Saturday, September 30, 2017

Disaster Capitalism: Puerto Rico's Real Destruction Preceded Maria

Puerto Rico's Recovery is a Battle Against Austerity 


Sept. 30, 2017

As the Trump administration touts its relief effort in Puerto Rico as a 'good news story' and threatens more austerity, writer Ed Morales argues the island's devastation is a wake-up call against neoliberal excess.

Ed Morales is a freelance journalist based in New York and has been covering the Puerto Rico Debt Crisis for the Nation. He is an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, the author of Living in Spanglish and the upcoming book Latinx for Verso Press. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Full-Press Court: Sympathy for the "Mainstream Media"

Trump, “Fake News” and the War on Dissidents

by Jonathan Cook - Dissident Voice

September 28th, 2017 

The state-corporate media must be in trouble if a BBC veteran like Nick Robinson is getting dirty in the trenches, taking up arms against the “guerrilla war” he claims people like me are waging.

In a new commentary piece for the Guardian, he argues that media critics – from the right and the left – are taking to social media in an organised campaign to discredit what Robinson calls the “mainstream media”.

Predictably, his article strikes the self-satisfied tone of those who claim to be right because they have come under attack from both sides.

Let me delay briefly to point out that critics of the BBC, including myself, are not suggesting – as Robinson claims – either of the following:

“[T]hat we reporters and presenters are at best craven, obeying some diktat from our bosses or the government, or at worst nakedly biased.”

Robinson, like his colleagues in the corporate media, seems either averse to, or incapable of, understanding that serious criticism of the corporate media is based on the Propaganda Model, set out in great detail in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent by Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky.

According to that model, structural constraints – what Herman and Chomsky call “filters” – ensure journalists conform ideologically to their role in a media system that is incapable of questioning the foundations of the capitalist system of which the media is an integral part.

Put at its simplest, journalists like Robinson succeed in the state-corporate media because they are supremely good at promoting the official line. They rise through the ranks while journalists who are too critical fall by the wayside, weeded out in the long selection procedures journalists undergo before they reach the top.

In other words, journalists aren’t “cravenly taking orders from bosses”. Journalists like Robinson are selected for their highly partisan assumptions, because they proudly believe in and promote orthodoxy – in this case, the legitimacy of the neoliberal system. They manufacture consent for the present economic, political and social conditions, not because they are told to do so but because they fervently believe those conditions are for the benefit of all. If they did otherwise, as Chomsky once famously pointed out to Robinson’s colleague Andrew Marr, they would not be sitting where they are – in the interviewer’s chair.

Anyone who threatens the legitimacy of this system is treated as a menace, whether it be a progressive like Jeremy Corbyn or a too-nakedly brutal neoliberal capitalist like Donald Trump.

And this brings us to the second point. Robinson suggests that the new social media “guerrillas” plotting against the “mainstream media” are somehow indistinguishable from each other in their methods. Those on the right, the Trumpists, are no different from those on the left. In fact, he goes further and argues that progressive-left critics of the BBC are actually learning from Trump’s attacks on the media.

Campaigners on left and right have been looking at and learning from the method behind what some regard as the madness of Donald Trump’s attacks on the “failing” press as purveyors of “fake news”. Italy’s leftwing populist Beppe Grillo has described the Italian media as “the opium of the people – they hide the truth to reassure you, while you slowly die”. In Germany the rightwing Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) has revived the Nazi insult “lugenpresse”, meaning “lying press”.

But this is to invert reality. It is an example of the very “fake news” Robinson claims to be worried about. Trump isn’t teaching us about “fake news”. He’s exploiting popular disillusionment with the corporate media – the understanding that it has a corporate agenda that benefits a tiny elite – for his own political ends.

It is not that Trump rejects that corporate agenda, as progressives do; it’s that he is reckless in regard to the image carefully crafted for it by its guardians, the traditional political and media elite. He is not interested in advancing the broader interests of the corporate system, of maintaining its legitimacy; instead, he wants to advance his own personal interests within that system. He is a prime example of the self-destructiveness at the heart of neoliberal capitalism.

What Trump and his followers have done is appropriate the linguistic veneer of media criticism, without its intellectual substance, to justify their hyper-selfish agenda. By “fake news”, Trump means those who disagree with him and his political programme. That is not what the progressive left means. Their goal is to identify when and how the news is misrepresented by the corporate media, and whose interests are being served.

Worse for the progressive left, Trump has given ammunition to the enforcers of orthodoxy, like Robinson. The Trumpists’ often-empty claims of “fake news” serve to obscure or discredit the reality that the corporate media daily promotes fake news to further its agenda, whether it’s in Iraq or Venezuela, or whether it’s articles about a comic-book super-villian Putin taking over the US, or another moral panic about supposed rampant anti-semitism in the Labour party.

In reality, Trump’s scatter-shot claims of fake news are being exploited to shore up the corporate system. There is already a backlash, one being used to justify ever tighter controls over the internet and access to websites offering real critical news. Robinson’s claims that the left and right are the peddlers of the same “fakery” in attacking the media is part of that campaign to ensure normal service is resumed as soon as possible.

As the saying goes, the corporate media would have had to invent Donald Trump if he didn’t already exist. He has become the perfect foil to allow the system to relegitimise itself.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).
Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

Defending Habeas Corpus, Opposing Arbitrary Detention at Guantánamo and in the UK: The Four Fathers Release ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’

My Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ Defending Habeas Corpus, Opposing Arbitrary Detention at Guantánamo and in the UK 

by Andy Worthington


My band The Four Fathers have just released a brand- new online single, ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ a passionate defence of habeas corpus, supposed to protect us from arbitrary imprisonment.

The song — an insistent and infectious roots reggae groove — was inspired by my work to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed down, opposing the use of secret evidence in the UK, and also by the 800th anniversary of King John signing Magna Carta in 2015.

The key element of this document, which the barons obliged him to sign, was habeas corpus, the right to be bought before a judge to test the validity of one’s imprisonment, which, over the centuries that followed, ended up applying to everyone, and was successfully exported around the world as a hugely significant bulwark against tyranny.

See below for the song, on Bandcamp, where you can listen to it for free — or, if you’d like to support us, buy it as a download for just £1 ($1.25) — or more if you’d like.

<a href="">Equal Rights And Justice For All by The Four Fathers</a>

After 9/11, of course, the United States introduced imprisonment without charge or trial for the men it held at Guantánamo — and elsewhere in the “war on terror” — thereby undermining habeas corpus. Prisoners ought to have had habeas rights, unless they were held according to the Geneva Conventions, but post-9/11 prisoners of the “war on terror” were, shockingly, held without any rights at all.

In 2008, the Supreme Court granted the Guantánamo prisoners habeas corpus rights, but these rights were gutted of all meaning in a number of nakedly ideological rulings made by the court of appeals in Washington, D.C. — decisions which the Supreme Court then refused to consider, effectively handing “war on terror” detainee policy to right-wing judges in a lower court. For the gutting of habeas corpus in Guantánamo, see my articles As Judges Kill Off Habeas Corpus for the Guantánamo Prisoners, Will the Supreme Court Act? and The Supreme Court Abandons the Guantánamo Prisoners.

In addition, in the UK, the Blair government, after 9/11, held foreign “terror suspects” without charge or trial, in maximum-security prisons or under a form of house arrest, on the basis of secret evidence that they were forbidden from seeing in hearings in a special secret court, and also held some UK citizens under house arrest on the same basis. I spent a considerable amount of time — particularly in 2008 and 2009 — opposing these policies (see here, for example, and also see this comprehensive report by JUSTICE).

However, although the house arrest situation (control orders) largely ended with the last Labour government, and plans to deport most of the foreign nationals held without charge or trial were dropped under the Tories (with the exception of Abu Qatada), the Tories have their own abominable track record when it comes to terrorism.

It was Theresa May, as Home Secretary, who was obsessed with sending Abu Qatada back to Jordan, and it is May who is still driving the Tories’ obsession with ending Britain’s association with the European Court of Human Rights (which seems to be her main fascination with Brexit). As Home Secretary, May also stripped dual nationals of their citizenship, so they could then be killed by US drones, and those interested in finding out more can check out my articles, What Does It Say About the Tories That They Want to Scrap Human Rights Legislation? and As Theresa May Becomes Prime Minister, A Look Back at Her Authoritarianism, Islamophobia and Harshness on Immigration.

With specific reference to habeas corpus, please also see my article 800 Years of Magna Carta: The Stench of Hypocrisy Regarding Habeas Corpus for Shaker Aamer and Other Guantánamo Prisoners, and also my photos of a protest against legal aid cuts, at which I spoke about habeas corpus and the rights of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was released in October 2015, in part as a result of a campaign I co-founded, We Stand With Shaker, which seized the public’s imagination by getting celebrities and MPs to be photographed with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker.

The Four Fathers’ first involvement with Guantánamo came with ‘Song for Shaker Aamer,’ used in the We Stand With Shaker campaign video. We then released a new version of the song reflecting Shaker’s release, and in 2016 released ‘Close Guantánamo’ for the Close Guantánamo campaign I co-founded in 2012, which was also used in a campaign video. After Trump’s election, we revised the song, and the video.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp).

He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Remembering Pacific Nuclear Test History

US H-Bomb Testing Forgotten In Media Frenzy Over North Korea Threat

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

September 27, 2017

As the U.S. detonated nuclear bomb after nuclear bomb in the Marshall Islands – amounting to 23 tests of both fission and fusion bombs over a 12-year period – evacuated islanders and others nearby were intentionally exposed to radiation fallout from the testing, in what would become known as “Project 4.1.”

A mushroom cloud from the Operation Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton 
experimental thermonuclear device, detonated in the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. 
(Photograph: US Air Force/Public Domain)

In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s bellicose United Nations speech – where he threatened to “totally destroy” the 25 million inhabitants of North Korea – Trump’s own use of provocative and unprecedented language was largely ignored.

Instead, frenzied coverage focused primarily on North Korea’s response to his shocking UN address. North Korea’s answer came courtesy of foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, who told reporters that North Korean leadership may consider testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific in response to Trump’s UN threats.

The latest counter from North Korea prompted a frantic response from corporate media pundits. Fox News interviewed retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters who argued that such a test would be “close to an act of war.” Reuters quoted David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, who argued that such a test would be a “tipping point” for China and might prompt many other countries to call for an “end to the [North Korean] regime.” 

Most reports gave a scant and highly selective history of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean. Reuters, for example, stated that the United States’ only test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead was fired from a submarine in the Pacific Ocean in 1962. Others made no mention of the previous nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific, or merely stated that the last above-ground test of a nuclear device was conducted by China in 1980 – suggesting to their readers that a potential test by North Korea would be among the first conducted in the Pacific.

In reality, the history of nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific is as long as it is tragic. Such tests in the region were conducted exclusively by the only country in the world to have used a nuclear bomb against another nation – the United States.

The Marshall Islands: Bombsite, Med lab 



A massive column of water rises from the sea as the second atom bomb 
test at Bikini Atoll explodes underwater July 25, 1946. (AP/Joint Task Force One)

After World War II, the United States acquired the Marshall Islands, a remote island chain in the Pacific, and soon developed big plans for their new prize.

One of the islands within the group, known as Bikini Atoll, was evacuated so that the U.S. could transform the island into a nuclear bomb test site. At the time, media coverage of the bomb tests was extensive, a major opportunity for the United States to showcase its military might and secure its place as a global “superpower.”

Little coverage, however, was given to the island’s nearly 200 native residents who were forced to relocate to other nearby islands, leaving them out of the blast zone but not out of harm’s way. Commonly referred to in the Western media at the time as “savages,” the native islanders were to become part of the U.S. government’s sordid legacy of human experimentation.

As nuclear bomb after nuclear bomb was detonated in the Marshall Islands – amounting to 23 tests of both fission and fusion (i.e., hydrogen) bombs over a 12-year period, per the official record – evacuated islanders and others nearby were intentionally exposed to radiation fallout from the testing, in what would become known as “Project 4.1.”

Project 4.1.

Officially titled “Study of Response of Human Beings Exposed to Significant Beta and Gamma Radiation due to Fall-out from High-Yield Weapons,” Project 4.1 saw the U.S. government intentionally fail to inform island residents of the impending bomb tests or their threat to exposure — despite the fact that the government was directly responsible for overseeing their well-being – in order to “conduct a scientific study of radiation injuries to human beings.” When the first bomb detonated, children played with the dust that fell from the sky, only to wake up with weeping lesions and their hair falling out days later.

Photos show the results of radiation on a child taken 
before and after nuclear test Bravo on the Marshall Islands.

Dr. Robert Conard, head of the Brookhaven/AEC medical surveillance team for the islanders, wrote in his 1958 annual report on the exposed islanders that their suffering would afford:

"the opportunity for a most valuable ecological radiation study on human beings … The various radionuclides present on the island can be traced from the soil through the food chain and into the human being."

By 1974, almost a third of exposed islanders developed tumors while many of their children were born with developmental problems, stunted growth or worse. Thyroid cancer became – and still is – the norm. Still unable to return to their homes, which were rendered uninhabitable by the repeated blasts, the natives of the Marshall Islands have been crowded into slums that offer little to no medical treatment for the ills residents suffer due to decades of high radiation exposure. Adding insult to injury, much of their land has been overtaken by U.S. military bases.

Yet recent corporate media coverage of a potential North Korean nuclear test in the Pacific has apparently sought to re-write the history of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. The Independent, for example, stated such tests were approved and conducted “before the risks to innocent people and the environment were well-understood,” an outright falsehood given declassified government documents stating the contrary.

The same pundits fear-mongering over the potential threat have stated that “damage to humans could be limited if North Korea picks a particularly isolated spot” to conduct the test. However, if North Korea chooses to pick a more dangerous location to detonate, the fact that the United States has done far worse in the past will certainly be swept under the rug. Such are the blinders that come standard-issue with “American exceptionalism.”

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Taking a Knee at Your Workplace

Why don't Americans demand that the 1st Amendment apply on the job too? We're Seeing Freedom of Speech on the Gridiron So How About in Every Other Workplace?

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

September 24, 2017

Football players are a special class of workers. Even the lowliest of them make six-figure salaries, at least for the short time they stay healthy enough to play, but they are, nonetheless workers, and unionized workers at that.

And what is happening right now -- with NFL players, black and in some cases white, and now professional basketball and baseball players too, acting in solidarity to protest racist policing and other issues of equality denied in America by not standing for the traditional performance of the Star-Spangled Banner, and with the subsequent incendiary calls by President Trump for the firing of these protesters by team management -- is shining a light not just on the racist politics of the president, but on the wholesale lack of First Amendment freedom on the job for most American workers.

The reality is that workers in the US, unless they are represented by a labor union -- and even then only a powerful and assertive union -- speak their minds at the risk of being fired, and have no recourse if they are fired for the opinions they express if those opinions aren't shared by the boss.

Freedom of speech, that hallowed and much touted supposed birthright of all Americans, actually only applies during the hours that that we are sleeping, traveling to and from work, on our days off, or at home. And even then, as people are discovering with employers monitoring their personal blogs, Facebook pages and Tweets, and firing them for things they may have said or written, we're not so free.

Colin Kaepernick (center) takes a knee in protest, loses his ability 
to play pro ball, but starts a movement

Hooray for the professional ball players who, following the lead of the heroic former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, are engaging their public protests before the fans and asserting their right to speak their minds about racism and the national epidemic of police brutality against and murders of African Americans.

Now this burgeoning struggle for the freedom to speak out has to move out of the sports stadiums and into the workplaces of America.

You can tell such a movement is badly needed when the self-styled "patriotic" yahoos in the stands boo and shout "stand up!" at kneeling athletes speaking their mind on the job and don't get upset when millionaire Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scolds the protesters, telling them to do their free speech thing "on their own time" and not on the bosses’. These white "NASCAR dudes" don't even realize that everyone -- including they themselves -- should be demanding First Amendment rights on the job, and that the ball players they are condemning and jeering at are making that case for everyone's benefit.

What this football protest has demonstrated is that when one person takes a stand on the job and makes a statement as Kaepernick did last year, it may cost that person her or his job. But when lots of people take the stand together, the boss can't retaliate so easily. In fact, the boss may even join them.

Blacklisting Kaepernick, as the NFL's teams appear to all have done, may cost a couple of teams a badly needed crack quarterback (and everyone agrees there are teams that could use him), but it isn't really costing any team any money or lost ticket revenue to let him stay unemployed. Now that whole teams are taking a knee, or refusing to enter the field for the opening patriotic display and the singing of the national anthem, though, there's no way to fire them without trashing the season and losing millions of dollars.

If workers want to finally do away with totalitarian policies in the workplace, they need to start taking a page from their sports heroes and begin speaking out collectively on the issues that matter to them. It has to be a collective effort though. Maybe it is the dirty washrooms. Maybe it's unfair pay for women or minorities. Maybe it's the endless war in Afghanistan. Maybe it's police brutality in the local metropolis, or toxic waster in the local water supply. Whatever the issue, like-minded workers need to start talking about it, wearing T-shirts declaring their views, demanding that the company that employees them stop supporting policies they object to. Whatever the issue, if you can talk about it on the street or at home, you should be able to talk about it where you work and where you spend most of your waking hours each day!

The Constitution says it clearly in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech."

Note that it does not say anything about "except in the workplace." And yet Congress has endorsed myriad laws and regulations that allow employers to fire workers "at will," which includes for saying things that the boss doesn't like (they call it insubordination, which is a term that has no place in a supposedly free society). We don't allow people to be fired for being of the "wrong" religion, or for being of the wrong race, so it's not like there's no precedent for Congress to limit the power of corporate bosses over their workers. But when it comes to that free speech thing, our elected officials and our judges get cold feet.

It's ironic that many of the yahoos in the stadiums who angrily shout "Stand up!" at some football player taking a knee during the national anthem probably forget that they can't say anything political or make a political protest on their own job. They have no rights. And for that matter, neither does the guy down on the field that they are heckling, and yet he is doing it.

And the truth is, any of those guys down there on the field in their uniforms making a pubic protest, is doing more than just protesting against some issue, like police abuse. They're also protesting for the right of all workers to make their voices heard where they work.

The truth is, when the country was founded, there were no real factories in the new independent United States of America. It was a largely agrarian society of farmers and small businesspeople who might have a couple of employees at most. In that kind of environment, there was little difference between the home and the place of work. It's likely that people in such settings had plenty to say on the issues of the day while they were working. It's also likely that people who had a job and did it well were valuable enough to the employer that even if they said things that the boss didn't agree with they wouldn't be summarily fired for speaking up. That kind of thing is much more likely to happen in huge companies where individual workers are just replaceable cogs.

The founders who wrote the Constitution and its Bill of Rights wouldn't have imagined that eventually there would be huge workplaces with hundreds or even thousands of workers, gates and security guards and ID cards to control access to the site, and files kept of each employee's behavior.

It is this new work environment, created during the 19th century, that led to a bifurcated world -- one largely free and more or less unmonitored, where people could do and say pretty much what they pleased without fear of punishment or harassment, and another, set up much like an old feudal estate, where the "lord" or boss and his or her minions could order the peons around, punish them at will with no right of appeal for made-up infractions or "insubordination," and control what they could say or even think, on pain of being tossed out the door.

Things have gotten worse with our new information age, so that once a worker is fired by one boss, it can be hard to get a job anywhere, since one's employment record becomes available to all.

It's time to grab this new opening made by professional athletes of conscience, and to start a national campaign to extend the First Amendment to the shop floor, not just the athletic field.

While we're at it, let's demand that Kaepernick get hired again as a QB. After all, he started this ball rolling.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Whaddya Know, Joe? McCarthyism Takes America by Storm (Again)

The Rise of the New McCarthyism

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

September 26, 2017

Special Report: As the New McCarthyism takes hold in America, the neocon Washington Post makes Russia the villain in virtually every bad thing that happens, with U.S. dissidents treated as “fellow-travelers,” writes Robert Parry.

Make no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.

A difference, however, from the McCarthyism of the 1950s is that this New McCarthyism has enlisted Democrats, liberals and even progressives in the cause because of their disgust with President Trump; the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as “un-American” and as Communism’s “fellow travelers.”

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisconsin, who led
the “Red Scare” hearings of the 1950s.

The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political “meddling” as an opportunity to “get Trump.”

Already, the neocons and their allies have exploited the anti-Russian frenzy to extract tens of millions of dollars more from the taxpayers for programs to “combat Russian propaganda,” i.e., funding of non-governmental organizations and “scholars” who target dissident Americans for challenging the justifications for this New Cold War.

The Washington Post, which for years has served as the flagship for neocon propaganda, is again charting the new course for America, much as it did in rallying U.S. public backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in building sympathy for abortive “regime change” projects aimed at Syria and Iran. The Post has begun blaming almost every unpleasant development in the world on Russia! Russia! Russia!

For instance, a Post editorial on Tuesday shifted the blame for the anemic victory of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the surprising strength of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) from Merkel’s austerity policies, which have caused hardship for much of the working class, or from her open door for Mideast refugees, which has destabilized some working-class neighborhoods, to – you guessed it – Russia!

The evidence, as usual, is vague and self-interested, but sure to be swallowed by many Democrats and liberals, who hate Russia because they blame it for Trump, and by lots of Republicans and conservatives, who have a residual hatred for Russia left over from the Old Cold War.

The Post cited the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which has been pushing much of the hysteria about alleged Russian activities on the Internet. The Atlantic Council essentially is NATO’s think tank and is financed with money from the U.S. government, Gulf oil states, military contractors, global financial institutions and many other sources which stand to gain directly or indirectly from the expanding U.S. military budget and NATO interventions.

Blaming Russia

In this New Cold War, the Russians get blamed for not only disrupting some neocon “regime change” projects, such as the proxy war in Syria, but also political developments in the West, such as Donald Trump’s election and AfD’s rise in Germany.

The Atlantic Council’s digital lab claimed, according to the Post editorial, that “In the final hours of the [German] campaign, online supporters of the AfD began warning their base of possible election fraud, and the online alarms were ‘driven by anonymous troll accounts and boosted by a Russian-language bot-net.’”

Of course, the Post evinces no evidence tying any of this to the Russian government or to President Vladimir Putin. It is the nature of McCarthyism that actual evidence is not required, just heavy breathing and dark suspicions. For those of us who operate Web sites, “trolls” – some volunteers and some professionals – have become a common annoyance and they represent many political outlooks, not just Russian.

Plus, it is standard procedure these days for campaigns to issue last-minute alarms to their supporters about possible election fraud to raise doubts about the results should the outcome be disappointing.

The U.S. government has engaged in precisely this strategy around the world, having pro-U.S. parties not only complain about election fraud but to take to the streets in violent protests to impugn the legitimacy of election outcomes. That U.S. strategy has been applied to places such as Ukraine (the Orange Revolution in 2004); Iran (the Green Revolution in 2009); Russia (the Snow Revolution in 2011); and many other locations.

Pre-election alerts also have become a feature in U.S. elections, even in 2016 when both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton raised questions about the legitimacy of the balloting, albeit for different reasons.

Yet, instead of seeing the AfD maneuver as a typical ploy by a relatively minor party – and the German election outcome as an understandable reflection of voter discontent and weariness over Merkel’s three terms as Chancellor – the Atlantic Council and the Post see Russians under every bed and particularly Putin.

Loving to Hate Putin

In the world of neocon propaganda, Putin has become the great bête noire, since he has frustrated a variety of neocon schemes. He helped head off a major U.S. military strike against Syria in 2013; he aided President Obama in achieving the Iran nuclear agreement in 2014-15; Putin opposed and – to a degree – frustrated the neocon-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014; and he ultimately supplied the air power that defeated neocon-backed “rebel” forces in Syria in 2015-17.

So, the Post and the neocons want Putin gone – and they have used gauzy allegations about “Russian meddling” in the U.S. and other elections as the new propaganda theme to justify destabilizing Russia with economic sanctions and, if possible, engineering another “regime change” project in Moscow.

None of this is even secret. Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, publicly proclaimed the goal of ousting Putin in an op-ed in The Washington Post, writing: “The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so.”

But the way neocon propaganda works is that the U.S. and its allies are always the victims of some nefarious enemy who must be thwarted to protect all that is good in the world. In other words, even as NED and other U.S.-funded operations take aim at Putin and Russia, Russia and Putin must be transformed into the aggressors.

“Mr. Putin would like nothing better than to generate doubts, fog, cracks and uncertainty around the German pillar of Europe,” the Post editorial said.
“He relishes infiltrating chaos and mischief into open societies. In this case, supporting the far-right AfD is extraordinarily cynical, given how many millions of Russians died to defeat the fascists seven decades ago.”

Not to belabor the point but there is no credible evidence that Putin did any of this. There is a claim by the virulently anti-Russian Atlantic Council that some “anonymous troll accounts” promoted some AfD complaint about possible voter fraud and that it was picked up by “a Russian-language bot-net.” Even if that is true – and the Atlantic Council is far from an objective source – where is the link to Putin?

Not everything that happens in Russia, a nation of 144 million people, is ordered by Putin. But the Post would have you believe that it is. It is the centerpiece of this neocon conspiracy theory.

Silencing Dissent

Similarly, any American who questions this propaganda immediately is dismissed as a “Kremlin stooge” or a “Russian propagandist,” another ugly campaign spearheaded by the Post and the neocons. Again, no evidence is required, just some analysis that what you’re saying somehow parallels something Putin has said.

On Tuesday, in what amounted to a companion piece for the editorial, a Post article again pushed the unproven suspicions about “Russian operatives” buying $100,000 in Facebook ads from 2015 into 2017 to supposedly influence U.S. politics. Once again, no evidence required.

In the article, the Post also reminds its readers that Moscow has a history of focusing on social inequities in the U.S., which gets us back to the comparisons between the Old McCarthyism and the new.

Yes, it’s true that the Soviet Union denounced America’s racial segregation and cited that ugly feature of U.S. society in expressing solidarity with the American civil rights movement and national liberation struggles in Africa. It’s also true that American Communists collaborated with the domestic civil rights movement to promote racial integration.

That was a key reason why J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI targeted Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-American leaders – because of their association with known or suspected Communists. (Similarly, the Reagan administration resisted support for Nelson Mandela because his African National Congress accepted Communist support in its battle against South Africa’s Apartheid white-supremacist regime.)

Interestingly, one of the arguments from liberal national Democrats in opposing segregation in the 1960s was that the repression of American blacks undercut U.S. diplomatic efforts to develop allies in Africa. In other words, Soviet and Communist criticism of America’s segregation actually helped bring about the demise of that offensive system.

Yet, King’s association with alleged Communists remained a talking point of die-hard segregationists even after his assassination when they opposed creating a national holiday in his honor in the 1980s.

These parallels between the Old McCarthyism and the New McCarthyism are implicitly acknowledged in the Post’s news article on Tuesday, which cites Putin’s criticism of police killings of unarmed American blacks as evidence that he is meddling in U.S. politics.

“Since taking office, Putin has on occasion sought to spotlight racial tensions in the United States as a means of shaping perceptions of American society,” the article states. “Putin injected himself in 2014 into the race debate after protests broke out in Ferguson, Mo., over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an African American, by a white police officer.

“‘Do you believe that everything is perfect now from the point of view of democracy in the United States?’ Putin told CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program. ‘If everything was perfect, there wouldn’t be the problem of Ferguson. There would be no abuse by the police. But our task is to see all these problems and respond properly.’”

The Post’s speculative point seems to be that Putin’s response included having “Russian operatives” buy some ads on Facebook to exploit these racial tensions, but there is no evidence to support that conspiracy theory.

However, as this anti-Russia hysteria spreads, we may soon see Americans who also protest the police killing of unarmed black men denounced as “Putin’s fellow-travelers,” much as King and other civil rights leaders were smeared as “Communist dupes.”

Ignoring Reality

So, instead of Democrats and Chancellor Merkel looking in the mirror and seeing the real reasons why many white working-class voters are turning toward “populist” and “extremist” alternatives, they can simply blame Putin and continue a crackdown on Internet-based dissent as the work of “Russian operatives.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with hands in 
characteristic Merkel-Raute position. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Already, under the guise of combating “Russian propaganda” and “fake news,” Google, Facebook and other tech giants have begun introducing algorithms to hunt down and marginalize news that challenges official U.S. government narratives on hot-button issues such as Ukraine and Syria. Again, no evidence is required, just the fact that Putin may have said something similar.

As Democrats, liberals and even some progressives join in this Russia-gate hysteria – driven by their hatred of Donald Trump and his supposedly “fascistic” tendencies – they might want to consider whom they’ve climbed into bed with and what these neocons have in mind for the future.

Arguably, if fascism or totalitarianism comes to the United States, it is more likely to arrive in the guise of “protecting democracy” from Russia or another foreign adversary than from a reality-TV clown like Donald Trump.

The New McCarthyism with its Orwellian-style algorithms might seem like a clever way to neutralize (or maybe even help oust) Trump but – long after Trump is gone – a structure for letting the neocons and the mainstream media monopolize American political debate might be a far greater threat to both democracy and peace.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Marion Selfridge, Peter Lee, Don Goodeve, Janine Bandcroft September 28, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

September 28, 2017

Overdose deaths in British Columbia are a public health emergency according to provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall. Since Kendall's declaration to that effect in 2016, the number of lives lost has nearly doubled to more than 1400 expected to perish here by year's end.

And for every one of those departed there are friends, family, front-line social workers, and others affected by that loss.

Marion Selfridge is a PhD student in UVic's Social Dimensions of Health program. She's also coordinating the heART space project with an advisory council of street-involved youth. Her dissertation focuses on those youths' use of social media to deal with grief and loss amid this epidemic.

Listen. Hear.

Marion Selfridge in the first segment.

And; before the desperate PR operation to inveigle the American public into believing Russia's Evil Emperor, Vladimir Putin was her ultimate presidential campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton and her "crooked" Clinton Foundation was already working furiously to undermine that other Red Menace, China. And, according to my second guest, the fact she failed to gain the White House has not slowed the effort.

Peter Lee is a freelance journalist writing on East and South Asian affairs as they intersect with US global policy. He blogs at the Asian affairs website China Matters, and his China Watch report features at

Peter Lee and Chuck Hagel's Demise...and James Fanell's Rise...and Australia! in the second segment.

And; full disclosure; as a motorcyclist I feel personally involved when I see another rider injured or killed in a road incident caused by heedless drivers. And, I'm not alone. When fellow rider, Don Goodeve read of Rodger Hargreaves' death earlier this month he asked, “What do we need to do to actually change the culture of road users so that traffic accidents like this do not occur?” He decided to organize, putting out the word for riders to gather and demonstrate solidarity by making several passes en masse of the place where Hargreaves died.

Don Goodeve and riding to remind in the final segment.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large Janine Bandcroft will be here with the Left Coast Events bulletin at the bottomish of the hour. But first, Marion Selfridge and finding heART space.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Trumped Team Clinton Farms Anti-China Campaign to Australia

Chuck Hagel's Demise...and James Fanell's Rise...and Australia!

by Peter Lee - China Matters

September 22, 2017

The dismissal of an unwilling Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense in 2014 was, I think, a watershed in the fortunes of the China hawks, both in the Pentagon and at Pacific Command. Perhaps because it is bad form to explore the possibility that Hagel was purged for insufficient enthusiasm for a pro-active China confrontation agenda, nobody went there. But I did. Natch.

In 2015, I buried my analysis in a tediously long piece that was meant to give an overview of the evolution of US China policy, and provide a corrective to the "Chinese aggression" meme that China hawks like to lean on.

Former DoD head, Chuck Hagel

The narrative of escalating Chinese aggression is central to the China hawks' thesis that we need an escalating response.

Rather interestingly, today a lot of this narrative is coming out of Australia. Google "Chinese influence Australia" and you'll get an idea of the barrage of local and global coverage keying on the skillfully shaped message that Chinese influence--though it is not illegal--must be feared.

I've recently come to the conclusion that spate of panic stricken reports emerging from Australia concerning the China menace in economics, politics, and academics are a belated and improvised substitute for what was supposed to be the real deal: a pivot from Obama namby-pambyism to steely Clinton resolve to confront China in 2016.

The unexpected Trump victory--and the determined gutting of the State Department by Team Trump--has temporarily put paid to dreams of running a united and highly coordinated global anti-China initiative out of a Clinton White House drawing on allies and assets in Asia and Europe.

Instead, the aggressive anti-China alliance is being improvised in exile and, in Australia, with the support of James Clapper, who did a visiting scholar thing down there, the unflagging efforts of the Lowy Institute (which, in addition to serving as the FP mouthpiece of the Lowy family, which bundled for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and contributed coin to the Clinton Foundation, also employs Hillary Clinton's foreign policy major domo Jake Sullivan), and the assistance of a local flock of eager pro-US China hawks at Australian unis and think tanks and in the media.

More significantly, I'm guessing Team Clinton might be getting more than a little help from the king of PACOM's China hawks, Admiral Harry Harris, in supporting the Australian natsec establishment in eliciting a remarkably aggressive anti-China posture out of previously dovish Malcolm Turnbull.

Admiral Harris, indeed, is rumored to be ready to retire from the US Navy to take over as US Ambassador to Australia next year, which would give him the opportunity to get hands-on in coordinating the China confrontainment mission.

With this perspective, it's interesting to read what I wrote in 2015 after Chuck Hagel hit the bricks:

Now, of course, the DoD has a new boss—Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; and PACCOM has a new commander—Admiral Harry Harris, and the general consensus is that the muscular defense sector has wrestled China policy away from the milquetoastian White House. Interestingly, Admiral Harris was previously the Pentagon’s liaison to to the State Department under Hillary Clinton as well as John Kerry, which reinforces my impression that Hillary Clinton and her foreign policy advisors have pre-loaded China policy with her supporters, and I expect things to get ugly quickly so that the nasty and awkward business of starting the confrontation can be done under Obama before Clinton enters office. 

As I put it elsewhere: Hillary wants to inherit her China crisis from Obama, not foment it herself.

And maybe now we've had to outsource the crisis to Australia!

For those who want to go through a lengthy and taxing account of how the China hawks developed their narrative and strategies since 2010, there's the full 2015 piece: It's Official. America Has a China Containment Policy.

For those who want to read about Chuck Hagel getting shivved (a story I don't think anybody has told in full) read on in this tasty excerpt:

The Chuck Hagel years (Feb 2013-15) are a sore point for US hawks, and perhaps explain why they like to date the South China Sea crisis to 2012 and a period of accommodation/appeasement/common sense during which the PRC ran amok in the South China Sea, and not 2010 when the carnival really started.

In an end-2013 piece on the South China Sea, Bull In The China Shop, Professor Pedrozo, the legal muse for China hawks in the navy, (now at the US Naval War College, the go-to institution for US SCS lawfare) gave full rein to his China hawk side. Beginning with an epigraph from Franklin Roosevelt, “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him”, and concluding with an exhortation to America, with its allies, to “stand up to Chinese brinkmanship before it is too late”, Pedrozo’s piece is also remarkable for the venom it displays toward then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, PACCOM’s Admiral Locklear, and the Obama China team for its caution/appeasement in dealing with the PRC on the Cowpens incident, the East China Sea ADIZ, and the tussle over Scarborough Shoal.

A key event in 2014 was a  speech given in February by a key Navy insider and China hawk, Captain James Fanell to a US Naval Institute conference, in which he stated:

“[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea, following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [island] — as some of their academics say.”

Maybe bullshit, as in Fanell seizing on the “everybody has a war plan for every contingency” thing to make China-bashing hay. But the key element was that Captain Fannel was the head of intelligence for PACCOM…and he had gone off rez.

And he had gone off rez at the same time that Secretary Hagel was prepping for a make-nice trip with the PRC.

Fanell’s comments come at the same time that Washington is arranging a trip for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Beijing, with the expressed goal of enhancing U.S.-China military-to-military relationships. U.S. military officials want this relationship, among other reasons, to prevent some of the tense encounters between U.S. and Chinese ships in recent years.

In that context, Washington officials, when asked about Fanell’s comments, dismissed them.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who has been in Beijing laying the groundwork for Hagel’s visit, went a step further.

Asked about Fanell’s “short, sharp war” assessment, Odierno responded: "I've seen no indications of that at all."

And Fanell’s speech to an obscure conference about East Asian hypotheticals miraculously received the widest possible attention in the non-specialist media.

Fanell was reassigned i.e. demoted in November 2014 (took a while, didn’t it? Admiral Harris, at the time the nominated but not yet confirmed Commander, Pacific Command, promoted from Commander, Pacific Fleet [and Fanell’s boss], did the dirty, perhaps as a condition of his new employment).

Navy Times reported:

Fanell's views have supporters inside naval intelligence, and he has become a high-profile spokesman for a more alarmist view of the rise of China than those espoused by Navy senior leadership, an intelligence source who spoke to Navy Times said. Fanell's articles on China have been published by Hoover Digest, Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly and the U. S. Naval Institute's Proceedings.

So Fanell was gone, but guess what? Two weeks later, Hagel was gone as well!

Supposedly Hagel was booted because he wasn’t up to the IS challenge, but I wonder. I’m not alone. Per US News & World Reports at the announcement of Hagel’s involuntary retirement:

“I can’t figure out what he did to merit being voted off the island,” says Eric Edelman, who until 2009 served as the undersecretary of defense for policy, essentially the No. 3 position at the Pentagon.

“He gave them the strategy and the budget they asked for and wanted,” Edelman says. The White House has planned for a military drawdown after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a reset toward a renewed presence in the Pacific. “I understand there were a few occasions when he may have leaned a little too far forward on his skis with regards to ISIS. But it’s kind of hard to figure out what it is they found lacking in his performance.”

US Middle East policy in 2015 is, for lack of a better term, still totally for sh*t under Ash Carter and still characterized by conflicted flailing and an utter unwillingness by the US uniformed forces to re-embrace the jihadi tar baby, a sentiment that Hagel shared completely, but Asia policy…well, galloping along in the new hawkish direction.

Fanell retired too, but his January 31, 2015 retirement party was pretty much a victory lap and a sounding of the China threat tocsin. In his farewell speech, Fanell said:

[T]he Communist Party of China’s designs stand in direct contrast to espoused U.S. national security objectives of freedom of navigation and free access to markets for all of Asia.

This not only threatens our own national security, but is also very clearly upsetting the entire Asia Pacific region has enjoyed for over 70 years.

The challenge, as I have seen it, is for intelligence professionals to make the case, to tell the truth and to convince national decision and policy makers to realize that China’s rise, if left unchecked or undeterred, will necessarily disrupt the peace and stability of our friends, partners and allies. We should not have to wait for an actual shooting war to start before we acknowledge there is a problem and before we start taking serious action. The “Rebalance” is a good first step forward, but it must be backed up with a real, tangible deterrent force and we must stand-up to Beijing’s propaganda and bullying campaign, especially those that come at the expense of our allies and partners. 

To continue the synchronicity of Hagel & Fanell’s careers, Hagel’s retirement ceremony took place three days earlier and was, we can say, shrouded in defeat & failure:

A senior Pentagon official told NBC News at the time that Hagel was asked to step down because the president no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the military as it struggled to defeat Islamic extremists waging war in the Middle East.

'He wasn’t up to the job,' the official said.

... Today Earnest's stand-in, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, said 'friction' between the White House and the Pentagon is 'something that predates this administration.'

... Schultz said the White House believes it has 'good relationships with the military leaders.'


With Hagel gone, the US on track to extract new defense guidelines from Japan, and with the DoD in the hands of the China hawks, it was clear to the PRC it was time to make hay while the sun shone and get its facts on the water for a prolonged period of China containment struggle, one that might endure for the next decade factoring in the possibility of two terms for Hillary Clinton.

America Aiding and Abetting 7 of 10 World Dictatorships

US Provides Military Aid To More Than 70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

September 26, 2017

About three-quarters of the world’s dictatorships currently receive military assistance from the United States. This is a strange record for a nation that consistently justifies its sweeping foreign interventions as aimed at “promoting democracy” and “thwarting evil dictatorships.”

In the Cold War it was “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Current analysis shows the U.S. militarily assisting dictators the world over, calling it “promoting democracy,” and disingenuously wondering why it’s all going so badly.

For much of its history, the United States government has explained or defended its intervention in the affairs of other nations by framing such behavior as necessary to “promote democracy” abroad and to thwart the advance of “evil dictators.” While the use of those phrases has hardly dwindled over the years, establishment figures have been forced to admit in recent years that the U.S.’ democracy promotion efforts haven’t gone quite as planned.

For instance, last year, Foreign Policy published an article headlined “Why is America So Bad at Promoting Democracy in Other Countries?” There, Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt noted that most of the U.S.’ democracy promotion efforts abroad end in failure, with nearly a quarter of the world’s democracies having been degraded in the past 30 years. Though Walt blames the U.S.’ muddled history of military interventions for failing to spread democracy, a new analysis suggests that the reason for this troubling trend is not that democracy wasn’t promoted the “right” way, but rather that democracy was never meant to be promoted at all. 

By the numbers: U.S. backs three of every four dictators

Rich Whitney, an attorney and writer, sought to compare Freedom House’s rating system of political rights for 2015 to the U.S. government’s provision of military assistance – military training, military aid and weapons sales – to foreign nations that same year. Whitney’s stated goal was to determine whether the U.S. government actually opposes dictatorships and champions democracy at a global level, as is often claimed. His independent analysis found that the U.S. has actually manifested the opposite of its stated intention, by providing military assistance to 36 of the world’s 49 dictatorships. In other words, more than 73% of the world’s dictatorships currently receive military assistance from the United States.

For his analysis, Whitney used a commonly accepted definition of dictatorship: “a system of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute state power, thereby directing all national policies and major acts — leaving the people powerless to alter those decisions or replace those in power by any method short of revolution or coup.” He chose Freedom House’s Freedom in the World annual reports, citing it as the best source for a comprehensive list of dictatorships and “free” societies. Whitney, however, noted that the ostensibly independent organization has a “decidedly pro-US-ruling-class bias.”

Freedom House’s bias makes the results of Whitney’s analysis even more damning. The organization is funded by a combination of Western government and nongovernmental-organization sources, including the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations. Thus, its categorization of nations as dictatorships or as free societies is largely analogous to how the U.S. State Department classifies such nations — meaning that U.S. monetary support of such dictatorships is a knowing and willful repudiation of democracy promotion abroad.

Furthermore, many of the nations labeled as dictatorships by Freedom House are rivals of the United States, and thus tended to be labeled dictatorships even though they are not. For example, both Iran and Syria were labeled dictatorships even though Iran held democratic elections earlier this year and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was re-elected in 2014 with 88.7% of the vote. Russia, the eternal rival of the United States, is also considered a dictatorship according to Freedom House despite the fact that elections regularly occur there. If these three nations were removed from list, the U.S. would then support upwards of 78% of the world’s dictatorships.

In addition, other decidedly undemocratic nations that receive large amounts of U.S. military aid were not included as dictatorships in the Freedom House report and thus in Whitney’s analysis. For instance, Israel receives over $10 million in U.S. military aid every day despite the fact that all Palestinians living within its borders are disenfranchised and subject to either concentration-camp conditions or imposed military rule.

Circumstances change but justification remains the same

Though this analysis of the government’s own data and data from a pro-Western think tank has revealed the U.S.’ far-reaching support for dictatorships around the world, such a revelation is unlikely to change anything about the U.S.’ long-standing modus operandi. For of course U.S. support for dictators is nothing new: many Cold War-era dictators, particularly in Latin America and Asia, were installed and backed with full U.S. government support despite their despotism, in order to allow the U.S. to “contain” communism and Soviet influence.

Ultimately, “democracy promotion” was never the true intent, but instead the disguise to mask the imperial conquest of nations that refused to acquiesce to U.S. government demands. For that reason, the notable military interventions of recent decades — particularly Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — were sold to the U.S. public as being born out of the need to “restore” democracy and wrest control from “evil dictators.” That narrative continues to be used to justify pushes for regime change abroad, even though the U.S.’ self-image as the world’s greatest democracy hangs in tatters.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pat Tillman and Two Americans, Two Americas Revisited

Two Americans, Two Americas

C. L. Cook -

Dec. 5th 2004

[President Trump invoked again the name of former footballer and American Afghanistan War fatality, Pat Tillman yesterday (September 24, 2017) as contrast to those NFLers he sees as less than patriotic for their anthem protests. Trump's use of Tillman follows the pattern the Pentagon set, and as propaganda necessarily lacks context. Below is an article I wrote not long after Tillman's death in 2004. - Ape] 
 Two National Football League stars walk away from the game at the height of their lucrative careers for reasons that illustrate the divide in today's America. 

Red Team, Blue Team 


There's been much written, in the wake of the recent U.S. elections, of the split in the American political psyche. Some have extrapolated this division to the spiritual sphere, making of it a struggle to find the soul of the nation. The twin tales of the departure from the NFL of star players, Pat Tillman and Ricky Williams serve as analogues of a nation seeking its identity.

Pat Tillman came from a military family. After the 9/11 attacks against America, he began to view football as irrelevant in the broader scope of the nation's affairs. He and his brother, Kevin, a former football professional himself, joined the elite Army Rangers because, in Pat's words,

"A lot of my family has gone and fought wars, and I really haven't done a damn thing."

The brothers were assigned to the same unit, and initially sent to Iraq, before a subsequent transfer to Afghanistan. O­n April 22nd, 2004, they were ambushed while o­n patrol and Pat Tillman was killed.

The army was quick to award Tillman the Silver Star, and released a glowing account of the fatal encounter and Pat's heroism that would later prove to be mostly fiction. The truth was: Tillman's death was the culmination of a series of incompetent decisions made by superiors along the chain of command, compounded by equipment failure. Ultimately, he was killed by "friendly-fire," or in civilian terms, shot by his own side.

Some, o­n the anti-war, anti-empire side of the American bifurcation, used the lies told by the Pentagon, and the media's shameless jingoistic lionization of Tillman, to impugn his character and the accounts of his courage under fire, (completely untrue), while others went so far as to question the intelligence of the man who swallowed the Bush line o­n the "War o­n Terror" whole and ultimately died for a lie (less completely untrue).

Tillman believed he was serving the interests of his country, but he was no dummy. He graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State, while playing football, in less than four years. His friends say he was a voracious reader, and loved to discuss conspiracy theories. Whether he had come to doubt Washington's veracity, or entertain the greatest conspiracy theory of them all before the end is an open question.

Ricky Williams was a Heissman Trophy-winning star Running Back for the Miami Dolphins making millions a year, and o­n pace to break every record in the book. Then he decided to walk away. He'd been troublesome for the Dolphins, failing numerous drug tests for marijuana, and facing fines and suspension from the league. His drug use hadn't always been a problem for the NFL, though.

While recovering from an injury, doctors (and drugs-making giant Glaxxo SmithKline) convinced Williams his aversion to crowds of autograph seekers was due to a condition they called, "social anxiety disorder," or (SAD).

He was quickly signed o­n as a "celebrity patient" for Glaxxo's new miracle cure for shyness, Paxil and began making the media rounds promoting the anti-depressant. But the drug didn't sit well with Williams, so he gave it up in favour of weed.

He wasn't shy about the benefits of leaf, saying it was "ten times better than Paxil" and should be made legal. The NFL didn't agree. Just weeks before the 2004 season began, still facing fines and censure, Ricky Williams walked, saying,

"I've realized, both o­n a psychological and physical level, that the things we do in football don't bring more harmony to your life. They just bring more disharmony."

Since his departure, Williams has gone o­n a world-wide odyssey, travelling through Asia, Europe, Australia, and finally home to California, in an effort to find his own path. He's gone vegan, enrolled in a course teaching the ancient Indian holistic medicinal practice, Ayurveda, and, even though faced with law suits from the league and savage attacks by the press, says he's never been happier. At his now defunct website,, he wrote:

"I wish athletes today could have the same impact o­n social reform as they did when he [Jim Brown] was playing. When the likes of Ali, Malcolm X and Jim Brown all sat in the same room and discussed their views o­n America. Nowadays, it seems all some of us are interested in is how much money we can make. I love playing football, and I love making money, but I am starting to realize that those aren't the o­nly reasons God has given me so much talent."

Out of the game for good, Williams won't have the soap-box of professional sport to effect the kind of change he had envisioned, but his Ricky Williams Foundation continues to raise money to educate under-privileged kids in America.

We'll never know what positive contributions Pat Tillman could have made to his country.

Both these Americans, bright, driven, independent, and courageous will fade from the national consciousness, but together they represent the deep divisions of that country in a time when the need for existential soul-searching has never been more relevant.

Chris Cook produces and hosts the public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, heard weekly o­n CFUV Radio, University of Victoria.

End Note: The Washington Post published a story today, (May 23, '05) detailing Tillman's parent's response to the Army cover-up of the cause of his death.


Run Ricky Run: Football, Pot, and Pain
Fred Gardner
Aug. 7/8, 2004

Ricky Williams at Holistic Medicine School
Associated Press
Nov. 24th, 2004

In the Kill Zone: The Unnecessary Death of Pat Tillman
Steve Coll
The Washington Post
Dec. 5th, 2004

Pat Tillman and Ricky Williams
Dec., 5th, 2004
Mickey Z.

The Runaway
Chris Jones
Esquire Magazine
Dec. 2004 Volume 142, Issue 6

Former Dolphin Star Goes for Ayurvedic Medicine

Mamoud Roars at UN: Balfour Declaration 'Heinous Crime'

President Abbas’ Rebuke to Theresa May Over Palestine 

by Craig Murray 

24 Sep, 2017   

President Abbas of Palestine delivered a stunning rebuke to Theresa May in his speech to the UN General Assembly, which differed from his prepared and released script.

What Abbas actually said was this:

My message to you, Mrs May, as Prime Minister of this country, if I may be so bold, is this: when David Lloyd George, your predecessor in the role, issued the Balfour Declaration on 2nd November 1917, he was committing a heinous crime against ninety-seven per cent of the population of Palestine. The evil consequences of that crime reverberate down to our present day. As an educated woman, especially one in such a high position, you know all that, I am sure.

Which is why I am astounded by your cold reluctance, your seeming inability, to be moved by the 100 years of misery, injustice, destruction and atrocities inflicted on the Palestinians by their oppressors, first the British, then the Israelis. You appear equally impervious to the cries of anger and frustration from thousands of people in this country, of all faiths and none, faced with HMG’s refusal to make good on the promise in the second part of the Balfour Declaration. A simple gesture of sympathy with non-Jewish Palestinians, the descendants of the indigenous Christians and Muslims of historical Palestine in 1917, would be a start. How can it not occur to you what an enormous benefit that would have for peace and security in the Middle East and wider afield?

The iconic suffering of the Palestinian people is a sore that needs to be healed. Only Britain has the ability to administer the healing balm. How long will they, and the world, have to wait, Prime Minister, for the healing to begin? When will you make a start?

The ignored part of the Balfour Convention to which Abbas referred is of course:

“It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Israel not only continues its aggressive programme of illegal settlement building, it also continues to demolish Palestinian structures in the territories it occupies, including schools and medical facilities built by the European Union and its member states. I do urge you to read this truly shocking report from CNN. There are many other examples.

The Daily Mail published an article promoting the frankly ludicrous argument that the EU is acting contrary to international law by building schools and clinics in the occupied territories. The article is highly tendentious because the Mail fails to state that the legal “authority” it quotes, Alan Baker, is himself an illegal settler.

The author is Jake Wallis Simons. He is given to omitting essential information from his reports on Israel and its supporters. On 28 April 2017 Wallis Simons published an account in the Mail of a Palestinian support meeting in Parliament, from which pro-Israel supporters were removed by police after they were disruptive.

The article is tendentious in saying that the Zionist disrupters were removed by police with machine guns. Armed police were present, due to recent terrorist incidents around parliament, but in fact they called in non-armed support to remove the noisy protestors, and there was over a five minute delay for the unarmed officers to arrive.

But where Wallis Simons is particularly tendentious is in featuring prominently and quoting pro-Israeli activist Mandy Blumenthal in the article, with a glamorous photograph of her. Wallis Simons again fails to give the reader essential information – in this case that Ms Blumenthal is the partner of Mark Lewis, Mr Wallis Simons’ lawyer who is acting for Mr Wallis Simons to sue me for libel in the High Court. A reader of the Daily Mail article may have wanted to know of the author’s close relationship with the subject’s partner.

Mr Wallis Simons is Associate Editor of the Mail Online and thus, even though the byline is Rory Tingle, it is probably not unreasonable to associate him with the Mail Online’s even more sensational article about Mandy Blumenthal last month:

Ms Blumenthal is searching for property in Israel, and plans to leave within the next ‘few years’, but would emigrate within weeks if Mr Corbyn became Prime Minister.

This article is accompanied by an astonishing four photos of Ms Blumenthal, all copyright [by] Ms Blumenthal herself, and three photos of her father. It is part an extraordinary puff piece for Ms Blumenthal – complete with posed cleavage shot I am not reproducing – and part a rehash of the Mail’s repeated attempts to associate Jeremy Corbyn with anti-Semitism. The article has no real basis at all – a threat by a little known person to leave the UK “in a few years”. Interestingly, though it tells us much about her late father, it does not mention her rather better known partner, Mark Lewis.

It is legitimate to ask how on earth the Mail Online, Associate Editor Jake Wallis Simons, came to be publishing this extraordinary promotional piece for Mark Lewis’ partner at all.

Mark Lewis from his public Facebook page, which 
states he is in a relationship with Mandy Blumenthal.

Finally, here is a video clip of Ms Blumenthal in action again this month, this time with her brother, double glazing salesman and UKIP candidate (I did not make those up) Alan Blumenthal. Yet again they were deliberately disrupting a pro-Palestinian meeting, this time featuring a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset as speaker. Mr Blumenthal is the balding man with spectacles and you can judge his behaviour for yourself.

Precisely why the Blumenthals feel the need to attend pro-Palestinian meetings and disrupt them, is an interesting question. One can easily imagine the outrage of the Daily Mail if I or others turned up to pro-Israeli meetings and behaved in this way. I might add I would not dream of doing so.

Jake Wallis Simons, Mandy Blumenthal and Mark Lewis form a nexus whose methods and motivations could not be more plain. Nevertheless that does not mean I cannot be in real trouble in having to make a libel defence against Wallis Simons, under England’s repressive libel system.

I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.