Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Common Dreams:
"US Sold Weapons to Roughly 60% of World's Authoritarian Nations in 2022: Analysis of these findings fly in the face of Biden's preferred framing of international politics as a 'battle between democracies and autocracies,' says the author of a new report. ... But his administration approved weapons sales to nearly three-fifths of the world's authoritarian countries in 2022.

That's according to a new analysis conducted by Security Policy Reform Institute co-founder Stephen Semler and published Thursday in The Intercept. The U.S. has been the world's largest arms dealer since the end of the Cold War. Data released in March showed that the U.S. accounted for 40% of global weapons exports from 2018 to 2022."

-->The story is striking, since it shows the hypocrisy of the US weapons industry when it comes to supporting dictatorships. But readers of the NYT won't be bothered too much; our newspaper of record left this story out.


Common Dreams:
"Drawings by Guantánamo 'Forever Prisoner' Abu Zubaydah Expose Details of US Torture. ... 'Despite the efforts of the federal government, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, to conceal evidence of the actual operation of the 'enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) deployed on detainees in dark sites and at Guantánamo, a steady drumbeat of disclosures has provided an unparalleled view into this disgraceful episode in the nation's history,' the report states. ...

'Everybody agrees, they tortured the wrong guy; they went ahead anyway so they could get permission to torture other people,' Denbeaux told The Guardian, which on Thursday posted the report along with an article by Ed Pilkington on Zubaydah's experience. ...  

Zubaydah was subjected to the interrupted drowning technique known as 'waterboarding' 83 times; rape under the pretext of 'rectal feeding'; shackling in excruciating 'stress positions'; sleep, sensory, and food deprivation; confinement in small boxes; exposure to extreme temperatures and loud music; death threats; beatings and being slammed into walls; sexual and religious humiliation; and other abuses,"

-->Few US newspapers covered this story. The NYT did, but distorted the reasons why he was being tortured, and omitted the anal rape. Hey, it's "all the news that's fit to print" at America's premier newspaper.


"Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been putting huge sums of state retirement money into underperforming private equity firms that have donated to his campaign efforts.

Florida governor and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has been crusading against 'woke' investments for allegedly threatening his state employees’ retirement funds. But the most imminent threat to Florida public employees’ retirement dollars appears to be the massive state pension investments that have gone to some of the Republican Party’s Wall Street donors under DeSantis’s watch.

Despite a federal anti-corruption rule designed to prevent donors from receiving pension investments, private equity executives have donated millions to political groups supporting DeSantis, all while the governor oversaw the transfer of more than $1 billion of Florida public employees’ retirement dollars into these donors’ high-fee, high-risk 'alternative investments.' Our review found that had the state pension fund instead been invested in a simple, low-cost index fund, compared to its present mix of holdings, teachers, police officers, and other state employees would have about $10 billion more in their retirement funds."

-->We all know that DeSantis is a complete scum. So why not run this story in the NYT? Is it because there are more issues being discussed than how corrupt DeSantis is. Yes, the NYT may have overlooked this story because it threatens to expose how Wall Street cheats retirement investors. Now that's the story that our newspaper of record may have hesitated to print.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Democracy Now: Danial Ellsberg interview
"They realized that they had these terrific secrets that had to be kept secret from the American public because they were so criminal and dangerous — namely, that they were threatening North Vietnam with nuclear weapons, the same way that the criminal threats that are being made against Ukraine right now by Vladimir Putin. Nixon was making those threats through the Russian ambassador, Dobrynin, and then directly at that time. And that had to be kept secret from the American people at that time, because the American democracy would not have stood for that. So they had to shut me up.

And the problem then was to find out whether I had documents that could document, prove, what I was saying, because people were very reluctant to believe that a president could lie to that degree or could be so criminal to that degree and reckless, unless they had documents to prove it, which I didn’t have and really never did convince the public on this point. So I failed, in a way, in my name — my major project, which was to convince the public that a lying campaign, an imperial campaign against Vietnam, that had been carried on by four previous presidents, was being carried on by a fifth. I said it, but no one believed it. They didn’t want to believe that the president was lying to them, just as they had allowed themselves to be misled by Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Kennedy, Kennedy and Johnson.

-->How many criminal acts are committed that never see the light of day. The Nixon tapes actually talk about the possible use of nuclear weapons on Vietnam, so to some extent that accusation has been verified. But the larger truths remain, that the American People are always kept in the dark by the US media.

Ellsberg goes on to reveal Nixon's plot to engage China in a nuclear war. How many Americans know about that? Talking about Ukraine, Ellsberg points to a secret negotiations between Putin and Zelensky in 2022. The tentative peace plan was rejected by the US and the UK. Read the interview for an enlightened perspective on how our country is lying to us, just like it did during the Vietnam War.

"The Proud Boys’ Conviction Is Big News. Their Role as FBI Informants, Not So Much.
Almost none of the reports about Thursday’s conviction of four Proud Boys members mentioned the fact that the far-right group was riddled with FBI informants. But this kind of law enforcement collusion with the far right is a profound threat to democracy.

The news that four members of the far-right organization the Proud Boys were just convicted for seditious conspiracy, including their former leader Enrique Tarrio, has made the rounds this week. But if you only tuned in to the proceedings a few days ago to read about the verdict, there’s something you almost certainly haven’t heard: that both Tarrio and as many as eight other Proud Boys were secretly FBI informants, in part helping law enforcement to target Black Lives Matter protesters and other left-wing activists.

That’s because, after a non-exhaustive survey of reports covering the verdict, I discovered that only two news outlets, the Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post, mentioned that government informants were present within the Proud Boys’ ranks, even though this fact was among the most shocking revelations that came out in the course of the trial."

-->The FBI is usually given a pass by our media, no matter what they do. This is just one example. Arrest of Chairman Yeshitela, and the African People's Socialist Party is another. The group has been accused of "spreading Russian Propaganda." Why isn't that newsworthy?


Common Dreams:
"Texas GOP's Top Anti-Groomer Crusader Resigns Over Sexual Misconduct With Teenage Aide. The lawmaker was facing an expulsion hearing after an internal investigation found he had furnished a 19-year-old staffer with alcohol and later tried to intimidate her into silence about what transpired and their relationship.

Republican State Rep. Bryan Slaton of Texas resigned his seat Monday in order to avoid a public expulsion hearing after an investigation determined one of the party's loudest voices promoting the baseless threat of "groomers" in the LGBTQ+ community had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 19-year-old member of his staff that included furnishing her with alcohol. ...

The Tribune detailed how the committee's investigative report also 'alleged that after Slaton and the woman had unprotected sex in the early hours of April 1, Slaton drove her home, and she later went to a drugstore to purchase Plan B medication to prevent a pregnancy. Slaton, a staunch abortion opponent, later tried to intimidate the woman and her friends into not speaking about the incident, the report said.' "

-->Each month, Fantasy Land Media will publish The George Orwell Doublespeak Award. Rep Slaton will be in the running this month for sure. In the meantime, why didn't the NYT publish this story?


Common Dreams:
"A newly published assessment from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that three of the most commonly used neonicotinoid insecticides threaten the continued existence of more than 200 endangered plant and animal species.

'The EPA's analysis shows we've got a five-alarm fire on our hands, and there's now no question that neonicotinoids play an outsized role in our heartbreaking extinction crisis,' Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said Friday in a statement.

'The EPA has to use the authority it has to take fast action to ban these pesticides,' said Burd, 'so future generations don't live in a world without bees and butterflies and the plants that depend on them.' "

-->The NYT never covers stories about insecticides. I wonder if they have a board member who is also on Monsanto's board of directors. Not that the story got much play in the rest of our media. Bloomberg's story sides with the chemical companies, with an article entitled: "EU Sugar Crop at Risk After Ruling Against Pesticide Exemptions."

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The Guardian UK:
"The US must move beyond piecemeal reform and slogan-making and tackle the ongoing scourge of police brutality and law enforcement’s discrimination against Black people, a United Nations mission has concluded at the end of a historic two-week tour of the country.

UN experts completed their first official visit to the US as part of a system of global inquiries set up by the human rights council after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020. As they ended their tour on Friday in Washington DC, the experts called for a nationwide commitment to address discrimination suffered by Black Americans in their daily dealings with the law.

'In the US, racial inequity dates back to the very creation of this country and there’ll be no quick fixes,' said Dr Tracie Keesee, one of two independent UN experts who conducted the visit. 'To this day, racial discrimination permeates through encounters with law enforcement – from first contact, arrest, detention, sentencing and disenfranchisement.' ”

-->True to form, the country so in need of reforming its racist criminal justice system decides that this story is not worth printing. No US media covered the UN mission's report.


Common Dreams:
"Brazil's President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva has called for freedom for Julian Assange and denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free the journalist. Lula spoke to a group of reporters in London Saturday while in town to attend the coronation of King Charles III. Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison while fighting extradition to the United States.

'It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,' Lula told reporters. 'We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it.' ”

-->It isn't that hard to understand, really. Our media is owned by a few huge companies, and rarely strays from the Pentagon point of view. You can call it a free press, but you would be wrong. The news coverage of Assange is one of the more striking examples of how controlled our national media is.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

The Progressive:
"The U.S. corporate media’s first response to the leaking of secret documents about the war in Ukraine was to throw some mud in the water, declare 'nothing to see here,' and cover it as a depoliticized crime story about a twenty-one-year-old Air National Guard member who published secret documents to impress his friends. President Joe Biden dismissed the leaks as revealing nothing of 'great consequence.'

What these documents reveal, however, is that the war is going worse for Ukraine than our political leaders have admitted to us. It’s going badly for Russia, too, meaning that neither side is likely to break the stalemate this year and we’ll likely see 'a protracted war beyond 2023,' as one of the documents says.

The publication of these assessments should lead to renewed calls for our government to level with the public about what it realistically hopes to achieve by prolonging the bloodshed, and why it continues to reject the resumption of the promising peace negotiations it blocked in April 2022.

We believe that blocking those talks was a dreadful mistake—the Biden Administration capitulated to the warmongering, since-disgraced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and current U.S. policy is compounding that mistake at the cost of tens of thousands more Ukrainian lives and the destruction of even more swaths of their country."

-->As if on cue, the NYT issued a "News Analysis" that turned the secret documents into a call for more US weaponry. "Pentagon Leaks: New Twists in a Familiar Plot. Some in Ukraine even welcomed the disclosures as confirming what they have been saying for months — that its forces desperately need more weapons and munitions."

That's a little bit like calling the famous "Pentagon Papers" leak a compelling reason to drop more Agent Orange on Vietnam. The truth is that the US can't win, not that we should spend billions more on a hopeless war. A war, by the way, that could spread all over the globe and end in a nuclear conflict.

But the NYT is committed to this larger war, and intent on spreading as much Cold War Propaganda as possible. I hear liberals talking about how Ukraine is a battle for freedom and democracy. There is a battle, no doubt, but it is right here at home, where the elites and their favorite newspaper have decided it's time for World War III.

As Mark Antony urges his followers in Julius Caesar: "Cry havoc, let slip the dogs of war." 


Democracy Now!
"[While] the United States sometimes talks about a rule-based order, the fact of the matter is that the U.S. grand strategy, if we can use that term of the grand strategists of the U.S. state — see our grand strategy in the United States as being dominance. And I often refer to an article that I think is very clear, succinct and revealing by a former colleague of mine at Harvard University, Robert Blackwill, an esteemed ambassador of the United States, who wrote in 2015 — and I’ll quote from the article — “Since its founding, the United States has consistently pursued a grand strategy focused on acquiring and maintaining preeminent power over various rivals, first on the North American continent, then in the Western Hemisphere, and finally globally.”

Well, China doesn’t want the United States to be the preeminent power. It wants to live alongside the United States. Blackwill, writing in 2015, said China’s rise is a threat to U.S. preeminence. And he laid out a series of steps that the Biden administration actually is following almost step by step. What Blackwill laid out already back in 2015 is that the United States should create, quote, 'new preferential trading arrangements among U.S. friends and allies to increase their mutual gains through instruments that consciously exclude China.' There should be 'a technology-control regime' to block China’s strategic capabilities, a build-up of, quote, 'power-political capacities of U.S. friends and allies on China’s periphery' and strengthened U.S. military forces along the Asian rimland despite any Chinese opposition. This has become the Biden foreign policy. China knows it. China really is pushing back." - Jeffrey Sachs

-->These two stories really go together. One is about war against Russia, and the other is about war against China. But like Hitler's decision to invade Russia in the Second World War, I think US current foreign policy is all about racism, and the underestimation of one's potential enemies.

Hitler and his generals thought they were going to war against an inferior people and culture. They thought that Russia would fall by the end of the summer, giving up its vast oil reserves to the Third Reich. But the first villages that the Nazi tanks rolled into, fought to the death. Within a month, it was clear that Germany's attack on Russia, Operation Barbarossa, was a fight to the death.

Attacking China and Russia is also a fight to the death, the death of all three countries. Given the nuclear weaponry that these countries have, it could be the end of human life on earth. So you think that can't happen, mainly because you don't know what to do about it. The two war parties that run our country aren't listening, hoping that all their pro war propaganda will win over the American people. Resist US imperialism before it is too late.