Friday 21st of June 2019

moribunding with the stars and stripes — and it probably had actual shit in it...

mediamedia

Two very different reporters dig deep beneath the mainstream media chatter to find the authentic, arrhythmic heart of America. Charlie LeDuff (Sh*t Show!: The Country’s Collapsing… and the Ratings are Great) and Chris Hedges ( America: The Farewell Tour), both former New York Times writers, are resourceful investigators who go their own ways to find stories. Beyond that instinct for truth, and independence from the media pack, they have radically different methods. Read together, their books complement and corroborate each other.

 

LeDuff gathers anecdotal evidence from “the fringes” of the country, including minorities and the poor, who rarely have a voice or make an appearance in media until some tragedy befalls them. His made-for-TV antics are gutsy and amusing (a la Michael Moore) but his points are deadly serious.

Hedges’ relentless jeremiad reveals the pathologies of America’s failed institutions, the impotence of our corporate political parties, the rise of the Christian fascism and infotainment that brought Trump to power and the concomitant cruelties of word and deed that spread with toxic speed via our electronic networks, degrading our discourse and our sensibilities. Hedges provides the systemic overview and context for LeDuff’s many examples of U.S. social and economic craziness.

After twelve years at the Times, Charlie LeDuff quit the paper and returned to his hometown of Detroit, convinced the elite media were missing the real story of how most Americans – non-celebrities and non-oligarchs – were coping with their increasingly dire economic circumstances.

LeDuff wrote about the urban catastrophe of Detroit for the Detroit Free Press for two years, then took a job at WJBK TV, Detroit’s local Fox affiliate. In 2013 he managed to convince Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to let him take a three-person film crew around the country to get stories of the “real America,” produced as two- to ten-minute segments available for broadcast by Fox affiliated stations across the country. This series, by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, called “The Americans,” is available to view on youtube.

LeDuff describes his meeting with the wary Ailes in Sh*t Show!

 

I was proposing something showcasing everyday people who were trying to get by as the country and their way of life disintegrated around them.

“I don’t want you going off and doing stories on Rupert Murdoch’s charities,” he said, gravely.

What the wizard was telling me was that he didn’t want stories that would cost him money or advertisers or instigate phone calls from the country club or from the Boss himself. These were the same concerns of liberal media executives. In the end, news isn’t really about keeping the public informed or holding the powerful to account. It’s about cash money. The First Amendment is a fine thing, but the Founding Fathers didn’t think to leave the media a revenue stream.

 

LeDuff’s self-appointed mission was to give voices to usually voiceless people. Careening around the country with his homemade “Official Media ID,” speaking with everyday folk in his own politically incorrect argot, he picked fruit with migrant workers in southern California and interviewed them in Spanish about their circumstances and aspirations. He checked out the grim conditions in the oil fields of North Dakota and the deadly effects of water poisoning in Flint, Michigan, after the state took over that bankrupt city in 2011 and switched its water supply from the Detroit River to the cheaper, ultra-polluted, Flint River.

 

You could watch the water come from the tap. It didn’t just look like shit; it probably had actual shit in it.”

 

LeDuff checked out Cliven Bundy’s claim in Nevada that he had the right to graze his cattle on public lands at no charge, as a sovereign citizen of the state. Bundy gathered a “citizens’ militia” to defend his rights against federal officials, claiming “I don’t even recognize the United States government as existing.”

Occasionally a performer as well as a witness, LeDuff donned an American flag bathing suit and rode an inflatable banana kayak across the Rio Grande, to observe coyotes and their clients crossing illegally on jet skis. He chronicled the deadly chaos in Detroit’s urban schools, speaking to students and staff as millions of tax dollars were diverted to subsidize a hockey stadium owned by billionaires.

When police killed a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, LeDuff and his crew spent extensive time there, making repeat visits, talking to many individuals about their circumstances, staying long after the demonstrations that attracted most other media, engaging with community leaders and “average residents.”

Among the many different people he spoke with in Ferguson and Flint and the high desert of Nevada, LeDuff noted a common theme: “The government is against me! Tyranny! Rage against the machine!”

Three months after white Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson shot the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, six times, killing him, Ferguson nervously awaited the grand jury decision about whether or not to charge Wilson with murder or manslaughter. Like all major news stories, Ferguson finally became about the coverage itself. LeDuff sets the scene, a la Hunter Thompson:

 

And so the media, the bicoastal honey babies, descended on Ferguson, Missouri, in the heart of Middle America. They were out of place here: primped, blown dry, ravenous, pushy, self-important. Mix that with a generous helping of white liberal do-gooders, white anarchists, black nationalists, international commentators, local bloggers, and the new class of do-it-yourself internet Hemingways and you had yourself a genuine, world-class goat fuck of discombobulation and vainglory…”

 

Unlike the locals, the media outsiders were hoping for “some good TV. Some flames and gas. Some screaming and looting…” to make their reputations. When the grand jury refused to indict the shooter, the predictable violence raged. But most media observers left on the run. “Two things were obvious about the police in Ferguson,” according to LeDuff. “They didn’t have a flipping clue, and they didn’t stand a freaking chance.”

LeDuff watched would-be presidential candidates – Cruz, Graham, Huckabee, Bush, et. al. – preen and spar in advance of the Iowa caucus, delivering their anti-immigration diatribes near slaughter houses and meat-packing plants full of Latino workers.

“It was obvious something was missing among the Republicans. They were not ready for prime time. Unless this was prime time. If it was, then we were in worse trouble than I’d thought.” The candidates weren’t addressing substantive issues like the failing cities, income inequality or climate change. But the media “couldn’t get enough of the man they universally despised. The Orange Oak was a danger to the status quo. And the status quo, of course, was largely composed of those self-important types sitting around the editorial tables, for whom he had no respect… Just three months into the race, Trump looked like the pick…

“The glass was half empty in America. Less than half of American households were now considered middle class, and half the middle-class wealth had evaporated during the Great Recession. Rent was eating half their paychecks…Economic insecurity was the biggest issue in America…But the lives of struggling white people don’t make good TV. They don’t make good copy.

“Through it all, the public’s trust in everything fell to all-time lows…” including the presidential candidates. “As for Congress, one imaginative polling firm found that brussel sprouts, head lice, cockroaches, colonoscopies and gonorrhea were more popular than our elected representatives…. while the public’s trust in [mainstream media] fell to its lowest level in recoded history… Whatever the reason, we had no one to blame but ourselves.”

When Chris Hedges interviewed Charlie LeDuff on his RT program, On Contact, the two men covered a lot of common ground. Both had been on Times reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes. But unlike LeDuff’s coming of age on the hardscrabble streets of Detroit, Hedges was formed by his studies at Harvard Divinity School and his many years as a foreign correspondent in Central American, European and Middle Eastern battle zones.

In 2003, as the U.S. war in Iraq began, Hedges gave a commencement address at Rockford College in Illinois. He told the graduates that:

 

…we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power and security.”

 

His audience booed him. His mic was cut and his talk abruptly stopped. Security guards escorted him off campus. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial excoriating him for his anti-war stance. The New York Times reprimanded him for compromising the paper’s impartiality and forbade him to discuss the war. He quit the Times soon thereafter.

Hedges had already published his book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (2002), drawing on classical literature and his own experiences, to limn the dark allure of war’s pornographic violence, “filled with the monstrous and the grotesque… War gives us a distorted sense of self. It gives us meaning, it creates a feeling of comradeship and alienation and makes us feel, for perhaps the first time in our lives, that we belong.”

His production of critical commentary remains prodigious. Besides publishing more than a dozen books about the crises of US culture and governance, Hedges writes a weekly column for Truthdig, hosts an interview program on RT, with guests rarely seen on mainstream media, appears often for interviews in print, on-line, on radio and television and gives public speeches. A recent On Contact revealed the surprising political biases and pressures behind the seemingly bland, authoritative entries in Wikipedia, a source many think of as neutral. But it’s not.

In his opening chapter of Farewell Tour, entitled “Decay,” Hedges visits Scranton, Pennsylvania Rockford, Illinois and Anderson, Indiana, once thriving, now struggling communities, bereft of the companies and unions that used to sustain their prosperous economies. As tax bases shrivel, local, state and federal governments cut vital services, an economic death spiral. Only the lowest wage jobs exist. Some citizens blame immigrants and minorities for their poverty.

The real causes of this blight are not mysterious, though seldom mentioned in US media. Bill Clinton’s NAFTA sent many factories to Mexico, to pay workers three dollars an hour and no benefits instead of the thirty-dollar-an-hour jobs with benefits in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Indiana that allowed workers to support a family in a decent style. There is also the problem, as Hedges notes, of “America’s militarized capitalism, which plows vast sums into a permanent war economy. Upward of half of all federal dollars are spent on the war industry. The Pentagon consumes nearly $600 billion a year..” but when military items hidden in other budgets are counted, “over $1 trillion a year.”

Meanwhile, “the half-dozen corporations that own most of the media have worked overtime to sell to a bewildered public the fiction that we are enjoying a recovery. Employment figures, through a variety of gimmicks, including erasing those who have been unemployed for over a year from unemployment rolls, are a lie, as is nearly every other financial indicator pumped out for the public.”

But government lies and mass media bromides cannot conceal the mounting despair that claims so many lives. “Opiod overdoses are the leading cause of death in this country for those under the age of fifty. Fifty-nine thousand people died in 2016 from overdoses, or 161 people a day. The United States consumes 80 percent of the global opioids.”

Insanely, as Hedges points out,

 

The $1 trillion the US government has spent since Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs has, by every measure, been a colossal failure.”

 

Between law enforcement and prisons, the U.S. spends about “$76 billion a year” to fight drug crime. But more Americans under 50 “die from overdoses than from heart disease, cancer, suicide, or traffic accidents. The number of deaths from overdoses has quadrupled since 1999.”

The atomization of American culture, the isolation many individuals feel from their communities or from other kindred souls, exacerbated by mass media and internet consumption, also breeds despair. Hedges recites alarming statistics:

 

One hundred and twenty-one Americans commit suicide daily… The overwhelming majority – 93 of the 121 – are men. Seven out of ten of these men are white and between the ages of forty-five and sixty-five. Around 44,193 Americans commit suicide every year and another 1.1 million Americans attempt suicide annually.”

 

Hedges offers a bracing analysis of how the ruling elites, “terrified by the mobilization of the left in the 1960s,” and impervious to the economic and emotional plight of the growing American underclass, staged a “creeping corporate coup d’etat that today is complete.”

There is only space enough here to highlight a few points from his eloquent, detailed and devastating overview of the U.S. crisis that deserves to be widely read in its entirety. Hedges understands that “Trump is not an anomaly. He is the grotesque visage of a collapsed democracy. Trump and his coterie of billionaires, generals, half-wits, Christian fascists, criminals, racists and moral deviants… embody the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism.”

Hedges wrote an entire book about the dangerous rise of Christian fascism in America. He opines here that:

 

The merger of the corporatists with the Christian right is the marrying of Gozilla to Frankenstein.”

 

“On the surface it appears to be incongruous that the Christian right would rally behind a slick New York real estate developer who is a public serial philanderer and adulterer, has no regard for the truth, is consumed by greed, does not appear to read or know the Bible, routinely defrauds and cheats his investors and contractors, expresses a crude misogyny and an even cruder narcissism, and appears to yearn for despotism. In fact, these are the very characteristics that define many of the leaders of the Christian right.”

Hedges indicts the Democratic Party for failing to confront the real reasons for its electoral defeat in 2016. Democrats blamed Russian interference, leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, and FBI Director James Comey’s pre-election announcement about Clinton’s private e-mail server.

“It refused to acknowledge the root cause of its defeat, the abandonment of workers, deindustrialization, the wars in the Middle East, and vast social inequality.” The party betrayed the working and middle classes they claimed to represent and “lost credibility among those it has betrayed.” Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer appear unwilling or perhaps unable to confront these realities. Hedges sees this as “ominous, not only for the Democratic Party, but for American democracy.”

The failure of politicians and US media to acknowledge the real nature of American social and global decline, augers a dystopian future.

 

As deteriorating infrastructure and ongoing layoffs continue to beset the nation’s cities, more dramatic signs of neglect will appear. Garbage will pile up uncollected on curbsides. Power grids will blink on and off. There will not be enough police, firefighters or teachers. Pensions will be slashed or paid sporadically. Decent medial care will be reserved for the rich. Those who die because they cannot afford health care – now 45,000 uninsured people a year – will perish in greater numbers…”

 

The United States has squandered the moral authority the country enjoyed coming out of the Second World War. The CIA has overthrown governments around the globe, whether or not they were democratically elected, to install regimes more complaisant to U.S. corporate interests, no matter how authoritarian those regimes might be. Our many brutal, unnecessary “discretionary conflicts” in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East have turned many peoples of the world against the United States.

 

The photographs of physical abuse and sexual humiliation imposed on Arab prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison inflamed the Muslim world. They fed al Qaeda and later Islamic State with new recruits… The hundreds of thousands of dead, the millions of refugees fleeing our debacles in the Middle East, and the near-constant threat from militarized aerial drones, have exposed us as state terrorists. We have repeated in the Middle East the widespread atrocities, indiscriminate violence, lies, and blundering miscalculations that led to our defeat in Vietnam.”

 

What is to be done?

For Hedges, the answer is clear. We must resist the transparent lies of the corporate state and stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed by it.

 

“We must stop looking for salvation from strong leaders. Strong people, as the civil rights leader Ella Baker said, do not need strong leaders. Politicians, even good politicians, play the game of compromise and are seduced by the privileges of power.”

 

As Hedges has reason to know, “The power elites attempt to discredit those who resist…” Establishment critics attack Hedges because – despite his strong media presence – he is not singing from the power elite’s hymn book. Reviewers in The Washington Post and The New York Times have disparaged America: The Farewell Tour as “unrelieved in its negativism” and “righteous and self-righteous… addicted to fire and brimstone,” in order to dismiss his views instead of engaging with them.

In his 1863 Russian novel, What is to be done?, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, said the intellectual’s duty was to educate and lead the laboring Russian masses to a socialism that bypassed capitalism. Tolstoy and Lenin both later wrote tracts with the same title to promote their own notions of moral and political responsibility.

Chris Hedges teaches at Princeton and in the New Jersey prison system, sometimes combining students from both institutions in the same classes. That must make for a rich educational experience for all concerned. These interactions may help Hedges to formulate a way forward for the resistance to America’s militant, suicidal late capitalism.

Charlie LeDuff has also identified candidates ripe for an organized rage against the machine. Not Cliven Bundy’s brand of Nativist entitlement, or an intolerance of human differences, but a real anti-capitalist resistance based on mutual respect, a commitment to social justice and a reverence for the planet which has nurtured all our lives. LeDuff returned to Detroit radio in October, broadcasting his No BS News Hour, also available as a podcast.

We can only go forward all together, free of the corporate yoke.

Charlie LeDuff, Sh*t Show!: The Country’s Collapsing… and the Ratings are Great, Penguin, New York, 2018.Chris Hedges, America: The Farewell Tour, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2018.James McEnteer is the author four books about media, history and culture. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, The Journal of Wild Culture, The Monthly Review, Salon, Op Ed News, Common Dreams, The Los Angeles Times, ZMag and others. He lives in Quito, Ecuador.

Source:

https://off-guardian.org/2018/12/18/and-thats-the-way-it-is/

 

 

a modern-day version of operation mockingbird...

It’s been over a month since hackers began exposing the Scotland-based 'Integrity Initiative' as a UK government-funded propaganda outfit — and gradually new details of the organization's clandestine activities have come to light.

The documents were leaked by a group which claims to be associated with the Anonymous hackers. The first batch of leaks revealed the Integrity Initiative (II) was stealthily operating “clusters” of influencers across Europe working to ensure pro-UK narratives dominate the media. The second batch showed that the organization was also running disinformation campaigns domestically — specifically a smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; all done under the guise of combatting “Russian propaganda.”

Now, a third batch of leaks has exposed that the project allegedly operated much like a modern-day version of Operation Mockingbird — a secretive 1950s project whereby the CIA worked hand-in-glove with willing journalists in major media outlets to ensure certain narratives were adhered to. Only this time, it’s a UK-funded organization with deep links to the intelligence services and military passing itself off as a non-partisan “charity.”

1. A “vast and ambitious infowar campaign”

In one of the most revealing leaks yet, a French company called Lexfo allegedly offers a"strictly confidential"proposal to spread propaganda for II across “several hundred existing and credible” news sites in “multiple languages.” Lexfo even offers to create news sites to serve II's objectives — sites which it says will be "ostensibly independent to assure their credibility.”

Lexfo also suggests monitoring and editing Wikipedia pages, launching aggressive campaigns to "discredit and intimidate" websites or outlet deemed to be promoting "fake news" — including through legal action and encouraging advertisers to abandon those platforms, the documents show. Ultimately, Lexfo offered a "vast and ambitious infowar campaign” which would be “untraceable.”

In a December 16 editorial, the Scotland-based Daily Record, which has been one of the only major outlets reporting on the scandal, suggested that if the II was "gift-wrapping intelligence for journalists desperate enough to pass it off as their own work without proper attribution” then that is “worthy of further investigation.”

Indeed, these new links seem to reveal that this is exactly what has been happening.

2.  Military intelligence cut out?

The new leaks also unveiled more detail about Chris Donnelly, a key player at the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) — the ‘parent’ of the Integrity Initiative. Donnelly boasts an extensive background in military intelligence. One document, which appears to be a summary of a trip Donnelly took to Paris confirms that the II sought to enlist supposedly independent journalists into their activities. Donnelly gives a list of journalists he feels the project can“safely involve” and “who see things our way.”

Another document reveals that Donnelly had drafted a list of suggested "military measures" that he would implement during the height of the Crimean crisis in 2014 if he was “in charge” — including laying mines in Sevastopol Bay. The question should be asked: Why would a disinformation-busting charity be drafting proposals on UK military measures?

Perhaps because it seems the UK military had a keen interest in promoting the II’s activities. Not only was the project receiving funding from the British Foreign Office, but also the British Army and Ministry of Defense — something which the MoD had denied before a leaked invoice proved it.

3. Skripal ‘monitoring campaign’

The II leapt into action after the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal in March and supposedly put together a proposal to monitor social media discussion to "evaluate how the incident is being perceived" across Europe. The goal was to establish "key influencers" on social media and determine who is "friendly" to the UK.

Lists of tweets on the Skripal affair were put together, along with country reports detailing how journalists in Europe were responding, the leak suggests. One report noted that in Italy, doubts about the UK narrative had been raised by “high-quality newspapers” and suggested that an “effective, discrete and articulated information campaign" must be directed at key figures in Italian politics and media.

4. Scotland at risk: ‘Nutcases in kilts’?

Some of the leaks also reveal worries about fissures within the UK itself, particularly in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland. “Will the current relationship survive, or will we have a federal relationship, or will some become independent?” one document reads.

In a summary of a meeting with David Leask, a chief reporter at the Herald in Scotland, the II writes that a "looser federal nature" is forming between the UK’s four parts and that the English don’t realize it. Leask feared that some odd "nutcase in a kilt" might go to a separatist conference held in Moscow, but was relieved when that did not happen. There are also concerns that “satisfaction with BBC” is now low among ordinary Scottish people.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/446809-integrity-initiative-third-leak-uk/

 

 

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the battle of the times...

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The practice of revealing journalists' sources and other personal data was promoted by Ukraine's Mirotvorets website, notorious for exposing private information on those considered to be "Enemies of the State," including foreign reporters. Following the publication of personal data, many have faced death threats.

The Times newspaper published on Sunday a list of journalists working at Sputnik's UK bureau in Edinburgh, Scotland, with photographs as well as an appeal by Alex Cole-Hamilton, a member of the Scottish parliament, from Scottish Liberal Democrats, to deprive the Sputnik internet radio station and the RT broadcaster of their assets in the United Kingdom. The newspaper also published photos and job duties of eight Sputnik employees in Edinburgh.

Cole-Hamilton, in charge of issues related to health care, has, in particular, accused Sputnik's UK bureau of being engaged in an "information war" against the UK.

 

"Organizations such as Sputnik and RT pump out propaganda backed by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and have been complicit in the [sic] cover-up of events from human rights breaches to the Russian invasion of Crimea. Other countries have taken a tougher line on the assets of Russian nationals than we have in the UK. The UK government must look again at what can be done," Cole-Hamilton said, quoted by the media outlet.

READ MORE: UK Foreign Office Refuses to Publish Data Regarding Its Hybrid Warfare Project

The lawmaker called on UK authorities to seize the UK assets of RT and Sputnik as a means of preventing them from operating in the country.

Such actions have been widely criticized in Moscow and other states. During the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan in early December, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) unanimously agreed on a document to protect journalists.

In particular, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the document reflects concerns about illegal interference with journalists’ private lives, threatening their safety. Commenting on the interference, Zakharova noted the Mirotvorets website which published the personal details of journalists from a number of OSCE countries.

 

The Times also noted that there is a mounting suspicion in the UK that the Kremlin sponsored a November cyberattack on the UK Institute for Statecraft (IFS), a government-funded think-tank set up to promulgate an information war against Russia.

READ MORE: What Integrity? Russian Officials, Analysts Speak Out on UK Hybrid Warfare Plot

On Friday, hackers released IFS documents containing eight complaints against the RT broadcaster submitted to the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) by an IFS employee. 

On November 23, the Anonymous hacking group released documents related to the think-tank's 'Integrity Initiative' project, noting that the program, launched in 2015, was funded by the UK government. The hacktivist group described the program as a "large-scale information secret service" created by London to "counteract Russian propaganda."

 

Anonymous also claimed that the Integrity Initiative included covert structures to interfere in the domestic affairs of several European countries including France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Montenegro.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201812241070955488-uk-times-sputin-journa...

 

The Times is a Murdoch newspaper. What else can we say? That Murdoch does not like "competition" against his propaganda and his fake news?

 

 

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sheer terror...

This article by the Washington Post is not bringing any new information on the possible Assad "regime" political prison camps in Syria. But there are a few question marks on numbers and the validity of the information. Whether by pure chance or design, the number of interviewees is 27. This is specific and significant: 27 is a wicked gambling number for reasons that shall remain obscure at this stage. Further more the timing of the release of the information is also significant (23/12/18), barely two days after Donald Trump told the US troops to get out Syria after "victory against Daesh" and just on the cusp when Mad Dog Mattis resigned, then being fired for the remainder of his tenure. Are the people in prison innocent of crimes? Are we led to believe that the people in these Syria prison do not deserve to be in prison?

Population for population, there are more prisoners in US jails than in such Syrian prisons. Political prisoners are often not detained because of their views but because of their deeds. Do these people belong to Daesh, Al Qaeda or other insurgent groups who took arms against the "regime"? Torture is abhorrent. Neglect is abhorrent. Yet the presence of the US army would have no influence whatsoever on the health or death of these prisoners. As well, we can not forget the Guantanamo and Iraqi US sanctioned torture act either. This article would have been on the WAPO production desk for at least six months. Some prisoners were released. Read on:

 

 

 

‘Pure terror’

After seven years of war, more than 100,000 Syrian detainees remain unaccounted for. According to the United Nations and human rights groups, thousands, if not tens of thousands, are probably dead.

Although all sides in the conflict have arrested, disappeared and killed prisoners, the Syrian Network for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that as many as 90 percent have been held across a network of government jails, where torture, starvation and other forms of lethal neglect are used systematically and to kill. At one point, Sednaya alone held as many as 20,000 inmates, according to Amnesty International.

For this story, The Post interviewed 27 former detainees who were recently released from Sednaya. Most now live in Turkey but also in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Germany. They were identified by other former prisoners and by human right monitors and were interviewed in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Gaziantep, Antakya and Siverek, as well as on the phone.

The former inmates say that guards enforced near-total silence among the prisoners, who sleep under blankets infested with mites and ticks on stone floors sticky with bodily fluids. “When you are in Sednaya, you cannot think of anything, you can’t even speak to yourself. The beatings are torture. The silence is torture,” said Mohamed, 28. 

He described the cellmates he had left behind as “caged animals.”

 

Read more:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/syria-bodies/?utm_ter...

 

 

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us russiagate racket...

US cyber-security experts have blamed Russia for meddling in American elections since 2016. Now it has emerged that authors of a Senate report on ‘Russian’ meddling actually ran a “false flag” meddling operation themselves.

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name.

Described by the New York Times as a group of “tech specialists who lean Democratic,” New Knowledge has ties to both the US military and intelligence agencies. Its CEO and co-founder Jonathon Morgan previously worked for DARPA, the US military's advanced research agency. His partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the National Security Agency who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone.

Morgan and Fox have struck gold in the “Russiagate” racket, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. The dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO and USAID.

It is worth noting that the 600 “Russia-linked” Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard are not disclosed to the public, making it impossible to verify its claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however.

 

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/usa/447619-new-knowledge-russia-bots-scandal/

 

The co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, has apologized to Republican Roy Moore for funding an organisation that faked a ‘Russian bot’ involvement to mar his election campaign in Alabama.

American Engagement Technologies (AET), which Hoffman gave $750,000 to, put $100,000 of the entrepreneur’s money towards New Knowledge, a cybersecurity firm which fabricated some 1,000 Russian language Twitter accounts to follow Moore.

Read More:

https://www.rt.com/usa/447540-linkedin-roy-moore-bots/

 

 

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NBC in favour of wars forever...

William Arkin, a political commentator at NBC, threw in the towel Wednesday in an email excoriating the network’s increasingly tepid criticism of the US state and its reflexive opposition to US President Donald Trump, noting it put the outlet in the uncomfortable position of supporting what he called “perpetual war.”

In his Tuesday resignation letter, Arkin traces his troubled history with news media, including NBC, which he's come and gone from several times over the years. Building up to the network's shift in focus with the advent of Trump and the "social media wave," he notes that things started to slide downhill after the September 11, 2001, attacks and the country's dramatic shift toward "our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success."

 

This shift by NBC, from the good, honest media to the unfocused and bad media, is central to Arkin's complaint. He rejects the idea that media is inherently partisan, instead noting that like other networks caught up in the "political horse race," NBC "has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results)."

Arkin laments that since 2001, US media has become less critical of Washington's policies, and instead of asking the tough questions and reporting on the tough stories, "NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult."

"We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story. I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting," Arkin laments.

The journalist notes that he has consistently stood against this tendency, remaining critical of "the absence of any sort of strategy for actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those who seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity." These gaggles, he later notes, include his editors at NBC, with whom he continually fought.

However, while he notes a certain similarity to Trump in that he tends to favor isolationism over interventionism, Arkin is careful to note the president is "an ignorant and incompetent impostor."

 

 

"For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI."

"Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria? We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?"

Arkin isn't all venom, though. "[D]espite many frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying," he writes, noting that he's "proud of the work I've done with my team and know that there's more to do." He characterizes his departure as mostly seeking a break and the genuflection and perspective that comes from that.

"I particularly feel like the world is moving so quickly that even in just the little national security world I inhabit, I need more time to sit back and think. And to replenish," he writes.

"There's a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear. I'm proud to say that NBC didn't do that when it came to me," Arkin said. "Similarly I can say that I'm proud that I'm not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most — variability, disturbance, difference — those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity — are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks."

 

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/society/201901041071204076-NBC-Reporter-Quits-Ne...

 

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See also:

agencies keeping us in the dark...

more noise than a thousand muellers...

Although the indictment against Veselnitskaya – suspiciously unsealed on the eve of Trump’s first-ever primetime national address – has absolutely nothing to do with the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting, that has not stopped the US president’s critics on social media and in Congress from declaring that Trump is finished, this time for sure, yet again.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/usa/448334-russian-lawyer-veselnitskaya-indicted/

 

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