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Chris Hedges: The Ruling Elite’s War on Truth

Chris Hedges: The Ruling Elite’s War on Truth

American political leaders display a widening disconnect from reality intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by global corporations and billionaires.

Original illustration by Mr. Fish. (Scheerpost)

Joe Biden’s victory instantly obliterated the Democratic Party’s longstanding charge that Russia was hijacking and compromising U.S. elections. The Biden victory, the Democratic Party leaders and their courtiers in the media now insist, is evidence that the democratic process is strong and untainted, that the system works. The elections ratified the will of the people.

But imagine if Donald Trump had been reelected. Would the Democrats and pundits at The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC pay homage to a fair electoral process? Or, having spent four years trying to impugn the integrity of the 2016 presidential race, would they once again haul out the blunt instrument of Russian interference to paint Trump as Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate?

Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani are vulgar and buffoonish, but they play the same slimy game as their Democratic opponents. The Republicans scapegoat the deep state, communists and now, bizarrely, Venezuela; the Democrats scapegoat Russia. The widening disconnect from reality by the ruling elite is intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by predatory global corporations and billionaires.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2019. (Gage Skidmore, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

“This is a disgraceful thing that was done in this country,” Giuliani said at his recent bad-hair-day press conference. “Probably not much more disgraceful than the things these people did in office, which you didn’t and don’t bother to cover and you conceal from the American people, but we let this happen, we use largely a Venezuelan voting machine in essence to count our vote…

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Chris Hedges: American Bloodlands

Chris Hedges: American Bloodlands

The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates.

Fires and tear gas at the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse perimeter fence during protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Portland, Oregon, July 22, 2020. (Tedder, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Chris Hedges
ScheerPost.com

The tinder that could soon ignite widespread violent conflagrations throughout the United States lies ominously stacked around us.

Millions of disenfranchised white Americans, who see no way out of their economic and social misery, struggling with an emotional void, are seething with rage against a corrupt ruling class and bankrupt liberal elite that presides over political stagnation and grotesque, mounting social inequality.

Millions more alienated young men and women, also locked out of the economy and with no realistic prospect for advancement or integration, gripped by the same emotional void, have harnessed their fury in the name of tearing down the governing structures and anti-fascism.

The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates. They stand poised to tear apart the United States, awash in military-grade weapons, unable to cope with the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, cursed with militarized police forces that function as internal armies of occupation and de facto allies of the neofascists.

The spark that usually sets such tinder ablaze is martyrdom. Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, was wearing a loaded Glock pistol in a holster and had bear spray and an expandable metal baton when he was shot dead on Aug. 29, allegedly by Michael Forest Reinoehl, a supporter of antifa, in the streets of Portland. A woman in the crowd can be heard shouting after the shooting: “I am not sad that a fucking fascist died tonight.” On Thursday, Reinoehl, allegedly armed with a handgun, was shot and killed by federal agents in Washington state.

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John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

The extradition hearing beginning this week is the final act of an Anglo-American campaign to bury Julian Assange. It is not due process. It is due revenge, said John Pilger in a speech Monday outside the court building.

Having reported the long, epic ordeal of Julian Assange, John Pilger gave this address outside the Central Criminal Court in London on Sept. 7 as the WikiLeaks Editor’s extradition hearing entered its final stage.


When I first met Julian Assange more than ten years ago, I asked him why he had started WikiLeaks. He replied: “Transparency and accountability are moral issues that must be the essence of public life and journalism.”

I had never heard a publisher or an editor invoke morality in this way. Assange believes that journalists are the agents of people, not power: that we, the people, have a right to know about the darkest secrets of those who claim to act in our name.

If the powerful lie to us, we have the right to know. If they say one thing in private and the opposite in public, we have the right to know. If they conspire against us, as Bush and Blair did over Iraq, then pretend to be democrats, we have the right to know.

It is this morality of purpose that so threatens the collusion of powers that want to plunge much of the world into war and wants to bury Julian alive in Trump’s fascist America.

In 2008, a top secret U.S. State Department report described in detail how the United States would combat this new moral threat. A secretly-directed personal smear campaign against Julian Assange would lead to “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”.

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WATCH: WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: What It Means for Press Freedom,

WATCH: WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: What It Means for Press Freedom

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson leads a discussion with investigative journalists Iain Overton and Chris Woods about the impact of the Iraq War Logs’ release a decade ago.

Almost 10 years ago WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs along with The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, The Washington Post and other news outlets. The logs showed the true numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq—at least 15,000 more people had died than previously thought—as well as the abuse and torture of prisoners by police and military in full knowledge of coalition forces. 

“The U.S. figures appear to be unreliable in respect of civilian deaths caused by their own military activities,” The Guardian reportedThis online event was organized by the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign. It features WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and investigative journalists Iain Overton and Chris Woods.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange remains held at a maximum security prison in London in relation to a US extradition request – he faces a sentence of 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest, which include the Iraq War Logs.

 

SCOTT RITTER: Powell & Iraq—Regime Change, Not Disarmament: The Fundamental Lie

SCOTT RITTER: Powell & Iraq—Regime Change, Not Disarmament: The Fundamental Lie

Regime change, not disarmament, was always the driving factor behind U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein. Powell knew this because he helped craft the original policy.

The New York Times Magazine has published a puff piece soft-peddling former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s role in selling a war on Iraq to the UN Security Council using what turned out to be bad intelligence. “Colin Powell Still Wants Answers” is the title of the article, written by Robert Draper. “The analysts who provided the intelligence,” a sub-header to the article declares, “now say it was doubted inside the CIA at the time.”

Draper’s article is an extract from a book, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq, scheduled for publication later this month. In the interest of full disclosure, I was approached by Draper in 2018 about his interest in writing this book, and I agreed to be interviewed as part of his research. I have not yet read the book, but can note that, based upon the tone and content of his New York Times Magazine article, my words apparently carried little weight.

Regime Change, Not WMD

I spent some time articulating to Draper my contention that the issue with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was never about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but rather regime change, and that everything had to be viewed in the light of this reality—including Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 presentation before the UN Security Council. Based upon the content of his article, I might as well have been talking to a brick wall.

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A Summer of Protest, Unemployment & Presidential Politics – Welcome to 1932

A Summer of Protest, Unemployment & Presidential Politics – Welcome to 1932

In 1932, as in 2020, the nation experienced an explosion of civil unrest on the eve of a presidential election, writes James N. Gregory.

The Bonus Army stages a demonstration at the empty Capitol on July 2, 1932.
(Underwood and Underwood, photographers; Library of Congress)

An election looms. An unpopular president wrestles with historic unemployment rates. Demonstrations erupt in hundreds of locations. The president deploys Army units to suppress peaceful protests in the nation’s capital. And most of all he worries about an affable Democratic candidate who is running against him without saying much about a platform or plans.

Welcome to 1932.

I am a historian and director of the Mapping American Social Movements Project, which explores the history of social movements and their interaction with American electoral politics.

The parallels between the summer of 1932 and what is happening in the U.S. currently are striking. While the pandemic and much else is different, the political dynamics are similar enough that they are useful for anyone trying to understand where the U.S. is and where it is going.

Tanks and mounted troops advance to break up a Bonus Marchers’ camp of veterans protesting lost wages, Washington, D.C., July 28, 1932. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Multiracial Street Protest Movement

In 1932, as in 2020, the nation experienced an explosion of civil unrest on the eve of a presidential election.

The Great Depression had deepened through three years by 1932. With 24% of the work force unemployed and the federal government refusing to provide funds to support the jobless and homeless as local governments ran out of money, men and women across the country joined demonstrations demanding relief.

Our mapping project has recorded 389 hunger marches, eviction fights and other protests in 138 cities during 1932.

Although less than the thousands of Black Lives Matter protests, there are similarities.

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McCarthyism Down Under

McCarthyism Down Under

UPDATE: 5 Eyes media have been amplifying the story. BBC quoted Sydney Morning Herald saying, “No allegations had been proven.” The New York Times, which rarely reports on Australia, ran a staff-written story, writes Joe Lauria.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a somber press conference on Friday to announce that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) had conducted a raid on a sitting member of the New South Wales parliament all because, so far, he’d said favorable things about China and had traveled to the country.

The Murdoch-owned Australian newspaper reported that the office and Sydney home of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane had been raided because he “has repeatedly praised Beijing, even describing Chinese President Xi Jingping’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as ’emphatic’ and ‘decisive.’”

Moslemane was portrayed as an “extremely serious” threat because he had written about China: “Failure to contain the epidemic could mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost. The combined phenomenal effort of the state and the people in the fight to contain the virus was breathtaking.”   The MP was also deemed a threat because, as The Australian reported: 

“In April, Mr Moselmane resigned as Upper House assistant president after being caught on camera again praising President Xi’s handling of the virus, even as concerns arose that China had underplayed the severity of the crisis.

He has also said China needed to ‘force a change to the rules and create a new world order’. Mr Moselmane was the honorary chair of the Australian Shanghainese Association and a member of the Australian Chinese Association, both linked to Beijing’s secretive network of foreign influence operations known as the United Front.

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ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake

The Australian version of the CBS News program ’60 Minutes’ presented a segment on Julian Assange Sunday night that was missing the usual mainstream media smears and distortions about his case.

Consortium News

Australia’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine Sunday night aired an extensive interview with Stella Morris, Julian Assange’s partner, and featured the two boys the couple have had together.  While the promos for the segment during the week indicated it would focus on salacious questions such as, “How does one get pregnant in an embassy?” and “Did Pamela Anderson give your relationship cover?,” the 24-minute spot ditched the usual smears against the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher and instead humanized him to a large national audience. 

The segment made clear Assange was never charged with rape in Sweden, was only wanted for questioning, and that that inquiry has been closed. It reports that the CIA surveilled Assange 24/7 in the embassy, including on privileged conversations with his lawyers; that the CIA plotted to kidnap Assange, poison him and steal one of his boy’s diapers for DNA to prove it was his child. The interview with Australian MP Andrew Wilkie makes clear why the U.S. espionage charges against Assange are really an assault on journalism.

The program ends with an appeal from Morris to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to apply pressure on the British government to release Assange from high-security Belmarsh prison where he is isolated 23-hours a day on remand waiting a decision on a U.S. extradition request.

An article Monday in Australia’s Murdoch papers about the 60 Minutes’ report was largely factual, except that it repeated the canard that Assange faced rape “charges” in Sweden. 

WikiLeaks, Christine Assange, Julian’s mother, and Assange supporters have tweeted recognition that this was a mainstream treatment of the Assange case like few others. 

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LEE CAMP: The Secret Reason Billionaires Love a Pandemic

LEE CAMP: The Secret Reason Billionaires Love a Pandemic

You see, there has been a class war going on for years – perpetrated by the rich (who aren’t smarter or better) against everyone else.

We live in a time when there are more billionaires walking around than ever before. (They don’t actually walk. They have someone do that for them.) And one can’t deny billionaires are billionaires because they’ve worked harder than anyone else—roughly 300 times harder than an average worker. They are smarter, cleverer, more intuitive and show more initiative than anyone else, too. That’s why they’re billionaires and we’re not. That’s why they will always be billionaires and we will never be. That’s why we can all see ourselves in the reflection on Jeff Bezos’ bald head and yet can never touch it.

‘Deportmental ditties : and other verses;’ Graham, Harry, 1874-1936. London : Mills & Boon 1900. (University of Toronto)

Now, I must say—everything stated in the first paragraph is utterly false. No part of it is true (except the part about the walking). Most billionaires don’t work harder, don’t think harder, and don’t know more. They have nothing over your average person except: a) luck b) sometimes inheriting a fortune and c) being more sociopathic. So I guess you could say they’re extraordinary on the sociopathy front. They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want.

All of this might slightly explain why a vein bulges in my forehead when I read that billionaires are doing better than ever during this global viral outbreak that has killed hundreds of thousands.

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RAY McGOVERN: How an Internet ‘Persona’ Helped Birth Russiagate

RAY McGOVERN: How an Internet ‘Persona’ Helped Birth Russiagate

Guccifer 2.0 turns four years old today and the great diversion he took part in becomes clearer by the day, writes Ray McGovern.

Four years ago today, on June 15, 2016, a shadowy Internet persona calling itself “Guccifer 2.0” appeared out of nowhere to claim credit for hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee on behalf of WikiLeaks and implicate Russia by dropping “telltale” but synthetically produced Russian “breadcrumbs” in his metadata.

Thanks largely to the corporate media, the highly damaging story actually found in those DNC emails — namely, that the DNC had stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in the party’s 2016 primary— was successfully obscured.

The media was the message; and the message was that Russia had used G-2.0 to hack into the DNC, interfering in the November 2016 election to help Donald Trump win.

Almost everybody still “knows” that — from the man or woman in the street to the forlorn super sleuth, Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III, who actually based indictments of Russian intelligence officers on Guccifer 2.0.

Blaming Russia was a magnificent distraction from the start and quickly became the vogue.

The soil had already been cultivated for “Russiagate” by Democratic PR gems like Donald Trump “kissing up” to former KGB officer Vladimir Putin and their “bromance” (bromides that former President Barack Obama is still using). Four years ago today, “Russian meddling” was off and running — on steroids — acquiring far more faux-reality than the evanescent Guccifer 2.0 persona is likely to get.

Here’s how it went down:

1 — June 12: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced he had “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.”

2 — June 14: DNC contractor CrowdStrike tells the media that malware has been found on the DNC server and claims there is evidence it was injected by Russians.

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Covering the Julian Assange Story

Covering the Julian Assange Story

With corporate TV and press abandoning the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher, Consortium News has been in the forefront among alternative media in chronicling his plight. But we can’t do it without you. 

Assange outside UK Supreme Court in 2011. (Flickr)

Except for a brief moment after his dramatic arrest, the mainstream media has abandoned Julian Assange. They do this at their own peril.   

That’s because the arrest and espionage indictment of Assange for practicing journalism is a danger to all journalists everywhere.

Consortium News started covering the Assange case on Dec. 16, 2010 with an article by founding editor Robert Parry, one of the leading investigative reporters of his generation. Bob argued that Assange was practicing journalism in the exact way that he did.   He wrote: 

“… the process for reporters obtaining classified information about crimes of state most often involves a journalist persuading some government official to break the law either by turning over classified documents or at least by talking about the secret information. There is almost always some level of “conspiracy” between reporter and source.

Though some elements of this suspected Assange-Manning collaboration may be technically unique because of the Internet’s role – and that may be a relief to more traditional news organizations like the Times which has published some of the WikiLeaks documents – the underlying reality is that what WikiLeaks has done is essentially “the same wine” of investigative journalism in “a new bottle” of the Internet.

By shunning WikiLeaks as some deviant journalistic hybrid, mainstream U.S. news outlets may breathe easier now but may find themselves caught up in a new legal precedent that could be applied to them later.”

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Facebook Singles Out State Media of US Adversaries for a Warning

Facebook Singles Out State Media of US Adversaries for a Warning

Ignoring state-owned media in nations allied with the U.S., Facebook is attaching a warning label to state media from countries the U.S. doesn’t like.

Facebook has begun adding labels to news articles it publishes from “state media” to warn readers about where their news is coming from.

The warning reads: “This publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a state. This is determined by a range of factors, including but not limited to funding, structure and journalistic standards.”

“The concern for us is state media combines the agenda setting power of a media entity with the strategic backing of a state,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, told CNN Business. “If you’re reading coverage of a protest, it’s really important you know who is writing that coverage and what motivation they have. The goal of this is to ensure the public will see and understand who is behind it.” 

Facebook is so far labeling news from only two state media outlets. It’s hardly surprising who they are:  Russian government-owned Sputnik and RT, and Xinhua, China’s national news agency.

A government can choose its adversaries. But nowhere is it written that the news media, or Facebook, has to automatically go along.  Doing so makes one look like state-run media.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies to Congress, April 2018. (YouTube)

Facebook will also ban advertising on its platform from state media it doesn’t like. So far that’s only from Russia and China.

These are purely political decisions made by Facebook under direct pressure from the U.S. government in open Congressional hearings. It has nothing to do with maintaining accuracy in media. 

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UPRISING: Goliath Is Not Invincible

UPRISING: Goliath Is Not Invincible

Revolutions are difficult, writes Vijay Prashad. They must chip away at hundreds of years of inequality, erode cultural expectations and build the material foundations for a new society. 

Comando Creativo, History is watching us, Bellas Artes, Caracas, 2011.

The streets in the U.S. are on fire once more because of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer and his accomplices in Minneapolis. Malcolm X once said “That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.”

A week before George Floyd was murdered, João Pedro Mattos Pinto (age 14) was killed by the police in Rio de Janeiro while playing in the yard of his house; a few days after his murder, Israeli occupation forces murdered Iyad el-Hallak (age 32), who worked in and attended a special needs school in Old Jerusalem. The foot on the neck of George Floyd, João Pedro and Iyad el-Hallak is the same foot that suffocates the Venezuelan people, who suffer each day from the U.S.-driven hybrid war.

Luis Cario, Now we are breathing, 2020.

Last year, while in Caracas, I walked with Mariela Machado in her housing complex known as Kaikachi in the neighborhood of La Vega. After Hugo Chávez was inaugurated president in 1999, a group of working-class residents of the city saw an empty piece of land and occupied it. Mariela and others went to the government and said, “We built this city. We can build our own houses. All we want are machines and materials.” The government supported them, and they built a charming multi-story complex that houses 92 families.

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VIPS MEMO: To the President—Avoid Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

VIPS MEMO: To the President—Avoid Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) urges Donald Trump to avoid the slippery slope toward armed conflict as an Iranian oil tanker nears Venezuela on Sunday.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Avoiding Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

Mr. President:

Recent U.S. rhetoric and actions against Venezuela — most immediately regarding Iran’s shipping of gasoline desperately needed during the pandemic — puts the U.S. at risk of an outbreak of dangerous and almost certainly counterproductive hostilities, not only in the Caribbean, but also in waters closer to Iran. As five Iranian tankers approach Venezuela, with the first due to arrive Sunday, hardliners in both Washington and Iran would relish a chance to give a bloody nose to the other side, but it may not be that simple. 

While the U.S. can invoke the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, geography trumps doctrine. True, the U.S. holds the upper hand in the Caribbean. It does not have tactical advantage in the Persian Gulf — despite the formidable amount of U.S. weaponry already deployed in the area. We believe there is a good chance Iran will pick the Gulf as the place to retaliate for any quarantine or more warlike actions off Venezuela.

As former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners with many decades of experience, we understand the frustration your Administration feels as its “maximum pressure” campaign to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro enters its 17th month without much progress. Our purpose is not to defend Maduro, whose economic performance has alienated many and compounded Venezuela’s problems.

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LEE CAMP: While Pandemic Destroys So Many Lives, The Surveillance State Celebrates

LEE CAMP: While Pandemic Destroys So Many Lives, The Surveillance State Celebrates

If they’re able to track “violators” who follow within a flying spit particle of someone else, then it stands to reason they could choose to track pretty much any other type of behavior. 

If we don’t fight back against the secretive surveillance state growing steadily around us, your wife/husband may find out you love a Cinnabon more than you love her/him. And that might be just the beginning of it.

While many of us remain quarantined — inexorably welded to our home/apartment/RV in an abandoned Walmart parking lot — the surveillance state is actually stretching its legs, brought out for a run by our friendly neighborhood oligarchs like a young golden retriever let off its leash on a nice day. Unfortunately, in this case what it’s retrieving is all of our information, movements, thoughts and desires.

Right now violations of American’s privacy rights do not hold many people’s attention. We’re too busy adapting to a new, confusing, and anxiety-filled form of existence. (Last week I myself finally saw my dentist, my therapist and my prostitute all via Zoom calls. Unfortunately, I had performance anxiety – but that was with the therapist [flaccid super-ego].)

More Americans have now been killed by Covid-19 than were killed during the Vietnam War. (I mean Americans killed in Vietnam of course. “Others” killed have never much mattered to us.) As the virus death toll rises, various governments around the world have discussed using smart city technology to trace where infected people go and who they come in contact with. At first that sounds great. What kind of psychopath doesn’t want to end this pandemic? But it turns out there’s one problem with allowing the moneyed rulers to track every man, woman, and child. That problem — stop me if you guessed it — is that they’re tracking every man, woman, and child.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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