Thursday, January 17, 2019

Censoring the internet

When they finally succeed in killing the internet, what will we have left?  It's a good question to ask and, while you ask it, you should read Whitney Webb's article at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

Soon after the social media “purge” of independent media sites and pages this past October, a top neoconservative insider — Jamie Fly — was caught stating that the mass deletion of anti-establishment and anti-war pages on Facebook and Twitter was “just the beginning” of a concerted effort by the U.S. government and powerful corporations to silence online dissent within the United States and beyond.
While a few, relatively uneventful months in the online news sphere have come and gone since Fly made this ominous warning, it appears that the neoconservatives and other standard bearers of the military-industrial complex and the U.S. oligarchy are now poised to let loose their latest digital offensive against independent media outlets that seek to expose wrongdoing in both the private and public sectors.
As MintPress News Editor-in-Chief Mnar Muhawesh recently wrote , MintPress was informed that it was under review by an organization called Newsguard Technologies, which described itself to MintPress as simply a “news rating agency” and asked Muhawesh to comment on a series of allegations, several of which were blatantly untrue. However, further examination of this organization reveals that it is funded by and deeply connected to the U.S. government, neo-conservatives, and powerful monied interests, all of whom have been working overtime since the 2016 election to silence dissentto American forever-wars and corporate-led oligarchy.
More troubling still, Newsguard — by virtue of its deep connections to government and Silicon Valley — is lobbying to have its rankings of news sites installed by default on computers in U.S. public libraries, schools, and universities as well as on all smartphones and computers sold in the United States.
In other words, as Newsguard’s project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site’s ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States. Worse still, if its efforts to quash dissenting voices in the U.S. are successful, Newsguard promises that its next move will be to take its system global.

In other news, Gladys Knight will perform the national anthem at the Superbowl.  I'm not into football but I may check that out -- or catch it on YouTube.  I have no desire to hear, for example, Mariah Carey sing it but Gladys?  Yes.  She's a powerhouse.  She has a range, yes, but more importantly, she makes the material her own.  Look at what she (and the Pips) did with "The Way We Were," for example.  That should be an amazing performance.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, January 17, 2019.  ISIS is never going to be defeated by a military, the 21st century has a new Thomas Friedman and . . . it's a girl!!!!, and much more.

Kevin Liptak (CNN) huffs:

Military commanders warned President Donald Trump on December 26 during his surprise visit to Iraq that -- despite his claims to the contrary -- ISIS was not entirely defeated in Syria. 
People familiar with the President's reaction said the conversation was eye-opening for a leader who days earlier claimed the terror group was defeated "badly" in the country.

Despite his claims?  Oh, Kevin you and your ilk are such an embarrassment.  Check out this site in December 2017 and all through 2018 -- despite the media claiming ISIS was defeated in Iraq, we noted reality, it wasn't defeated.

Remember how the US media repeated the lie over and over -- in part to assure Americans that Hayder al-Abadi was some sort of hero.  They did similar things with Nouri al-Maliki.  The American media was not reporting, it was advancing talking points from the US State Dept -- it wasn't about what was, it was about what the US government wanted you to see.

Liptak really needs to check his sense of self-importance.  I love the "surprise visit" -- as though every visit hasn't been a surprise one.  King Abdullah II of Jordan's visit this week was a 'surprise visit' with the kingdom denying up until the king landed that he was going to Iraq.  Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bully Boy Bush all made 'surprise visits.'

Kevin thinks he's sniffed something out -- I'm sure he has and maybe now he'll learn to wipe?

In the meantime, will all the children please leave the room?  In the meantime, let's try to get honest.  US troops are not going to defeat ISIS.  Not in Syria, not in Iraq, not anywhere.

ISIS is not a country, it's not a force of a country.  ISIS is a terrorist organization.  They are not defeated in war.  All war aimed at a terrorist organization ever does is recruit more members.

By declaring war on them, you elevate them.

When Ed Snowden went to Russia and Barack began his verbal attack on Vladimir Putin, we noted he was elevating Putin.  And he was.  We noted the same thing with regards to ISIS.  But on that one, Barack grasped it.  It's why he made his junior varsity crack.

Whether you think it's earned or not, the US is hated in many sections of the world.  If it helps you to stop sobbing, there are sections that like -- maybe even love -- the US.  But the country is hated in sections of the world.

So inflating ISIS automatically creates sympathy for the terrorist organization.  'The imperial devil is against ISIS?  Yea ISIS!'  But more to the point, the US at war against ISIS?

What likes to think of itself as the lone super power at war against ISIS?

Do you not get the kind of drama that creates, the kind of support?

It's Goliath (the US) versus David (ISIS).

You can't get better recruitment than that.

ISIS will never be destroyed by war.

Terrorism is an ideology and it is born from a belief of imbalance.  When that belief is backed up with something like 'The US declares war on ISIS!,' you have recruitment and increased membership.

Terrorism is a crime.  It needs to be fought as you would fight a crime.  It needs to be arrests and public trials.  Not shipped off to Guantanamo with whispers about what someone may have done.  You fight terrorism with open discourse and debate, with democracy.

The US military will never 'win' against ISIS.  That's not a job a military can handle.

Idiots who don't grasp that are like the liars who pretend they don't in order to keep never-ending wars going.

The smartest thing Donald Trump could do would be to remove all US troops from Syria -- as well as Iraq.  It would be safer for both Americans and Iraqis if that happened.  As it is, ISIS recruits flowed to both countries due to the presence of the US.

While the children are still out of the world, let's point out another reality with regards to terrorism: when people feel wronged, it would do the larger society good to consider the validity of those claims.

The PKK is a group that fights for Kurdish rights.  They are labeled a terrorist organization by many (including the US government).  Turkey is happy to bomb northern Iraq (killing and wounding many civilians) while they pretend they are attacking the PKK.  But at what point in our history do we look at the grievances of the Kurds?  When do we examine it for validity?

PKK actions have always decreased when it appeared that an examination might take place, an honest inventory.  Ten years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- yes, Erdogan -- reaped a few benefits by giving the impression that an honesty inventory and dialogue was about to take place.  It never did and violence returned.

Though, of course, the Kevin Liptaks couldn't report it that way.  They had to lie and make it nefarious and complicated and twisted because heaven forbid we ever illuminate basics in foreign relations.  The US government doesn't want you to understand its actions, it only wants you to nod along with whatever they do.

ISIS will be defeated by law enforcement, by recognizing real injustices and addressing them, by an open dialogue where participants -- even those not belonging to the government of a super power -- feel their voice is heard and the future is something that they have a stake in.

These are not complicated issues.  Getting someone to buy-into their own future is neither a new nor novel concept.  But the Kevin Liptaks exist to pass along stupidity, not to inform.

Open the doors, let's allow the children back in and move to another topic.

: US, Pompeo has no right to meddle in -Iraq ties

From my point of view, the US government has no business telling the Iraqi government (or any government) who they can be friendly with and, yes, Iran and Iraq sharing a border, it is important that the two nations get along.

But I do understand why some would disagree.

This chart gives one reason.

30 countries receive 82% of all U.S. foreign aid, led by Afghanistan and Iraq, while 121 countries get less than $100 million each

Afghanistan gets the most US dollars with $5.7 billion.  Second place?  Iraq with $3.7 billion.  When you're taking $3.7 billion, you're really going to be expected to take a few strings with that money.

Look at the struggling countries above, the non-oil rich ones.  They get peanuts while oil-rich Iraq gets $3.7 billion -- and this while the whole world knows how corrupt the US-installed Iraqi government is.

The Iraq War hits sixteen in two months.  Sixteen years.  Sweet sixteen.  Will it ever end?

At THE NEW YORK TIMES' AT WAR blog, Iraq War veteran Russell Worth Parker shares:

On our return to Camp Lejeune, N.C., we were freed to spend a night with our families. Unable to sleep, I woke my wife at 2 a.m. and made her watch “Napoleon Dynamite,” a movie that so divided my platoon I thought we would come to blows over its absurdities. I wanted her to see and understand something about the previous seven months of my life. I didn’t know how to tell her about a 2-year-old child toddling through window glass shattered by an explosive charge and leaving tiny, bloody footprints on the polished concrete floor of his home. Later that morning, more than a hundred Marines assembled in a final unit formation behind a large brick building immediately across the New River from a demolitions range. Before we were dismissed for the last time as a unified group, some Marines across the river detonated a substantial charge. We all visibly flinched, some of us dropping to the ground, all of us conditioned to dodge the shrapnel and fire that invariably accompanied loud blasts in Iraq. We looked around at one another and slowly stood back up, laughing at ourselves but sharing a level of understanding that has since been elusive.
Ironically, that common understanding is both the thing we most need from each other as veterans and the thing that keeps some of us from effectively reconnecting with civilians, a critical factor as we become civilians ourselves. Sajer’s notion of remaining separated from the human condition, though he claimed not to feel regret, is nothing less than self-imposed exile. Just as I felt when I stood before that Iraqi policeman, it is my responsibility to say something, to find some sort of connection. I just ask that you not get frustrated or awkward and turn away if the translation comes haltingly, or if the truth proves to be more than you wanted.

The headline notes that people are ready to share their stories but are others willing to listen?

A dialogue isn't parallel play.  It requires speaking, listening, debating, thinking, exploring.  Russell Worth Parker wants to initiate a conversation.  Hopefully, it will lead to a lively exchange.

Maybe even an honest one -- if Max Booty can stay out of it.  Maxie's still high on the wars he never fought in and serving up more garbage at THE WASHINGTON POST:

It is impossible to say why the Islamic State struck now, except that it could. But there is little doubt that the announced U.S. withdrawal gives the terrorists an inducement to attack. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a colleague of mine at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes about a recent trip to Syria in Foreign Affairs. She notes that the U.S. troop presence in towns such as Raqqa and Manbij was virtually invisible yet highly significant. Two female university students she met in Raqqa told her that the Americans “provided the invisible force field that kept ISIS down and the Russians, Iranians, and Turks at bay.”

He's referencing the deaths of US troops yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot).  If it's impossible to say why the Islamic State struck, then how can it be possible to state "the announced US withdrawal gives the terrorists an inducement to attack"?  Oh, Maxie, you are as laughable as your online photo.  Do you think look sexy?  You don't.  You look ridiculous.  And what's his name?  Matt Drudge, that's his name.  Matt Drudge should sue you over that photo claiming you're trying to appropriate his look.

As for the laughable Gayle Tzemach Lemmon?

I do love how her Wikipedia entry presents her as Diana Prince, formed from clay!  I love that.  It's so novel and so unbelievable.  Where does the "Lemmon" come from?  Per Wikipedia she was apparently sired by her mother and grandmother -- the woman has no father.

At any rate, she's become the 21st century Thomas Friedman.  He spent how many columns 'exploring' the world via his anonymous cab drivers?  She does it with these female university students she's always stumbling across.

The notion that these people pop up before Thomas and Gayle and just happen to say exactly what Tommy and Gayle wanted them to say?  That sort of creative license exists for novelists, not journalists.  But them those aren't really about journalism, are they?

Wait, wait, wait a minute.  As Vanessa might say.

Gayle is the new Thomas Friedman.  Is Thomas Friedman her father?  No wonder she doesn't list her father in her Wikipedia entry.  No wonder.

Radio note:

Usually Diane's weekly show goes up on Fridays.  This one is already up:

With last October’s confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade came under greater threat than any time since it became law in 1973. But the movement to erode the protections Roe provides has made steady progress at the state level for years, including in the form of fetal personhood laws.

A special series by the New York Times editorial board explores what these laws are, how they’ve been used to successfully chip away at Roe v. Wade and why women with wanted pregnancies end up prosecuted under them.
The series will appear in print on Sunday, January 20th.


  • Lauren Kelley The New York Times Editorial Board, Women and Reproductive Rights Editor              

You can stream it now at the link.

The following community sites -- plus NPR music, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and the ACLU -- updated:

  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Applause for Alexandria

    Not been a big fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Not been an enemy either.  But I do applaud her for this:

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is lending her support to a movement that seeks to oust incumbent Democrats in favor of liberal replacements -- only adding to the tensions between the freshman firebrand and the party establishment.
    In a promotional video, Ocasio-Cortez locks arms with Justice Democrats, which runs a recruitment program (called "The #OurTime Project") by which activists can nominate grassroots candidates for office. It was Justice Democrats that originally backed Ocasio-Cortez’s longshot bid against incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley last year.

    The article also tells you that No-Mentum Joe Lieberman hopes she is not the future of the Democratic Party.  Oh, Joe, go away already, just go away.

    NBC notes:

    Already, the group is publicly searching for a primary challenger to centrist Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. Cuellar has defended his record, arguing his district features "more moderate, conservative Democrats."
    Ocasio-Cortez has not explicitly backed the effort to oust Cuellar, but the group's leaders say #OurTime is focused on replicating the formula that elected her. That means targeting longtime incumbents in safe blue seats who are "demographically and ideologically out-of-touch with their districts," as a press release puts it.

    Good.  I applaud it and I applaud her for her participation.

    Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Wednesday, January 16, 2019.  In Iraq, the war continues -- maybe even heats up -- but in the US the media is as useless as it was in the lead up to 9/11 attacks.  It can offer useless gossip, it just can't cover the most basic events of the day.

    Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:

    When President Trump made a prearranged call in to Jeannine Pirro of Fox News during her Saturday night program, she asked him, in a joking tone, “Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Pirro was clearly phrasing the question as a way to mock the media assault spearheaded by the Times, and Trump responded in kind, denouncing the question as “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
    The Times and its media chorus responded, however, as Senator McCarthy would have. “Aha,” they declared, “Trump didn’t answer the question directly. He’s hiding something!” The newspaper’s web site noted the exchange with Pirro on Sunday, writing, “Mr. Trump did not directly answer the question.”
    This became the media mantra over the next 24 hours.
    The Associated Press: “[T]he president avoided directly answering when Pirro asked whether he currently is or has ever worked for Russia.”
    The Hill: “President Trump late Saturday declined to directly answer a question from Fox News host Jeanine Pirro about whether he had ever ‘worked for Russia,’ calling it ‘insulting.’”
    The Washington Post’s opinion editor, James Downie: Pirro’s question “triggered a two-minute rant, none of which included the word ‘no.’”
    Similarly questions were raised on the Sunday television interview programs, with CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of “State of the Union,” playing a tape of the Pirro-Trump exchange and declaring, “The president did not directly answer the question.”
    The media commentary came full circle with a front page report by Peter Baker of the New York Times, published Monday, which began: “So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer.”

    Baker’s “news analysis,” an editorial in all but name, declared that this question—in effect, whether Trump is guilty of treason, a capital offense—“has hung over his presidency now for two years.”

    What a load of nonsense from our idiotic and wasteful media.  All it's going to take is one 9/11 to send them all scattering yet again from the lawn of Senator Gary Condit and have them insisting that they've learned their lesson.  Remember that?  Does anyone?  They were going to be real and serious and stop the endless chatter by actually focusing on real news.

    ADDED 12:48 pm EST 1/16/19, NPR reports, "American troops were killed in an explosion in northern Syria, the spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State says. The ISIS extremist group has claimed responsibility."  This is real news, the endless chatter of basic cable 'news' is garbage.

    They don't know real news, they know cheap coverage of gossip and that's all they've got, that's all they'll ever have.  They are useless and they waste our time with their drivel.

    In the real world, wars take place, wars continue and they don't have time to cover those, they lost interest long ago.  Better to be the global Ethel Mertz than to ever actually provide any coverage that actually matters.

    Another 9/11 and they'll be revealed as the useless gossips they are.

    Don't think another one could happen?  The Council on Foreign Relations begs to differ.  On their "Top Conflicts to Watch in 2019" is a terrorist attack:

    Of the thirty contingencies included in this year’s Preventive Priorities Survey, a mass casualty terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland—or a treaty ally—by a domestic or foreign terrorist was assessed as a top tier priority for the United States in 2019. The contingency was deemed moderately likely to occur and, if it does, of having a high impact on U.S. interests.

    Repeating:  "This year, a mass casualty terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland or treaty ally was included as a top tier priority in the Center for Preventive Action’s annual Preventive Priorities Survey."

    And still the media wastes all of our time with nonsense.

    "The most trusted name in news"?  Did I just hear people chuckle?  Yeah, I think I did.

    Remember the Iraq War?

    MOOSE81 100214 C17A tracking south over , east of Baghdad. Operation . 1232z

    The American media doesn't appear to.  How strange when you remember how many lies that they repeated and concocted to start that illegal war.

    US military officers in Anbar province in 🇮🇶, who occupy Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi parliament... demanded to inspect Hashd Al-Shaabi units (Popular Mobilization Forces), which Hashd immediately rejected. Why does the US🇺🇸 continue to treat Iraq like a US colony?

    Jane Arraf shows up on NPR's MORNING EDITION today to offer, "There's an ongoing push here among some political parties to get rid of the US troops in Iraq.  The prime minister, yesterday, here said there were 6,000 of them still here."

    "Among some"?  It's the Parliament, Jane.

    After Trump's Visit Iraq Wants All US Troops Out. wants us out of their country, I don't blame them: parliament demands timeline for foreign troop withdrawal via aaboulenein, Ahmed_Rasheed_R

    But she learned to spin at CNN, after all.  Another issue?  If the prime minister is stating 6,000, that's a higher number than the US government has told the American people.  Somehow Jane missed that, didn't she?

    Strange she can remember it for Twitter:

    Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi tells journalists 6,000 US troops now in . Recent US military numbers put it at about 5,000. Abdul Mahdi says total numbers of coalition troops declined by about 1,000 recently.

    And despite the prime minister's claims, others insist the number of US troops in Iraq is unknown.

    politician, Nayef al Shamari, says that the does not know the exact number of or in


    THE NATIONAL notes MP Wajih Abbas:

    "The actual number of US forces in Iraq is 9,000, we do not have accurate information on their whereabouts or what their role is," Mr Abbas said, adding that it is vital for parliament to intervene to reduce their presence on Iraqi land.

    Jane Arraf misses so much in her little over three minute NPR segment.

    For example, she speaks to and quotes the president of Iraq's spokesperson Lukman Faily.  She doesn't note who he is other than the spokesperson.  Starting in 2013, for example, he was the Iraqi ambassador to the US.  Today, he's just a spokesperson.  Talk about a public demotion.  And, though you'd never know it to look at him, he was only born in 1966.  Apparently, being a coward ages you -- yes, he's yet another person the US put in charge -- another coward who fled Iraq and lived abroad for decades until the US-invaded Iraq.

    Meanwhile, MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the Iraqi government to disarm 67 Shia militias and freeze their activities in preparation to them being disbanded. In response to the US request, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has asked Washington to give him some time to act.

    Why the sudden interest?  Hmmm.

    Commander: Hashd al-Sha'abi Preventing US Troops' Spying along Iraq-Syria Border

    's Hashd Al-Shaabi forces block US troops from conducting survey along Syrian border: report

    Does that explain it?

    New content at THIRD:

    The following community sites updated: