Tuesday, 16 May 2017
Free Speech Under Attack - How the Government’s Prevent Programme was used to Cancel Meeting on Israel in Portsmouth
Palestine Solidarity Meeting with Tom Suarez is Cancelled Twice by Portsmouth Council Because it is ‘Controversial’(Review by Tony Greenstein of Tom Suarez' book - 'State of Terror')
Tom Suarez has, on the basis of research in the Government’s archive written a book documenting the terrorist beginnings of the Israeli state. I have yet to read and review the book but by all accounts it is an impeccably documented book.
What is also clear is that the research in this book, which is based on over 400 documents from the government’s own archives is unacceptable to the Zionist lobby in this country. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, an overtly Zionist body, which calls itself the representative body of Jews in this country has done its best to stop its author Tom Suarez speaking to meetings about his findings.
The Board of Deputies incidentally is elected by nobody. It is based on synagogue membership. It doesn’t represent Britain’s secular Jews, about half of all British Jews, the most cultured and educated section of British Jews but narrow minded businessmen and middle class Zionist bigots. Many of the synagogues elect their representatives on an all male electorate. Others are simply rotten boroughs where there is no election.
On the basis of the squeals of Britain’s Israel lobby, which doesn’t want the truth about Israel to be known, a campaign has been mounted to stop Tom Suarez speaking. One wonders what they have to fear?
What is worse is that this is being done under the cover of the government’s Prevent programme. Prevent was introduced on a mandatory basis under the government’s Counter Terrorism & Security Act 2015. Purportedly designed to prevent terrorism it operated on the theory that people become terrorists because they are ‘radicalised’. This absurd theory misses out small things like the fact that people became terrorists because the government in alliance with the United States went and bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan killing over 1 million people. Some people wrongly believed that the attack on these countries was because they were Muslim.
The Prevent strategy assumes that people become ‘radicalised’ on the basis of ‘extremist’ political views. What are ‘extremist’ views? Anything which doesn’t subscribe to ‘British values’. Presumably Marxism, subversion, going on strike even, can in certain circumstances be held to be anti-British. Under this all encompassing rubric, the government has forced universities to vet speakers for public meetings because their young audiences may be susceptible to being unduly influenced by ideas which are not normative and conservative. Anti-imperialist ideas, Palestine solidarity and anything else outside the mainstream can be considered ‘extremist’ and thus akin to terrorism. This is the climate we are dealing with. That is also why we need to fight back.
Suarez’s book attacks Israel as a terrorist state. It is therefore outside the political mainstream. It therefore gives a license to pathetic pipsqueaks like Portsmouth’s Prevent Officer Charlie Pericleous to go around trying to close political meetings they don’t like. Of course this doesn’t excuse in any way the cowardly owners of venues – whether it is the Quaker’s Meeting House in Cambridge which cancelled a talk by Suarez or the Friendship Centre in Portsmouth. A similar meeting at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton which I spoke at with Jackie Walker was the subject of similar attempts to stop the meeting by the Board of Deputies. Fortunately in our case the Friends had a stiffer backbone than their counterparts in Cambridge. In Nottingham another meeting by Jackie and myself also had to be moved at the last minute.
We are facing a concerted attack by the Conservative government and the Israel/Zionist lobby in this country on Free Speech. It needs a robust campaign in response because this is a defence of the very essence of freedom and basic democratic liberties.
Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign has kept its head down and done virtually nothing in response to this attack on the rights of Palestine supporters and anti-Zionists. At the moment PSC is incapable of punching its way out of a paper bag, still less mounting a political fightback against government and state attacks. It even half-welcomed the government’s new International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism until I threw a fit.
Ben Jamal’s advice to Portsmouth PSC is extremely inadequate. What is needed are not apologies after the event by Council bureaucrats but a determined campaign to ensure that no Council anywhere or any University tries to ban speakers that the Establishment in this country doesn’t like. Universities are under a legal obligation to defend free speech. Councils have to be made to if necessary.
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Silicon Valley gives you health care without all the sick people
FORWARD, THE STARTUP TOUTED by Bloomberg as “The Doctor’s Office of the Future,” doesn’t call itself a medical clinic. Instead, it bills itself as a “health membership,” like a gym. When I entered its office in San Francisco’s Financial District, the logic behind this turn of phrase began to reveal itself. Its medical robes for patients are designed by Lululemon, a brand that embodies the notion of wellness as a capitalist enterprise, in which the self, like an operating system, is primed for upgrades. More talismans of the self-improvement industrial complex are displayed somewhat conspicuously on the reception desk. On one side are bottles of the sleep supplement melatonin and assorted vitamins; on the other are rows of Aesop products and vials of anti-ageing serums by a company called SkinCeuticals (brand motto: “Skincare backed by science”) that can cost over $100 for a fluid ounce. A glass cabinet gleams with self-tracking gadgets like Wi-Fi-connected “body cardio” scales, blood pressure cuffs, and Fitbits. The promise of self-optimization lurks in the company’s slogan, “Design Your Health,” which is emblazoned in capital letters on the waiting room walls and on posters hanging in the shopfront window, accompanied by photos of lithe specimens in activewear.
The premise of Forward, founded by ex-Google employee Adrian Aoun and early Uber employee Ilya Abyzov, is that software can encourage a greater emphasis on preventative health care and solve the intractable structural problems and perverse incentives beleaguering an ailing system. Among its investors is real estate scion Joshua Kushner (brother of Jared), the co-founder of a health insurance startup that rewards customers who meet their step goals with Amazon credit, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.
Forward’s aims are ambitious. It is betting that its use of body scanners, machine learning algorithms, and sensors can help lower the cost of primary health care by drastically shortening consultation times and improving the accuracy of diagnoses. Members enjoy unlimited visits, attention from a primary care physician, nurse, and “health coach,” and 24-7 access to the startup’s services through an app. In consultation rooms, your vital statistics are displayed on a flatscreen TV while conversations with your physicians are recorded—no need for them to take notes. In case you’re wondering, Forward does not accept health insurance—its $149 monthly fee (slightly cheaper than a membership at Equinox) is paid directly to the company. Patients will, however, need health insurance for specialist services (surgery, dermatology, psychiatry) that are not provided by Forward.
When I visit, there’s no waiting room queue or patients in sight, bar one woman who wanders in out of curiosity. One co-founder described this vision to Forbes as “a doctor’s office that feels more like an Apple Store . . . an Apple Store that learns so it gets better with more data.” It’s an idea that runs counter to the conventional experience of a physician’s waiting room, which is a kind of unpleasantness. This is hardly surprising, given that waiting rooms are sites of illness and unconfirmed diagnosis, not to mention desperation; most of us are reluctant to visit the doctor unless we really need to.
At Forward, however, wellness appears to be a guiding ideology, in which individual responsibility for one’s health is spun as a form of empowerment. This is borne out in its aesthetics, which could be mistaken for a coworking space. The room is minimalist. It combines utilitarianism with the aspirational longing of a Pinterest board. There is a smattering of replica mid-century modern chairs, unadorned walls, polished timber floorboards, and plants in glass bowls. A report in Quartz gushes that Forward’s bathrooms have vestibules that allow you to deposit your urine samples without the threat of prying eyes. It’s one of many flourishes that makes Forward seem oddly squeamish about the business it’s in. That it is resolutely committed to erasing any association with sickness illustrates its profound misunderstanding of the obstacles impeding access to health care. It seems all the more inexcusable in the context of the GOP’s onslaught on health access that these Silicon Valley technocrats do not realize that it is the prohibitive cost of accessing services, rather than a clinic’s ambience, that actually matters.
But whether we like it or not, we’re likely to see more sleek schemes like Forward’s over the coming years. Forward’s accumulation of physiological data is a mere extension of the wholesale aggregation of data that has already taken place on smartphones and wearable devices. On the one hand, Forward’s access to such data may well mean that health plans can be tailored more accurately, or that patients can plan for better health in the long-term. Used judiciously, such data could fill the gaps in health care research. On the other, there’s something unnerving about subjecting oneself to a constant regime of granular diagnostic surveillance, even if the choice to opt in to the medical panopticon is a conscious one. Forward is cashing in on the story we tell ourselves in a neoliberal world: that we alone are the determinants of our self-interest.
The practice of logging our physiological signs and symptoms isn’t novel; its origins are as old as the Roman Stoics. The philosopher Seneca the Younger is said to have kept meticulous logs of his dietary habits and dreams. Self-tracking technologies, once the preserve of the Quantified Self movement, are easily found on the shelves of Walmart. Yet the proliferation of self-tracking is symptomatic of a more insidious sickness: the fixation with the body as an entrepreneurial project. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking an active role in improving your health—cutting back on booze and processed foods will give an overworked liver a hard-earned break. But I wonder how much of self-tracking is concerned with wellbeing. Performing health has become the ultimate humblebrag: being on top of your stats is as important as improving them. More troubling, though, is that good health is often seen as a matter of moral responsibility, which falls squarely on the individual. That Forward’s messaging deliberately resembles a high-tech gym aligns with this vision, where the pursuit of good health is often an expression of one’s tax bracket. Being equipped with the ability to constantly monitor and analyze our health metrics is framed as a productive enterprise. To “Design Your Health,” as Forward’s exhortation demands, is to exert control over your bodily destiny—that is, if you can afford it. For others, health is a literal matter of life and death.
Forward’s business model is a tech-driven, somewhat more affordable version of the concierge medicine movement that began in the nineties when Howard Maron, a former doctor for a professional sports team, launched a medical care program that caters to “fifty select families” who pay a retainer of more than $25,000 a year. The problem with concierge medicine is not so much its aims of personalized, preventative care and lower physician-to-patient ratios, but how it achieves them. It’s difficult to see the practice as promoting anything other than a starkly unequal two-tiered system, which only heightens existing imbalances in access to affordable health care.
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Monday, 17 April 2017
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Alice, Kenton, Bucky, and Rachna are the hidden victims of the chemical industry. They all grew up either in India or the US, in towns built around plastic and pesticide factories. For a long time, their resounding commercial success has masked the darker reality behind their practices. For several decades, their factories have secretly dumped their toxic products into rivers, groundwater systems and soil. This pollution has affected thousands, causing disabilities, cancers and death. No one is safe: both the inhabitants of these regions and the employees of the companies have been affected. But the chemical giants will do anything to keep these tragedies a secret.Through the analysis of samples and confidential documents, the two directors gauge the true extent of the contamination, and ultimately shed some light over years of lies and impunity. All that remains are the testimonies of the victims across the world, those whose lives have been poisoned.
Moar words @ Russia Today.
Monday, 10 April 2017
Writes old hand "Brony, nutty Centaur" in the comment section:
Oops. I changed a “they” to a “you” accidentally in the last part of my comment. It should read.
While it’s a rule new commentators might might not be aware of, they would find it useful to practice because they will become better at describing what they fear, are angered, by, surprised by, or disgusted by.Huh? What does that even mean? And all on a post about the all-consuming topic of some alt-right Flat Earthers (a 100 % non-issue "David, Head Mammotheer" manages to spend about 5,000 words on. Go figure!) The bizarre gist of it being that the 'intra-alt right civil tiff' will somehow bring Trumpeldore down. Or somefink like that...
Wehuntedthemammoth.com: masturbating the world, one word at a time!
Everybody's talkin' all this stuff about me (Now now)
Why don't they just let me live (Oh oh oh)
I don't need permission
Make my own decisions (Oh)
That's my prerogative
They say I'm crazy
I really don't care
That's my prerogative
They say I'm nasty
But I don't give a damn
Gettin' girls is how I live
Some ask me questions
Why am I so real
But they don't understand me
I really don't know the deal
About a brother
Trying hard to make it right
Not long ago
Before I win this fight
Thursday, 6 April 2017
Maybe you don’t really need a Wi-Fi-connected sex toy
... is the clickbait title of Salon's latest proof of massive 'Liberal' idiocy. Dispatches reports, you decide:
The internet of things is gaining a lot of attention these days as this growing network of internet- and Wi-Fi-enabled products are increasingly showing up in homes and bedrooms. This technology lets you do things like print messages on toast, remotely control a pet door with a mobile phone and read today’s weather forecast from a bathroom mirror.
But cybersecurity experts are warning the spread of internet of things devices in consumer products is moving too rapidly as companies scramble to gain a lead in the nascent market for connected home products, leading to an increasing number of software vulnerabilities that pose considerable threats to consumer privacy.
This week, U.K. cybersecurity services provider Pen Test Partners shed light on a particularly prurient internet of things vulnerability in the Svakom Siime Eye, a $250 sex toy equipped with an internet-connected camera that lets users stream a dildo’s eye view of masturbation via the internet to another person’s smartphone.Wanna have sex? Ask your wife (nicely!), not your 'hot' Wifi didgeridoo. Simples, really...
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Monday, 27 March 2017
Ambition in the back of a black car
In a high building there is so much to do
Going home time
A story on the radio
Something small falls out of your mouth
And we laugh
A prayer for something better
For something better
Meet my mother
But the fear takes hold
Creeping up the stairs in the dark
Waiting for the death blow
Waiting for the death blow
Stroking your hair as the patriots are shot
Fighting for freedom on the television
Sharing the world with slaughtered pigs
Have we got everything?
She struggles to get away
And the creeping feeling
A little black haired girl
Waiting for Saturday
The death of her father pushing her
Pushing her… Full lyrics on Google Play Music
Sunday, 26 March 2017
I don’t know how many souls I have. I’ve changed at every moment. I always feel like a stranger. I’ve never seen or found myself. From being so much, I have only soul. A man who has soul has no calm. A man who sees is just what he sees. A man who feels is not who he is.
Attentive to what I am and see, I become them and stop being I. Each of my dreams and each desire Belongs to whoever had it, not me. I am my own landscape, I watch myself journey - Various, mobile, and alone. Here where I am I can’t feel myself.
That’s why I read, as a stranger, My being as if it were pages. Not knowing what will come And forgetting what has passed, I note in the margin of my reading What I thought I felt. Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?” God knows, because he wrote it.
A Somali in America
The story of Ali, a young Somali refugee in the US, who's now re-assessing his new life under the Trump presidency.
"A Somali in America" documents the experience of Ali Warsame, a Somali refugee who gained residency in the United States in 2016, but is re-assessing his new life now that Donald Trump is president.
While in a detention camp in Ukraine, Ali was told he'd be moving to the US through the United Nations refugee resettlement programme. Ali remembers getting the official notification on Eid Day in 2013: "In my life, I never thought that I will be in the USA," he says, because many others before him had been rejected.
He moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2013 and began a new life with his housemates, Prince and Sadik, who had had their own difficult and dangerous journeys getting there.
Ali describes his hopes and dreams of being reunited with his family, while revealing glimpses of his time in Ukraine where he was forced to spend three years before reaching the US. Having travelled illegally through Africa and eastern Europe, Ali was finally able to travel legally to "the land of opportunity".Read on!
The very idea of a Jewish state is a violation of the rights of its non-Jewish citizens
One of the few things that Zionists use to uphold the pretence that Israel is a democracy is the fact that the Arabs/Palestinians can vote in elections for the Knesset. Now even this is no longer true.
And it is true. At the May 2015 elections the Joint Arab List which included the Communist Party (Khadash) and Balad the secular Arab Nationalist Party gained 13 seats making it the 3rd largest party in Israel’s Knesset.
There is just one problem. In Israel’s nearly 70 years of existence no Arab party has ever been part of the Israeli government. The only Arabs to become Ministers are seen as collaborators in their own communities. It is an unwritten rule in Israeli politics that no government must rely on the votes of the Arab parties. It was this that most incensed the Zionists when Yitzhak Rabin relied on Israeli Arab votes, who were not of course coalition partners, to defeat the right-wing parties led by Netanyahu. This more than anything else was the cause of his assassination.
Now however even the fig leaf is being stripped away. Hot on the heels of the Expulsion Bill passed last year which allows 90 MKs to expel another MK, something already being used to try and expel Basel Ghattas, a Balad MK, who apparently committed the heinous offence of passing mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners serving 30+ years in Israeli prisons. No Jewish MK, however racist ever stands a chance of being disciplined. All 3 Balad MKs last year were suspended by the Zionist Jewish majority for visiting the relatives of Palestinians who had been killed after attacking Israelis. A particular target has been Haneen Zoabi, a secular woman Palestinian Israeli MK who went on the Mava Marmari ship which tried to break the blockade of Gaza. She has been subject to a tirade of hate and vitriol. [See Haneen Zoabi: 'Israel is the only country not shocked by or afraid of Trump']
Saturday, 25 March 2017
People stabbed, people shot, people mowed down, people dead – all on the streets of London. It was the day police said they had planned for and hoped would never come. But where did it all come from – out of thin air or a swamp of bitterness and hatred endlessly sown with new blood by governments across the world? To try to find the answers, Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria and now a vocal critic of UK policy in Syria, joins us for a very special edition of Sputnik.
Female cockroaches don't need a mate to lay eggs, but they do like company. New research finds that virgin female cockroaches housed together are quicker to produce offspring than virgin females living alone.
To test the effect of social milieu, the researchers put female cockroaches in different situations. In the control group, a male and a female were housed together and were allowed to mate. In other cases, females were kept with one, two, three or four other females. Other female roaches were kept with castrated males. The researchers also tested the effects of adding pheromones, chemicals that insects use for communication, to all-female cockroach groups.
Then, the researchers counted the number of eggs laid in each condition and how long it took the females to lay eggs. They found that virgin roaches kept alone laid eggs via parthenogenesis after 13.4 days, on average, plus or minus about four days. Virgin roaches kept in groups jumped to parthenogenesis significantly faster. For example, female roaches kept in a trio started laying eggs after an average of 10 days, plus or minus a couple of days.
Even more striking, virgin cockroaches kept in all-female groups laid their second clutch of eggs much sooner than virgin cockroaches kept alone (an average of 18 days versus between 25 and 30 days for the isolated roaches).
This may be a very primitive example of female cooperation, the researchers added. Male roaches housed together tend to fight until they cut each other's antennae off, but females huddle together, and apparently even harmonize, their reproductive schedules. This tracks with overall roach ecology, as males tend to leave roach colonies to avoid inbreeding, while female kin stick together, the researchers wrote.
Conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones was pressured to air an apology for his role in spreading the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which led to a Jones listener firing a gun inside a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. Jones aired a pre-taped video in which he acknowledged that he made commentary about the pizzeria owner that “in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him.”
Watch Jones’ statement here (transcript here):
Middle-aged white Americans without college degrees are dying at higher and higher rates, with drugs, alcohol, and suicide driving a dramatic increase in mortality.
The increase is happening even as mortality decreases for similar age groups across the developed world — and for black and Latino Americans, and whites with college degrees.
The data, outlined in a new paper by economists Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, shows death patterns for American whites sharply diverging from peers in Western Europe — particularly in what they dub "deaths of despair," involving drugs and suicide.
BuzzFeed summarises the mentioned paper
Friday, 24 March 2017
Another excellent Al Jazeera doc about the effects of international Neoliberalism on We the People, here the people of Mexico.
Against the backdrop of Mexico's ever-widening gap between rich and poor, growing violence, and stalled economy, President Enrique Pena Nieto has passed a series of economic reforms.
Under these reforms, Mexico's oil, which was expropriated from foreign interests 75 years ago, is now for sale to private, international companies.
The reforms are the most divisive the country has seen in a century. Thousands are protesting against them, saying the new regulations could bring the nation to a tipping point as organised crime and violence would spiral out of control.
When it comes to big business and drilling for oil, Mexico's farmers are the most vulnerable.
Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which opened Mexico up to trade with the US and Canada, led to the collapse of agriculture, and paved the way to the privatization of oil.
The operations of Mexico's state-owned oil company, Pemex, have never been entirely transparent, and communities have been crippled by oil disasters. For instance, in October 2013, the state of Tabasco experienced its worst oil disaster when a drill site exploded and burned for 55 days, contaminating the surrounding land and water. Villagers closest to the site say they are suffering from health problems and have lost their livestock. They say Pemex has never accepted responsibility for the accident, nor has it offered any compensation.
People who appear in this film, including lawyers working with communities affected by the oil industry, estimate things are likely to get worse when foreign companies start drilling. Mexican human rights lawyer Efrain Rodriguez Leon says, "if Pemex committed all of these injustices, we can't imagine what abuses our indigenous brothers will suffer at the hands of these private companies."
With multinationals poised to come, Mexican farmers stand to lose their livelihoods and land, because the new reforms allow companies to drill and occupy areas wherever there is oil.
In Crude harvest: selling Mexico's oil, we meet the victims of oil drilling and free trade, and examine what could happen when foreign investors move in.
Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data
An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.
The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.
But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.Voice of America has more.
Palestinian activists on Sunday filmed Israeli forces dragging an 8-year-old Palestinian boy through the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for more than hour.
The video, received and edited by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, shows 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah crying and barefoot, being pulled by his arm by an Israeli soldier.
The boy was surrounded by at least between 8-18 Israeli soldiers while being taken around the neighborhood, as Israeli forces tried to get the boy to identify other children who soldiers suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier that day.
Sufian was taken down a gravel road through the neighborhood with no shoes on, and seemingly no care taken for the boy’s feet on the rocky path. The video then shows soldiers taking the boy up onto a roof top. On the way down from the roof, Sufian is shown in tears as Palestinian neighbors and family members awaited the soldiers, attempting to convince them to release Sufian.
A woman eventually got ahold of the 8-year-old’s arm, pulling him away while Palestinians surrounded the boy trying to protect him from continued detention. Israeli forces followed the boy and the adults who took him back for several minutes before retreating, giving up on the chance of getting the 8-year-old to give them information about other children.
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Thousands of people have been left homeless after the deadliest rains in decades have caused floods and destruction in Peru's coast.
At least 70 people have been killed, roads and bridges destroyed and crops lost.
The government says more than half of the country is in a state of emergency.
Weather forecasts indicate there will be rain for another month as the worst downpours in decades continue to leave the country at a standstill.
Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Huachipa.Martina Sanchez - Jeera
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
A friend of mine created this Company/website and truly beautiful chemsets. Long live Science!
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Islamic militant group Hamas has drafted a new political program it hopes will improve ties with neighboring Egypt and the West, and present a more moderate image that will help it get off Western terrorism lists.
The internationally isolated group, which has ruled the Gaza Strip for the past decade, characterizes itself in the manifesto as a Palestinian resistance movement against Israeli occupation, dropping references to holy war against Jews. It also raises the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The document plays down ties to Hamas’ parent movement, the regional Muslim Brotherhood, which is being targeted by Egypt’s government as a terror organization.
However, Hamas appears to have stopped short of a significant ideological shift amid concerns about alienating its hard-line base at a time when ultra-fundamentalist Islamist groups, such as the Salafists, are making inroads, particularly in Gaza.
Monday, 20 March 2017
The immediate takeaway from all this is that the White House is badly compromised politically, and administration officials know it. Spicer, appearing before reporters as the House Intelligence Committee hearing was still taking place, struggled to downplay the more damning aspects of Comey’s testimony. Pressed on which Trump associates the FBI’s investigation could be targeting, Spicer tried to argue that Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn had barely played any role in helping Trump get elected. The record indicates otherwise: Manafort served as Trump campaign chairman until he left amid growing controversy surrounding his financial links to Russia, and Flynn was a key campaign adviser who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser — until he resigned after lying about his contacts with Russia.
Pffft. I think 'Simon Maloy' (who?) needs to be water-boarded. Or shot at dawn... whichever is cheapest...
Since 1971, the US dollar and the global financial system have been based solely on faith - faith in the guardian of that currency and of that system: The American Central Bank, the Federal Reserve.
Nearly 100 years after its creation, the power of the US Federal Reserve has never been greater.
Markets and governments around the world hold their breath in anticipation of the Fed chairman's every word.
Yet the average person knows very little about the most powerful - and least understood - financial institution on earth.
"There is this perception that people have that the Fed is this kind of black box. Nobody quite understands it," says Charles Plosser, president of the Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
This film takes viewers inside the Fed and reveals the impact of Fed policies - past, present, and future - on our lives.
Join current and former Fed officials as they debate the critics, and each other, about the decisions that helped lead the global financial system to the brink of collapse in 2008.
"The Fed is supposed to be the guardian of financial stability, preventing chaos in markets. Usually it can do that, but in the summer of 2008, it could not do it and we did get chaos," says Alan Blinder, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve (19994-1996).
What caused the crisis in the first place? What brought the wealthiest nation in history to its knees? And are we headed there again?
Purification does little good for political history. For a long while, we in the West have awarded the sash proclaiming World’s First Democracy to ancient Athens. But as imperial power loosens its insistent white fist—in fits and starts—our understanding also opens. Maybe it’s time we acknowledge that democracy didn’t spring, fully formed, from the head of an oracle in the Athenian Cave of Schist. While we’re at it, we Americans might try to see our republic for what it actually is: a mongrel work in progress.
Ages before Cleisthenes seized power in Athens in 508 BCE, instituting popular reforms that picked representatives by lot rather than birthright, proto-republics existed for the Sumerians in Mesopotamia and in the ganas and sanghas of India. These city-centric societies established early systems of self-government. In Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, historiographer Martin Bernal bestows the title of earliest probable republic on Arwad under the Phoenicians, during the second millennium BCE, in what is now Syria.
Asked if his ideas were anti-European, Bernal replied: “My enemy is not Europe, it’s purity—the idea that purity ever exists, or that if it does exist, that it is somehow more culturally creative than mixture.” Our American political system is a hybrid of its antecedents, and what greatness America offers isn’t a function of nationalist Puritan origins. The very hodgepodge nature of our American government is what makes it so damn resistant. Glorifying the homogeny of our forefathers and the originality of their words and ideas is the worst kind of revisionist history, and it doesn’t make ideological purity any more real.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Saturday, 18 March 2017
Activists and first responders say the building that was targeted was a part of the mosque complex — and that the charred rubble shown in the photo was where 300 people were praying when the bombs began to hit.
More than 42 people were killed and dozens more injured, according to monitoring groups and local activists. First responders with the Syrian Civil Defence — known as the “White Helmets” — rushed to treat the wounded and dig corpses out of the rubble.
An administration official told the Washington Post that two armed, Reaper drones fired “roughly [the] entirety of their Hellfire payload and followed up w/ 500 lb bomb.”
The Pentagon has a history of initially denying involvement in some of its worst atrocities. For instance, when the U.S. bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in 2015, the Pentagon initially claimed it was not targeting the hospital. A Pentagon spokesman said that the destruction of the hospital, which was bombed for more than 30 minutes, killing 42 people, was “collateral damage.” The Pentagon’s story continued to change over coming days, until it eventually admitted responsibility.
Eventually Mordor's towers will fall, of course...
London calling to the zombies of death Quit holding out and draw another breath London calling and I don't want to shout But when we were talking I saw you nodding out London calling, see we ain't got no high Except for that one with the yellowy eye
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in Engines stop running, the wheat is growin' thin A nuclear era, but I have no fear 'Cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in Engines stop running, the wheat is growin' thin A nuclear era, but I have no fear London is drowning, and I, I live by the river
Now get this
London calling, yes, I was there, too An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true! London calling at the top of the dial And after all this, won't you give me a smile?
I never felt so much a' like a'like a'like
After decades spent slowly disintegrating in high-security vaults, thousands of historic films of U.S. nuclear weapons tests have been salvaged, including some that have been newly declassified. The incredible footage shows enormous mushroom clouds ballooning over the horizon in what could be a doomsday flick.Moar shrooms!
Thursday, 16 March 2017
In your eyes, I guess
You heard me cry
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
And Heaven stole
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
From all this pain
I thought I'd never feel the same
Or anything again
When you find your love
When you know that it exists
Then the lover that you miss
Will come to you on those cold, cold nights
When you know it holds such bliss
Then the lover that you kissed
Will comfort you when there's no hope in sight
In my eyes
No one guessed
Or no one tried
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
With your last breath
You saved my soul
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
The top prosecutor in Mexican state of Veracruz has confirmed that more than 250 skulls have been dug up in what appears to be a drug cartel mass burial ground on the outskirts of the city of Veracruz.
Jorge Winckler, the state prosecutor, said on Tuesday that the clandestine burial pits appear to contain the victims of drug cartels killed years ago.
"For many years, the drug cartels disappeared people and the authorities were complacent," Winckler said, in apparent reference to the administration of fugitive former Governor Javier Duarte and his predecessors.Significanly the human remains were not found by 'authorities' but by activists:
The skulls and other bones were found in a wooded area known as Colinas de Santa Fe, where activists have been exploring since at least mid-2016, sinking rods into the ground and withdrawing them to detect the telltale odor of decomposition.
When they find what they believe are burial pits, they alert authorities, who carry out the final excavations.
Winckler said excavations have covered only a third of the lot where the skulls were found, and more people may be buried there.[snip]
The victims' advocacy groups have criticised authorities for doing little to try to find or identify the state's missing people, many of whom were kidnapped and never heard from again.
Al Jazeera's John Holman, reporting from Mexico City, said that one mother of a missing person told him that her family received "very little help" from state authorities in finding her son.Moar Words (Jeera).
Despite dire predictions to the contrary, hyper nationalist and anti-Islam nutcase, Very Bad Hairdo Geert Wulders got trounced in the Dutch polls:
The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has seen off a challenge from the anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders to claim a resounding victory in parliamentary elections widely seen as a test for resurgent nationalism before key European polls.
With nearly 95% of votes counted and no further significant changes expected, Rutte’s centre-right, liberal VVD was assured of 33 MPs, by far the largest party in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, national news agency ANP said.
Wilders’ Freedom party (PVV) looked certain to finish second, but a long way behind on 20 seats, just ahead of the Christian Democrat CDA and liberal-progressive D66 which both ended up in third position on 19 seats.
“Our message to the Netherlands – that we will hold our course, and keep this country safe, stable and prosperous – got through,” Rutte told a cheering crowd of supporters at the VVD’s election night party.
After Britain’s shock Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory in the US, he added, the eyes of the world had been on the vote: “This was an evening when … the Netherlands said ‘Stop’ to the wrong sort of populism.”
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Best concert I've ever witnessed was Neil Young in a basketball hall in Milan, Italy. Runner up: U2 'Actung Baby tour', Bologna, Italy.
'We know the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre'
Turkish president holds the Netherlands responsible for massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims as row over rallies deepens
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has held the Netherlands responsible for the worst genocide in Europe since the second world war as the row over Turkish ministers addressing pro-Erdoğan rallies in the country deepened.
In a speech televised live on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there.”
But in 2003, Shannon was arrested for walking into a home in Kenner, Louisiana, and stealing $14 from an elderly couple. He insisted police had the wrong man — the couple had not seen his face — but his clothes closely resembled the description of the culprit, and the cops discovered $14 when they found him soon after the robbery. Despite his relatively minor crime, at trial the state cast Shannon as “the worst kind of defendant. He’s a predator.” In a 11-1 split, the jury found him guilty. He was given 30 years in prison.
But Jefferson Parish prosecutors weren’t satisfied. On September 10, 2004, according to court records, “the state introduced fingerprint cards, certified copies of convictions, and arrest registers” from Shannon’s previous run-ins with the law. They dated back to the 1990s. One was for unauthorized entry. Another was for “theft over $500.” A third, in 1997, was possession of a firearm by a felon. On December 4, 2004, under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, Shannon was resentenced to life without parole.
Ilene was incredulous — “Life for $14? Come on, seriously?” — but she couldn’t help but be mad at her brother. “I kind of like cut off communication with him,” she admitted. For years, Shannon kept writing to her anyway, certain that she would respond eventually. That moment came suddenly, when Ilene opened a letter in April 2014. Shannon was gravely ill. He had long complained about a pain in his side, but prison doctors dismissed the symptoms. By the time he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, the tumors had spread to his brain. “Please don’t think I’m playing games with y’all,” Shannon wrote in his letter to his sister. “I’m sick and I don’t want to die alone.”
On Sunday, March 5, at age 42, Shannon died at Angola. Ilene was by his side, along with her older sister. Ilene’s 20-year-old daughter made the drive too, but was barred from seeing him despite being on his visiting list. (“They’re like, he didn’t put her on this list.”) Prison officials wanted to bury Shannon quickly, on Tuesday, but he had repeatedly begged them not to leave his body at Angola. Bringing his body home was an expense the siblings could hardly afford, a reality for many families. It is one major reason half of the men who die at Angola are buried there. Still, Ilene was determined to try. The day after her brother’s death, the family put up a crowdfunding webpage seeking money to cover the transportation and funeral expenses. “Shannon was well loved by all, and he was never thrown away,” Ilene wrote. “He was our brother — not just another inmate — and we want to remember him as such.”
On a side note, one cannot but wonder what pain relief is being provided when you're doing hard porridge and dying, like Shannon?
'SPEED QUEEN' JAILED - Russian millionaire’s ‘road devil’ daughter infamous for reckless speeding clips locked up for flouting traffic laws
Cops jailed self-proclaimed road 'hooligan' Mara Bagdasaryan for 10 days after she clocked up 400 speeding & parking tickets
That'll learn her!! 10 days!The Sun (with juicy vid)
Monday, 13 March 2017
So far, in my ongoing series of columns making the case for implausible ideas, I’ve fixed race relations and solved the problem of a workless working class. So now it’s time to turn to the real threat to the human future: the one in your pocket or on your desk, the one you might be reading this column on right now.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.
Compulsions are rarely harmless. The internet is not the opioid crisis; it is not likely to kill you (unless you’re hit by a distracted driver) or leave you ravaged and destitute. But it requires you to focus intensely, furiously, and constantly on the ephemera that fills a tiny little screen, and experience the traditional graces of existence — your spouse and friends and children, the natural world, good food and great art — in a state of perpetual distraction.
Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.
Which is why we need a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.
H/T Doug Salzmann
Sunday, 12 March 2017
Kirk Bloodsworth, a former Marine who had become a waterman on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was the first person to be sentenced to death and then subsequently exonerated. He was 22-years-old at the time of his wrongful conviction and served eight years in prison before he was released.Bloodsworth: An innocent man is a remarkable RT documentary, narrated by Kirk Bloodworth himself. Bloodsworth turned out to be a gifted speaker and passionate activist.
Kirk Bloodsworth in Wikipedia.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion in his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circles of our compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Saturday, 11 March 2017
South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country's conglomerates at a time of rising tensions with North Korea and China.
The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of Park's supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court, and a festive rally by those who had demanded her ouster who celebrated justice being served.
"We did it. We the citizens, the sovereign of this country, opened a new chapter in history," Lee Tae-ho, the leader of a movement to oust Park that has held mostly peaceful rallies in downtown involving millions, told a large gathering in Seoul.
Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over the corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in detention and on trial.
A snap presidential election will be held within 60 days.
Park did not appear in court, and a spokesman said she would not be making any comment. She also would not leave the presidential Blue House residence on Friday.
"Park is not leaving the Blue House today," Blue House spokesman Kim Dong Jo told Reuters.
Park was stripped of her powers after parliament voted to impeach her but has remained in the president's official compound.
The court's acting chief judge, Lee Jung-mi, said Park had violated the constitution and law "throughout her term," and despite the objections of parliament and the media, she had concealed the truth and cracked down on critics.
Park has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.
Friday, 10 March 2017
Uncle Bibi pissed off, no end?
US President Donald Trump has invited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for a visit to the White House, in the first phone call between the two leaders since Trump's inauguration on January 20.
Trump invited Abbas "to visit the White House soon to discuss ways to resume the [Palestinian-Israeli] political process", Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, quoted Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina as saying on Friday.
The White House said in a statement that Trump invited Abbas to a meeting at the White House "in the near future".
Abbas told Trump that peace was a "strategic choice" for the Palestinian people which should lead to the "establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel," Wafa reported.
Anyone turn me into a pumpkin if this leads anywhere but I'm going to give the 'G-d Emperor' half a credit for this...Al Jazeera
Meanwhile in Mordor's little helper in the Middle East:
With Lebanon No Longer Hiding Hezbollah's Role, Next War Must Hit Civilians Where It Hurts, Israeli Minister Says
Naftali Bennett and Lebanese president agree: There's no line between Hezbollah and Lebanese state. Lebanese must realize another war with Israel means Lebanon will be sent back to Middle Ages, Bennett tells Haaretz.
Remember Carryn Owens, the widow of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who garnered 2 minutes and 11 seconds of thunderous, sustained applause when Trump acknowledged her during his joint address to Congress? What a nice piece of theatre that was, eh?
More credible details of that raid are now reaching us:
THE ONLY EVIDENCE released so far to back up Sean Spicer’s claim that “the goal of the raid was intelligence gathering, and that’s what we received” was a video posted by U.S. Central Command on February 3. CENTCOM presented the clip as confirmation of the “valuable” material collected during the raid and labeled the video as an “AQAP course to attack the West.” But it was quickly taken down after it was discovered that the footage was 10 years old — pre-dating the existence of AQAP in Yemen — and was readily available online. The U.S. government has yet to produce any further proof of intelligence collected from the raid.
There are other suspect details in the U.S. version of events. In the days after the raid, the Pentagon claimed that the women killed were armed and fought the incoming U.S. special operations forces from “pre-established positions.” Yet all of the witnesses to the attack interviewed by The Intercept in al Ghayil strongly challenged this accusation, citing a culture that views the prospect of women fighting, as Nesma al Ameri put it, as “eib” — shameful and dishonorable — and pointing out the practical implausibility of women clutching babies while also firing rifles. A CENTCOM spokesperson refused to provide any details about female fighters to support its assertion.
However, the names of the dead that villagers gave to The Intercept did not include one woman listed by AQAP media channels. Propagandists and supporters of the militants claimed one unnamed woman “fought them with her own gun,” with an additional claim that Arwa, the former Saudi prisoner, had thrown a grenade killing a U.S. soldier — assertions strongly denied by Abdulelah al Dhahab, who survived the lengthy gunfight around his brother’s home. Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, the head of the al Ameri clan, lost 20 members of his extended family, six of them children, the youngest only 3 months old. “Everyone who tried to run, they killed them,” he said, standing on the hilltop outside his home 11 days later.
In response to The Intercept’s findings, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, called for a full investigation into the raid, including the legal basis for the operation, the adequacy of intelligence beforehand, what precautions were taken, and why any precautions failed.
“Each new revelation about this tragic operation is grievous and shocking,” Shamsi said. “Even in recognized armed conflict, there are rules to safeguard against the killings of civilians, and even under the Obama administration’s imperfect lethal force policy, which to the best of our knowledge remains in effect, there are constraints that should have prevented or at least minimized civilian deaths.”
Last week, the White House announced the Pentagon would be carrying out three reviews of the raid, looking into the death of Owens, the loss of the Osprey, and the civilian casualties.
During his first address to Congress on February 28, President Trump noted that Owens died “a warrior and a hero,” leading to a standing ovation for the Navy SEAL’s widow, Carryn Owens. Trump has made no mention of the relatives of the women and children who died that night.
As always it's hard to escape the impression that William “Ryan” Owens' life is valued so much more than that of the brownishe people Empire so callously bombs, kills or maims.
Smell the Nirvana!
But opportunism never sleeps, and with the rage and the resistance of recent weeks some far less noble characters have seen a chance to develop a new con. They’re up on the resistance bandwagon right now, rending their garments, shaking their fists and praying that no one holds them responsible for the dead end into which they’ve steered us over the years [that should read 'decades' really, my blurb]. Inveighing loudly against Trump has become, for the people I am describing, a means of rescuing an ideology that has proven a disaster.
And so the thinkers of the “center left” proceed to hold their failed leaders above scrutiny and to redouble their commitment to the shabby ideology that allowed Trump to win. Former prime minister Tony Blair, the British face of Clintonism and one of the principal forces behind the Iraq war has been doing just this. Writing the other day in the New York Times, Blair used his audience’s horror at the Trump phenomenon as an excuse to urge them into battle against, yes, the left.
And then there’s celebrated columnist and author Thomas Friedman. He called on “America’s business leaders” to pick up the banner of resistance and save “the country from a leader with a truly distorted view of how the world works”. Friedman listed the names of American CEOs from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, calling upon each and every one of them to stand up against Trump.
After all, he wrote, good and enlightened people know the formula for prosperity, and it’s “where business, philanthropies, the local school system and local government forge adaptive coalitions to enable every worker to engage in lifelong learning and every company to access global markets and every town to attract the smart risk-takers who start companies”.
“Adaptive coalitions.” “Lifelong learning.” Now that’s some resistance for you. Evidently the ideology Friedman has been trumpeting for years – government genuflection before “smart risk-takers” and the knowledge industries – need not change; it need only be hammered into us by a popular front of liberals and CEOs. That’s the way to challenge Trumpism: to tell the lowly that the answer for them is “lifelong learning”. Which is another way of saying that their situation is their own stupid fault.
H/T Doug Salzmann
Thursday, 9 March 2017
"The struggle for power between the Spanish Republican parties is an unhappy, far-off thing which I have no wish to revive at this date. I only mention it in order to say: believe nothing, or next to nothing, of what you read about internal affairs on the Government side. It is all, from whatever source, party propaganda — that is to say, lies. The broad truth about the war is simple enough. The Spanish bourgeoisie saw their chance of crushing the labour movement, and took it, aided by the Nazis and by the forces of reaction all over the world. It is doubtful whether more than that will ever be established.
I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, ‘History stopped in 1936’, at which he nodded in immediate understanding. We were both thinking of totalitarianism in general, but more particularly of the Spanish civil war. Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’. Yet in a way, horrible as all this was, it was unimportant. It concerned secondary issues — namely, the struggle for power between the Comintern and the Spanish left-wing parties, and the efforts of the Russian Government to prevent revolution in Spain. But the broad picture of the war which the Spanish Government presented to the world was not untruthful. The main issues were what it said they were. But as for the Fascists and their backers, how could they come even as near to the truth as that? How could they possibly mention their real aims? Their version of the war was pure fantasy, and in the circumstances it could not have been otherwise."
Let the speakers crackle and burn!
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Today, 08/03/2017, is International Women's Day!
Last year, organizations and individuals around the world supported the #PledgeForParity campaign and committed to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men's contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures. From awareness raising to concrete action, organizations rallied their people to pledge support to help forge gender parity on International Women’s Day (IWD) and beyond.
But the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. Around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.Dare to Learn!
An ordinary American progressive woman speaks Truth to Power:
The most ironic part of it all is that they are achieving exactly the opposite of what they convinced their followers they are doing: they are strengthening Trump, not weakening him, by poisoning and corroding all of the institutions that – if they had any credibility – could effectively check him.
ULTIMATELY, what makes Gessen’s article so important – aside from the fact that partisan smear artists cannot dismiss her on the ground that she loves Putin and works for the Kremlin – is that it focuses on the key point: namely, that this fixation on primitive conspiracy-mongering is just a slothful way of avoiding the real work of meaningfully opposing Trump. As she explains, this bottomless, ultimately pointless obsession with Russia has utterly crowded out effective strategies for opposing Trump, and has obscured many of the truly damaging policies he is implementing with little notice:
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Acc. Time, Trump did consider her as a candidate for running mate.
And some claim Disney's Bob Iger may be running for 2020.
Sweden’s immigration situation became a hot topic since Donald Trump recently bungled a reference to it in Florida. It’s hard to get the truth about the politicized situation without actually traveling to Sweden, but journalist Tim Pool is now reporting straight from that nation’s no-go zones and talking to a cross-section of Swedes about what’s really going on.
Pool doesn’t live in Washington D.C. and attend press conferences while developing inside-the-beltway sources. Reuters, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera English have carried his work. Pool goes straight to crisis spots like the Occupy Wall Street protests—where he was threatened and attacked—the Ferguson unrest, and the Milwaukee street protests last August. In Milwaukee, he reported on an 18-year-old man getting shot in the neck, which the MSM mostly ignored because it interfered with their “righteous BLM peaceful protest” narrative. When Pool realized that whites, there to show solidarity, had become specific targets of violence, he was forced to abandon his reporting.
The first stop on Pool’s Sweden tour was the nation’s third largest city, Mälmo, a place the right-wing media’s long portrayed as the Caracas, Venezuela of immigrant crime. Breitbart regularly reports on “migrant-occupied” Mälmo’s child rape epidemic, and the coastal city’s regular hand grenade attacks and gang violence. Compared to Breitbart’s breathless portrayal of Mälmo, Chicago’s South Side resembles an oasis of zen-like tranquility.
Mälmo’s Rosengard section is a prominent “problem area,” in official lingo. Pool reports that Swedish officials don’t refer to “no-go” zones. He took a tour of Rosengard with local socialist politician Nils Karlsson. Karlsson admitted there was a crime problem, but insisted it was due to poverty and had nothing to do with Sweden bringing in refugees. He explained Sweden’s high reported rape rate as a function of a broad definition of the crime and the willingness to prosecute it, which brings victims forward. Karlsson also talked of Sweden’s moral obligation to take in refugees.
Pool and the politician strolled freely through the streets of Rosengard during daylight hours without incident. He stayed with a couple who resided there the same evening. The wife told him that she believed that, while immigrants were behind the crime spike, that the crimes didn’t concern her because they happened within the refugee community. The couple didn’t appear to feel much concern about living in the neighborhood with their young child.
Pool left Mälmo with the feeling that its dangers had been overhyped. He then headed to Stockholm to investigate a larger city, his main destination the notorious suburb of Rinkeby. That’s where a Sixty Minutes crew was attacked when they went there last year. Accompanied by a Swedish journalist and Pool’s camera operator, he walked around the streets of Rinkeby during daylight hours, just as in Mälmo. His Swedish companion noted that whenever he visited the area, men populated the cafes—the women stayed away. It didn’t take long for the police to advise them to leave. Men were putting on masks, and the cops told him that if they made an arrest that 50 more could appear rapidly and start throwing stones. Pool’s footage shows the police following them to their car and waiting for them to leave.
Swedish media looked at Pool’s Twitter timeline and took a statement from him. A police spokesman, not the police involved, denied they told the journalist to leave and that they gave him an escort to his vehicle. No matter how the media covers it, it was all captured on video. There’s credible doubt now about both media and police honesty in public statements on incidents involving immigrants. Pool did an on-camera interview with an observer who said the Swedes put great trust in their media, with the exception of the refugee issue. Swedish police were caught covering up sex crimes committed by refugees at a music festival last year. The police statement on Pool’s Rinkeby incident casts further doubt on Swedish law enforcement’s honesty on this issue.
It’s clear that political correctness is enforced in Sweden. People self-censor as a result. The Swedish government has undertaken a social experiment, but it’s not even collecting stats they can use to analyze its results. The Swedish Parliament just recently turned down a bill that would analyze crime based on immigration status.
Sweden is one of the most liberal nations in the world. I don’t think most Swedes even want to know the facts—at least not yet. Pool’s reporting is now causing discomfort in the Swedish halls of power. That’s inevitable when you’ve successfully bottled up the truth and an interloper suddenly appears with a camera.
Tim Pool’s videos will go viral now, inside Sweden and abroad. They give a snapshot of a nation that’s far from the Breitbart version. Still, his reports impart a sense of unease about the Swedes being better at cooperation and compassion than at facing reality or playing hardball when it’s necessary. They leave the lingering impression of a kind, yet naive nation paving the road to a societal fracture. Trump highlighted Sweden in the global immigration debate. Americans are watching them now, probably hoping to confirm their biases.
The dream fueling the Russia frenzy is that it will eventually create a dark enough cloud of suspicion around Trump that Congress will find the will and the grounds to impeach him. If that happens, it will have resulted largely from a media campaign orchestrated by members of the intelligence community—setting a dangerous political precedent that will have corrupted the public sphere and promoted paranoia. And that is the best-case outcome.
More likely, the Russia allegations will not bring down Trump. He may sacrifice more of his people, as he sacrificed Flynn, as further leaks discredit them. Various investigations may drag on for months, drowning out other, far more urgent issues. In the end, Congressional Republicans will likely conclude that their constituents don’t care enough about Trump’s Russian ties to warrant trying to impeach the Republican president. Meanwhile, while Russia continues to dominate the front pages, Trump will continue waging war on immigrants, cutting funding for everything that’s not the military, assembling his cabinet of deplorables—with six Democrats voting to confirm Ben Carson for Housing, for example, and ten to confirm Rick Perry for Energy. According to the Trump plan, each of these seems intent on destroying the agency he or she is chosen to run—to carry out what Steve Bannon calls the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” As for Sessions, in his first speech as attorney general he promised to cut back civil rights enforcement and he has already abandoned a Justice Department case against a discriminatory Texas voter ID law. But it was his Russia lie that grabbed the big headlines.
Monday, 6 March 2017
@ TI's most ascerbic commenter nails it again, this time on the Dumbocrats U-turn re. Obomba's Russia detente policy, designed to twarth/impeach Trump (or start a 'nukular holocaust', whichever comes first!):
Mr. Greenwald is a little unfair towards the Democrats. They don’t control the Executive, the Congress, the Supreme Court or the Statehouses, so exactly how are they supposed to hamstring Mr. Trump’s agenda? By creating a Russia hysteria, they have managed to force the resignation of General Flynn, damaged Mr. Sessions and put Mr. Trump on the defensive. The only downside is a potential nuclear war with Russia, but the risk of an actual war is quite low. So the gains seem to be worth the risk.
In fact, demonizing Mr. Putin only increases his popularity in Russia, so it’s possible he directly colluded with the Democrats to create this campaign. This may strengthen ties between Russia and the United States and actually reduce the future risk of war.
The fact that Democrats supported particular policies when Mr. Obama was President, does not mean they should automatically support the same policies when Mr. Trump is President. They trusted Mr. Obama, however illogically, more than they trust Mr. Trump.
It might be argued, in a perfect world, that sanity should prevail. But this ignores human nature, as well as the entirety of US history.
The biggest danger is that Mr. Trump will pull the rug out from under the Democrats by doing a 180 on Russia. He could, for example, torpedo a Russian submarine in the Black Sea. This would allow him to co-opt the anti-Russian hysteria and create a swell of bipartisan support which would really boost his agenda. In fact, this would work so well that he has possibly been orchestrating this with the Democratic Party all along. He and the Clintons are friends from way back.
However, this is entering into the realm of speculation.
On RT's CrossTalk (Peter Lavell) Dmitry Babich (an inveterate 'Kremlin propagandist' but even a broken clock is right twice a day) asks a relevant question (paraphrased from memory):
Is the DNC (and Oligarchy RINOs) doing to US heartland (Trump) supporters what the US has been doing to other democracies worldwide for decades?
What sayeth yee all?
Last Sunday night (Sunday being a good night for some sadistic family entertainment?) Auntie Beeb screened box office hit 'Papillon'. As the cliche goes, this is a good study in 'Man's inhumanity to Man'. There are real reasons to believe that those who manned these colonies were in possesion of the 'psychopath genome'.
For a taster of the intense cruelty of this 'penal system', I give you Wikipedia:
The islands were part of a penal colony from 1852 onwards for common-law criminals of France, who were convicted by juries rather than magistrates. The main part of the penal colony was a labor camp that stretched along the border with Dutch Guiana (present-day Suriname). This penal colony was controversial as it had a reputation for harshness and brutality. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence was common; tropical diseases were rife. Only a small minority of broken survivors returned to France to tell how horrible it was; they sometimes scared other potential criminals to go straight. This system was gradually phased out and has been completely shut down since 1953. Since the late 20th century, the islands have been tourist destinations. The islands were featured in the book Papillon (1970), published as a memoir by Henri Charrière, a former prisoner who escaped.
Devil's Island and associated prisons eventually became one of the most infamous prison systems in history. While the prison system was in use (1852–1953), inmates included political prisoners (such as 239 republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup d'état in 1851) and the most hardened of thieves and murderers. The vast majority of the more than 80,000 prisoners sent to the Devil's Island prison system never made it back to France. Many died due to disease and harsh conditions. Sanitary systems were limited, and the region was mosquito-infested, with endemic tropical diseases. The only exit from the island prisons was by water, and few convicts escaped.
Convicts who were lucky enough to have family or friends willing to send them money had to have it sent to them in care of a prison guard. The standard practice was for the guard to keep a quarter of the amount sent for himself and give the rest to the prisoner.
On 30 May 1854, France passed a new law of forced residency. It required convicts to stay in French Guiana after completion of sentence for a time equal to their forced labour time. If the original sentence exceeded eight years, they were forced to stay as residents for the remainder of their lives and were provided land to settle on. In time, a variety of penal regimes emerged, as convicts were divided into categories according to the severity of their crimes and the terms of their imprisonment or "forced residence" regime.
An 1885 law provided for repeat offenders for minor crimes to be sent to the French Guiana prison system, previously reserved for serious offenders and political prisoners. A limited number of convicted women were also sent to French Guiana, with the intent that they marry freed male inmates to aid in settlement and development of the colony. As the results were poor, the government discontinued the practice in 1907. On Devil's island, the small prison facility did not usually house more than 12 persons.
The horrors of the penal settlement were publicized during the Dreyfus affair, as the French army captain Alfred Dreyfus was unjustly convicted of treason and sent to Devil's Island on 5 January 1895. In 1938 the penal system was strongly criticized in Rene Belbenoit's book Dry Guillotine. Shortly after the release of Belbenoit's book, which aroused public outrage about the conditions, the French government announced plans to close the bagne de Cayennes. The outbreak of World War II delayed this operation but, from 1946 until 1953, one by one the prisons were closed. The Devil's Island facility was the last to be closed.