manipulation, she should work for one of of our more Orwellian American news organizations -- and she should try to tell the truth about Israel's oppression of the Palestinians.

To put Firth's resignation into perspective, consider this: Thousands of protesters converged on the BBC to demand an end to biased coverage of the Gaza disaster.
As the protesters shouted “BBC, shame on you,” Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), handed in a letter to the BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall. The letter calls on the BBC to reflect the reality of Gaza’s occupation and siege in its reporting. The open letter had been signed by 45,000 people in under a week. Signatories include scholar Noam Chomsky, filmmaker John Pilger, film director Ken Loach, musician Brian Eno, journalist Owen Jones and comedian and filmmaker Jeremy Hardy.

Protesters held up placards bearing statements from the letter, including: “We would like to remind the BBC that Gaza has no army, air force or navy” and “The BBC’s reporting of Israel’s assaults on Gaza is entirely devoid of context or background.”
As BBC employees watched from the top of their building, some recording the protest on mobile phones and tweeting out the footage, Lanning told the protestors: “There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there’s the BBC. Come on BBC, tell the truth — it’s the occupation, stupid.”
Please understand that I am not a blinkered fan of Russia Today. You will notice that I do not link to them in my blogroll. But in all fairness, I must ask: Has there ever been a mass protest against RT's coverage of anything? Firth accuses RT of "flirting with that border of overtly lying." Maybe so. But American news organizations merrily skip across that border every damned day.

I urge you to read Robert Parry's coverage of the skewed reporting we've received concerning both the attack on Gaza and the Ukrainian disaster. Parry used to work for AP and Newsweek; he left the latter after his editors shot down an accurate story about Iran-Contra.

Parry's semi-forced resignation was not considered a damning indictment of America's media. And yet we are supposed to consider Sarah Firth's resignation a damning indictment of Russia's media.

Hypocrisy!
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Comments:
I see that the flight was full of AIDs researchers. There'll be conspiracy theories about that along at any moment, I expect.
 
I do not understand why any news organization is allowed to do stories using tweets as their source, without some other form of confirmation. Knowing how easy twitter is to hack in general, plus the fact that the NSA/GCHQ is now known to use spoofed tweets against 'enemies'. to rush such major accusations to print is either very careless or very intentional.
 
Talking about Russia Today, I was just reading a badly google-translated article there claiming that Right Sector have taken to shooting Ukrainian soldiers who are insufficiently enthusiastic about storming rebel-held cities.
 
What about Gaza people does any one care
 
There are some helpful discussions of the BUK missiles here and here.

Joseph, I agree with your sentiments here. Just when bloggers had talked away the last neocon lie along comes the next one. Only this time, with Gaza, and especially Ukraine amd MH17, the lies are multiple and tsunami sized, drowning any semblance of intelligent public discourse. MSM blogs globally are stuffed with comments from 'expert' laymen talking about the Russian forces (battalion sized, apparently) inside the Ukraine and directing locals in a war against Kiev. Those same public sheepies (and their media shepherds) are determined that nothing will stand in the way of their stampeding return to a simple world of good guys and bad guys (and we all know who they are, don't we?) It's as if reason has not only left the planet but the universe itself, speeding off at warp speed into some goddamned uncharted nether region. After the Iraq lies, after everything else, we still get this stampeding, monumentally stupid public. In large measure I've given up trying to change their views. All that's left is the inevitable shooting and the body count. Sanity has left the building.
 
Stephen, those claims are likely true. Remember that the massacre at Mariupol was an attack by Kiev forces on local police who refused to fire on unarmed civilians conducting a peaceful protest calling for a secession referendum. The enraged citizens jumped in to help defend the local police.

I take it you know the background on the Odessa massacre.

By various reports separatist forces in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk have been successfully fighting back Right Sector forces sent from Kiev (another reason to suggest Kiev involvement in the MH17 shooting). The central government has not been able to use local police or military because they refused to attack their own people engaged in peaceful civil protest. Again, there are various online accounts of these units returning to their bases (unconfirmed reports of them being then shot) or of defecting to the rebels.

The Azov battalion fighting in the east is a force of foreign fighters, many from the EU who were rejected for service in their own countries' armies because of fascist or ultra-nationalist views, Of course, the reality of EU thugs murdering Ukraine nationals gets no mention in the media but apparently there are battalions of Russian forces and fighter jets controlling the east. The Western media BS is through the roof.
 
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Friday, July 18, 2014

MH17: The "Sherlock" connection

Here's another MH17 theory to add to the growing pile -- and this one's a doozy. It comes to us via a remarkable character: Igor Strelkov (real name: Igor Gurkin), a Russian commander of the separatist movement.

We've been reading a lot about this fellow in recent days. He does seem to be a classic "eternal warrior" type -- a born fighter, not too dissimilar from many guys in our own military. This profile by David Remnik is vivid and worth reading.

As you read, please keep in mind the fact that Remnik is an obvious propagandist. How obvious is he? Consider:
What’s far more certain is that Vladimir Putin, acting out of resentment and fury toward the West and the leaders in Kiev, has fanned a kind of prolonged political frenzy, both in Russia and among his confederates in Ukraine, that serves his immediate political needs but that he can no longer easily calibrate and control.
Classic mirror imaging, this. As we've noted in previous posts, Putin's statements have been surprisingly calm and statesmanlike, while the western media has engaged in hysterical misrepresentations.

Remnik himself exemplifies this legacy of deceit when he refers to Putin's "defiant annexation" of Crimea. Tellingly, Remnik never informs his readers that the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to return to their traditional status as part of Russia. Why would the Crimeans want any part of the madness in Kiev?

Let's return to Strelkov. As mentioned above, he has joined the ranks of MH17 conspiracy theorists -- and for sheer wildness, his scenario tops 'em all:
A top pro-Russia rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has given a bizarre version of events surrounding the Malaysian jetliner crash — suggesting many of the victims may have died days before the plane took off.

The pro-rebel website Russkaya Vesna on Friday quoted Igor Girkin as saying he was told by people at the crash site that "a significant number of the bodies weren't fresh," adding that he was told they were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition.
The AP report from which this bit was taken does not mention an obvious fictional parallel. The scenario that Strelkov has outlined precisely matches one dramatized in an episode of the BBC series Sherlock. I'm talking about the modern-day update of the Conan Doyle stories, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

In a second season episode titled "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock accidentally foils a scheme put together by his brother Mycroft, who works for MI6. The British agency has learned, via an "inside" man, that terrorists plan to take down an airliner. Rather than foil the plot and thus blow the cover of their mole, the Brits decide to fake an airline disaster, using an airliner filled with corpses.

Mycroft's plan involves flying the jet by remote control to a certain location, at which point it is to be blown up by the terrorist's bomb. The bad guys would have no way of knowing that the victims were already dead.

The memorable finale of that episode takes place inside the cadaver-filled jet, waiting for take-off. That take-off never occurs, because Sherlock -- his head uncharacteristically turned by a pretty face -- has foolishly let the bad guys know what he knows. (He makes up for this blunder by the episode's end.)

The first, most obvious question: Is there any possibility -- any at all -- that Strelkov's outlandish scenario has a basis in truth?

If he is telling the truth, then should we presume that the writers of Sherlock somehow got wind of a tactic actually employed by the spook community?

If he is not telling the truth, then should we presume that Strelkov cribbed his theory from the BBC series?

The Russians have long been big fans of Sherlock Holmes. They have made their own Holmes movies, which you may be able to find online. However, I don't know if the current BBC incarnation has a following in Russia.

(Note to the 9/11 knuckleheads: Don't try it. If you give me even the slightest reason to suspect that you're headed in that direction, your comment will be deleted on sight.)
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Comments:
OT,sort of Joseph.

The following commentator left something interesting on CM. He states that air-to-air missile more likely as seen from structure photo. BUKs are high-explosive warheads, or shrapnel, not pin and rod variety.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/07/air-disaster/#comment-467774

Ben
 
From the same guy. Is it 'chaff'?

http://pissinontheroses.blogspot.com/
 
THe pilot who shot down KAL 007 still insists it carried no passengers.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/09/world/ex-soviet-pilot-still-insists-kal-007-was-spying.html?src=pm&pagewanted=2

Also Joseph, do you know much/anything about Iran Flight 665?
 
Joseph, any takes on the rebel audio footage?
 
Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge has some useful things to say about the rebel audio tape.
 
See post below... Jeebus I am such a dolt. Apologies Joesph.
 
I remember speculationn after 9/11 that the terrorists had got the idea from American media. Of course I've also heard speculation that Star Trek inspired the mobile phone. Flip phones, anyway.

In any case, they have difficulty finding bodies for dissection for medical students, I'm not sure what sort of Burke and Hare act they'd need to put together the hundreds of corpses they'd need for this. The aeroplane shot down in Ukraine a decade ago had less than a third of the number of dead, so why would they make this such a large event if it meant having to dredge up extra corpses?

 
Original credit for the idea should probably go to science fiction writer John Varley's 1983 novel Millennium. Not a book to be reading when you're flying > 100k miles/year (as I was when it was published and, alas, am doing again now).
 
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Theories

Overheard phone calls. The Kyiv Post is not a wholly disinterested journal, so...caveat lector, and all that. But the newspaper claims that Ukraine's security service (SBU) "overheard" a phone call between rebels indicating separatist responsibility for the downing of Malaysian airliner 17.

There are actually two relevant conversations. The first one (allegedly) features one Igor Bezler, identified as "a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic." He is (allegedly) speaking to a Russian intelligence officer named Vasili Geranin.

That call takes place half an hour after the crash. Bezler says: "We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo."

And that is pretty much it, as far as incriminating statements go. I don't know what "Group Minera" means, although it seems likely that this term refers to a unit of fighters.

A second intercepted phone conversation features two separatist militants known only by their nommes de guerre, "Major" and "Greek."
“Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

“Greek”: Yes, Major.

"Major": The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.

“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?

“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.
Chernukhino is a largely Muslim city in Ukraine. I shudder to think of what Pam Geller will make of that.

We've seen a lot of deceptive reporting in and about Ukraine, so I would urge caution here. It seems a little odd to me that two Russian intelligence officers would speak of this matter on an insecure phone line. (More on this below.)

But even if we take these conversations at face value, the intercepted conversations indicate that the decision to shoot down the jet was made by a small group operating in the field; afterwards, the Russians and the separatists scrambled to figure out what occurred.

Also, we don't know how "Major" (whoever he is) concluded that "Chernukhin folk" shot down the plane. Surmise? Did someone report to him?

Many commentators on television and elsewhere have presumed that the separatists could have obtained surface-to-air missiles only from the Russians. As we saw yesterday, one separatist group claimed in its Twitter feed to have "liberated" a Buk missile system from Ukrainian stores. They even posted a picture of the Buk system -- which, as far as we know, may be the very weapon which shot down the airliner.

The Twitter statements which discuss the Buk theft were later deleted. I consider that deletion to be quite telling.

Ukraine authorities are denying that that the separatists obtained one of their Buk systems. Then why did that Twitter feed read the way it did?

A pro-Russian blog called Vineyard of the Saker -- no, I don't know what a "Saker" is -- has a few words to say about all this. Once again, please keep in mind that we are not dealing with a disinterested party.
Though most Novorussian air defense systems are man-portable, the Resistance forces did get their hands on some 9K37 Buk missile systems which are quite capable of hitting a civilian airliner at normal cruising speed and altitude.
For whatever it's worth, and without wanting to give anybody false hopes, I personally think that it is extremely unlikely that the Russians did it because they have a fully integrated, multi layered, advance air defense systems staffed only by specialists. In contrast, the Ukies have an old, decrepit, non-integrated air defense "system" staffed by underpaid, demoralized and poorly trained conscripts. And since the Kremlin likes to maintain the illusion that it does not control the Novorussians, even if there is proof that the latter are responsible for this catastrophe, this will not directly implicate Russia (which would have been the worst option).
Other theories. Russia Today has backtracked on its previous claim that Vladimir Putin flew over the area at roughly the same time. The original theory held that the shootdown was an attempt to kill Putin.

Certain Alex Jonesians are claiming that the passengers aboard the jet were non-existent individuals. I think that we may safely toss that assertion into the round file.

And yet the AJ battalions have also produced a couple of genuinely interesting arguments.

Someone connected to Prison Planet (I don't know who) has argued in a YouTube video that the intercepted conversations referenced above -- the ones involving Major, Greek, and those two Russian officers -- were faked. Y'see, those intercepted calls first showed up in a previous YouTube video, which you can see here. Moreover, it is claimed that this earlier video was created a day before the shootdown.

Is this possible? Is it likely?

Frankly, I cannot believe that schemers on this level would make such a foolish mistake. It is easier to presume that some sort of software glitch occurred.

Seems to me that if someone concocted evidence against the Russians before the event, the evidence would have been more damning. Seriously, what do we have? The intercepted conversation has two Russian military officers struggling to understand what may have been done by a ragtag group of rebels in the field. This is not the sort of thing likely to ignite a third World War.

But the Prison Planet video goes on to make what I consider a more interesting argument: The Ukrainian government, days earlier, released another intercepted phone conversation between two Russian officers discussing a previous incident. After that intercepted call was publicized, why would the Russians continue to speak freely on an insecure line?

The video also claims that previous Malaysian Airlines flights making this trip had taken routes which placed the jets well south of the conflict zone. This claim deserves investigation.

And then there's the case of "Carlos."

Someone claiming to be a Spanish air traffic controller working in Kiev has stated, in his Twitter feed, that the Ukrainian military -- not the separatists -- shot down MH17. "Carlos" also says that two Ukrainian fighter jets flew near the Malaysian airliner for several minutes before the shootdown. He then states, rather dramatically, that security guards were coming to round up all of the cell phones belonging to the air traffic controllers.

Carlos' Twitter account now seems to have disappeared, although we do have a stream of images connected with that account: Carlos @spainbuca. The images tell us that Carlos was something of a news junkie; they do not show any visual evidence that he was an air traffic controller working in Kiev. These images offer confirmation that the account did once exist -- which (of course) is not the same thing as confirmation of the story itself.

(Perhaps someone who does not share my Twitter-phobia can explain what is going on here.)

Right now, the conspiracy theory I like best is the "CNN did it" scenario. Ask yourself: Cui bono? Who benefits? Obviously, CNN gains the most. Every time an airliner goes down under mysterious circumstances, the struggling news network does really well.
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Comments:
Hi. The Saker is a species of hawk or falcon, that is native to Central Russia. It is listed in some European bird books. Cheers. Our American corporate media is just neo-con propaganda. I watch RT on TV and read Vineyard of the Saker and Moon of Alabama to find out how the resistance to US-imposed fascism in Kiev is doing.
Cheers.
 
Mine is the middle east they want to distract or dilute the Russians effectiveness in the middle east. The invasion of Gaza is in the way, Isis?
 
Craig Murray claims a source saying weather forced MH17 200km North of usual flight path taking it almost directly over Donetsk. We shall see. A vanished tweet from Spain suggests there was a Ukrainian fighter escort until 5 minutes before the takedown.

Ben---
 
Ben, you didn't read my post through. I talk about the Spanish puzzle at some length. The more I ponder it, the more I am persuaded that "Carlos" was a fraud. Look at the photos connected with his account...
 
Yeah. He may be a fraud, but I have seen a lot of untoward tweets and links that seem to disappear.

I can't imagine why a fighter would shadow the plane unless, somehow the transponder was shut off, and he needed visual confirmation it was civil. My point about why the plane was diverted is still in play, however. Didn't you marvel when the first news reports came out emphasizing a missile before the evidence on the ground was released?
ben
 
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shootdown theories: Was Putin the target?

By now, most of you know about Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 -- a 777 carrying 295 people -- which was downed in Ukraine near the Russian border. I've not had a chance to watch much television news coverage, but judging from the little that I have seen, it appears that the talking heads are going to great lengths to convince Americans that Russia must be responsible.

The Ukrainian government has denied responsibility and issued a statement which suggests (but does not state) that Russia destroyed the jet.

I advise caution. For the following reasons:

1. Vladimir Putin has no reason to want a thing like this to happen. What could he gain from the destruction of a civilian airliner? (There are those who say that the Russian military mistook the airliner for a military jet. That would be one hell of a mistake.)

2. Historically speaking, the destruction of a ship is the traditional way to start a war. Remember the Maine, remember the Lusitania, and remember the Tonkin Gulf resolution. In all three cases, the real story differed from what the citizenry believed at the time.

3. Our assessment of the Ukrainian government's credibility must take into account the way they handled the October 2001 downing of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812. The Russians immediately suspected terrorism, while the CIA argued that the jet was struck by an errant S-200 surface-to-air missile, fired by the Ukrainian armed forces during exercises in Crimea. The Ukrainian military at first angrily denied that their missile could have been done the deed. Later, Ukraine admitted responsibility and paid compensation.

(Just to make matters supremely complicated, some people still insist that it was technically impossible for that S-200 to have been the cause.)

4. The recent coup in Ukraine originated with an apparent "false flag" event. I refer, of course, to the "mystery snipers" who fired on the crowd protesting against the previous (pro-Russian) government of that country.

Now let's look at our list of suspects. It is possible that one of the separatist groups rebelling against the current government of Ukraine fired on the airliner. This AP report (about the earlier downing of a military jet) is intriguing:
An Associated Press reporter on Thursday saw seven rebel-owned tanks parked at a gas station outside the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne. In the town, he also observed a Buk missile system, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).
This AP reports stands in contrast to what Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters told Fox News:
But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at such an altitude in the hands of rebels.

"It wasn't the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians," Peters said. "The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border."
Peters' display of certainty is itself rather suspicious. How can he be so sure that the separatists don't have surface-to-air missiles? The separatists have said that they "liberated" a Buk system from the Ukrainian military. This claim appeared in a separatist Twitter feed, which was later deleted. (It is preserved here).

Separatist leader Alexander Borodai says that the Ukrainian military shot down the jet.

There is still another theory -- one that is undeniably intriguing (and frightening), even if it does come from the oft-despised Russia Today. RT suggests that the intended target was none other than Vladimir Putin.
Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling almost the same route as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 295, Interfax news agency reports citing sources.

“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft - 15:44 Moscow time,” a source told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

"The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical", the source added.

President Putin was on his way from Brazil, where he attended the BRICS summit, to Moscow.
Since this is a paranoid story for paranoid times, perhaps we should note that this rather startling RT story received all of two comments (one calling the theory sensible, the other calling it a lie) -- and then RT disabled the comments feature for "technical reasons." How often does that happen?
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Comments:
http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/view/134299-controlador-trafico-aereo-buelo-mh17-escoltado-cazas-ucranianos

http://rusvesna.su/news/1405625238
You translate

Then in the mean time while everyone is watching the Ukraine.

http://news.yahoo.com/israeli-pm-instructed-military-begin-ground-offensive-gaza-194739389.html

The crazy people start on their murdering spree
 
I think the assassination attempt makes the most sense. How many similar planes took that same course on that day?

Was either the downed plane or Putin's plane ahead or behind schedule?
 
I'm starting to think twice about that claim, Alessandro. The jets were in roughly the same place over Warsaw. But that's not Ukraine, is it?
 
I need to see a map that shows trajectory and time of both planes to understand this better.
 
"How often does that happen?"
Often: http://tinyurl.com/krczc4d

The message is a standard boilerplate, meaning Tsar Putin has decreed shut it down - and so it is done. It's interesting to look at what was censored - and speculate why - in the results that come up.

In any case, both sides are blaming one another, as would be expected, and the US has now stuck its nose in the fray claiming russian "separatists" as the culprit. Funny how the attention was shifted in the news and only a few hours later Israel decided to invade Gaza.
 
157
 
Maidan mystery snipers: this event was used to first demonize Yanukovych, and then to provide a justification for the coup. Initial reports said that snipers were hitting both sides indiscriminately. Leaked phone call between Estonia's Paet and EU's Ashton repeats that evidence showed snipers shooting both sides and that coup government not particularly interested in an investigation. German television documentary investigates and finds that the sniper fire came from an area completely controlled by the nationalist militias. May press conference from Kiev reveals that two investigations had been engaged. The main one found that the sniper fire had come from area completely controlled by nationalist militia. But chief investigator stated that the investigation was over and that the identity of the snipers would never be known and will always be a mystery. Second investigation headed by Parubly - who was a leader of the nationalist militia. He concedes that the sniper fire had come from area completely controlled by nationalist militia, but insists that the snipers were members of Russian Special Forces who somehow gained access to the area, conducted the sniping, and then got away.

Main point - sniper attack was used by corporate media and Kiev regime to justify the coup, and then was dropped from the news cycle just as the origin of the shooting was established. It is rarely mentioned now.

The Kiev regime is full of snakes, and it cannot be trusted on anything.
 
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The myth of ISIS

I've called it the great political mystery of our time: Who created ISIS? How did it come to be? A couple of new reports indicate that a genuine mystery is becoming a myth.

Example
The former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organisation that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”. NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans.

According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders”. Leaks revealed that ISIS leader and cleric Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech.
The problems with this story should be obvious. There is simply no evidence for any of it.

Other Snowden documents were actually Powerpoint presentations about the NSA's data collection capabilities. Those presentations don't talk about Israel's relations with its neighbors.

If this information comes from a Snowden document, why hasn't Greenwald (or Snowden himself) mentioned it? Why can't we see the actual document, as we have seen others? Who or what is the source for this story? Who wrote the words quoted above?

As near as I can tell, this tale first appeared in Global Research, which credits the story to Gulf Daily News, the "Voice of Bahrain." Previous Snowden stories have been broken by The Intercept (Greenwald's new venture), The Washington Post, and The Guardian. Why would this one first appear in a journal in Bahrain? The very idea is silly.

Moreover, there is no hint of this important story anywhere to be found on the actual Gulf Daily News website.

It appears that the Gulf Daily News is being framed -- crudely. I'm not sure who the culprit is, but it may be worthwhile to note that a "white power" website has pushed this tale.

Shame on Global Research for not looking into the origin of such an obviously suspicious claim.

A similar incident. Global Research also published this piece from the FARS News Agency which -- again -- attempts to link the leader of ISIS/ISIL with the CIA. At least in this case, the sourcing is clearer: FARS is the Iranian news agency -- and their source appears to be a Russian "expert in oriental studies" named Vyacheslav Matuzov.
“All facts show that Al-Baqdadi is in contact with the CIA and during all the years that he was in prison (2004-2009) he has been collaborating with the CIA,” Matuzov told Voice of Russia radio on Tuesday.

He noted that the US does not need to use drones against ISIL because it can easily have access to the ISIL leaders, adding that since the terrorist commanders are the US allies, Washington would never combat them as they are staging the US plans.
No proof here. No argument of any kind. All we have is assertion and rhetoric.

But at least we have a real person in back of it all. Yes, Virginia, there is a Vyacheslav Matuzov; he's an RT regular, listed as the "Executive Chairman of the Russian Friendship Society with Arab Countries." This group seems to be an outgrowth of the "friendship societies" that were promulgated throughout the world by the old Soviet Union. Thus, it is fair to presume that Matuzov is a government employee and that his viewpoint reflects that of the Putin government.

So: Does Russian intelligence know something we mere mortals do not about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? Or are we dealing with more myth-making?

I've thought from the beginning that there is something puzzling and discomforting about the leader of ISIS and his rapid rise to power. But we need evidence -- new facts to lay out on the dissection table. We do not need wild propaganda and surmise masquerading as inside dope.  
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Comments:
Second link in the story at GlobalResearch goes to here:
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/section.aspx?Sn=WORL
The first link was to the front page only.

But, ya, I agree with you. Shame.

I've always had a problem with that site, their dogmatic anti-americanism and pro anything that supports that position (including spurious sources and obvious propaganda).
 
Thanks, but I still so no indication that Gulf News actually published that story.
 
Umm what? its one the gulf news website

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381153

what were u lookin at?
 
It makes me think it might be true but, yeah, it seems like fake news (I mean no proof).
 
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381153
 
It can't possibly be true. If the US were involved, ISIS would have ended up a colossal failure.
 
Global Research?

They've run some good stuff over the years but also outrageous nonsense.

They were a champion of the claim that the phone calls from the doomed on the 9/11 planes were supposedly faked by the US military to fool the relatives, one of the more insulting pieces of 9/11 disinformation.

If they have any shame they should hire some fact checkers.

As for MH17, I'm taking a "wait and see" approach. The official story seems compelling, might be true, might not be.


 
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ready for Warren?

A group called Ready For Warren is trying to prod Elizabeth Warren into running for president.
“We aren’t wealthy or well-connected,” reads a post on the site. “We don’t have any lobbyists. What we are is a movement of individuals working together who believe that folks like us should have a greater say in the direction of our country. We Are Ready for Elizabeth Warren to run for President in 2016. Warren is the backbone that the Democratic Party too often forgets it needs.”
Warren herself does not support the effort and insists that she is not running. Nevertheless, the Atlantic describes Warren's efforts for other candidates in such red states as Kentucky and West Virginia. Her appearances on the campaign trail in these areas prove, to some, that she has a crossover appeal lacking in a certain other Democrat.

Are the Republicans secretly promoting a Warren-Clinton battle? Maybe. See, for example, here.

Of course, to strategists on the right, Warren is simply another horse in a horse race; they can't see her in any other terms. But her ventures into places like West Virginia underline a fundamental political fact which other Democrats would do well to heed: A message of economic populism works. Even a rural southern Baptist will hear out a Massachusetts liberal, if that liberal tells the truth about how the New York elitists rob working folk.

That's the lesson which Elizabeth Warren is trying to teach the Democratic party, and it's not too late for Hillary to take it to heart. Right now, Hillary seems intent on being Obama II -- or, perhaps, Bush IV. She's the insider, as hawkish as a Dem may dare to be, dedicated to the proposition that free trade cures all economic ills. In 2008, the Kos crowd created a False Hillary which stood in contrast to their False Obama. Today, we know what the real Obama is like -- while Hillary seems to have become more like the person she was once wrongly accused of being.

Will she get into the White House that way? I don't think so.

The Republicans obviously want Warren to run because they like the idea of a fractured Democratic electorate. But a fracture could be beneficial, if only because democracy is better served by a lively debate than by a coronation. Warren represents a true change. Does Hillary?
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Comments:
Joseph,

I personally think Elizabeth Warren would make a better POTUS than Hillary Clinton, and would be a much better person to claim the fame of first female ever to be Commander in Chief.

That aside, I was wondering if you could speak, or write on, what you think of the Six Californias movement. So far, the Six Californias proposal has garnered over 800,000 signatories from the home State, California, which it would effect the most. The movement seeks to hold a referendum in 2016 to institute a break-up of California into six new states. One of those proposed States is that of Jefferson, which had its own movement long before the Six Californias one. Apparently, the region that would make up Jefferson (including part of Southern Oregon) is absolutely obsessed with the GOP and has not elected anyone other than a Republican (for any local, regional or other office) in over twenty years.

Would you tell us what you think of the Six Californias proposal and also how popular you know it to actually be in California? Would California benefit if the Republican Party obsessed northern regions were to break from rest of an otherwise Democratic California?
 
Although I am more to the left than most democrats but find myself closer to Hillary than Warren. Something about Warren seems untrue or phoney.
 
If the Republicans win the Senate in 2014, it will be hard times for Obama and the country for the remainder of his term. This could lead to a Republican win of the White House in 2016. Even if the Senate is held be the Democrats we will need a strong Democratic candidate to win in 2016. I fear that if Warren is nominated she will end up like George McGovern in 1972. A person with great liberal ideas but will be unelectable for the voting public.
 
Warren's message is one that Hillary Clinton cannot afford to miss or ignore. Elizabeth Warren's populist message is wildly popular because despite the positive economic news, the stock market pushing through 17,000, the majority of Americans have been left behind. The American middle-class has been squashed and the poor are getting poorer.

Hillary became a better candidate when Obama was biting her during the 2008 campaign. And her message [remember Ohio?] became decidedly populist in nature. She needs to revisit that. Warren will push her there. What a tag team!

Am I surprised the GOP is heady with excitement? Hardly. Rush Limbaugh loved the Obama/Clinton contest, did everything he could to stir things up.

Same old, same old. Because the GOP has nothing.

Peggysue
 
I like Warren's positions but SOS Clinton is the best politician in either party so she is much likely to be able to actually get an agenda implemented by Congress.
 
The only thing close to Hillary's heart is the presidency. Her stance as a populist will be as authentic as Obama's, or Bill's, and we'll get the same results. This is assuming she can somehow convince the left to vote for her and all her baggage and the right not to unite behind their hatred of her. She's a terrible candidate and will be another terrible president.
 
I would like to like Warren, but regarding ME and I/P policy, I'm pretty sure she'd be every bit as bad as Clinton, if not worse.

Phil K

 
The only problem I have with her right now is that she acts like her heart isn't in it. She is different from 2008. She give me the impression like whatever!! That's why I think she isn't running. Too bad for us. My position is that the panic she generates in some powerful quarters at the idea of her presidency speaks volumes
 
I like Elizabeth Warren.
Maybe this will get posted.
 
Hillary is a corporatist tool, just like Bill or Obama. Elizabeth Warren sounds so good, but let's remember she's a multimillionaire, for all her populist talk.
Still, if the Dems want to beat whatever walking abortion the republiCons are going to run, it will have to be Hillary.
Wouldn't it be nice - just for once - to be able to vote for someone who wasn't the lesser of two evil?
 
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Baltimore...?

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is talking about sending the "border children" to Baltimore.

Baltimore...? That's one way to insure that the parents will demand the return of those kids.

Seriously, there are sections of East Baltimore which are nearly uninhabitable. Any kids who live there would probably appreciate it if O'Malley gave them a chance to relocate to Central America.
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Mycroft could solve this one without leaving the Diogenes Club

This fine Salon piece leaves out the most important part. Rule 1: When constructing a covert op, always supply a conspiracy theory which blames your dirty work on your opponent. That's why an Oswald imposter called the Soviet embassy in Mexico City and asked to speak to someone who was reputedly a KGB assassin.

Re-examine the Clinton, Inc. case while keeping Rule 1 in mind. Obvious, innit?
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Comments:
I don't get it
 
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Are you being raped by globalization or by nationalism?

Lobster has already placed much of its Winter issue online, including this observation from editor Robin Ramsey:
If globalisation has failed, then we return to the nation state. Do you see anyone on the left thinking about this? I don’t. And no wonder: nation segues into nationalism, and this is the territory of the right and far right. So there’s the big necessary project: how to detoxify the notion of the nation state and make it acceptable to the left.
Ramsey is quoting himself here. The words I've presented above originally appeared in an excellent interview he gave in 2012.

Let's give a little more thought to the problem of whether globalization stands outside the traditional concepts of right and left. I'm old enough to recall a time when terms like "global" and "international" had Marxist overtones. Marx was among the 19th century radicals who favored a world bereft of national boundaries. That was yesterday's utopia.

We now live in a world in which boundaries decay. Yet the people who stride across those boundaries are hardly Marxists, are they?

As Ramsay noted in the above-referenced interview:
It’s clear that all over Europe (i.e. EU Europe), bar the Czech Republic, the ideology of pre-WW2 classical liberalism is the prevailing view; and quite a few ex-members of Goldman Sachs have been parachuted into positions at or close to the top of EU members governments – Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, France and Greece – to make sure there is no default on Goldman Sachs loans.
So we now have an international economic elite which salutes no flag and which operates high above the concept of the nation-state. But this elite is not an entity that Marx would have cared for. No lefty on earth thinks of Lloyd Blankfein as "our guy."

(Granted, there are some far-right savants who would argue that Goldman Sachs -- and everything it represents -- should be categorized as a left-wing phenomenon. The Wall Streeters are actually bolshies: This was the position of Cleon Skousen, the kook who inspired Glenn Beck. The folks who think this way are impossible to take seriously, yet their weird ideas retain a certain popular appeal.) 

So the question stands. If you are a liberal, and you don't like what globalization has wrought, are you now a flag-waving nationalist?

Let's make the argument a little more specific. Let's talk about China.

When we mention globalization, most of us immediately think of China. We think of the manufacturing jobs we've lost to cheap Chinese imports.

But the problem of China may be also be construed as a problem of nationalism. Not globalization.

Yesterday, I heard a National Public Radio interview with Beth Macy, author of Factory Man, a book about globalization and its impact on the American furniture trade. Although I've not yet read the book, the story that Macy tells in that interview is lot more riveting than you might think. (This reviewer wittily calls her work "A Game of Chairs.")

From a piece by Macy which recently appeared in The New Yorker:
In the mid-twentieth century, Bassett Furniture Industries, in Bassett, Virginia, was one of the largest wood-furniture makers in the world. Its name was the one often inscribed on the back of the bedroom suites behind Door Number Three on “Let’s Make a Deal.” The Baby Boom was on, and people needed to furnish the homes they were buying in the suburbs.
Then, in recent decades, came a familiar challenge: Bassett was undercut by imports from Asia and under pressure from shareholders to improve its profit margins. By 2007, it had closed all the plants in Bassett and decided to focus on importing wood products from lower-wage factories in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
An American company that once employed ten thousand people has reduced its workforce by 90 percent. Question: Were the displaced workers victims of globalization -- or of nationalism?

Most people would say: "Globalization. It's obvious." But look closer.

One spin-off of the former Bassett furniture empire was the Vaughan-Bassett factory, run by John Bassett III. (The family dynamics are interesting but have no bearing on our present argument.) In her interview, Macy tells an important story about the Bassett scion, who was particularly perturbed by a Chinese copy of one of his own pieces -- a bedroom set, if I recall correctly.

How (he asked himself) could the Chinese sell the thing for such a ludicrously low price?

Most people would immediately say "low wages," but even taking that factor into account did not suffice to explain the mystery. Bassett investigated. He sent people into China to look into the situation.

Turns out the Chinese government has been subsidizing the factory -- taking a loss on each item sold in order to destroy the American competition.

At this point, you may now want to fire up Ebay. The ultra-low prices on many of those goods suddenly look rather suspicious, don't they?

This revelation forces us to confront some key questions:

1. Should we continue to use the term "globalization" to describe what China has been getting up to? Maybe it would be better to see their strategy as a form of economic warfare. Nation against nation. Nationalism.

2. As Robin Ramsay says, "the ideology of pre-WW2 classical liberalism is the prevailing view." Neo-liberal ideology assures us that laissez-faire will always win; that capitalism will always make a bedroom set much more efficiently than a state-run enterprise ever could. All right. If that's the case, then why are we being clobbered by state-subsidized Chinese enterprises? China is still officially communist. And they're killing us.

3. How can American industry be protected if not by state action -- by import tarriffs, by investment in domestic industry? (That's more or less how things worked throughout those prosperous few decades after World War II.) The right would decry such a system as "socialism," while the left would decry it as "crony capitalism."

4. If you are a liberal who thinks that state action is preferable to letting China rape us, aren't you now a nationalist? (This question brings us back to the point Ramsay made at the beginning of our essay.)

5. Since this conundrum does not easily rest on the traditional left-right ideological spectrum, the time has come to ask: Has that spectrum failed us? Have the very labels "left" and "right" prevented us from seeing what is really going on in the world?
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Comments:
Surely bolshies, or State Capitalists in Orwell's words, are really wallstreeters, given the time Trotsky spent as a catamite of capitalism, as memorably recounted in Mitchell-Hedges' "Danger, My Ally". And, I suppose, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.

On the fascinating subject of the manufacturing of office furnitures, most American office furniture, if memory serves, is made by inmates of prisons. American prisons. Slave labour harms the paid workforce by undercutting their labour. Of course they also get government subsidised housing and food, the scrounging scum.

The problem isn't the Chinese nationalism, it's the American globalism. If America put tariffs on subsidised goods this wouldn't happen.

American use of the terms "left and right" has been neutered for years. Hence the use of left for the likes of Clinton and company. What do they want to nationalise?

 
[1 of 3]

Slightly OT, but Bassett, Virginia, is not very far from my hometown. Danville is a textbook example of, well, a number of things. For over a century, the city was dominated by what came to be known as Dan River Mills, at one point the largest textile company in the South.

In the 1920s (as Riverside Cotton Mills), it was a leader in the experiment known as "Industrial Democracy," in which a workers' House of Representatives passed legislation to address grievances. When the rubber hit the road, though, after the Stock Market Crash, Industrial Democracy was abandoned, and Riverside became better known as place where labor lost a significant battle following the collapse of the 1930 United Textile Workers strike.

Next, the mill almost became a textbook example of A Company Shuttered by the Great Depression, but managed to stagger on long enough to become an example of A Company That Flourished Thanks to World War II. A similar stumble during the Recession of 1949 was followed by a similar recovery fueled by the Korean War.

The Baby Boom years were, understandably, a good time for manufacturers of household textiles. Dan River Mills became a textbook example of the country's post-war industrial success. It expanded both horizontally and vertically, buying out other mills across the South; moving into such complimentary lines of production as carpeting, lingerie, and hosiery; and expanding its chemical division in step with its increasing involvement in synthetic fibers and permanent-press cloth.

The company wasn't just buying out the competition, though; it was also expanding and upgrading what it owned. Between 1966 and 1980, Dan River invested over $300 million in new machinery. It did so wisely, it seemed: Exports rose 40%, and in 1980 the company reported earning of $19.6 million on sales of $607 million. Dividends were increased the fifth year in a row...

...very little of which remained locally. One thing lost during the years of growth and expansion was some of the company's regional focus and identity. At the end of the War, nearly 90% of Dan River stock was locally held; in 1979, less than 19% was, while nearly half was owned by investors and institutions out of New York. This helped make the company a prime candidate for its next exemplary appearance: As a textbook example of the havoc and destruction wrought by the corporate raids of the 1970s and '80s.

[cont.]
 
[2 of 3]

n this case, the raider was Carl Icahn, who began buying up Dan River shares in 1982, eventually owning 29% of its common stock. The company fought back in court, claiming violations of the RICO act, saying Icahn had acquired its stock with "proceeds derived through prior acts of extortion, mail fraud and securities fraud." After the courts refused to allow the use of RICO, the company went for the nuclear option, creating a separate, employee-owned corporation to purchase the outstanding shares. To fund the deal, Dan River tapped the employee pension plan, sold off corporate assets, and, using the remaining assets as collateral, borrowed $150 million. This put the company's debt-to-equity ratio at 125% -- effectively ending its ability to do much more than survive. In the end, Icahn earned some bad press -- and $8.5 million -- while two out of three Dan River employees managed to hang onto their jobs at least a little while longer.

The particularly fortunate ones still had them in 1989, when, after seven years of crawling along beneath its crushing load of debt, the company was purchased by a trio of businessmen with experience in textiles. While I'm not certain if Dan River was a textbook case of anything at the time, by 1996 it had been named a "model mill" by Textile World magazine. Under the "visionary leadership" of the new owners, the company had modernized, investing heavily in capital, acquiring other milling companies, and branching out into new lines. With annual revenue again topping a half-billion dollars, in late 1997 Dan River re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

---just in time for the collapse of the U.S. textile industry. In 1994, the U.S. signed both the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and NAFTA. The former phased out most import restrictions on fabric and clothing over a ten-year period beginning in 1995. The domestic textile industry was already beginning to feel the impact of increased competition from foreign manufacturers when the dot-com collapse and early-2000s recession pounded the final nails into the coffin. Dan River's largest customer, K-Mart, filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2002, leaving them with $5 million in bad debt. Two years later, Dan River stock was delisted from the NYSE; two months later, Dan River itself filed for Chapter 11. After several more years of plant closures and sell-offs, in January 2006 what remained of Dan River was purchased by India's Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Limited for $93 million -- $17 million in cash plus assumption of $76 million in debt. At the end of the year, Dan River existed as a brand name only: a textbook example of a company -- and an industry -- that fell victim to globalization.

The huge red-brick mills that once loomed [no pun intended] over Schoolfield, Dan River's wholly-owned company town (annexed by Danville in 1951) loom no more, taken apart brick-by-brick to feed the monied class's appetite for antique building materials and old-growth timber. Meanwhile, Mill No. 8, the iconic 'White Mill' built in 1921 on the banks of the Dan, now stands as a textbook example of what as far as I can tell is the only industry still thriving in the city: Spending Other People's Money on hapless, ill-considered projects based on the insincere claim doing so will lure modern industry to the region.

[cont.]
 
[3 of 3]

Or maybe it's not insincere; perhaps it's just misguided. While the White Mill still stands empty, five years after the project was announced to much fanfare, perhaps the biggest surprise is how little OPM was spent -- perhaps due to the grantors' having taken the unusual step of tying payout to performance. Of course, the developers were able to purchase the massive, 650,000-square-foot plant -- shown here on a vintage souvenir postcard -- for around the same amount as the most recent selling price of the house where I first lived after moving to San Francisco. And the market for antique brick is far from saturated....

To get back to furniture, though, one company that didn't have any problem accepting incentives was Ikea, who opened their first U.S. factory in Danville. It got off to a rocky start, with complaints of unfair practices and discrimination; when employees started organizing for union representation, the company added 'union-busting' to the list of complaints. One of its biggest problems, though, is that Ikea employees elsewhere see the Danville plant as an example of outsourcing production to a country that lower wages, fewer benefits, and lax worker protections makes unfairly competitive. According to a 2011 L.A. Times article, Ikea's European employees enjoyed a minimum wage of around $19 an hour, with a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. In comparison, full-time employees in Danville started at $8 an hour, with twelve vacation days -- eight of which were on dates set by the company. And that only applied to the full-time work force; the one-third of employees hired through temporary-staffing agencies were paid even less and received no benefits.

Late last year, two Chinese-based furniture manufacturers also announced plans to open manufacturing centers in Danville, for a total of 400 jobs within three years. Danville is also home to a call center operated by Telvista, a Texas-based company that got its start by routing customer service calls to lower-paid representatives working in Mexico.

I'm working on suggestions for new slogans for the Danville Chamber of Commerce. What do you think?

Outsourcing™: Buy American
Artisanal outsourcing from local providers
 
Is this, perhaps, an example of The Horseshoe Theory (I see it more as a complete circle myself)
Wiki:
The horseshoe theory in political science asserts that rather than the far left and the far right being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, they in fact closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe. The theory is attributed to French writer Jean-Pierre Faye.
In University of Reading academic Peter Barker's book, GDR and Its History, Peter Thompson of the University of Sheffield observes that the theory is "increasingly orthodox," and describes the theory as seeing "left and right-wing parties being closer to each other than the centre."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory
 
Great post. There are no meaningful differences between the two major parties anymore--both have been infiltrated by the poison of neoliberalism. Obama's election was proof of that. He has been a disaster of monumental proportions, with his education policies the worst of all. They are right out of the neoliberal playbook. He is literally bought and paid for by the despicable Bill Gates and his mob. Gates is arguably more dangerous than even the Kochs, but the billionaire or near-billionaire class is pretty much all the same.

There are no "left-right" divisions, no "Democratic-Republican" divisions, no "conservative-liberal" divisions anymore. It's the tiny handful of filthy rich who have waged an unrelenting class war on everybody else. They have done this through literally buying off politicians to do their bidding. People have been duped to think somebody with a "D" after his or her name means they care about them. They don't.
 
Thanks for the kind words, Susan, but I'm not sure that the piece I wrote is what you read. I did not write a piece saying that there are no differences between the parties, and I did not intend to write yet another anti-Obama diatribe. (This blog has already published plenty of those.)

The purpose of this piece was announced in its opening. What IS globalization? From China's perspective, what we call globalization is really nationalism, since they are using governmental power to put their country ahead of us.

It used to be that "global" was a word associated with the left -- as in "Think globally; act locally." The far right routinely accused guys like me of being "globalists."

Yet the truth is, I always thought of myself as an American. No more, no less, for good or for ill.

So now the left has decided that globalization is dangerous. Are we now nationalists? Do we feel comfortable embracing that label?

The sad fact is, we simply don't have any philosophical writings to function as a guideline. Everyone like to point to this or that political philosopher of the 19th century. But nothing written then quite prepares us for where we are now.

THAT is what I was trying to get across.


 
This is important, Joseph, and you are correct; our terminology is obsolete and no longer fits. When bankers take control of the "governments" of several countries, what kind of governments are they, and whom do they serve? Corporatism might be a useful term, although Mussolini defined fascism as corporatism, but let's skip that.
When billionaire oligarchs move their industrial operations from the US to Bangladesh or Vietnam in a quest for the lowest possible wages with the least possible benefits, are they being globalists, or are they just driven by boundless greed with no social conscience whatsoever? When a country like the US blows up the infrastructure of other countries in order to loot their resources, install a new "government", sell them new weapons systems, and have the infrastructure rebuilt by US corporations, and have it all done on credit issued by international banks centered in New York, is that globalism or nationalism? I'm not sure if either term applies. Perhaps "parasitism" fits better. We seem to have entered a world consisting of the 1% and those who serve them and everyone else, and we have no terminology for this transition. The parasites seem intent on either eating or controlling everything on the planet while leaving nothing for the other 99%.
 
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Hillary, Maureen Dowd, Glenn Beck -- and DIME bombs

As you know, I have problems with Hillary Clinton -- at least in her current incarnation.

In fact, fellow blogger Riverdaughter recently castigated me as a "subtle" sexist because I won't blind myself to the Hillary's latter-day segue toward neoconservatism and free market fundamentalism. Apparently, one must not sully an emotionally satisfying narrative with a discussion of mere policy. In a show of sisterly solidarity against the Penismonster battalions (which apparently include yours truly), another of RD's commenters decided to publish the entire lyrics to I Am Woman.

Despite this recitation of the Gospel According to Helen Reddy, I still cannot ignore Hillary's rightward lurch. Nevertheless, another female writer has reminded me of the virtues of House Clinton. That writer, of course, is Maureen Dowd.

When MoDo attacks someone, my sympathies always go to her target. If she were to speak against Charles Manson, my automatic response would be to list his good qualities (presuming I could think of any). 

MoDo's main target is actually Chelsea Clinton, whom she attacks for...well, for being a Clinton. MoDo congratulates herself and her fellow pundits for not going after Chelsea when she was a kid. All very civilized. Of course, now that the girl is a woman, one may toss hatchets at her freely.
So it’s strange to see her acting out in a sense now, joining her parents in cashing in to help feed the rapacious, gaping maw of Clinton Inc.

With her 1 percenter mother under fire for disingenuously calling herself “dead broke” when she left the White House, why would Chelsea want to open herself up to criticism that she is gobbling whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life?
First, that "dead broke" remark was quite accurate; the Clintons were in debt due to legal bills over Whitewater. Remember Whitewater? It was a steaming vat of bullshit whose bullshittiness was apparent to everyone except nitwits like MoDo.

Second, to describe what MoDo has done here, we need a new word -- one that combines the concepts of irony and hypocrisy. (Hypocrony? Irocrisy?) "Whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life"? Why, those exact words could serve as Maureen Dowd's epitaph, or perhaps as the subtitle to her autobiography.

Dowd gets paid to speak too. Although MoDo probably doesn't fetch the price that Chelsea gets, that's a matter decided by the free market, the workings of which have never bothered MoDo before. (I'm always amused by right-wing writers who turn Marxist when they contemplate the earnings of the Clintons or Al Gore or Michael Moore.) Question: If MoDo were to be offered a Clintonian-sized speaker's fee, would she donate the proceeds to charity?

Let me mention Riverdaughter again. Years ago, I used to hector her to write a book, because it bugged me that such a gifted writer would work for free while lesser talents got paid well for their scribblings. The "lesser talent" that came first to my mind was none other than Maureen Dowd.

Remember, MoDo is the same woman who once said that "Al Gore is so feminized that he's practically lactating." She also berated John Edwards for being insufficiently masculine -- a bizarre claim, given what we now know about him. If MoDo did not have female genitalia, everyone would see her as the most unsubtle sexist operating in the mainstream media.

Refugee Children. I've had recent disagreements with another blogger I came to respect deeply during the 2008 campaign. Dakinikat runs a (mostly) great site which she has sullied by publishing a lot of ignorant crap about Ed Snowden and the NSA scandal. Today, however, she published a superb compendium of information about the crisis of Central American refugee children in this country.

I didn't know that Glenn Beck, of all people, has shown surprising humanity on this issue:
Glenn Beck says he has come under fierce attack from some of his fellow conservatives for a grave transgression.

His crime? He announced plans to bring food, water, teddy bears and soccer balls to at least some of the tens of thousands of Central American children who have crossed the border into the United States.

“Through no fault of their own, they are caught in political crossfire,” Beck said. “Anyone, left or right, seeking political gain at the expense of these desperate, vulnerable, poor and suffering people are reprehensible.”

Beck, not averse to a certain grandiosity, let us know that “I’ve never taken a position more deadly to my career than this.” But assume he’s right — and he may well be. It’s one more sign of how the crisis at our border has brought out the very worst in our political system and a degree of plain nastiness that we should not be proud of as a nation.
I will be damned. Glenn freakin' Beck.

Welcome back to the real world, buddy! You were saying some mighty strange things when you were having those fever dreams...

Maybe there's hope for other denizens of the conspiratard subculture. Maybe they can get their noses out of the collected works of Cleon Skousen long enough to see the actual problems of this bleeding world.

DIME. The atrocities in Gaza will be discussed at greater length soon, but right now, let's look at the latest weapon in the Israeli arsenal (and the US aresenal): DIME bombs. DIME stands for Dense Inert Metal Explosives. Basically, it's a kind of chemical weapon.

Remember how, not long ago, we were all supposed to be outraged at Bashar al-Assad for his supposed use of chemical weapons?

The above link goes to a 2006 report by James Brooks regrding a previous attack on Gaza.
DIME bombs produce an unusually powerful blast within a relatively small area, spraying a superheated “micro-shrapnel” of powdered Heavy Metal Tungsten Alloy (HMTA). Scientific studies have found that HMTA is chemically toxic, damages the immune system, rapidly causes cancer, and attacks DNA (genotoxic).[6-13] It is unfortunate that the US media have virtually blacked out the story of Israel’s new weapon, not least because our own military may soon be using it in Iraq and Afghanistan. The story might also have told us something about the grossly disproportionate brutality of Israel’s war on the Palestinian people—reason enough for the media to suppress it.
“There were usually entry and exit wounds,” Dr. Al-Saqqa reported. “When the wounds were explored no foreign material was found. There was tissue death, the extent of which was difficult to determine. A higher deep infection rate resulted with subsequent amputation. In spite of amputation there was a higher mortality.” The effects of the weapon seemed “radioactive”. [16][17]

According to Palestine News Network, Dr. Al-Saqqa “confirmed that there were dozens of wounded legs and arms. Many of them had been burned from the inside, and distorted to the point that they cannot return to life again.” [18]

“When the shrapnel hit[s] the body, it causes very strong burns that destroy the tissues
around the bones…it burns and destroys internal organs, like the liver, kidneys, and the spleen and other organs and makes saving the wounded almost impossible. As a surgeon, I have seen thousands of wounds during the Intifada, but nothing was like this weapon.”
These cancer-inducing chemical weapons are being used again in the latest attacks:
Dr. Erik Fosse told Press TV that the majority of patients hospitalized in Gaza are civilians injured in attacks on their homes and about thirty percent of them are children.

Dense Inert Metal Explosive, known as DIME, is an explosive device developed to minimize collateral damage in warfare.

Experts say it has a relatively small but effective blast radius and is believed to have strong biological effects on those who are hit by the bomb’s micro-shrapnel.

Fosse, a department head at a university hospital in Oslo, also says some Palestinian in the besieged enclave have been wounded by a new type of weapon that even doctors with previous experience in war zones do not recognize.

Israel also used depleted-uranium and white phosphorus shells in the besieged region during their previous assaults.
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How do you know MoDo the Dodo sports female genitalia?

Have you seen her nekkid?

If yes, I pity you. ^__^
 
Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler has been covering (for weeks now) what he is calling a jihad against Hillary Clinton over her "troubling wealth" and "inexcusable gaffes" while on her book tour. It all sounds like a concerted effort to ensure that no candidate that the village deems unsuitable will stand a prayer in 2016.
 
"Hillary's rightward lurch"

Would that rightward Lurch be Kerry?

Also, "Penismonster" would be a great name for a heavy metal band.
 
I support Hillary because I loathe her enemies from both sides
 
who makes Dense Inert Metal Explosives? why is israel using them, other then to inflict collective punishment on innocent people, all with the tacet approval of the usa too.. what a fucked up world we live in.. okay, i understand it is easier to talk about the bozo modo, or clinton.. what was i thinking?
james
 
I wanted to link to your coverage of dime bombs but all the non-related material above it makes it pointless, no?

If ever you needed to separate one article into two, this would be it.
 
You may be right, Alessandro. There are advantages and disadvantages to the "news round-up" approach.
 
"I wanted to link to your coverage of dime bombs but all the non-related material above it makes it pointless, no? If ever you needed to separate one article into two, this would be it."

Won't be linking to your coverage of dime bombs for the same reason.
 
I think the compromise position is that I had not heard of DIME bombs before your article so placing it in the bottom half of your article would confuse the heck out of anyone visits your site via a link.
 

Hillary has had ties to the toxic waste incineration industry. She was on the board of LaFarge cement when they shifted from burning natural gas to burning hazardous wastes (most of the ultra toxic byproducts wind up in the cement). She also did legal work for the notorious Waste Technologies Industries incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio when Bill was Governor of Arkansas and a primary investor in WTI was Jackson Stephens, a leading donor to the Clinton machine.

I also don't support board members of Wal-Mart (which Hillary was on before Bill became President).

I won't be "voting" for her and hope she goes into retirement instead of the White House.

www.oilempire.us/wti.html

www.oilempire.us/cement.html

 
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fraud

From the NYT:
After nearly 12 hours of often tense negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday that Afghanistan would audit all eight million votes cast in a runoff presidential election last month as part of a deal to end a tense power struggle between the top two candidates.

The audit, intended to resolve allegations of widespread fraud, is to begin almost immediately, he said, and will be supervised by international monitors.
The Secretary of State deserves hearty congratulations for reducing tensions in Afghanistan. But this whole scenario -- auditing votes, international monitors, countering allegations of fraud -- reminds me of something that happened on the domestic front. Remember? It happened in Ohio, although not just in Ohio. It hit us around ten years ago, if memory serves...

I'm talking, of course, about a horror movie that we all lived through -- 2004: A Fraud Odyssey.

Remember that one, Mr. Kerry?

A peculiarly American arrogance makes us think that fraud is possible there but not here. In 2009, CIA cyber expert Steve Stigall offered important (and overlooked) testimony about current capabilities:
Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that Congress created in 2002 to modernize U.S. voting, that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results.

"You heard the old adage 'follow the money,' " Stigall said, according to a transcript of his hour-long presentation that McClatchy obtained. "I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."
So, yeah. Auditing. Fine idea. Love it.

But: As this humble blogger and many others tried very hard to point out after the 2004 debacle, paper-free all-electronic vote systems make auditing impossible.

Maybe one of these days Kerry will address that issue -- because the only thing that makes an audit possible in today's Afghanistan is that country's lack of electronic voting machines.
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Comments:
But where's the profit in paper?
 
Ten years ago both Popular Mechanics and Popular Science ran front-page articles about the dangers of electronic voting. John Kerry and John Edwards had acknowledged that 2 million votes of African-Americans are lost in every national election, and they had promised that they would see every vote counted.

Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer had co-authored a bill to outlaw the electronic voting machines, and when it got stuck in committee neither one of them raised a peep, nor did either one make any insinuation that the vote counts from electronic machines were inherently dishonest. Boxer did support the historic delay of the recognition of the Ohio Electors for a few hours in 2005, she made a pretty speech, the election got an historical asterisk, but that was the end of it. Neither round-heels Boxer nor round-heels Hillary reintroduced the bill to ban the electronic voting machines.

After promising that he would see every vote counted, no-toes Kerry
conceded the Ohio election within a couple of days, and did not participate in the Ohio recount, which was financed jointly by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.

This was where I came in, giving up plans to emigrate to Vancouver, BC when I realized that my country was in deep kimchee, devoting ten years to full time activism and going deeply into debt and accomplishing nothing except maybe making things a teeny tiny bit less worse.

After No-Toes Kerry caved on the Ohio election, his service to Somebody was rewarded with his appointment to the office of Sec'y of State. His dishonor was imposed on all of us who cared. I will not vote for any Democrat until the party acknowledges that their round-heels and no-toes behavior has royally screwed us all.
 
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Obama and torture

The American people voted for Barack Obama in 2008 in the hopes that he would stop torture, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, renegotiate NAFTA and punish the Wall Streeters who brought the world into crisis. What happened? None of the gods of Wall Street saw a jail from the inside, Clinton and Kerry zoomed around the world to drum up more free trade agreements, the Iraq madness continued for years (and now the wound threatens to re-open), the pointless American venture in Afghanistan lingers...

...and then there's torture.

Most people think that Obama put an end to the practice. He may have let us down on every other front, but by God, he did that.

Sorry. Torture continues. Obama just found a way to be sneaky about it. From today's Salon:
The president’s executive order directed the CIA to close its detention centers “as expeditiously as possible” and not to open any new ones. No such orders were given, however, to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a clandestine force composed of elite fighters from several branches of the U.S. armed forces. JSOC had run its own secret detention centers in Iraq. At Camp Nama, interrogations took place in the ominously named “Black Room.” According to the New York Times, the camp’s chilling motto was “no blood, no foul.” JSOC is presently deployed on several continents, including Africa, where gathering “intelligence” forms an important part of its duties.
To be fair, the New York Times piece cited above was published in 2006, so it tells us nothing about what JSOC is up to nowadays. (For an updated version of that story, with more grisly details, see here.) The principle, however, is sound: Obama restrained the Agency, but he did not restrain the special forces. But the distinction is absurd, especially when we consider how many Agency guys have worn military uniforms over the past five or six decades. (The CIA largely oversaw what Task Force 6-26 did at Camp Nama.)

Obama's executive order against torture contains a clause which was not widely understood -- a clause which says that no prisoner shall be subjected to techniques not "authorized" by Army Field Manual 2 22.3. True, the Manual does not allow waterboarding, but it does permit other methods which many would categorize as torture. For more, see here.

In Afghanistan, the dirtiest of the dirty work is often done by a unit called Task Force 373, which has been called a "death squad." (I suspect that members of the team might cheerily agree with that assessment, but only when speaking in private.) Here's their resume. In 2010, Wikileaks released a trove of documents, supposedly supplied by Bradley/Chelsea Manning, regarding their activities, including the wretched treatment of prisoners at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (now called the Parwan Detention Facility).

So what happened? The Obama administration imprisoned Manning and subjected him (now her) to treatment that many consider torturous.

Meanwhile, the Bush-era abuses at BTIF/Parwan continue under Obama. The Red Cross confirms the existence of a separate facility some call "the Black Jail" (or to use the local term, "the Tor Jail.")
In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called "Tor Jail".

They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night.

The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.

In response to these allegations, Vice Adm Robert Harward, in charge of US detentions in Afghanistan, denied the existence of such a facility or abuses.
Harward's denial is grimly amusing. There is, in fact, no doubt of the Black Jail's existence.
Although U.S. President Barack Obama signed an order to eliminate black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January 2009,[5] that order did not apply to the black jail.[2] However, in August, the Obama administration restricted the time that detainees could be held at the secret jail, and another like it at Balad Air Base in Iraq, to two weeks.[2] Human rights organisations are concerned that the jail remains inaccessible both to the Red Cross and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
I'd like to ask Vice Admiral Harward one simple question: If there are no abuses, then why not allow the Red Cross in?

Gitmo prisoner Imad Abdullah Hassan began a hunger strike during the Bush years. He was subjected to torture, which did not cease under Obama. Hassan was force-fed through his nostrils, a process he has described as unbearably painful:
At Gitmo, they began to use tubes that were too big for Hassan's nostrils.
* Rather than leaving them in place, they would insert and remove them twice a day.
* Prisoners were force-fed in what Hassan called "the Torture Chair." Hands, legs, waist, shoulders and head were strapped down tightly. The men were also force-fed constipation drugs, causing them to defecate on themselves as they sat in the chair being fed. "People with hemorrhoids would leave blood on the chair and the linens would not always be changed before the next feeding." They'd be strapped down amid the shit and blood for up to two hours at a time.
* But quicker wasn't always better. That's because Gitmo staff started force-feeding much more liquid into the prisoners. Sometimes they sped up the process, leaving the amount of liquid constant. "If Mr. Hassan vomited on himself at any time during the procedure, what he terms 'the atrocity' would start all over again." Severe gastric pain was common.
* "Early on in this new and more abusive phase ... authorities took Mr. Hassan and two others to another block so that others would see what was being done to them. This was obviously done as a deterrent to scare others into not hunger striking."
Finally, there is the continuing scandal of rendition flights. During Obama's first year in office, the New York Times reported rendition would go on -- albeit with "better oversight":
The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.
The lie here is transparent. If the prisoners are not to be tortured, then why fly them to other countries in the first place?

(This question seems very obvious, yet few bothered to ask it back in 2009. This fact tells us much about our capacity for self-deception at the time.)

By the way: Just who is going to double-check the administration's efforts at "monitoring" treatment of prisoners at these rendition facilities? By this point, are you inclined to take this administration's word -- on anything?

Unfortunately, we don't have an opposition party in this country willing to investigate this president's real wrongdoings. Instead, the Republican party remains fixated on hallucinations, such as their bizarre Benghazi narrative. They can't score Obama on torture because everyone knows that, if the GOP wins in 2016, America's policies will revert to "Bush normal."
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Comments:
A related issue is that the 9/11 Commission's reliance for its information about al Qaeda upon CIA transcripts of interrogation sessions that amounts to mere hearsay. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is alleged to have been waterboarded 183 times in the extraction of his testimony---but, a truther friend points out, since news reports in the years after 9/11 claim that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was killed we have no way of knowing whether the underlying testimony exists at all, let alone that the transcripts were honest.
 
Ethics are about prioritizing values. Given that torture is wrong, is it acceptable to be used if the alternative was the murder of innocents. The problem is that torture simply doesn't work, it is not about acquiring information rather it is about vengeance. Everything I have read convinces me that there better ways to get intelligence. Torture not only doesn't get good information, it gets bad information since those tortured will say what they think the torturers want to hear, thus sending them on a wild goose chase. Which brings me to the last post, I understand the dangers of domestic spying. On the other hand, there are people who want to blow us up. I think it is important to find them and stop them from doing that. In addition, there are true thugs who are committing terrible things of the usual criminal variety. The issue is who will have access to the information gathered and how that information will be used. I think that rather than simply bemoan the availability of law enforcement tools, we should focus on proper rules for their use.
 
"Ethics are about prioritizing values." The Nazis also sought to prioritize values. Some races and religions were valuable; others not so much. Some needed to be preserved and enhanced, and those who were further down the totem pole were only suitable for fertilizer. If you don't believe that all human life has equal value, then how are you different from them?
"..there are people who want to blow us up." Yes, and sometimes they are members of our own government, or of governments allied with ours. "There are true thugs who are committing terrible things of the usual criminal variety." Yes there are. The current ethnic cleansing under way in Gaza is a good example. So is the genocide of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. Unfortunately, the US government supports both of those criminal operations.
By condoning and continuing torture, a truly evil practice, how does Obama differ from those who held final responsibility over the torturers of the Gestapo? The people who were held up to me as a child as being the worst criminals on the face of the earth are now the type of people who control the government of my country. I know now what Sgt. Bergdahl meant when he said that what his country had become was sickening to him (paraphrasing).
 
I think we know this on a more visceral level. We know if Snowden had been on the Bolivian president's plane he would have been seized and served up for rendition - read torture. No one believes torture has stopped. Look at what they are doing to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Shot him up while unarmed, almost killed him (killed his brother) disfigured him, have held him in solitary since April of 2013 so the world knows torture is continuing. We don't need a blast of endless information. Information is not knowing (Foucault).
 
I'm not at all disappointed by Biden and that other guy. It was obvious they would be another Military Industrial Complex administration. I am disappointed by the liberals who voted for these guys and now express shock (but are preparing to do the whole thing again by voting for Hillary Clinton).

Obama's first job after Columbia college was for Business International, a company outed by the New York Times in 1977 as a CIA front. Obama also had nuclear war strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski as his mentor at Columbia. He was strongly pro-nuclear power, backed by nuke utility Exelon in Chicago. Biden's 2007 Presidential campaign was solely focused on the desire to break up Iraq into three new countries, using ethnic fault lines to control the oil.

It seems obvious the real power is not the Presidency. The last President who tried to carve out independence from the military and "intelligence" agencies was Kennedy and we all know how that ended.

 
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