Friday, 30 August 2019

US space cadets are GO! (but awaiting Congressional approval)

Today, President Trump and Vice President Pence announced the return of the US Space Command -- a Cold War-era division of the Air Force that's been on a 17-year hiatus. The revival of the US Space Command is meant to "ensure the protection of America's interests in space," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference Wednesday. But it could be confused with Space Force -- the sixth branch of the military that Trump hopes to create -- or the existing Air Force Space Command, which focuses on Air Force operations in space.

"The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we," Trump said at an event today. "Now, those who wish to harm the United States, who seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space, it's going to be a whole different ballgame."

The revived Space Command was first established by the Air Force in 1985, NPR reports. As the Cold War was heating up, it was meant to coordinate missile defense and surveillance efforts. But by 2002, military focus had shifted to terrorism, and Space Command was merged into the unified Strategic Command. It was refocussed to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Last year, Trump ordered the Pentagon to separate Space Command from Strategic Command and create a stand-alone entity for "space-related responsibilities." That would include defending American satellites, supporting troops from orbit and planning future space combat. Trump has also called for a space-related sixth branch of the military to be created, but that will require Congressional approval. In the meantime, reviving Space Command could allow the Oval Office to establish leadership structures and coordinate missions, so it will be ready if and when Space Force gets the green light.


Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Struggle For Our Future

Part I—Attacking the Progressive Past

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2019 occurred under different circumstances, and yet they are very similar in their results. They both put an authoritarian figure in power through democratic electoral procedures. As well, both of these figures, like so many modern reactionary leaders before them, denigrate the recent past. Why do they do so?

In the case of Donald Trump, the past he despises is the 1960s, with its progressive civil rights legislation. The laws passed at this time pushed the white supremacy model out of the public realm. Trump. in practice, has proven to be a white supremacist and an extreme nationalist. Most of his “core” voting base adheres to these ideas as well. This worldview demands that he undo— through presidential orders and future decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court—the progress toward equalitarianism and a multicultural society symbolized by the election of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. Trump also wants to “Make America Great Again” by acting on the basis of national power alone—thus destroying along the way any number of alliances and treaties enshrining human rights and progressive international law.

Of course, these ambitions alone are not exactly why he was elected. Trump’s racist “core” is too small to have elected him by themselves. He was elected because too many Americans did not want to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016—whom they saw as a status quo candidate—and Trump was the GOP alternative. It may well be that a good number of the electorate who voted for Trump had no idea of what sort of person they were supporting. By now they should have no doubt.

In the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, the story is an even odder one. The past that Netanyahu rejects is the one designed after World War II to criminalize behaviors such as the waging of aggressive war, genocide, and apartheid. Some of these behaviors had for centuries threatened European Jews. Netanyahu, and those who voted for him, no longer identify with the suffering of their European ancestors. Israel is now a strong, aggressive, land-hungry power much like 19th century Russia and Germany. Many Israeli Jews are also, like Donald Trump’s core supporters, ethnic racists and supremacists.

Netanyahu’s problem is that the post-World War II international laws and treaties seeking to prevent aggressive nationalism, racism, and the oppression of minorities now stand in the way of Israeli ambitions. So, oddly, the only way Israel can realize its Zionist ambitions while also being seen as a “normal” country—one that is in tune with the international community— is by changing international norms. That is, Isreal now seeks to undermine the progressive international environment that was, in good part, designed to protect the remnants of European Jews. And it would seem, many of those who voted for Netanyahu knew exactly what sort of society they were endorsing.

Trump and Netanyahu both stand against minority members of their societies, and through such postures rally a dangerous core base. They are not alone. The nations of the world are increasingly led by reactionary “thugs in suits,” many of them popularly elected. They are all Pied Pipers leading their populations backward—resurrecting the

pre-progressive “past in present tense.” Their destination is an environment that, historically, we have enough negative experience to want to avoid. Yet we follow these leaders anyway. To paraphrase Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, it is a case of “blind citizens governed by lethal idiots.”

Part II—Multiplying Casualties

Evidence of this rush to the rear can be found in a partial list of the rights being undermined and the individuals being attacked:

A. Attack on a Free Press

— The editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is in prison in the UK after losing his seven-year-long asylum status at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He will now have to fight extradition to the U.S. where he is wanted for posting on the web shocking evidence of shocking American barbarism in Iraq, as well as other embarrassing revelations.

Assange “has been charged for alleged conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” The indictment also “describes routine journalistic interactions with sources as evidence of conspiracy.” Thus, “the ability to use an encrypted chat messenger or try to keep a source’s identity anonymous are … portrayed as criminal in nature by the Trump Justice Department.” By the way, that same Justice Department will argue that the nature of the leaked information, revealing the brutal and sometimes criminal behavior of the U.S. military, is irrelevant to the charge against Assange and therefore is inadmissible in court.

The larger problem with this attack on Assange is that his alleged “conspiring” to publish information gathered in this fashion is something reporters and newspaper editors do all the time. It is the essence of foundational investigative journalism, and as such the case against Assange is a threat to freedom of the press.

In the meantime, the Israelis have stepped into the act by falsely asserting that Assange is a longtime “anti-Semite.”

— Chelsea Manning, Assange’s alleged co-conspirator, is also back in jail. She is being held in contempt of a grand jury subpoena seeking to force her to testify about Assange and Wikileaks.

B. Attack on Free Speech

The U.S. Congress, as well as some twenty-seven state legislatures, are attacking freedom of speech by attempting to outlaw the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. House Resolution 246 and Senate Resolution 120, both of which identify criticism of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism (which is the equivalent of mistaking apples for oranges), have now been introduced and, though patently unconstitutional because they undermine the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, may be passed into law any way. This subversive action is being carried out at the urging of American Zionists. The Zionists, in turn, are doing this to defend Israel, an apartheid state and violator of international law. So much for the devotion of legislators to the U.S. Bill of Rights in the face of strong lobbies. The Trump administration has simultaneously decided to refuse a visa for Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement. Mr. Barghouti has been accused by Zionists such as U.S. Congressman Lee Zelden of being “filled w/ anti-Israel & anti-Semitic hatred.” As someone who is personally acquainted with Mr. Barghouti, I can testify that this is absolutely untrue. I can also attest that he, as a victim of Israeli apartheid, has no patience with racists.

It should be pointed out that the tactics used by American and Israeli Zionists not only have a corrupting effect on the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and the Constitution itself, but also sully Jews in the aggregate and the and the Jewish religion. They do so by insisting that support for the self-aggrandizing, racist political ideology of Zionism is part of the definition of being Jewish.

C. Attack on International Law

The Trump administration has now expressed its disdain for international law by threatening the judges and investigators of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and refusing visas to those associated with the court even when they simply seek to carry out their duties at the United Nations in New York. The United Nations maintains another headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and ICC business with the UN may now take place there.

Part III—Why Recent Progress is Threatened

How is it that after making such progressive strides, we now see them threatened?

In the U.S. case, part of the answer is that, in the age of the patriarchal nation-state, progressive issues such as multicultural equalitarianism, feminism, gay rights, immigrant rights, and the like are not cultural positions easily sustained. The Civil Rights Movement was successful not just because its leaders formed a strong political coalition, but because their cause proved an important one within the Cold War struggle of the time. In turn, its success did encourage other progressive movements to push their agendas, and the resulting collective social pressure within the U.S. created a smoldering undercurrent of white ethnic resentment. That resentment has now broken out in what is known as a culture war.

This culture war has serious political consequences and reflects a polarized nation. Correspondingly, the number of moderates or centrists who are politically active has shrunk. On the conservative side, this polarization has destroyed the traditional Republican Party and replaced it with a rightwing extremist rump party led by Donald Trump. It is this essentially purged Republican Party that now leads the fight to destroy the progressive domestic achievements of the recent past.

The Democratic Party has so far remained intact. However, that does not necessarily give it political advantage. The party’s leaders have alienated large sections of their once loyal liberal supporters. They continue to direct their political messages to a centrist audience whose numbers are declining. In other words, the party is poorly led and awash in internal dissension. This is a poor position from which to defend, much less further promote, America’s progressive domestic legacy.

The one thing the United States does have going for it is a fairly large number of well-educated citizens who are aware that their country has a constitution and a bill of rights that are integral to the character of the nation. Appeals to these documents provide, at least in theory, the basis for progressive legislation and policies.

When we turn to Israel, we find little or no regard for the country’s “Basic Laws” that stand in for a constitution. Also, despite all the play given to the Holocaust, many Israelis have a real disdain for Jewish behavior relative to that event. Indeed, Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust are often a source of shame for today’s Israelis. This is because, allegedly, they did not put up a sufficient fight against their genocidal persecutors. The fact that the fate of modern European Jewry helped underwrite much of the universal human rights treaties and related international law is not something the majority of Israelis celebrate.

As suggested above, modern Israel’s response to European Jewish history was to become a warrior state. That is what it is at present, and as such it celebrates the sense of superiority that is so often harbored by warriors, and drives their ambitions of conquest and domination.

Part IV—Conclusion

It would seem that we are in a decisive struggle that will determine the shape of our future. Will it be reactionary or progressive in nature? Organized conservatism has evolved into a reactionary force throughout much of the West, and the hard-fought-for, progressive aspects of our world are in serious danger. The fate of Donald Trump, the U.S.’s ersatz Mussolini, in the 2020 election might be a pivotal moment in this struggle. In the meantime the struggle seems over in Israel—the reactionaries have won.

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Void Vision - Sour

Minimalist synth pop - from the haunting soundtrack of 'Wild Wild Country' (Netflix):

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Police are now a leading cause of death among young American men

If you’re a young man in America today – and especially a young black man – you might want to give law enforcement a wide berth. A new study found that shootings, choke holds, and other uses of force by police officers, whether warranted or not, are now the sixth-highest cause of death for males between the ages of 25 and 29.

The study, conducted by researchers at Rutgers University-Newark and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that black men are two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by law enforcement over their lifetime than white men, and that African-American women, American Indian/Alaska native men and women, and Latino men also face higher odds of dying at police hands.

The risk of death for each group is highest between the ages of 20 and 35 and declines with age.

USA Today.

The numbers.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Odious Pompeo and his Dubious Friends


Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the bigots themselves. Brigitte Gabriel runs ACT for America, which has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim organization in the country.” Gabriel herself has said a practicing Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America” and believes Arab Muslims are “a natural threat to civilized people of the world.” She has also bragged about the secretary of state being “a steadfast ally of ours since the day he was elected to Congress.” In 2016, ACT bestowed upon Pompeo its “highest honor,” the National Security Eagle Award.

Pompeo, in turn, has been keen to boost Gabriel and ACT. As researchers from Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative on Islamophobia have observed, in 2016, “Pompeo sponsored the room at the U.S. Capitol for ACT’s ‘Legislative Briefing’ in conjunction with its annual national conference,” and he “spoke at these briefings in 2016, 2015 and 2013.”

Then there’s Frank Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy, which the SPLC calls a hate group and a “conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement.” Gaffney himself has suggested that former President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim and has accused U.S. mosques and Muslim organizations of mounting a “stealth jihad” against the United States. He has also described Pompeo as “one of the most intelligent men I know in public life.”

Again, the feeling seems to be mutual. According to the Bridge researchers, Pompeo appeared on CSP’s “Secure Freedom Radio” 18 times between 2014 and 2016. He also spoke at a CSP event in 2015, alongside the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has called for the eradication of Islam and a ban on the Quran, and the far-right lawyer David Yerushalmi, who has declared that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization” and is the driving force behind the anti-sharia movement in the United States.

Pompeo and Yerushalmi share the same conspiratorial obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood and have both promulgated the (false) claim that mainstream Muslim-American organizations are “fronts” for the Brotherhood. Pompeo even co-sponsored congressional legislation in 2014 and 2015 to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. [Almost comically, Gaffney has also targeted Grover Norquist as an "agent of the Muslim Brotherhood" - Ed.]

As J.M. Berger, a counterterrorism analyst and author of a book on extremism, told BuzzFeed News in 2016 that the GOP’s obsession with banning the Brotherhood is really about “controlling American Muslims, not with any issue pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood in any practical or realistic sense.”

Should we be surprised? Islamophobia was rampant in the Republican Party even before the election of Trump. Anti-Muslim bigotry, in fact, is what unites far-right parties across the West.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Israel's New Revisionism: Erasing Proof of the Nakba

By Tony Greenstein

I was brought up as a Zionist and from an early age I learnt that, despite the wishes of the Israelis, the Arabs had insisted on leaving Palestine in order to let the Arab armies invade and drive the Jews out. In every Arab village there was a radio which conveyed orders from the Arab states to get out in order not to impede the invading Arab armies.

Looking at it today, it is a wonder how I and generations of Jews bought into these myths. They are, when seen in the cold light of day, absurd. No indigenous population voluntarily exiles itself. It makes no sense. Why would the Palestinians take orders from distant Arab rulers. But to us it made sense. After all ‘the Arabs’ were the enemy.

The history of what has happened has been told in many books and articles such as Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Problem Revisited. Over half the Palestinian refugees had already been expelled by May 15th 1948 when Israel declared its independence.

We were also told how the Zionists begged the Palestinians to stay and in particular how the Mayor of Haifa Shabtai Levy pleaded with the Palestinians to stay. Indeed Golda Meir wrote in her autobiography “My Life” that Ben-Gurion asked her to try and prevent the flight of Haifa’s Arabs.

“Ben-Gurion called me and said: ‘I want you to immediately go to Haifa and see to it that the Arabs who remain in Haifa are treated appropriately. I also want you to try and persuade the Arabs who are already on the beach to return home. You have to get it into their heads that they have nothing to fear,’ he said. And so, I went immediately. I sat on the beach there and begged them to return home I pleaded with them until I was exhausted but it didn’t work,”

It was also a lie. In fact on 2nd June 1948, barely a month after their expulsion, David Ben-Gurion sent a letter to Abba Khoushy, the secretary-general of the Haifa Workers’ Council, and later the city’s mayor instructing him that ‘we don’t want a return of the enemy. And all institutions should act accordingly’ After Capturing Haifa, Ben-Gurion GaveOrder to Stop Fleeing Arabs From Returning. What we weren’t told was how the Palestinians in Haifa had been shelled and mortared by the Zionist terror militias and that the main militia, the Labour Zionist Haganah had used loudspeakers to warn of a terrible massacre if any Arabs stayed. Such was the panic that many Palestinians drowned in the sea at Haifa Port when boarding the boats to take them to safety. [See Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine]

We were also told how the Zionists begged the Palestinians to stay and in particular how the Mayor of Haifa Shabtai Levy pleaded with the Palestinians to stay. But as Michael Bar-Zohar, the biographer of Ben Gurion, noted appeals to“the Arabs to stay” were political gestures for external audiences whereas “[i]n internal discussions”, Ben-Gurion communicated that “it was better that the smallest possible number of Arabs remain within the area of the state.”[Michael Bar-Zohar (1977): Ben-Gurion: A Political Biography. Hebrew, Tel Aviv, vol. 2, pp. 702–3]

It would have been impossible to form a majority Jewish state if the Arabs had stayed. In 1961 two researchers, quite independently of each other, Walid Khalidi and Erskine Childers, conducted research which involved transcribing the CIA and BBC reports and tapes of the Arab radio stations of the period. [See Erskine Childers, The Other Exodus, The Spectator, 12.5.61.]

What Khalidi and Childers found was that these radio stations instructed the Arabs of Palestine to stay and indeed threatened them with dire consequences if they left. There was no evidence of any instruction to leave, contrary to the Zionist mythology and yet a whole lie has been built on this myth, which was constructed in order that Israel could avoid implementing UN Resolution 194. [see The Palestinian Exodus in 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies].

In Israel the official lie, that the Arabs left of their own accord, persists. In 2011 the Knesset passed the Naqba Law which authorised the Finance Minister to reduce state funding or support for an institution if it holds an activity that rejects the existence of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” or commemorates “Israel’s Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning.”

The Palestinians still left in Israel are supposed to rejoice on the day that their relatives were expelled or massacred. The State instructs them to commemorate and celebrate a lie on pain of suffering the consequences.

Interestingly by August last year the Finance Ministry had rejected all 98 appeals, 17 of which had been submitted by Israel’s fascist culture Minister Miri Regev, to reduce funding to institutions which had nonetheless held events commemorating Naqba day. In practice it was difficult to implement a law designed to change history to fit in with national myths.

However a Committee set up as a result of Regev’s whining decided to fine the Jaffa theatre a few thousand shekels for holding two events, one of which featured the poetry of Dareen Tatour, an Israeli Palestinian poet gaoled for her poetry by Israel.

It is clear that the Israeli state is intent on preserving the myth of its creation, that the Arabs ran away. It seeks to do this both by the use of legislation fining any institution, including schools, which provide another version of history and through closing their archives, even when they have previously been open to historians and researchers. The truth is a malleable instrument of power.

However the genie is out of the bottle. Once a document has been revealed and read no amount of retrospective censorship can put the genie back into the bottle. The mere fact that Israel is trying, by the crudest censorship, to put a stop to these embarrassing revelations about its history, by resealing the archives, is proof that Israel has a great deal to hide, not least the circumstances of its own creation.

History is being rewritten by Israel’s security services with the sole purpose of distorting the past in order to shape the future.

Today the same dilemma faces Israel as it did in 1948. The majority of those now living within Greater Israel are Palestinian Arabs. The Jewish State can only remain Jewish by depriving the majority of Palestinians under their control of any civil or political rights. In other words Israel has chosen a combination of apartheid (previously dressed up as the 2 State Solution) and bantustanisation. The question is whether and when it resorts to its final solution, transfer or ethnic cleansing. As Jonathan Ofir writes in the article below:

‘Everything is being buried, by an arm of the Israeli government. If someone were doing this to Holocaust documents, there would be a cry to the heavens. … The Jewish State is actively trying to erase the Nakba and any critical discussion of it. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – but Nakba denial is not illegal in Israel, and it is thriving.

Reading through the following articles and in particular the interview with Yehiel Horev, Director Malmab, the Head of the Defence Ministry Department charged with restricting access to already open archives is chilling. He makes no secret of his belief that historical documents are a plaything of a government intent on rewriting history. Horev explained that:

the objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the refugee problem. In Horev’s view, an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.

Horev elaborated, quite shamelessly, that

When the state imposes confidentiality, the published work is weakened, because he doesn’t have the document

There are those who still profess that Israel is just another liberal western democracy. This deception lies at the heart of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance misdefinition of democracy. What is happening with Israeli archives dealing with the origins of the State demonstrates that Israel’s democracy is just a facade, a sugar coating that covers a military state. What other democracy would allows its intelligence services to roam the country intimidating academic archivists into permiting the censorship of embarrassing documents?

Tony Greenstein

Friday, 16 August 2019

Divided Under Trump: The Strange Death of American Civility

The United States seems more disunited than at any point in recent history - its politics so undermined by partisan divisions that consensus on almost anything is impossible to achieve.

Toxic partisanship between Democrats and Republicans - the nation's two main parties - has soared under President Donald Trump's administration - worsening since the release of then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation of Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 elections that brought him to power.

The two parties are fundamentally split over race and identity. Race and identity is the core dividing line in American partisan politics today.

Lee Drutman, senior fellow at the think-tank New America

But "Trump isn't the cause of a lot of the discord that we're seeing", says Lilliana Mason, an author and professor at the University of Maryland.

"He probably makes it worse. But one of the things he has done is actually to bring out into the open these divides that have been accumulating between the parties."

The sorting of people into two camps has fuelled stereotyping and distrust. Too often, the allegiance to one's own side makes the prospect of compromise with opponents almost unthinkable.

The US is now so polarised by the distrust that a 2018 survey recorded 70 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats as believing the opposing party posed a serious threat to the US.

"Each side is so convinced that they are absolutely correct, that they are morally and truly correct, and that the other side is dangerous," Mason says.

So what has weakened the bonds that once held this huge democracy together - and where could the discord lead?

In a two part in-depth report, People & Power's Bob Abeshouse investigates why the US is a nation so ill at ease with itself.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Source: Al Jiz.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

John Pilger warns: “Do not forget Assange. Or you will lose him”

John Pilger issued a warning on Wednesday that people “must not forget Julian Assange” or they will “lose him.” The world-renowned investigative journalist outlined the WikiLeaks founder’s deteriorating health, and the draconian conditions in which he has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison, since being illegally arrested by British police on April 11.

In a tweet that has been shared more than 10,000 times, Pilger wrote: “Do not forget Julian #Assange. Or you will lose him. I saw him in Belmarsh prison and his health has deteriorated. Treated worse than a murderer, he is isolated, medicated and denied the tools to fight the bogus charges of a US extradition. I now fear for him. Do not forget him.”

Christine Assange, Julian’s mother, responded to Pilger’s update with a series of tweets. She said she was in “deep pain and anguish,” adding: “My journalist son has been framed, smeared, detained 9 years without charge, denied fair legal process, refused basic health needs, proper medical/dental care, held years in solitary confinement & tortured.”

She indicted those responsible for the “slow murder” of Assange, including the US, British, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments, and the corporate media. She also condemned the Australian government for refusing to defend her son.

Pilger’s post is the latest public indication of the immense physical and psychological damage inflicted on Assange by his decade-long political persecution.

Last week, Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s lawyers, confirmed that her client remained in the hospital wing of Belmarsh, where he was transferred in late May. She was “very afraid” for Assange’s health. He had likely suffered “permanent damage” as a result of his seven years of arbitrary detention in Ecuador’s London embassy.

When Assange was first transferred to the prison medical wing, WikiLeaks issued a statement explaining that during the first seven weeks of his incarceration in Belmarsh, his health had “deteriorated” and he had “dramatically lost weight.”

The British authorities have refused to ease Assange’s conditions, despite his health issues. This is in line with the British government’s attempts to facilitate the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US, where he faces the prospect of life imprisonment, or worse, for his role in exposing American war crimes, mass surveillance operations and global diplomatic conspiracies.

The British government rejected, out of hand, a report in May by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, which found that Assange had been subjected to “psychological torture.” Melzer pointed to the responsibility of the British authorities, who enforced Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, by threatening to arrest him if he left the small building.

In a letter to the British government in May, publicly released earlier this month, Melzer outlined the central role of the British state in facilitating Assange’s arbitrary detention and his “public mobbing” by senior politicians and the press.

Source: WSWS.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Blurring the Line between Church and State: The Family (Netflix)

From the Illuminati to the freemasons to QAnon, there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories trying to explain how power is accumulated and shared in Washington, D.C. But the wide-ranging network of politicians, world leaders, and men of faith that make up the Fellowship isn’t mere conspiracy theory: it’s 100 percent true. What’s more, some of its members are speaking on the record about it for the first time in the new five-part Netflix series The Family, directed by documentarian Jesse Moss.

The Fellowship, also known as the Family, is a highly secretive group of evangelical Christian men who meet for Bible study and prayer meetings; it’s best known for serving as the organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering of diplomats and world leaders in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1935 by a man named Abraham Veride, the Fellowship initially arose from Vereide trying to arrange a meeting of business owners to crush laborers’ attempts at organizing. Over the course of the past 75 years, it has evolved into what some have referred to as a secret theocracy, or an underground movement of prominent Christian men who exert their influence not just in the United States, but abroad as well.

Moss was inspired to pitch the series to Jigsaw Productions, the production company helmed by documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, after reading The Family, a 2008 book on the Fellowship by author Jeff Sharlet. Moss says he “just about fell out of [his] chair” when he first learned about the Family’s influence: “I thought, here’s an organization that exists at the intersection of faith and politics, that occupies, unbeknownst to a lot of people, this significant portion of the public square,” he tells Rolling Stone.

Fellowship members operate under a veil of secrecy, which is by design; Fellowship head Douglas Coe, who died in 2017, believed that the group could best exert its influence that way. Its members include senators, diplomats, and religious leaders around the world: Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Jim Inhofe, and Rep. Bart Stupak have been linked to the group, while Vice President Mike Pence and attorney general Jeff Sessions have also been referred to as “friends of the Family.” And it’s a testament to the persistence of the production team that a handful of Fellowship members, including former Congressman Zach Wamp, speak on the record for the first time about the organization in the series. Moss attributes their willingness to talk in part to the organization’s attempts to “adapt to the 21st century with a greater degree of transparency, though only time will tell if that’s true.” Sharlet, however, has a slightly different take: “They’re not opening the doors. They’re not becoming transparent. That simply hasn’t happened. But they do want to have their say.”

The primary way the Fellowship maintains influence, the series argues, is through the National Prayer Breakfast, which every president since Eisenhower has attended over the past 50 years. Though many consider the Prayer Breakfast something of a “banal event,” according to Moss, he says, “It’s really quite an impressive demonstration of influence and power.”

Most recently, the National Prayer Breakfast drew national scrutiny when Maria Butina, a Russian spy, was arrested in 2018 after having been found to have infiltrated conservative circles in the United States, in part by gaining access to the National Breakfast. (Butina pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.) Butina’s arrest crystallized the true significance of the Prayer Breakfast as a hub of networking and deal-making, not to mention an exemplification of the secret power of the Fellowship: “She understood where you needed to go to find power and lobby power. And that’s what the prayer breakfast is, in part,” Moss explains.

In its efforts to consolidate its power, the Family has extended its tentacles overseas. One episode of The Family focuses in large part on a trip that Rep. Robert Aderholt, a right-wing politician tied to the group, made to Romania to campaign for anti-LGBTQ rights and advocate for Christian policy. Members of the Family have also aligned themselves with global leaders who had committed atrocities in their home countries, including Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, who once prayed with Coe. “In the face of all these dictators, they don’t say anything at all,” says Sharlet. “They don’t ask any accountability.”

Sharlet has been reporting on the Family since 2003, when he published an article in Harper’s Bazaar about his time as an intern at Ivanwald, a Fellowship house in D.C. His work has been instrumental in lifting the veil of secrecy surrounding the organization, much to the chagrin of members of the Family: even though the group has ties to “all these dictators and war criminals, [I’m] the only person they’ve ever described as evil,” Sharlet says with a chuckle. The first episode of the Netflix series is based in large part on Sharlet’s personal experiences with the Family, featuring dramatic reenactments of his time at Ivanwald, interspersing shots of muscular young men playing football with somber shots of prayer circles.

The focus on the fellowship’s hypermasculine energy, combined with the stringent rules of the group (sex and dating are forbidden) and the Fellowship’s demonstrated anti-LGBTQ stance, creates a strong homoerotic undercurrent throughout the series that Sharlet says is fairly true to his experience. In fact, Moss says he actually toned down the sexual subtext of Sharlet’s description of Ivanwald, so it wouldn’t be too distracting in the context of the series. “There was a Norwegian politician while I was there who liked to walk around in tiny little zebra-striped underwear and his thing was walking around and jumping into guys’ laps and making homophobic jokes,” says Sharlet. “[There’s] a lot of that uneasy joking about masculinity and the potential for it and, at the same time, this desire for intimacy that becomes really challenging for people who have a theological and ideological opposition to that.”

Although it’s been more than 25 years since Sharlet began his reporting on the Family, the inner workings of the group arguably have more relevance than ever, with many members aligning with President Trump despite his decidedly non-evangelical values. Sharlet attributes the Family’s alignment in part to the fact that he has assembled the most fundamentalist Cabinet in history, but also to the group’s unique view of leadership: The Family believes that leaders govern by divine right, and that power is in itself evidence of God’s blessing. Now, “we have our very own strong leader and we have a movement that is willing to work with power,” Sharlet says.

The lack of transparency surrounding the Family’s inner workings, combined with an administration that is marked by “the accommodation of authoritarian leadership,” as Moss puts it, raises extremely timely questions about the intersection of faith and power, and their potential to undercut the very basis of our democracy. “When you see alliances across international borders between religious right organizations and these authoritarian relationships. … I think the consequences are enormous for all of us. It’s more than just the story of the Fellowship. It’s the story of our democracy.”

Rolling Stone.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Gideon Levy vs Benny Morris – and the fight for the soul of the one-state

For nearly a week now, a fierce ideological fight has been taking place on the pages of the Israeli daily Haaretz, between Israeli historian Benny Morris and Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy.

It started with Morris giving a long interview to Ofer Aderet in which he issued dire predictions for the future of the state of Israel. This has become a back-and-forth (Morris-Levy-Morris-Levy) that is a fight for the soul of the one-state. Both essentially agree, that the two-state solution is no longer an actual possibility. Thus, the discussion becomes, What kind of a state this is, and what it will become.

Let’s look first at Morris’ predictions in the first interview:

This place will decline like a Middle Eastern state with an Arab majority. The violence between the different populations, within the state, will increase. The Arabs will demand the return of the refugees. The Jews will remain a small minority within a large Arab sea of Palestinians, a persecuted or slaughtered minority, as they were when they lived in Arab countries. Those among the Jews who can, will flee to America and the West.

Levy responded with a piece titled “Benny Morris’ Dystopian Predictions About Israel’s Future Miss the Point” that begins with a thank-you.

I find myself grateful to Benny Morris. In his blindness and his pessimism, he has once again reminded me of the hope that exists.

Once again making the case for a single democratic state, Levy shows Morris’s ideological thickness:

To his credit, [Morris] does understand that the two-state solution is no longer an option. To his discredit, he blames this entirely on the Palestinians. The man who accuses the Arabs of a dearth of self-criticism has been revealed as a characteristic Zionist, one who always blames the Arabs for everything. Here’s his solution: “Play the diplomatic game to retain the West’s sympathy.” If that’s the only thing left for Zionism to do, the Zionist project is indeed finished. But that isn’t the only option; Morris’ dystopian predictions are simply blind to the others. Anyone who papers over the connection between Zionism’s abuse of the Palestinians and their hatred of Israel is incapable of imagining that altering one half of this equation might alter the other.

Levy notes Morris’ (racist) view of ‘Arabs’ as pathologically murderous:

According to Morris and his ilk, the Arabs are born to kill. Every Palestinian gets up in the morning and asks himself, “Which Jew shall I slaughter today, and which shall I drive into the sea?” It’s a kind of hobby. And if so, there’s nothing to talk about and no one to talk to.

And countering Morris’s status quo of occupation for who knows how many years, Levy posits another possibility:

Yet there’s another, more encouraging possibility —– that when the Palestinians belatedly gain equality and justice, they will no longer be the same Palestinians. That under conditions of freedom and dignity, which they have never had, it will become possible to establish a different reality and a different relationship in a single democratic state. Morris has never thought about that, and neither has Zionism. Because if the Zionists thought about it, they might have an obligation to make it happen.

Morris’s response was titled “Gideon Levy Is Wrong About the Past, the Present, and I Believe the Future as Well”. It begins:

[Levy] described me, based on my remarks in an [2004] interview with Ari Shavit, as “the researcher who presented two choices, ethnic cleansing or genocide.” This relates, of course, to what happened in 1948. The unknowing reader is supposed to understand from Levy’s words that, rather than destroying the Arabs, the Jews choose to expel them. But that is not what I said. I said then and I say now that the Jewish community in 1948 had two possibilities: Either that the Arabs would commit genocide against them – and I have no doubt that an Arab victory in 1948 would have ended with mass slaughter of Jews – or the Jews, to defend themselves, would expel Arabs, or at least prevent those who fled and were expelled from returning.

A heap of contradictions

There’s a heap of contradiction here. First of all, Morris is now, once again, confirming that what happened in 1948 was ethnic cleansing – something that he was denying just over two years ago in Haaretz, when he sought to counter his earlier statements in support of ethnic cleansing in that 2004 interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz. This is a maddening back-and-forth between Morris and himself. He simply doesn’t know what to think anymore.

Morris’s claim that he only referred to genocide as something Palestinians may do to Jews is contradicted by his own genocidal advocacy in 2004. Look at the very long interview with Ari Shavit in 2004. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide – the annihilation of your people – I prefer ethnic cleansing.

Morris goes on to praise the annihilation of the Palestinians.

Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

So you see, it’s pretty clear that Morris also meant genocide in the sense of what Zionism did (though he wouldn’t say it out loud). In Morris’s world, this is a zero-sum game, of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and they are essentially related and intertwined. So Levy was right. Those are Morris’s two options by his own weltanschauung.

Morris continues, as usual, to whitewash Zionist crimes and rewrite the history that he himself documented:

The Jews chose not to be massacred, and rightly so. But even ethnic cleansing according to the meaning of the term as it has been defined in recent decades, based on the actions of the Serbs in the 1990s in Bosnia, which included many intentional acts of murder and rape, was not carried out here. What happened here was a struggle between two peoples who both claimed the right to the same land.

Disappearing rape and murder

Really? There were not many acts of murder and rape in the Nakba of 1948?

Back to ‘the other’ Morris, from his interview with Shavit. In the section titled “Rape, massacre, transfer”, Morris says:

What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves… Usually more than one [Zionist] soldier was involved [in rape]. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s a whole lot of murder and rape, and what Morris found is “just the tip of the iceberg”. Now Morris is saying it didn’t happen. Which Morris should we believe?

Back to the present Morris, he whitewashes the Nakba:

Some of the Arabs who were expelled left on the advice of, under pressure from or on the instructions of Arab leaders, as happened in Haifa in April 1948. During the war, the Israeli government formulated a policy intended to prevent the return of the refugees (who had just tried to destroy the Jewish community); and this policy was indeed carried out on the ground. But there was no policy of “expulsion of the Arabs,” and so some 160,000 Arabs remained, about one-fifth of the country’s total population.

So, wait a minute, did the ‘Arabs’ get expelled, or did they leave on the instructions of Arab leaders? The argument, as Morris appears to know very well, is a typical Zionist apologetic one, to supposedly exonerate it from actual ethnic cleansing, since some Arab leaders actually or supposedly instructed to Palestinians to leave temporarily; and those instructions supposedly mean that they have no right to return.

Let’s look at what Morris said precisely about the case of Haifa in an interview in 1995 with Danny Rubinstein:

In Haifa, for example, there was no expulsion order, and probably there wasn’t an order from above or from outside of Palestine, from the Mufti or Arab leaders to the population, to leave when the Jews took over. After the population began to leave, there were some rumors – perhaps even orders from the Mufti – to continue to leave. But after the exit began, the Mufti went along with it and told his people in Haifa, okay, keep leaving the town. That’s not why they left. They had been subjected to attacks, the same as the Jewish population had been subjected to attacks by Arabs. For months, since December 1947-January 1948, there had been fighting along the seam between the two communities, and the actual battle for the city took place on April 21 and 22. A lot of middle- and upper-class Arabs had left the town already from December 1947 onwards and closed their businesses, causing unemployment. There was a shortage of food because, occasionally, Jews stopped convoys of food from reaching the town. And the leaders had left their posts, understandably causing a panic. The British, by saying we will escort you out of town and get you safely to Acre and to the Lebanese border, were actually in fact hinting to the population that, yes, you perhaps should leave. This is how the population understood it. There were also arrests, beatings and looting, as there was in every town which Jews took over. So all of these reasons combined to persuade the Arabs of Haifa to leave. Of some 70,000, only a few thousand remained, and most had decided to leave the town by the beginning of May 1948.

So, let’s get this right – it isn’t clear that there were orders from Arab leaders to leave at the outset. And in any case, that’s not why the Palestinians left: they left primarily because they were subject to Zionist militia attacks.

Why did the Arabs flee?

Morris knows this very well, and he knows that the Zionists knew in real time, because in his book ‘1948 and After’ he reproduced an IDF Intelligence Service document entitled “The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine in the Period 1/12/1947 – 1/6/1948”, dated 30 June 1948. The document lists 11 factors which caused the Palestinian exodus “in order of importance”. The three top ones are:

1. Direct, hostile Jewish [ Haganah/IDF ] operations against Arab settlements.

2. The effect of our [Haganah/IDF] hostile operations against nearby [Arab] settlements… (… especially the fall of large neighbouring centers).

3. Operation of [Jewish] dissidents [Irgun Tzvai Leumi [aka Irgun] and Lohamei Herut Yisrael [aka Stern Gang]]

In other words, the Palestinians were terrorized into fleeing.

Morris is aware that the claims of “voluntary” flight are just “Israeli propaganda”. As he told Rubinstein:

Since 1948, the Jews have maintained that the Arabs fled, either what is called voluntarily, or because of orders or requests by their leaders inside or outside Palestine. This has been the basis of Israeli propaganda since 1948.

Although he has often been very vague about the Zionist policy of expulsion (he notes it typically as “born of war, not of design”), Morris is nonetheless clear about the facts. And denying the Palestinians the right to return is actually a confirmation of an expulsion policy, as he told Rubinstein:

Many Palestinians left not because they were actually expelled but because of the fear of war, the fear of battle reaching their homes, and so on. But once they had left their villages and the country, and then tried to come back and were barred – that is the point where one can talk of a policy of expulsion.

Back to Morris of today, whitewashing the ethnic cleansing:

There were officers who expelled Arabs (Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Rabin) and there were some who did not (Benjamin Dunkelman, Moshe Carmel). But the majority fled or were made to flee. Not exactly “ethnic cleansing”.

You see, I didn’t have to bring in another scholar into the picture in order to contradict Morris – I brought Morris himself, for he is a master of contradicting himself. “Rape… not carried out here.” “Many cases of rape.” And the contradictions are always a desperate attempt of Morris the Zionist political pundit, trying to extricate himself from the damning findings, which Morris the historian himself had already unearthed.

As to Morris’s appraisal of the present and future, it is basically liberal-Zionist boilerplate.

“I have always opposed occupation, a messianic occupation from a moral standpoint”.

Morris pays his lip-tax to the supposed, theoretical 2-state solution:

“With regard to the future, I still believe that the idea of two states for two peoples and territorial partition are the only basis for a solution that would provide a measure of justice to the two peoples”.

But alas…

“But like Levy, I also believe that it is not possible to bring it about at the moment, and it may not even be possible at all in the future”.

Although Morris opposes Netanyahu, whose “habits disgust” him, Morris really sounds like Netanyahu when he speaks about that 2-state solution. Like when Netanyahu, in 2015, in walking the tightrope of pretense between supporting a 2-state solution and maintaining status quo, said:

I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.

That was just after his 2015 election, on the eve of which he promised that there would be no Palestinian state under his watch, and race-baited his voters saying, “the Arabs are coming to vote in droves,” all of which got really uncomfortable for Obama’s Administration.

This is all simply a Zionist status-quo maintenance, with all kinds of fancy words. In the end, it’s like what Defense Minister Moshe Dayan proposed saying to Palestinians in the wake of the 1967 war:

We don’t have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and we’ll see how this procedure will work out.

Privilege or doom

Likewise, Morris doesn’t have a solution, he can’t see a possibility of a one democratic state, nor of two-states, only eventual doom for the Jews, once they lose their privilege.

The latest development in this ideological battle is Levy’s response from two days ago, titled “Benny Morris, You’re Wrong: Jews and Arabs Can Live Together. They Already Do”.

[T]he main problem with Morris’ position is his prediction for the future, spelled out in an interview with Haaretz: “This place will decline like a Middle Eastern state with an Arab majority,” he said. The Jews will remain a “persecuted or slaughtered minority”. That’s a description of a situation that leaves no option besides utter destruction, without addressing the causes of the situation. Morris is convinced that what prevailed in the past will also exist in the future. As a historian, he should know this isn’t the case, not forever. He describes the future as the twin of the present. Even worse, he views it through the glasses of race and arrogance. If it’s the Arabs that Morris is describing, and they remain like that forever, he’s right. It’s the end of the world, but there is another possibility.

Levy points out that Palestinians are normal people, who respond like any other normal people to oppression:

Morris views the present, in which a nation is fighting for its freedom, including with violence, like every nation in history, and concludes that this is how they will always be. He sees a nation that has never been treated fairly and concludes that that’s how it will remain forever. They will always kill. Whether under occupation and while suffering injustice or whether they are accorded justice and equality, they will always steal cars, always murder their women, always act savagely.

Levy provides examples of how order was restored, and even forgiveness achieved, in other cases of historical injustice:

You don’t need to be an optimist in order to believe in it. Morris is convinced that the Arabs will never forgive Israel for what it did to them. The Jews quickly forgave the Germans for much more horrible crimes. The blacks in the United States and in South Africa forgave the whites. France and Germany became allies right after World War II.

Benny Morris does not see any such possibility. Because the Palestinians are not viewed by him as normal. They are simply wild murderous animals that need to be caged, as he said to Ari Shavit back in 2004. And this is precisely why Morris sees no hope, whereas Levy does – because Levy has escaped the racist persuasion of Zionism, and Morris hasn’t.

From Mondoweiss, via FreedomOfSpeechonIsrael.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Mueller time is over, Russia-hate is here to stay

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus at Princeton and NYU, says that while Robert Mueller has closed up shop, dangerous U.S. fear-mongering about Russia remains.

Guest: Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His latest book is "War with Russia: From Putin and Ukraine To Trump and Russiagate."

Digging for the origins of the hoax.

Reasons why Israel is an Apartheid State


The real reason for banning The Big Ride was that supporting the event might breach the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism because of references on the Big Ride’s website to apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

In other words calling Israel what it is – an apartheid state and referring to ethnic cleansing is considered to be ‘anti-Semitic’. What this really means is that telling the truth is now anti-Jewish! The IHRA is effectively saying that Jews are racist, because if you are anti-racist you are anti-Jewish.

There is no doubt that Israel is a racist and apartheid state:

  • It is a state where the Chief Rabbi of Safed, a government employee, backed up by dozens of other rabbis, issued an edict forbidding Jews to rent homes to Arabs.
  • It is a state where hundreds of demonstrators come onto the streets in Afula to protest the sale of a house to an Arab.
  • It is a state where hundreds of Jewish communities are legally entitled, under the 2011 Admissions Committee Law to bar Arabs from their communities.
  • It is a state where education is segregated and according to the 2006 Israeli Democracy Institute Survey, 62% of Israelis wanted the government to encourage local Arabs to leave the country and 75% of Jews didn’t approve of sharing apartments with Arabs.
  • It is a state where not one single Arab village or town has been created since 1948, whereas hundreds of Jewish communities have been created. As for ethnic cleansing it is the official policy of the Israeli government, of whatever political hue, to increase the number of Israeli Jews and reduce the size of the Arab population. That is why no Palestinian refugees are allowed to return whereas any Jew is allowed to ‘return’ regardless of whether they have been there before.
  • It is a state where the Ministry of Education can ban a book, Borderlife, about a relationship between Jewish and Arab teenagers because it gives the wrong message.

    Snippets from Tony Greenstein's blog.

  • Wednesday, 7 August 2019

    Pro Israel DNC Mafia votes against BDS. Faux Progressives fold w/o a Murmur

    House Democrats, including key progressives, have passed a measure condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). Why are Reps. Ro Khanna, Tulsi Gabbard, and Ayanna Pressley denouncing a global movement for Palestinian rights?

    Saturday, 3 August 2019

    Meet (another!) Russian Mole: Tulsi Gabbard

    They're everywhere and clearly hiding in plain sight!

    The Democrat party and their media stenographers have one play in the playbook at this point and it’s Russia.

    Anything they don’t like is Russia’s fault. Anyone they don’t like is a Russian agent. Do you eat hamburgers? You’re probably a Russian sympathizer according to The Washington Post. Everything is blamed on Russia, no matter how nonsensical the charge is.

    We’ve seen this play out most recently with the #MoscowMitch hashtag and numerous media outlets rushing to telling us that Mitch McConnell is actually Putin’s puppet. It never stops and that means it’s not going to stop in the Democratic primaries either.

    As I wrote this morning, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard absolutely wrecked Kamala Harris at the debate last night.

    WajahatAli (Twitter) Beware the Russian bots and their promotion of Tulsi Gabbard and sowing racial dischord, especially around Kamala Harris.
    Richard Stengel (Twitter) This is a clear example of Russian disinformation happening in real time. A hashtag created & promoted by Russia Today against Kamala Harris & supporting Rep. Gabbard, who is an apologist for another Putin puppet, Bashar Assad. This is a sign that Harris is seen as a threat

    Wait, you mean to tell me that Russia Today reported on the most explosive exchange at the debate? The same exchange that ever other media outlet on earth reported on? Well, this changes everything. I’ll also note that Stengal has no proof that Russia started the #KamalaHarrisDestroyed hashtag. It’s a baseless accusation that mirrors many other baseless claims about evil Russians controlling social media.

    Harris’ campaign also got directly involved. Here’s her Press Sec. weighing in.

    Ian Sams (Twitter) Reporters writing their stories with eyes on the modern-day assignment desk of Twitter, read this:
    "The Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat"

    You see, it couldn’t just be that Kamala Harris a terrible politician who has no business running for President. No, the only reason Gabbard attacked her is because the Russians made her do it. Do you sense trend yet? Anytime anyone threatens mainstream Democratic thought, it’s always the Kremlin’s fault. Funny how that works.

    MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who’s never met a conspiracy theory she didn’t love, chimed in as well.

    Joy Reid (Twitter) It is notable that her purpose in these debates has been specifically to take Harris down.

    That’s called having a debate, Joy. That’s what the purpose of that gathering last night was.

    Here’s the reality. If Gabbard goes after Biden, she only helps Harris stay ahead of her. The way you claw your way into a race with many people is to go after those standing between you and the front runner. This isn’t new or revolutionary to most people. To Democrats, it’s proof of a Russian disinformation campaign to take down the unimpeachable Kamala Harris.

    These people are crazy and this is a preview of the general election. Every single bit of positive news for Donald Trump is going to be blamed on the Russians. We are going to get countless evidence free think pieces about Russian trolls, bots, and social media campaigns. All of this will be spun to paint Trump as being helped by the Russians. You can also bet there will be some fresh conspiracy theories dealing with Russian contacts by the Trump campaign. Why? Because they have nothing to actually run on.


    Friday, 2 August 2019

    The Next Call for Genocide will go Viral on Facebook

    The Precipitous Barbarisation of Our Times

    When all is said and done, it appears that Thomas Hobbes, the 17th century English philosopher who had a dire vision of man, was not totally wrong.

    From the frivolous to the serious, in just a week we have had four items of news which would not happen in a normal world. An English porn beauty with 86,000 followers on social media has put bottles of the water she bathes in on sale at 30 pounds a bottle and has sold several thousand bottles.

    A survey in Brazil found out that 7 percent of citizens believe that the Earth is flat (40 percent of American schools teach that the world was created in a week, according to the Bible, so there cannot be ancient civilizations). Another survey, this time of members of the British Tory party, who just elected Boris Johnson as prime minister (not exactly a triumph of reason) are so in favor of a “hard” Brexit that they do not care if this means the exit of Scotland and the end of the United Kingdom. Finally, in order to win election, U.S. President Donald Trump has made racism one of his banner issues and, in a country of immigrants, this has given him an increase of 5 points in opinion polls.

    There are so many signs of barbarisation that they would fill a book… and, as Euripides famously wrote: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

    It is not a popular task, but we have to look at the reality and observe that, in the most scientifically and technologically developed period of history, we are living in times of precipitous barbarisation.

    Social inequality has become the basis for the new economy. People have now lowered their expectations and are prepared to work part-time in a precarious job, where young people (according to the International Labour Organisation) can hope for a retirement pension of 600 euros a month. This has been accepted by the political system. We even have a study from Spain according to which, in the present housing market, nearly 87 percent of people need 90 percent of their salary just to rent a house.

    More syllables from Roberto Savio (Consortiumnews)