Archive for the ‘Max Blumenthal’ Category

Until Gaza Is Free Israel Will Never Be Free – Sputnik International

The abandonment of 1.8 million men, women, and children to their fate in Gaza by the so-called international community is one of the most grievous moral outrages of our time.

Let us not mince words: Gaza in2017 is a vast open air prison whose inmates have committed no crime or transgression other thanthat ofbeing Palestinians who dare assert the right toself-determination onland that has long been coveted byan oppressor whose flagrant disregard forinternational law and human rights is beyonddispute.

Since 2007 the Gaza Strip comprising a narrow stretch ofland which hugs the eastern Mediterranean Coast, and which at40km long and 12km (at its widest point) is one ofthe most densely populated parts ofthe world has existed ina state ofunyielding siege and blockade. Nothing can enter or leave viaits Erez border crossing withIsrael tothe north, or its Rafah border crossing withEgypt tothe south, withoutthe consent ofthe Israeli authorities inagreement withtheir Egyptian counterparts.

A 2017 UN report intoliving conditions inGaza confirms that “on the ground, life forthe average Palestinian inGaza is getting more and more wretched. This year electricity is the most visible deterioration inthe living conditions inGaza butit comes ontop ofa host ofother chronic and acute problems that have become part of ‘normal’ life. An 11-year-old child has not experienced more than12 hours ofelectricity ina single day inhis/her lifetime. No one remembers a time inrecent memory when drinkable water reliably appeared outof the tap. Memories ofease ofmovement inand outof the Strip are also increasingly distant.”

Meanwhile, according toa recent Amnesty International report, “Israel’s military blockade ofthe Gaza Strip [has] entered its 10th year, continuing the collective punishment ofGaza’s entire population.” It also cites the fact that the Israelis maintain a “buffer zone” insidethe Strip and have used “live fire and other weapons againstPalestinians who entered or approached it.”

Writer and journalist Max Blumenthal described his own experience ofentering Gaza and passing throughthis buffer zone ina 2015 interview withfellow journalist Glenn Greenwald. “You wander downa long corridor, which is a cage,” Blumenthal recalled, “and then you arrive ata metal door ata concrete wall. The metal door opens, it shuts behindyou, and you’re insidewhat is effectively a walled-off ghetto.”

AFP 2017/ Mahmud Hams

Palestinian children look through a hole in a sheet metal fence outside their home in a poor neighbourhood in Gaza City

He goes on:

“You look downthis endless wall, toyour right, and you see a remote-controlled machine gun perched onthe wall. That’s the spot and strike system, which is operated byan all-female unit ofIsraeli soldiers inthe Negev Desert, tens ofkilometers away, byremote. And what they do is, they watch the buffer zone this 300 [meter] area that Palestinians are forbidden fromentering insidethe Gaza Strip. And anyone who enters who they determine tobe a ‘terrorist,’ they eliminate withthe push ofa joystick button froma remote-controlled machine gun. It’s just that dystopian.”

Punctuating this daily lived experience ofmisery forthe Palestinians ofGaza are regular Israeli attacks fromland, sea, and air, which are tantamount towar crimes given that due tothe lack ofspace inthe Strip they are indiscriminate and regularly result inthe massacre ofcivilians. And this is withouttaking intoaccount the two full-scale military assaults unleashed bythe Israelis onGaza Operation Cast Lead in2008-09, and Operation Protective Edge in2014 inwhich thousands ofcivilians were killed and maimed, many ofthem children.

AP Photo/ Adel Hana

Mohammed Keferna, 14, sits on a couch in his family’s building that was damaged by Israeli strikes during last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

The burning question is why, inthe face ofsuch damning evidence, Israel has been able toget away withcommitting such grievous crimes againstthe people ofGaza forso long? The answer is that forfar too long the application and enforcement ofinternational law has been less todo withjustice and more todo withpower or a given state’s relationship topower.

Israel’s geostrategic importance tothe United States and its European allies has allowed it free rein inits brutal repression ofthe Palestinian people, both inthe Gaza Strip and acrossthe Occupied Territories ofthe West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is afforded a level ofgeopolitical and diplomatic support that no other state engaged insuch wanton crimes againsthumanity would enjoy, thus exposing the moral bankruptcy ofthe US and those European governments which continue todeny not only the righteousness ofthe Palestinian struggle forjustice buttheir status asvictims ofa continuing monstrous injustice.

AP Photo/ Tsafrir Abayov

In this Sunday, March 26, 2017 photo, Palestinian residents of Gaza strip wait on the Israeli side of the Erez terminal to cross to Gaza Strip

In defending its apparatus ofrepression which includes apartheid, ethnic cleansing, siege, torture, arbitrary detention withouttrial, and violence the word “terrorism” is consistently invoked. When it comes toGaza specifically, the Israelis cite the existence and actions ofHamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, asa threat toits security and the security ofits citizens, specifically those living inIsraeli towns adjacent toGaza.

While there is no gainsaying the fact that attacks unleashed againstIsraeli civilians byHamas are indefensible, they are not incomprehensible given the severity ofthe occupation. What Israel and its supporters are careful toelide when it comes toHamas is the salient fact that the Islamist group is a product ofthis occupation, which has lasted since1967 and shows no evidence ofending.

REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops following a protest against the blockade on Gaza, near the border between Israel and Central Gaza Strip May 19, 2017

Prison imprisons the guards asmuch asit does the inmates, and the chains that bind the Palestinians also bind their oppressors. It is hard toimagine that onany given day the word “Palestine” or “Palestinian” does not intrude onthe consciousness ofpeople living inIsrael, reminding them ofa people who remain unbowed, despitetheir miserable condition, just a few miles fromthe affluence they themselves have long taken forgranted.

Hatred ofothers is the handmaiden ofhatred ofself, and untilGaza and the rest ofPalestine is free Israel will never be free.

The views expressed inthis article are solely those oftheauthorand do not necessarily reflect the official position ofSputnik.

Check outJohn’s Sputnik radio show,Hard Facts.

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Until Gaza Is Free Israel Will Never Be Free – Sputnik International

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language On North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – The National Memo (blog)

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

President Donald Trumps pledge to punish North Korea with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before triggered outrage from pundits and lawmakers across the political spectrum. The outrage over his apparent threat to annihilate North Korea, possibly with nuclear arms, prompted his advisors to insist that Trumps comments wereimprovised.

When Defense Secretary James Mattis followed up with another belligerent statement, warning of the end of [North Koreas] regime and the destruction of its people, the reaction from Washingtons political class was entirely different.

Though Mattis was nicknamed Mad Dog for his role in razing thecity of Fallujahduring the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2004, pundits have rebranded him one of the adults in the White House part of a class of sober-minded ex-generals appointed to rein in Trumps divisive America First agenda.

CNN correspondent Dan Merica cast Mattis warning to oversee the mass slaughter of North Koreas civilian population as a tough statement. This framing was echoed by Barbara Starr, the CNN Pentagon correspondent who serves as an enthusiastic stenographer for the Defense Department. Starr called Mattis rhetoric very tough talk and a dire warning to North Korea.

Self-described GOP media guy Rick Wilson, a veteran Republican consultant popular among liberals for his vehement criticism of Trump, applauded Mattis language, tweeting, This is how you phrase it, not biblical-level chest beating.

Perhaps the most bizarre response to Mattis statement came Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe, who described it as a call for de-escalation.

The leak that triggered the threats

Both genocidal threats from Trump and Mattis were triggered by a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency assessmentleaked to the Washington Postclaiming that North Korea has cross[ed] a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. The unverified analysis claimed that 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Tim Shorrock, a veteran investigative journalist who has focused on Korean issues for several decades, was skeptical about the DIA leak. Im a little surprised by this report because for one thing its clearly not the collective conclusion of the intelligence community. Its someone in the DIA and theres no real analysis of what it is They just say it has this miniature warhead and they can now put on an ICBM, hesaidto Aaron Mate of the Real News Network.

Shorrock also questioned the timing of the leak: Well, theyve said that before in years past, it hasnt been proven to be true, and Im wondering why this is coming out right now. That seems very dangerous on the face of it. Someone within the intelligence community is pushing for a military response by leaking this report.

Turning the aggressor into the victim

The Trump administrations threats were most immediately prompted by the DIAs leak, but were also an undeniable response to a months-long campaign by corporate media to drum up fears of a North Korean attack on the American homeland.

On August 2, CNNs Jake Tapper hypedunfounded fearsthat North Korean missile tests threatened passenger planes from the West. Every day were getting starting details about North Koreas military ambitions which seem to be proceeding at an increasingly rapid clip. Its unclear with the Trump administrations strategy is to stop the Kim Jong Un regime, Tapper declared as he introduced a segment on the supposed threat to civilian airliners.

The segment featured special graphics created by CNN that showed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea striking California.

While CNN correspondent Barbara Starr acknowledged that no North Korean missile test came anywhere close to downing a passenger plane, CNNs chyron read: North Korea missile tests could endanger passenger planes.

Since Trump threatened fire and fury on North Korea, mainstream media has portrayed the government of DPRK as the sole aggressor. The August 9front page of theWall Street Journalframed the presidents warning with the headline, Trump Warns North Korea: Stop Threats.

Though Trumps choice of language might have been alarming, his threats were part of a grand bipartisan tradition. Former President Barack Obama threatened the DPRK with destruction in 2016. We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals,Obamasaid, while conceding that the DPRK posed relatively low level threats.

What is rarely acknowledged is that North Koreas weapons production is strictly defensive, not offensive. North Koreanspokespeoplehave expressly pointed to countries that have been destroyed in U.S. military attacks, noting, Nothing will be more foolish if the United States thinks it can deal with us the way it treated Iraq and Libya, miserable victims of its aggression, and Syria, which did not respond immediately even after it was attacked.

Even Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, hasacknowledgedthat Kim is a rational actor. Coat conceded that Kims decision-making process was influenced by watching Muammar Gaddafi be butchered by U.S.-led forces after willingly ending his nuclear ambitions. The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukesis, unfortunately, if you had nukes, never give them up. If you dont have them, get them, Coats said at the Aspen Security Forum this year.

Coats concluded that for Kim, there is some rationale backing his actions which are survival, survival for his regime, survival for his country, and he has watched I think what has happened around the world relative to nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they have and seen that having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability.

The U.S. is the only country in the world that has ever dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian population (twice). The U.S. War DepartmentsStrategic Bombing Surveyacknowledged, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated. Some historians note that the U.S. nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, was not necessary to end the war, but rather was a warning sign to theSoviet Unionand could be seen as the first act of the Cold War.

Fake news on North Korea

The Western media is notorious for spreading ridiculous myths about North Korea; among them, that the country discovered evidence ofunicorns, that all North Koreans are forced to get the samehaircut, and that leader Kim Jong-un killed his uncle by feeding him to a pack ofdogs.

The former Washington Post punditMax Fisher, now at the New York Times,falselyreported that the DPRK distributed copies of Adolf Hitlers manifestoMein Kampfto leaders. And former Wired reporterSpencer Ackerman, now a national security reporter at the Daily Beast, wrongly portrayed an obvious spoof video made by a Westerner as official North Korean propaganda.

Accompanying much of the distortion-laden discussion of North Korea is an extreme dehumanization of the more than 25 million people who live there, who are often portrayed as mindlessly following the orders of their cartoon villain leaders.

U.S. crimes against humanity

Also conspicuously absent from media reports is any context or history for North Koreas actions. Just over 60 years ago, the U.S. waged what was essentially a genocidal war against Korea, in which it murdered millions of people.

As the InterceptsMehdi Hasannoted, The madman with nuclear weapons is Donald Trump, not Kim Jong-un.

While some Western media reports and intelligence officials may acknowledge that North Korea does indeed act rationally and that Donald Trump is personally erratic to a dangerous degree they still gloss over the impact of U.S. atrocities committed during the Korean War.

Over a period of three years or so, we killed off what 20 percent of the population, said Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who led the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. JournalistBlaine Hardenreported this in a Washington Post op-ed titled The U.S. war crime North Korea wont forget.

Harden explained, Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later Secretary of State, said the United States bombed everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another. After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.

In its three-year war on Korea, the U.S. is estimated to have killed3 million people, approximately half of them civilians.

The Korean War is sometimes called the forgotten war in the U.S., but it is hard to imagine that North Koreas leadership has forgotten this calamity, or that it would allow it to happen again without a response.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNets Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at@BenjaminNorton.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of theGrayzone ProjectatAlterNet,and the award-winning author ofGoliathandRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at@MaxBlumenthal.

Excerpt from:

Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language On North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – The National Memo (blog)

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language on North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – AlterNet

North Korean soldiers placard at the military parade in Pyongyang. Pyongyang, North Korea, July 2013. Photo Credit: Astrelok

President Donald Trumps pledge to punish North Korea with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before triggered outrage from pundits and lawmakers across the political spectrum. The outrage over his apparent threat to annihilate North Korea, possibly with nuclear arms, prompted his advisors to insist that Trumps comments wereimprovised.

When Defense Secretary James Mattis followed up with another belligerent statement, warning of “the end of [North Koreas] regime and the destruction of its people, the reaction from Washingtons political class was entirely different.

Though Mattis was nicknamed Mad Dog for his role in razing thecity of Fallujah during the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2004, pundits have rebranded him one of the “adults in the White House part of a class of sober-minded ex-generals appointed to rein in Trumps divisive America First agenda.

CNN correspondent Dan Merica cast Mattis warning to oversee the mass slaughter of North Koreas civilian population as a tough statement. This framing was echoed by Barbara Starr, the CNN Pentagon correspondent who serves as an enthusiastic stenographer for the Defense Department. Starr called Mattis rhetoric very tough talk and a dire warning to North Korea.

Self-described GOP media guy Rick Wilson, a veteran Republican consultant popular among liberals for his vehement criticism of Trump, applauded Mattis language, tweeting, This is how you phrase it, not biblical-level chest beating.

Perhaps the most bizarre response to Mattis statement came Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe, who described it as a call for de-escalation.

The leak that triggered the threats

Both genocidal threats from Trump and Mattis were triggered by a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency assessment leaked to the Washington Post claiming that North Korea has “cross[ed] a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.” The unverified analysis claimed that 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Tim Shorrock, a veteran investigative journalist who has focused on Korean issues for several decades, was skeptical about the DIA leak. Im a little surprised by this report because for one thing its clearly not the collective conclusion of the intelligence community. Its someone in the DIA and theres no real analysis of what it is They just say it has this miniature warhead and they can now put on an ICBM, he saidto Aaron Mate of the Real News Network.

Shorrock also questioned the timing of the leak: Well, theyve said that before in years past, it hasnt been proven to be true, and Im wondering why this is coming out right now. That seems very dangerous on the face of it. Someone within the intelligence community is pushing for a military response by leaking this report.

Turning the aggressor into the victim

The Trump administration’s threats were most immediately prompted by the DIAs leak, but were also an undeniable response to a months-long campaign by corporate media to drum up fears of a North Korean attack on the American homeland.

On August 2, CNNs Jake Tapper hypedunfounded fears that North Korean missile tests threatened passenger planes from the West. Every day were getting starting details about North Koreas military ambitions which seem to be proceeding at an increasingly rapid clip. Its unclear with the Trump administrations strategy is to stop the Kim Jong Un regime, Tapper declared as he introduced a segment on the supposed threat to civilian airliners.

The segment featured special graphics created by CNN that showed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea striking California.

While CNN correspondent Barbara Starr acknowledged that no North Korean missile test came anywhere close to downing a passenger plane, CNNs chyron read: North Korea missile tests could endanger passenger planes.”

Since Trump threatened fire and fury on North Korea, mainstream media has portrayed the government of DPRK as the sole aggressor. The August 9front page of theWall Street Journalframed the presidents warning with the headline, “Trump Warns North Korea: Stop Threats.”

Though Trumps choice of language might have been alarming, his threats were part of a grand bipartisan tradition. Former President Barack Obama threatened the DPRK with destruction in 2016. We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals, Obama said, while conceding that the DPRK posed relatively low level threats.

What is rarely acknowledged is that North Korea’s weapons production is strictly defensive, not offensive. North Korean spokespeople have expressly pointed to countries that have been destroyed in U.S. military attacks, noting, Nothing will be more foolish if the United States thinks it can deal with us the way it treated Iraq and Libya, miserable victims of its aggression, and Syria, which did not respond immediately even after it was attacked.

Even Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, has acknowledged that Kim is a rational actor. Coat conceded that Kims decision-making process was influenced by watching Muammar Gaddafi be butchered by U.S.-led forces after willingly ending his nuclear ambitions. The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukesis, unfortunately, if you had nukes, never give them up. If you dont have them, get them, Coats said at the Aspen Security Forum this year.

Coats concluded that for Kim, there is some rationale backing his actions which are survival, survival for his regime, survival for his country, and he has watched I think what has happened around the world relative to nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they have and seen that having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability.

The U.S. is the only country in the world that has ever dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian population (twice). The U.S. War DepartmentsStrategic Bombing Survey acknowledged, “Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” Some historians note that the U.S. nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, was not necessary to end the war, but rather was a warning sign to the Soviet Unionand could be seen as the first act of the Cold War.

Fake news on North Korea

The Western media is notorious for spreading ridiculous myths about North Korea; among them, that the country discovered evidence of unicorns, that all North Koreans are forced to get the same haircut, and that leader Kim Jong-un killed his uncle by feeding him to a pack of dogs.

The former Washington Post pundit Max Fisher, now at the New York Times, falsely reported that the DPRK distributed copies of Adolf Hitlers manifesto Mein Kampf to leaders. And former Wired reporter Spencer Ackerman, now a national security reporter at the Daily Beast, wrongly portrayed an obvious spoof video made by a Westerner as official North Korean propaganda.

Accompanying much of the distortion-laden discussion of North Korea is an extreme dehumanization of the more than 25 million people who live there, who are often portrayed as mindlessly following the orders of their cartoon villain leaders.

U.S. crimes against humanity

Also conspicuously absent from media reports is any context or history for North Koreas actions. Just over 60 years ago, the U.S. waged what was essentially a genocidal war against Korea, in which it murdered millions of people.

As the Intercepts Mehdi Hasannoted, The madman with nuclear weapons is Donald Trump, not Kim Jong-un.

While some Western media reports and intelligence officials may acknowledge that North Korea does indeed act rationally and that Donald Trump is personally erratic to a dangerous degree they still gloss over the impact of U.S. atrocities committed during the Korean War.

Over a period of three years or so, we killed off what 20 percent of the population, said Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who led the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. Journalist Blaine Harden reported this in a Washington Post op-ed titled The U.S. war crime North Korea wont forget.

Harden explained, Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later Secretary of State, said the United States bombed everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another. After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.

In its three-year war on Korea, the U.S. is estimated to have killed 3 million people, approximately half of them civilians.

The Korean War is sometimes called the “forgotten war” in the U.S., but it is hard to imagine that North Koreas leadership has forgotten this calamity, or that it would allow it to happen again without a response.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language on North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – AlterNet

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

@alternets Max Blumenthal Violated Society of …

Act Independently

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.

Journalists should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.

So reads the Society of Professional Journalists (SJP) code of ethics. The code is not a binding set of rules for SJPs 7,500 members but a set of best practices for professional journalism in the U.S.

Max Blumenthal flouted this guideline when he accepted gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment given to attendees of Russia Todays December 2015 tenth anniversary celebration. That same offer was accepted by U.S. general and top Donald Trump military advisor Michael Flynn and U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, neither of whom are journalists.

So Blumenthals journalism is now compromised by his financial relationship with the Kremlin. His work since December 2015 can no longer be regarded as serving the public interest, including his two-part hit piece smearing Syrian first responders known as the White Helmets as agents of a foreign conspiracy. We have no idea if he is continuing to be paid by the Kremlin for his appearances on their network Russia Today, the most recent of which occurred on November 28, 2016.

What makes Blumenthals flagrant disregard for basic journalistic ethics even worse is that he is a Senior Editor at Alternet. Not only should he know better than to take Kremlin cash, his American employer should know better as well. Employing a known Kremlin shill is going to put Alternet in the crosshairs of a new body within the U.S. government created to monitor and combat Russian government disinformation campaigns.

It is almost certainly too late for Blumenthal to return whatever gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment he received from Russia Today. But to restore public faith in his journalistic integrity, he should publicly disclose the terms of his contract(s) with Russia Today as a means of reassuring everyone that he is no longer on their payroll.

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@alternets Max Blumenthal Violated Society of …

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Max Blumenthal – Whats Really Going on In Iran & Qatar …

Submitted by Louise on 8 June 2017 – 5:56am

Big Picture Interview: Max Blumenthal, Senior Editor-AlterNet’s Grayzone Project/ Author-The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. Iran is blaming Saudi Arabia and by proxy the United States today after ISIS killed 12 people and wounded 42 more in a brazen attack in heart of Tehran. In a statement – Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards drew a direct connection between this morning’s slaughter and Donald Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia – and said that “the fact that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they [the Saudis] were involved in the brutal attack. So – were they?

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Max Blumenthal – Whats Really Going on In Iran & Qatar …

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Why Radiohead Frontman Thom Yorke’s Newest Fans Include the Israeli Govt and Far-Right Demagogues – AlterNet

Thom Yorke gives Palestine solidarity activists the finger in Glasgow, Scotland, July 7. Photo Credit: Screenshot / Twitter

The famed rock band Radiohead has found a slew of fans on the far right after forcefully coming out in opposition to Palestinian human rights activists. Among the influential English music groups new admirers are some of the most notorious demagogues in U.S. and Israeli politics, including Glenn Beck, Fox News and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus extreme right-wing administration.

This is an ironic development, given the bands history of speaking out for liberal causes and its strong opposition to the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Radiohead has been hyperbolically sold as the “Beatles of the 21st century. But unlike the Beatles John Lennon, who was a committed revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist, Radioheads Thom Yorke has allied with the pro-colonial right wing.

The band played in Israel on July 19 to international outrage. The show came after months of campaigning by Palestinian human rights activists, who called on Radiohead to honor the international boycott of Israel on behalf of the Palestinians systematically murdered, colonized and oppressed by the Israeli government.

The cultural boycott is a key element of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), a global campaign to pressure the Israeli government to stop violating international law and respect fundamental Palestinian human rights.

Yorke responded to Palestine advocates dismissively. At a concert in Glasgow, Scotland, the lead singer flipped offBDS activists and shouted Some f**king people! Yorkes outburst came right after he criticized the boycott campaign in an interview with Rolling Stone. (The singer’s tantrum was first recorded by Rachael Bett, a Scottish Palestine solidarity activist, and publicized on Twitter by AlterNet senior editor Max Blumenthal).

In a stormy tirade, Yorke railed at his critics, claiming they were creat[ing] divisive energy. And if you create division, the singer continued, what do you get? You get f**king Theresa May. You get [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, you get f**king Trump. That’s divisive.

Israels global propaganda centerpiece

Since Yorke gave peace activists the finger, he has become a poster boy for Netanyahus government and an assortment of far-right extremists.

Far-right media personalities and websites from BreitbartandGlenn Beck to Fox News and Legal Insurrection applauded the singer for rejecting calls to honor the Palestinian boycott campaign.

The group Artists for Palestine UK compiled a vast array of tweets from the Israeli government, numerous Israeli embassies, top Israeli officials and leading Israel lobby groups. These glowing endorsements exemplify how Radioheads performance was used for global propaganda and public relations.

Excited about having the talented bunch of @radiohead here again this evening, with tens of thousands of eager fans. Welcome back! https://t.co/3yLGZS7OlF

.@thomyorke of @radiohead defends their decision to play in #Israel: “Music, art & academia is about crossing borders not building them” https://t.co/CPbwBOLWY6

.@EsotericCD : Don’t Tell @radiohead It Can’t Tour in #Israel https://t.co/Rom49c0NYW pic.twitter.com/7qIRLUBicI

Symbolically, Israels ambassador to South Africa rejoiced.

Good article even if it broadly understates failure of hypocritical Israel-haters. Welcome @radiohead & @thomyorke! https://t.co/6kwiv59TgF

The BDS cultural boycott is modeled after the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, which was honored by many renowned musicians. Several South African anti-apartheid leaders, including Desmond Tutu, are vocal supporters of BDS and have compared the oppression they experienced to Israeli apartheid.

Many of the right-wing government officials, groups and public figures who praised Thom Yorke and Radiohead also vehemently attacked Pink Floyds Roger Waters, a prominent activist for Palestinian human rights, and portrayed Yorke as a role model for other artists.

In response to Radioheads show, Palestinian human rights activists created a spoof of Radioheads hit Creep, spinning out satirical lyrics:

When we got the call / Saw dollars in my eyes / We’re supporting apartheid / But the pay’s really high

I float like white phosphorous / Over Beit Hanoun skies

I wish I was ethical / We’re so very unethical

But Im a creep / I’m playing Israel/What the hell am I doing here? / I don’t belong here

I don’t even notice / No Palestinians around

We’re selling out to war / Whatever makes Bibi happy / Whatever he wants

We’re here for apartheid / Palestine’s occupied.

Political, when its convenient

Though Radiohead is not an especially political band, it has been firmly on the side of the Democratic Partys liberal base.

Radioheads landmark 2003 album Hail to the Thief was a harsh condemnation of the George W. Bush years. The records title was a direct reference to a popular chant by anti-Bush activists protesting the theft of the 2000 presidential election.

More than a decade later, Thom Yorke has rhetorically condemned the administrations of Donald Trump and his staunchly conservative counterpart Theresa May in the U.K. But now Radiohead appears to have found a niche on the right.

Leaders of Palestinian civil society organizations and labor unions called for BDS in 2005. It has since grown into an international movement that is rapidly gaining momentum.

In response, the U.S. and Israeli governments have harshly cracked down on the movement. Israel created an entire ministry devoted to countering it, and U.S. politicians have been desperately trying to make it illegal. At least 43 U.S. senators have even co-sponsored draconian legislation that would make boycotting Israel a felony and would imprison Palestinian human rights advocates who support BDS for up to 20 years.

The ACLUhas come out forcefully against this legislation, which it notes would be antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment and would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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Why Radiohead Frontman Thom Yorke’s Newest Fans Include the Israeli Govt and Far-Right Demagogues – AlterNet

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Intercepted Podcast: Glenn Greenwald on the New Cold War – The Intercept

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With all theconstant hype about Russia, youd think we were living in a new Cold War. This week on Intercepted: Glenn Greenwald fills in for Jeremy Scahill, and we take a deep dive into the origins and evolution of the Trump-Russia story. Fox Newss Tucker Carlson and Glenn find something they can actually agree on (the Democratic establishments Russia hysteria), but diverge on Tuckers coverage of immigration and crime. Glenn responds to stories by Peter Beinart and Jeet Heer. And Russian-American writer Masha Gessen explains how conspiracy thinking is a mirror of the leaders we put in power, and why its so tempting and dangerous to believe in simplistic reasons for Trumps election.

Lost Boys: Rufio! Rufio! Rufio! Ru-fi-oooo!

(Following the Leader)

Donald J. Trump: Who the hell wants to speak about politics when Im in front of the Boy Scouts?

LB: [Cheering]

DJT: And by the way, under the Trump administration, youll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping, believe me.

LB: Ru-fi-ooo!

DJT: Merry Christmas.

Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook: Thats enough! What is this, some sort of Lord of the Flies preschool? Where are your parents? Whos in charge here? No. Nooo, Mr. Skunkhead with too much mousse. I want to speak to a grownup!

DJT: Tom, youre fired!

LB: Ru-fi-ooo!

RW: You are a very poor role model for these kids, did you know that?

LB: (Whistling)

RW: I bet you dont even have a fourth grade reading level.

LB: (Whistling)

DJT: Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?

LB: Ru-fi-ooo!

RW: Someone has a severe caca mouth, do you know that?

DJT: Make America great again.

LB: (Cheering)

RW: Substitute chemistry teacher.

LB: Come on, Rufio, hit him back!

DJT: The polls, thats also fake news. Theyre fake polls.

RW: Math tutor. Prison barber. Nearsighted gynecologist.

DJT: Fake media. Fake news.

RW: You lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food, dude.

LB: Bangarang, Peter!

[Music interlude]

Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted.

[Music interlude]

Glenn Greenwald: Im Glenn Greenwald, sitting in this week for Jeremy Scahill, and Im coming to you from The Intercept in Brazil. This is episode 24 of Intercepted.

Jared Kushner: Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.

GG: Russia has once again dominated the news cycle in the United States this past week. And as part of that discussion, there have been two articles, one published by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, and another by Jeet Heer published in The New Republic that criticises, quite harshly, multiple people on the Left who, in their view, have been minimizing the Russia election meddling story. And I think that both of these articles are worth discussing, in part because they do extensively critique my own views, and Id like to respond. But also, I think they highlight some of the really critical points about how this Russia story has been discussed over the course of the last year in the United States, and what the implications are.

And I have two guests who come at this topic from very different perspectives. One is Tucker Carlson, the host on Fox News, who has become one of the more vocal skeptics on the Russia story, and has been subjected to a wide array of accusations. And the other is the American-Russian journalist Masha Gessen, who is a longtime critic of Vladimir Putin, and yet has also expressed some serious concerns about how this story has been discussed. And I think both of those conversations really get to the heart of what these two articles also raise.

So, I want to make a couple of points about both of these articles. One, the one by Peter Beinart, and the one by Jeet Heer. And interestingly, both of them were, I think, rare and commendable good faith attempts to engage the arguments by those of us who have been skeptics on this story from the beginning without purposely distorting our views, or even worse, using innuendo about treason or allegiances to the Kremlin as a way of dismissing or demonizing the arguments about the evidence that weve been making. And yet, despite the good faith attempt by both writers in the article to engage the actual arguments without that kind of innuendo, the headline writers for each of these magazines did not have that same integrity.

So, I thought it was extremely telling that the headline in The Atlantic over Peter Beinarts article was Donald Trumps Defenders on the Left. And then the sub-headline was, Why Some Progressives are Minimizing Russias Election Meddling. And the headline on the New Republic story might even actually be worse. It was Why the Anti-War Left Should Attack Putin Too. Thats the headline. And the sub-headline is His being Putins Leftist Apologist in the U.S. Media Arent Just Blind to Russias Election Meddling, But to Putins Xenophobia and Homophobia. And the reason I think those headlines are worth flagging is because there is a valid legitimate debate that I think both Beinart and Jeet are trying to have about how persuasive is the evidence that has been presented publicly about whether the Russian government under the direction of Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking, and whether they were actually motivated by a desire to help Trump, as well as whether or not there was actual collusion in those hacking crimes with the Trump campaign.

And my view has been not an ideological one or a partisan one, but simply an epistemological one, that theres no tangible evidence presented, or virtually none, by the U.S. government to corroborate the claims of the intelligence community. And one can certainly dispute that. One can disagree with it. Lots of people do. But to cast those questions, that skepticism, that comes not only from me but from the other people the New Republic article names, such as Max Blumenthal, and Noam Chomsky, and Oliver Stone, and others to cast that skepticism about the evidence as being supporters of Donald Trump, or apologists for Vladimir Putin, is really the lowliest kind of rhetorical tactics that has sullied and corrupted U.S. political discourse for many years.

If you go back to those who questioned the sufficiency of the evidence about Saddam Husseins weapons capability in 2002 and 2003, you find that those who were attacking people who were expressing skepticism were accusing them not of being wrong, but of being sympathizers or apologists for Saddam Hussein. You find that those who were questioning the George Bush/Dick Cheney war on terror were accused not of being wrong, but of being al Qaeda sympathizers. And now you find that those of us who question the sufficiency of the evidence about Russia, the Russia hacking story, or the implications of it, are accused not of being wrong, but of being supporters of Donald Trump or apologists for Vladimir Putin.

And both of these writers, the central point that theyre making in these articles and in critiquing those of us who are skeptical the story is to say, you can be worried about Russian meddling and Russia hacking without actually trying to rejuvenate a Cold War. Theyre saying that theyre in the middle. Theyre worried about Russian hacking, but they share the concerns that it would be dangerous to revitalize a Cold War. And yet, even in their article, while they deny that they want a new Cold War, they use language that strongly suggests thats exactly what their view of the world would provoke, whether intentionally or not.

So, Jeet here in his article, for example, has this paragraph that says, Fighting Trumpism in America is not enough. Leftists have to be ready to battle it in all forms, at home and abroad. So, while hes denying that he wants a new Cold War, hes demanding that leftists battle Putin and Trump and their international ideology in all forms at home and abroad. And this language to me seems to be exactly the language of the traditional Cold War years, that theres an international ideological movement spreading throughout the world thats dangerous, thats coming from the Kremlin, thats coming from Moscow, and that we as liberals are duty-bound to go fight it, not just here at home, but abroad.

Peter Beinart has a sentence that is even more vivid in terms of the issue of whether its really genuine when he says he doesnt want a Cold War. He says, In his interview with Tucker Carlson, Max Blumenthal attacked Senator Ben Cardin for calling Russias meddling a political Pearl Harbor. But, writes Beinart, in some ways, its an apt analogy. So, you have two nuclear-armed countries who have in the past come very close to nuclear war that would annihilate the species, and the reason those of us who are worried about where this is going are so worried isnt because we love Vladimir Putin or support Donald Trump. Its because weve seen the effects, the incredibly destructive effects, when this kind of militaristic confrontational rhetoric takes hold of the American opinion elite class, and where that leads to. And it seems, to put it mildly, not worth risking another Cold War, another military confrontation between the United States and Russia, over what, even if you believe the claims of the CIA, notwithstanding that theres no evidence for it even if you believe them, its nothing more than some garden variety hacking that countries do to one another all the time. And at the very least, I hope going forward that we can have this debate without papering over those actual concerns and trying to suggest that those of us who are skeptical are motivated by nefarious and treasonous motives.

So, I think that is an excellent framework for the discussions that Im about to have. Joining me now is the host of Weeknights on Fox News, Tucker Carlson. Tucker, welcome to Intercepted.

Tucker Carlson: Thanks, Glenn.

GG: I want to begin by observing that if I had to pick one word to describe U.S. political culture in the wake of Trumps victory, it would probably be manic. And I say that for a lot of reasons, primarily the fact that so many peoples longstanding position seems to be uprooted and kind of scrambled and confused. And a lot of longstanding political alliances and adversaries that have shaped U.S. politics for a long time seem to have shifted in a really short period of time, often radically. And I think that your journey is kind of illustrative of that. Just in the last week alone, for example, you had two very widely discussed Id say pretty vituperative exchanges, interviews on your Fox show, one with Max Boot, whos a longtime pro-war activist. Never met a war he didnt like.

TC: And then to hear you say we need to knock off the Assad regime and things will be better in Syria you sort of wonder, like, well, maybe you should choose another profession. Selling insurance, house painting. Something youre good at.

GG: And the other one is Ralph Peters, who has been a longtime kind of rightwing commentator on Foreign Affairs.

Ralph Peters: He assassinates dissidents and journalists. He bombs women and children on purpose in Syria. He is as bad as Hitler. And yet, you want us to align with the Russians, with Iran, with Assad.

TC: I want us to act in Americas interest

RP: So do I.

TC: And stop making shallow, sweeping moral claims about countries we dont fully understand, and then hope everything will be fine in the end. If a country we dont like takes active steps to kill people who are a threat to us, Im going to pause and applaud.

GG: And you had very sharp disagreements with them that became kind of hostile. And then in the very same week, you had on your show Max Blumenthal, who is as far to the left as those two have been to the right. And the two of you found a lot of common ground, a lot of harmony on one of the most important or at least widely discussed political issues being discussed, which is Russia.

Max Blumenthal: You know, as someone on the left whos actually gone out and protested Trump, I didnt expect this hysteria to completely take over. But now I see what the point is of it. Mark my words, Tucker, when Trump is gone, this narrative, this Russia hysteria will be repurposed by the political establishment to attack the left and anyone on the left.

GG: Do you think that you have changed ideologically or politically over the past few years, or do you think theres kind of a political realignment or readjustment taking place in the wake of Trumps victory that explains this? Or is it some of both, or none? Whats your view on all that?

TC: Id say its both. I mean, my views have changed. My views are always changing, and I think, you know, ones views ought to change. You ought to look up every once in awhile from your ideology and measure it against the results that you anticipated, and ask yourself, Is this working? Are my preconceptions, my assumptions are they still valid? And the one, maybe the best thing about Trumps election is that it forced a lot of people to kind of traipse up to the mental attic and take stock. And so, you know, certain moments shock you out of your stupor and force you to reassess. The Iraq War did that for me. In December of 03, I went to Iraq after someone I knew was killed there, and I was starting to become suspicious not just of that war, but of the pretext for it, and of the kind of intellectual predicates that led to it. And that experience kind of freed me from a lot of things that I thought I believed, and allowed me to say what I was coming to believe. And Trumps election, I think, had the same effect.

In fact, one of the really sad things about the mass hysteria thats descended upon Washington is that it has prevented or at least forestalled like a real discussion about whats important and what we think about it. And, you know, Ive never been partisan, but Ive certainly been which is to say, Ive never had an emotional allegiance to a political party. Ive never worked in politics or anything like that. Ive mostly voted Republican because Ive been a right-winger my whole life. But all of a sudden, just because I read for a living, I started seeing pieces that I really agreed with, coming from people not only whom I disagreed with, but with whom Id been at odds for like decades, including you. In fact, I havent done this, but I probably should. Itd be amusing to type in both of our names into Google pre-2015 and see how many pieces each of us has written attacking the other. [Laughs] Quite a few.

GG: Right. I kind of thought the Iraq War was gonna be this fundamental political event for people to change how they thought about a whole range of issues. I mean, I wasnt even working on politics in 2003. I was practicing law. And thats a big part of what made me start writing about politics. And for a long time, I thought it was gonna change peoples views, not just of the wisdom of those kinds of invasions, but the extent to which we trust anonymous sources, claims from the intelligence community, how the media conducts itself, its relationship to those factions. And for a time, I thought that that was happening, and now I think it isnt. I mean, I think that the prevailing sentiment among the establishment wings of both political parties is this idea that we do place faith in the intelligence community. We do believe there are claims, even when disseminated anonymously. We still believe in the necessity or virtue of U.S. force; not in self-defense, but to produce good in the world and other countries that we barely understand. Talk a little bit more about what changed for you as a result of what had been your support for the Iraq War, and then your ultimate or subsequent view that that was just terribly wrong.

TC: Well, my support for it was always tepid. Part of the problem for me was I was working on a debate show at the time, Crossfire, on which you sort of had to pick a side. And so, I actually was never comfortable with it. Because I dont have a super high IQ, I tend to ask the obvious questions, like what does Iraq have to do with 9/11? And I could never get a satisfying answer. So, that made me think, as it always does, if someone cant give a straight answer that you can understand, either he doesnt understand it himself, or hes lying about it. So, it always made me uncomfortable. I was won over to the idea that the government of Saddam Hussein posed this imminent threat to America because of WMD by someone in the government whom I knew well and was close to from a former life. And he convinced me of that single handedly. And so, I kind of was for it in the last few months. And then I went there, and I was reminded of all the things that I sort of knew were like inchoate thoughts that I had had before. The law of unintended consequences is never gonna be repealed. Like, you dont know. You think you know whats gonna happen when you do something, but you really dont. And so, humility is a prerequisite for wise decision-making. And whenever you have people telling you people like Max Boot, for example we know exactly whats gonna happen when we do this, thats a tipoff that these are very unwise people who shouldnt have power. And so, I just thought, boy, this is scary, more than anything, on a political level.

So, basically what you saw in Washington is what youre seeing now, and what I will be against until the day I die, which is hyperventilating group think, where people convince themselves of a thesis and then stop asking critical questions of that thesis. Like, they start with, heres what we know, okay? Heres just heres what we know. And by the way, if you dont agree to that fact, like if you ask any questions at all, then youre clearly, you know, immoral. Youre a sinner. Thats exactly what happened before the Iraq War in Washington, and thats exactly whats happening now with this Russia stuff. And by the way, just to skip ahead, I just want to say this emphatically Im totally agnostic on Russia. Never been there. I dont have strong feelings about its government. Im glad I dont live there, you know what I mean? Im like the last person whos carrying water for Russia, but its almost like my main objection is to the psychological phenomenon Im watching in progress, and its totally the product of a ruling class thats utterly homogenous, not racially, but culturally.

GG: So, one of the things that I found really interesting was, I think before I even went on your show, you interviewed Congressman Adam Schiff of California, whos a Democrat, who has become, I guess you could say, the leader of the Democrats, in the House at least, when it comes to sounding the shrill alarm about Russia and Trump and the threat that is posed by the Kremlin. And he had that interview with you where you were just simply asking him for evidence of the claims that he was making about Putin ordering these hacks and about the motive that Putin had in doing so.

TC: You know what? Youre dodging.

Adam Schiff: And, and Tucker? Look, you are

TC: To look and say, I know they did John Podestas emails

AS: I think that Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave.

TC: Ronald Reagan would be fine. Ronald Reagan

AS: That youre carrying water for the Kremlin, which you and the president elect

TC: Im not carrying water for the Im youre making look, youre a sitting member of Congress on the intel committee, and you cant say they hawked hacked

AS: Youre gonna have to move your show to RT, Russian television, because this is perfect

TC: You know what? Thats just so

GG: This has been one of the things that has concerned me most, because I got into writing about politics in the post 9/11 era, when I felt like there was a lot of equating of criticism of the government or questioning of the government line with treason, or equating of dissent with some kind of suspicion about your loyalties. And I see very much, although different people are doing it, those tactics being used now. Would you agree that these kind of tactics that youre objecting to now that are often being applied to you have been tactics that the right has used for a long time to kind of delegitimize dissent and questioning of government policies?

TC: Theres no question. And I hate to think about the degree to which I participated in it, and I dont want to ever be confronted with video evidence that Ive done it. Im sure I have. Its too easy. Its too hard to resist. The obvious example that comes to mind is Barbara Lees vote against military action in Afghanistan, which by the way, I think is justified, you know. The Taliban were based in Afghanistan. They were a terrible regime. They hosted al Qaeda, which, you know, sent 19 hijackers here and killed 3,000 Americans. So, like, I dont know. I would still support military action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I think in retrospect, it was probably pretty useful to have at least somebody stand up and say, wait a second, you know. How long are we going there? This seems a little open-ended.

GG: Yeah, given that were 16 years later, not only are we still there, but the Talibans still there.

TC: Exactly. Thats exactly right. So, yes. To answer your question in a word, yes. This is an old tactic. Its been employed by the Right. Again, Im sure it has been employed by me, and Im ashamed of that. But what Im so surprised by in this moment, and Im sure it happened after 9/11 too, and I know it happened during the run up to the Iraq War, is: skepticism is being treated as sinful. And thats when you know youre not really part of a policy debate. This is a theological debate. You know these are people looking for apostates. And I just feel like its incumbent upon all of us in this business to assert our right to express skepticism. And I have to say, you know, I dont want to log roll here or, you know, be ass-kissy. But, you know, you wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago in which you went after the press, not on behalf of Trump youre obviously not a Trump supporter but on the basis of their willingness, you attacked them for accepting intelligence information or intel from the intel agencies on a background basis without ever vetting it, and accepting it as true. That is not what were supposed to be doing. Were supposed to be relentlessly skeptical about everything we hear. And the press all of a sudden isnt, and its bad.

GG: Theres a lot of criticism of you that I think is very partisan in nature, very ideological in nature, stuff that comes from Media Matters and the like that is boring and worthless and worth ignoring. And then theres some criticism of what you do on your show that I think is at least legitimate and valid enough to discuss. And I wanted to ask you about a couple of those lines of critique.

TC: Sure.

GG: One of which is the way in which you cover crime, domestic crime in the United States, is extremely selective and designed to advance an agenda as opposed to giving a realistic depiction of what the nature of violence in the United States is. And I wanted to ask you about a couple of areas, the first of which is police abuse. Last week, there were two really talked about cases involving police violence. One was, theres a police officer in Bald Springs, Texas. His name is Ray Oliver. Hes a white police officer who was indicted for the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Jordan Edwards. News of that indictment broke on July 15th, the same day that the fatal shooting took place in Minneapolis, where a Somali-American police officer shot a white Australian woman. Your show covered the Minneapolis shooting, I think, on at least several occasions, including you emphasizing that the police officer was an immigrant from Somalia, and you asked

TC: Well, theres a lot going on in this story, a lot of we dont know. Mohammed Noor was an immigrant from Somalia. Is that a relevant fact? We dont know. But its being treated as one by many news organizations. How do you know that? Because theyre not reporting it.

GG: But didnt talk about the indictment of this white police officer. Now, I realize, you know, I get criticized for selective coverage, and as one person with one show, you can only cover certain things. You have only an hour each night. Youre gonna necessarily leave out newsworthy stories. But do you think its at least a valid point that in choosing which stories to cover, that its important not to inflame tensions against particular groups of people, especially given the impact of the platform you have? And do you think its a fair critique that you tend to focus on violence when committed by minorities more than violence committed by white people?

TC: I would say part of that criticism is fair. My coverage is selective. I mean, by the nature of the show, I select what to cover, and its informed by a lot of other opinions that I have that have nothing to do with the particular crime. Now in this case I just pulled this up as you were talking maybe this is embarrassing. I was not aware of the shooting of Jordan Edwards. So, maybe Im reading the wrong things. I didnt know that that happened. So, theres that.

GG: Well, the case in Minneapolis, like why was that case so interesting to you?

TC: Ill tell you. Because Im very upset about immigration in the United States. I think the whole system is destabilizing to the country. I dont think you can have this much demographic change and not have all kinds of unintended consequences. But the main reason Im upset by it is because I think its driven by economic factors, and I think that the people who are benefiting from it are really disingenuous about that.

GG: How does this incident shed light on that concern? I mean, this is a guy who came to the U.S. as a kid. By all accounts, hes been law-abiding his whole life. If he became a police officer I mean, dont you see why theres a view that the reason this case is of interest to a Fox News audience is because of how inflammatory it is? Its a Somali-American immigrant cop shooting a white woman whos Australian, whereas the majority of controversies involving police abuse are white police officers shooting black people under suspicious circumstances. And so, if you focus so much on the former and give little attention to the latter, this concern arises that youre using your platform to fuel resentments against people who are more vulnerable and marginalized.

TC: Right. I hope Ive been clear on my show and other shows that Ive had, I am worried about the behavior of police. Ive defended body cam requirements for all cops for that reason. I am. I dont like the abuse of power, and I think that some police officers engage in it, and I think they too often get a pass from conservatives. And Ive said that. I continue to think it. For whatever its worth, Ive been hassled twice in a big way by the police, and I know that it happens, and I dont like it. Second point I would make, is that I really dont want to do anything to inflame racial tensions. And so, you know, thats certainly unintentional. I dont like that Im worried about racial tensions in the United States. Im worried about tribalism. And so, I dont want to be a part of that at all. I really kind of

GG: But there is tension between those two objectives, right? Because you can legitimately be concerned about immigration without having racist motives.

TC: Yes.

GG: And in fact, there was a lot of concern on the left for a long time about the effect that immigration would have on depressing the wages of U.S. workers. So, no question about that. But at the same time, you would acknowledge, right, that the reason why immigration can be such an inflammatory issue, not just in the U.S. but around the world, is because we are tribal beings by instinct. We have other instincts that balance that, and we can suppress that, like we can with all those things. So, you agree that its important at least to be careful in talking about, say, the perils of immigration, if youre somebody who believes that there are dangers to it, not to inflame those kind of terrible tribal instincts that are certainly part of

TC: Yes.

GG: The immigration debate in the United States and elsewhere.

TC: I do. I do think that. And Im sure that there are many times when Ive fallen down in doing that, and not thought through my language enough, or have gotten upset and been unfair. I mean I you know, thats a constant struggle for me, to try to be fair even when Im mad about something, or even when I think theres a larger and more important point at stake, or again, to be unfair. I dont want to be unfair. So, Im sorry if I was.

Fox News: So, you want to stop all legal immigration?

TC: Absolutely.

FN: So, people like, people like me [crosstalk]

TC: You, you look at it no, Im talking about not a hundred years ago or 50 years ago or 20. Im talking about 2015. You look into the faces of the tens of millions of unemployed in this country and say, Im bringing in new people. How does that help you? You have to answer that question. Youre not even trying.

FN: So, during the Great Depression

GG: You know, Peter Beinart wrote this article about your show that I largely agree with, which is that he said, you know, even though he disagrees with you on a lot I forget exactly the terminology, but he said that your show is kind of what conservative cable news could be if its intellectually engaging. And he talked about how you advocate positions that are even too dovish for mainstream Democrats, including telling Ralph Peters that you dont even know for certain that Iran is an actual domestic threat to the U.S., which is something that you would never hear any mainstream Democratic politician saying. I agree with the praise that he had for your show. But you had this segment a couple weeks ago that I do think highlights the validity of this critique that I was asking you about. And I have to say, this is the one that bothered me the most, about this friction that you said took place or was emerging between residents of California, Pennsylvania, which is this tiny little town of 6,000 people, and this ethnic Roma population that had come from Romania seeking asylum in the U.S., and I think there was a grand total of like three dozen of them. And the segment kind of played into all of these negative stereotypes about the Roma, who are one of the most marginalized and hated groups on the planet.

TC: Roma are seeking asylum, saying they suffered racism in their native Romania. Immigration is not going well. According to residents, the Roma have little regard, either for the law or public decency. Citizens say they defecate in public, chop the heads off chickens, leave trash everywhere, and more. Theyre upset. Some of them are, anywhere. George Eli is a filmmaker who

GG: Its this tiny little conflict that, I dont know, didnt seem to have any repercussions to me, and had little effect on what I think on your audience other than to kind of inflame tensions about the Roma. Im just wondering why, with a platform as significant as yours, given the conflicts that are so important in the world to cover, you do cover this. Because I do have to say, it does seem like pandering to the Fox audience when you do stuff like that. Im just interested in

TC: Ill tell you exactly Ill tell you exactly why. No, that was sincere on my part. And for whatever its worth, I think the Roma are actually kind of interesting, and Ive read a bunch of books on them just because Im interested in any culture that remains distinct over a thousand years through a dozen countries. So, I think theres a lot thats cool about the Roma. But I personally think that the most marginalized population in America is rural people, or people living in post-industrial parts of the country, whose life expectancy is actually in decline. Now, I live for a fair amount of the year in rural Maine in a post-industrial area that was, you know, all paper companies, timber products. Its totally collapsed. And Ive seen this exact thing happen there, where Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services or some group that thinks its doing good moves refugees into a depressed community and then leaves. And its massively disruptive for the people who live there. Massively. And nobody cares. And that drives me insane.

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Intercepted Podcast: Glenn Greenwald on the New Cold War – The Intercept

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July 28, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Donald Trump’s Defenders on the Left – The Atlantic

When it comes to possible collusion with Russia, Donald Trumps most interesting defenders dont reside on the political right. They reside on the political left.

Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich arent defending a principle. Theyre defending a patron. Until recently they were ultra-hawks. Now, to downplay Russias meddling in the 2016 elections, they sound like ultra-doves. All that matters is supporting their ally in the White House.

For left-wing defenders like Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald, by contrast, ideology is king. Blumenthal and Greenwald loathe Trump. But they loathe hawkish foreign policy more. So they minimize Russias election meddling to oppose what they see as a new Cold War.

Its a genuinely principled position. The problem is that principles are blinding them to facts.

On Tuesday on the Tucker Carlson show, Blumenthal laid out the progressive case against Russia hysteria. His first point was that, by obsessing about the Russia scandal, Democrats are forfeiting the chance to outline a genuinely progressive alternative to Trump. For the corporate sellout establishment that cant agree on a big economic message, that doesnt favor single payer [health care], Blumenthal argued, this is just convenient because this gives them a way of opposing Trump without having to do anything remotely progressive.

This is wrong. While its true that Democratic politicians and liberal pundits have spent a lot of time discussing the Russia scandal, its not true that they havent done anything remotely progressive. To the contrary, Democrats in Congress have opposed Trumps agenda more militantly than did congressional Democrats during the Reagan and George W. Bush years. In 1981, 48 Democrats in the House and 37 in the Senate voted for Reagans tax cuts. In 2001, 10 Democrats in the House and 12 in the Senate supported Bushs. By contrast, every House Democrat opposed Trumps first big legislative push, repealing and replacing Obamacare. (Had a repeal bill come to a vote in the Senate, Democratic opposition would likely have been unanimous there too.)

Its the same with Supreme Court nominations. In 1986, every Senate Democrat voted to confirm Antonin Scalia. In 2005, half of Senate Democrats voted to confirm John Roberts. This year, only three Democratic Senators voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch. Part of this, of course, is partisan sorting. There are fewer Democrats from conservative states and districts than there were decades ago. But its also because Democratic members of Congress are more responsive to their liberal base. In 2001, Californias Dianne Feinstein voted for Bushs tax cuts. A California Democrat voting for a Trump tax cut would be inconceivable today.

Blumenthal is right that Democrats dont have a big economic message. But thats not primarily because of the Russia scandal. Parties that are out of power rarely have a clear agenda. Its hard to develop a clear message when you dont have a clear leader. Narratives emerge during presidential campaigns. And the early evidence is that the progressive themes Bernie Sanders pushed last yearsingle-payer health care, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wagewill carry more weight inside the Democratic Party in 2020 than they did in 2016.

Blumenthals second argument is that the anti-Moscow line Democrats are now pushing will come back to haunt them. It will be repurposed by the political establishment so that anyone on the left who steps out of line on the issues of permanent war or of corporate free trade will be painted as Russia puppets. Greenwald has made a similar argument. On Monday he savaged a new foreign policy group, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which brings Clinton campaign veterans together with neoconservatives like Bill Kristol. The song Democrats are now singing about Russia and Putin, wrote Greenwald, is one the neocons wrote many years ago, and all of the accompanying rhetorical tacticsaccusing those who seek better relations with Moscow of being Putins stooges, unpatriotic, of suspect loyalties, etc.are the ones that have defined the neocons smear campaigns for decades.

Theres a basis to this fear. Democrats have unleashed dangerous forces by getting to the GOPs right on foreign policy before. In 1992, for instance, Bill Clinton criticized George H.W. Bush for not deposing Saddam Hussein. In so doing, he helped lay the foundation for the push for regime change that culminated a decade later in the Iraq War. (A war I mistakenly supported.)

But the problem with downplaying Russian election meddling because youre afraid it will fuel militarism is that it evades the central question: How worrisome is the meddling itself? When it comes to Russians interference in the 2016 election, progressives like Blumenthal are behaving the way many conservatives behave on climate change. Conservatives fear that progressives will use climate change to impose new regulations on the economy. And because they oppose the solution, they claim theres no problem.

As with climate change, the evidence that Russia interfered in last years election appears quite strong. The CIA, the FBI, and the NSA all believe with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 designed to undermine public faith in the US democratic process. The CIA and FBI also believe with high confidenceand the NSA believes with moderate confidencethat Putin was trying to elect Trump. They claim the Kremlin did this, in part, by stealing and leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee and top Democratic officials. It also obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards.

Its easy to say that because Americas intelligence agencies were wrong about Iraqs weapons of mass destruction, progressives shouldnt believe them now. But there are critical differences. In 2002, the intelligence agencies faced intense pressure from the Bush White House and Pentagon to make Saddam Husseins weapons programs seem more menacing. They faced no similar political pressure to exaggerate the severity of Russias election meddling.

Whats more, officials in France and Germany say Russia has tried to subvert their elections too. And in his email to Donald Trump Jr., Rob Goldstone, who was arranging a meeting with a lawyer close to figures in the Kremlin, wrote about Russia and its governments support of Mr. Trump. Blumenthal can deride a bootlicking press and a bootlicking kind of liberal opposition that believes all intelligence agencies. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller and four congressional committees are investigating the intelligence agencies conclusions. By the end of their inquiries, Americans will have a much fuller picture of Russian involvement in last years election than they had about Iraqi WMD on the eve of the Iraq War.

Blumenthal and Greenwald have an ideological problem. On foreign policy, they are anti-interventionists, or what Walter Russell Mead calls Jeffersonians. They believe that Americas empire threatens not only peace and justice abroad, but liberty at home. They want the United States to stop defending its imperial borders in Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, and the Middle East, because they believe such efforts cost Americans money, cost American lives, and create a pretext for surveillance that makes Americans less free.

Thats a totally legitimate view. As Mead notes, John Quincy Adams, Walter Lippmann, and George Kennan were all, in different ways, Jeffersonians. Andrew Bacevich and Ron Paul are today. And American foreign policy, which is dominated by an interventionist bipartisan elite, can benefit from a Jeffersonian critique. How does it benefit ordinary Americans to continue an endless, almost certainly unwinnable, war in Afghanistan? Why is the United States considering expanding NATO when it means pledging American lives to defend countries that many Americans have never even heard of?

But its one thing to oppose defending the American empire. Its another to oppose defending the American homeland. By intervening in the 2016 election, Russia did not threaten American influence in Afghanistan or Ukraine or Syria. It threatened America itself.

Near the heart of American democracy lies the idea that Americansnot foreign governmentsshould choose Americas leaders. It appears Russia challenged that by mounting a widespread, largely clandestine, campaign to get a particular candidate elected. And to make matters worse, the candidate it helped elect himself poses a serious threat to the rule of law in the United States.

Already, American liberal democracy is weaker because of what Russia did. If Russia casts doubt on the legitimacy of future American electionsby hacking into voting machines or spreading disinformation to discredit the resultsit could do even greater harm. If Blumenthal and Greenwald are indignant about Kris Kobachs efforts to limit Americans ability to choose their leaders, they should be indignant about Vladimir Putins too.

In his interview with Carlson, Blumenthal attacked Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin for calling Russias meddling a political Pearl Harbor. But in some ways, its an apt analogy. Until December 7, 1941, Americas conflict with Japan had been waged far from Americas shores. Tokyo wanted a sphere of influence in East Asia, its own Monroe Doctrine. The United States wanted to deny Japan hegemony over China, Indochina, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. It was a contest over imperial frontiers. Then, on December 7, Japan unexpectedly crossed the Pacific and attacked the United States itself. Suddenly, even Jeffersonians had to acknowledge that Japan constituted a threat.

Similarly, in recent years the United States has waged proxy battles against Russia in places like Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan, which are far from American shores. Jeffersonians can legitimately argue that Americas struggle for influence in those countries does more harm than good.

But last year, Russia unexpectedly attacked the United States itself in ways that genuinely harmed ordinary Americans. Trying to prevent Russia from doing so again doesnt make you an imperialist or a hawk. No matter how anti-interventionist you are, you need to protect your own country.

Blumenthal and Greenwald need not respond to Russias meddling by supporting NATO expansion or greater military intervention in Syria. But Jeffersonians should offer their own vision for how the United States protects its elections. If that involves treaties and international organizations rather than sanctions and arms sales, thats fine. If it involves American pledges to restrain its overseas cyber attacks, thats fine too. What America badly needs is a debate, across the ideological spectrum, about how to safeguard American democracy from the new foreign threats that technology enables.

Jeffersonians can play a crucial role in responding to that problem. But not if they are so afraid of the potential answers that they deny theres a problem at all.

Read the rest here:

Donald Trump’s Defenders on the Left – The Atlantic

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Americans have been ‘brainwashed’ to believe Russia has taken over their country Max Blumenthal – RT

Were seeing more and more congressional Democrats attempting to push the concept of Russian collusion onto the American electorate. I am just challenging it because it is a dangerous narrative, Max Blumenthal, American author and journalist, told RT.

The White House accused the media of “Russia fever” over reports about a supposed secret meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit earlier this month.

It has emerged that the leaders did speak for a second time, but only during a joint dinner with other leaders.

President Trump dubbed the story “Fake News” in a tweet, saying that the press was aware of the dinner, and that all the G-20 leaders were present.

Furthermore, Democratic member of the US House of Representatives Jamie Raskin was challenged by a journalist Max Blumenthal after he claimed that Trump’s ex-advisor was a host on this channel.

RT spoke to Max Blumenthal.

RT: You’re known for having left-wing leanings, why did you decide to confront this Democratic congressman on the claims he made during his speech?

Max Blumenthal: I am much closer to Congressman Raskin ideologically than Roger Stone. I really dont support anything Roger Stone or Donald Trump stand for. I think Stone is kind of a sleazy character. But when Jamie Raskin gets up before a rally of Democrats attempting to prove that there is a secret Russian plot to subvert American democracy and tells us a series of lies, I challenge those lies.

This clip that you showed [on RT] was just part of the series of challenges I put to Raskin about Russian hacking in the elections, about his calls for regime change, including of democratically elected governments, like the government of Venezuela. Raskin really had no coherent response to me. And that is what were seeing more and more from the congressional Democrats, who were attempting to push the concept of Russian collusion onto the American electorate. I am just challenging it because it is a dangerous narrative. I think that having a new Cold War will be terrible for progressive elements in the US. We need to examine the evidence in a clear rational way, and so far that hasnt happened. And then beyond that, it is interesting that the only networks that will allow me to come on and speak from a progressive perspective and challenge this new Cold War hysteria are really the major networks Fox News and RT. That says a lot about liberal media and the kind of exclusive club theyre running.

RT: Did the response youve got from the Congressman surprise you?

MB: It surprised me that Jamie Raskin, whose father directed one of the first one of the sort of left-wing, anti-war thing tanks in Washington, the Institute for Policy Studies, that he would make these kind of neo-conservative arguments. It appeared to me that some think-tankers, who are pushing for a new Cold War for their own interest, have basically written his speech.

It was also shocking if you watch my video from this rally youll see interviews with people who have basically been brainwashed into believing that Russia has essentially taken over their country, subverted their democracy. These are people who otherwise would be supporting progressive causes this is the democratic base. So that really shocks me. The lack of information these people had, who told me that they read the New York Times and the Washington Post, and their conspiratorial perspective was shocking as well.

RT: President Trump said that he and his team are subject to a political witch-hunt? Do you agree with that, or is it going too far?

MB: When Trump was elected I would have never thought Id find myself in a position of agreeing with something like that. But it does appear to be the case, and there are many legitimate reasons to oppose Trump for his unconstitutional Muslim ban; for his wholesale sell out to Goldman Sachs in the big banks for his gutting of the environmental protection agency. But the Democrats dont want to take him on in a progressive way. What they have done, they have relied on intelligence services, allies of former CIA Director John Brennan, to sabotage Trumps attempt at detente with Russia through anonymous leaks. Everyday youll see in the Washington Post a story framed to paint Trump as some kind of Russian puppet for doing things that might be rational like defunding jihadist rebels in Syria. Today the headline in the Washington Post is that it is a major concession Trump is making to Russia.

RT: Why do you think the mainstream media and politicians are still obsessed with the Trump-Russia collusion story?

MB: It may be that Russian hackers were responsible for the Democratic National Committee [DNC] hacks, but no intelligence agency not the FBI, not the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] – has examined the e-mail servers. The DNC has in fact obstructed the FBI from examining those servers and handed over the task of attribution of the hacks to a for-profit private firm called Crowdstrike, which is now valued at $1 billion since it made the high-profile attribution of those hacks to the Russian government. It is clear that there is something very shady going, and the public has not seen the evidence. It may actually be impossible to make that attribution. Beyond that there has been simply no debate in the public realm about the evidence. Everyone just simply accepts the intelligence agencies at their word, and that to me is a deeply undemocratic impulse.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Original post:

Americans have been ‘brainwashed’ to believe Russia has taken over their country Max Blumenthal – RT

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Until Gaza Is Free Israel Will Never Be Free – Sputnik International

The abandonment of 1.8 million men, women, and children to their fate in Gaza by the so-called international community is one of the most grievous moral outrages of our time. Let us not mince words: Gaza in2017 is a vast open air prison whose inmates have committed no crime or transgression other thanthat ofbeing Palestinians who dare assert the right toself-determination onland that has long been coveted byan oppressor whose flagrant disregard forinternational law and human rights is beyonddispute. Since 2007 the Gaza Strip comprising a narrow stretch ofland which hugs the eastern Mediterranean Coast, and which at40km long and 12km (at its widest point) is one ofthe most densely populated parts ofthe world has existed ina state ofunyielding siege and blockade. Nothing can enter or leave viaits Erez border crossing withIsrael tothe north, or its Rafah border crossing withEgypt tothe south, withoutthe consent ofthe Israeli authorities inagreement withtheir Egyptian counterparts. A 2017 UN report intoliving conditions inGaza confirms that “on the ground, life forthe average Palestinian inGaza is getting more and more wretched. This year electricity is the most visible deterioration inthe living conditions inGaza butit comes ontop ofa host ofother chronic and acute problems that have become part of ‘normal’ life. An 11-year-old child has not experienced more than12 hours ofelectricity ina single day inhis/her lifetime. No one remembers a time inrecent memory when drinkable water reliably appeared outof the tap. Memories ofease ofmovement inand outof the Strip are also increasingly distant.” Meanwhile, according toa recent Amnesty International report, “Israel’s military blockade ofthe Gaza Strip [has] entered its 10th year, continuing the collective punishment ofGaza’s entire population.” It also cites the fact that the Israelis maintain a “buffer zone” insidethe Strip and have used “live fire and other weapons againstPalestinians who entered or approached it.” Writer and journalist Max Blumenthal described his own experience ofentering Gaza and passing throughthis buffer zone ina 2015 interview withfellow journalist Glenn Greenwald. “You wander downa long corridor, which is a cage,” Blumenthal recalled, “and then you arrive ata metal door ata concrete wall. The metal door opens, it shuts behindyou, and you’re insidewhat is effectively a walled-off ghetto.” AFP 2017/ Mahmud Hams Palestinian children look through a hole in a sheet metal fence outside their home in a poor neighbourhood in Gaza City He goes on: “You look downthis endless wall, toyour right, and you see a remote-controlled machine gun perched onthe wall. That’s the spot and strike system, which is operated byan all-female unit ofIsraeli soldiers inthe Negev Desert, tens ofkilometers away, byremote. And what they do is, they watch the buffer zone this 300 [meter] area that Palestinians are forbidden fromentering insidethe Gaza Strip. And anyone who enters who they determine tobe a ‘terrorist,’ they eliminate withthe push ofa joystick button froma remote-controlled machine gun. It’s just that dystopian.” Punctuating this daily lived experience ofmisery forthe Palestinians ofGaza are regular Israeli attacks fromland, sea, and air, which are tantamount towar crimes given that due tothe lack ofspace inthe Strip they are indiscriminate and regularly result inthe massacre ofcivilians. And this is withouttaking intoaccount the two full-scale military assaults unleashed bythe Israelis onGaza Operation Cast Lead in2008-09, and Operation Protective Edge in2014 inwhich thousands ofcivilians were killed and maimed, many ofthem children. AP Photo/ Adel Hana Mohammed Keferna, 14, sits on a couch in his family’s building that was damaged by Israeli strikes during last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 The burning question is why, inthe face ofsuch damning evidence, Israel has been able toget away withcommitting such grievous crimes againstthe people ofGaza forso long? The answer is that forfar too long the application and enforcement ofinternational law has been less todo withjustice and more todo withpower or a given state’s relationship topower. Israel’s geostrategic importance tothe United States and its European allies has allowed it free rein inits brutal repression ofthe Palestinian people, both inthe Gaza Strip and acrossthe Occupied Territories ofthe West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is afforded a level ofgeopolitical and diplomatic support that no other state engaged insuch wanton crimes againsthumanity would enjoy, thus exposing the moral bankruptcy ofthe US and those European governments which continue todeny not only the righteousness ofthe Palestinian struggle forjustice buttheir status asvictims ofa continuing monstrous injustice. AP Photo/ Tsafrir Abayov In this Sunday, March 26, 2017 photo, Palestinian residents of Gaza strip wait on the Israeli side of the Erez terminal to cross to Gaza Strip In defending its apparatus ofrepression which includes apartheid, ethnic cleansing, siege, torture, arbitrary detention withouttrial, and violence the word “terrorism” is consistently invoked. When it comes toGaza specifically, the Israelis cite the existence and actions ofHamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, asa threat toits security and the security ofits citizens, specifically those living inIsraeli towns adjacent toGaza. While there is no gainsaying the fact that attacks unleashed againstIsraeli civilians byHamas are indefensible, they are not incomprehensible given the severity ofthe occupation. What Israel and its supporters are careful toelide when it comes toHamas is the salient fact that the Islamist group is a product ofthis occupation, which has lasted since1967 and shows no evidence ofending. REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops following a protest against the blockade on Gaza, near the border between Israel and Central Gaza Strip May 19, 2017 Prison imprisons the guards asmuch asit does the inmates, and the chains that bind the Palestinians also bind their oppressors. It is hard toimagine that onany given day the word “Palestine” or “Palestinian” does not intrude onthe consciousness ofpeople living inIsrael, reminding them ofa people who remain unbowed, despitetheir miserable condition, just a few miles fromthe affluence they themselves have long taken forgranted. Hatred ofothers is the handmaiden ofhatred ofself, and untilGaza and the rest ofPalestine is free Israel will never be free. The views expressed inthis article are solely those oftheauthorand do not necessarily reflect the official position ofSputnik. Check outJohn’s Sputnik radio show,Hard Facts.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language On North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – The National Memo (blog)

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet. President Donald Trumps pledge to punish North Korea with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before triggered outrage from pundits and lawmakers across the political spectrum. The outrage over his apparent threat to annihilate North Korea, possibly with nuclear arms, prompted his advisors to insist that Trumps comments wereimprovised. When Defense Secretary James Mattis followed up with another belligerent statement, warning of the end of [North Koreas] regime and the destruction of its people, the reaction from Washingtons political class was entirely different. Though Mattis was nicknamed Mad Dog for his role in razing thecity of Fallujahduring the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2004, pundits have rebranded him one of the adults in the White House part of a class of sober-minded ex-generals appointed to rein in Trumps divisive America First agenda. CNN correspondent Dan Merica cast Mattis warning to oversee the mass slaughter of North Koreas civilian population as a tough statement. This framing was echoed by Barbara Starr, the CNN Pentagon correspondent who serves as an enthusiastic stenographer for the Defense Department. Starr called Mattis rhetoric very tough talk and a dire warning to North Korea. Self-described GOP media guy Rick Wilson, a veteran Republican consultant popular among liberals for his vehement criticism of Trump, applauded Mattis language, tweeting, This is how you phrase it, not biblical-level chest beating. Perhaps the most bizarre response to Mattis statement came Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe, who described it as a call for de-escalation. The leak that triggered the threats Both genocidal threats from Trump and Mattis were triggered by a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency assessmentleaked to the Washington Postclaiming that North Korea has cross[ed] a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. The unverified analysis claimed that 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Tim Shorrock, a veteran investigative journalist who has focused on Korean issues for several decades, was skeptical about the DIA leak. Im a little surprised by this report because for one thing its clearly not the collective conclusion of the intelligence community. Its someone in the DIA and theres no real analysis of what it is They just say it has this miniature warhead and they can now put on an ICBM, hesaidto Aaron Mate of the Real News Network. Shorrock also questioned the timing of the leak: Well, theyve said that before in years past, it hasnt been proven to be true, and Im wondering why this is coming out right now. That seems very dangerous on the face of it. Someone within the intelligence community is pushing for a military response by leaking this report. Turning the aggressor into the victim The Trump administrations threats were most immediately prompted by the DIAs leak, but were also an undeniable response to a months-long campaign by corporate media to drum up fears of a North Korean attack on the American homeland. On August 2, CNNs Jake Tapper hypedunfounded fearsthat North Korean missile tests threatened passenger planes from the West. Every day were getting starting details about North Koreas military ambitions which seem to be proceeding at an increasingly rapid clip. Its unclear with the Trump administrations strategy is to stop the Kim Jong Un regime, Tapper declared as he introduced a segment on the supposed threat to civilian airliners. The segment featured special graphics created by CNN that showed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea striking California. While CNN correspondent Barbara Starr acknowledged that no North Korean missile test came anywhere close to downing a passenger plane, CNNs chyron read: North Korea missile tests could endanger passenger planes. Since Trump threatened fire and fury on North Korea, mainstream media has portrayed the government of DPRK as the sole aggressor. The August 9front page of theWall Street Journalframed the presidents warning with the headline, Trump Warns North Korea: Stop Threats. Though Trumps choice of language might have been alarming, his threats were part of a grand bipartisan tradition. Former President Barack Obama threatened the DPRK with destruction in 2016. We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals,Obamasaid, while conceding that the DPRK posed relatively low level threats. What is rarely acknowledged is that North Koreas weapons production is strictly defensive, not offensive. North Koreanspokespeoplehave expressly pointed to countries that have been destroyed in U.S. military attacks, noting, Nothing will be more foolish if the United States thinks it can deal with us the way it treated Iraq and Libya, miserable victims of its aggression, and Syria, which did not respond immediately even after it was attacked. Even Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, hasacknowledgedthat Kim is a rational actor. Coat conceded that Kims decision-making process was influenced by watching Muammar Gaddafi be butchered by U.S.-led forces after willingly ending his nuclear ambitions. The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukesis, unfortunately, if you had nukes, never give them up. If you dont have them, get them, Coats said at the Aspen Security Forum this year. Coats concluded that for Kim, there is some rationale backing his actions which are survival, survival for his regime, survival for his country, and he has watched I think what has happened around the world relative to nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they have and seen that having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has ever dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian population (twice). The U.S. War DepartmentsStrategic Bombing Surveyacknowledged, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated. Some historians note that the U.S. nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, was not necessary to end the war, but rather was a warning sign to theSoviet Unionand could be seen as the first act of the Cold War. Fake news on North Korea The Western media is notorious for spreading ridiculous myths about North Korea; among them, that the country discovered evidence ofunicorns, that all North Koreans are forced to get the samehaircut, and that leader Kim Jong-un killed his uncle by feeding him to a pack ofdogs. The former Washington Post punditMax Fisher, now at the New York Times,falselyreported that the DPRK distributed copies of Adolf Hitlers manifestoMein Kampfto leaders. And former Wired reporterSpencer Ackerman, now a national security reporter at the Daily Beast, wrongly portrayed an obvious spoof video made by a Westerner as official North Korean propaganda. Accompanying much of the distortion-laden discussion of North Korea is an extreme dehumanization of the more than 25 million people who live there, who are often portrayed as mindlessly following the orders of their cartoon villain leaders. U.S. crimes against humanity Also conspicuously absent from media reports is any context or history for North Koreas actions. Just over 60 years ago, the U.S. waged what was essentially a genocidal war against Korea, in which it murdered millions of people. As the InterceptsMehdi Hasannoted, The madman with nuclear weapons is Donald Trump, not Kim Jong-un. While some Western media reports and intelligence officials may acknowledge that North Korea does indeed act rationally and that Donald Trump is personally erratic to a dangerous degree they still gloss over the impact of U.S. atrocities committed during the Korean War. Over a period of three years or so, we killed off what 20 percent of the population, said Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who led the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. JournalistBlaine Hardenreported this in a Washington Post op-ed titled The U.S. war crime North Korea wont forget. Harden explained, Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later Secretary of State, said the United States bombed everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another. After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops. In its three-year war on Korea, the U.S. is estimated to have killed3 million people, approximately half of them civilians. The Korean War is sometimes called the forgotten war in the U.S., but it is hard to imagine that North Koreas leadership has forgotten this calamity, or that it would allow it to happen again without a response. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNets Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at@BenjaminNorton. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of theGrayzone ProjectatAlterNet,and the award-winning author ofGoliathandRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at@MaxBlumenthal.

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language on North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats – AlterNet

North Korean soldiers placard at the military parade in Pyongyang. Pyongyang, North Korea, July 2013. Photo Credit: Astrelok President Donald Trumps pledge to punish North Korea with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before triggered outrage from pundits and lawmakers across the political spectrum. The outrage over his apparent threat to annihilate North Korea, possibly with nuclear arms, prompted his advisors to insist that Trumps comments wereimprovised. When Defense Secretary James Mattis followed up with another belligerent statement, warning of “the end of [North Koreas] regime and the destruction of its people, the reaction from Washingtons political class was entirely different. Though Mattis was nicknamed Mad Dog for his role in razing thecity of Fallujah during the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2004, pundits have rebranded him one of the “adults in the White House part of a class of sober-minded ex-generals appointed to rein in Trumps divisive America First agenda. CNN correspondent Dan Merica cast Mattis warning to oversee the mass slaughter of North Koreas civilian population as a tough statement. This framing was echoed by Barbara Starr, the CNN Pentagon correspondent who serves as an enthusiastic stenographer for the Defense Department. Starr called Mattis rhetoric very tough talk and a dire warning to North Korea. Self-described GOP media guy Rick Wilson, a veteran Republican consultant popular among liberals for his vehement criticism of Trump, applauded Mattis language, tweeting, This is how you phrase it, not biblical-level chest beating. Perhaps the most bizarre response to Mattis statement came Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe, who described it as a call for de-escalation. The leak that triggered the threats Both genocidal threats from Trump and Mattis were triggered by a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency assessment leaked to the Washington Post claiming that North Korea has “cross[ed] a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.” The unverified analysis claimed that 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Tim Shorrock, a veteran investigative journalist who has focused on Korean issues for several decades, was skeptical about the DIA leak. Im a little surprised by this report because for one thing its clearly not the collective conclusion of the intelligence community. Its someone in the DIA and theres no real analysis of what it is They just say it has this miniature warhead and they can now put on an ICBM, he saidto Aaron Mate of the Real News Network. Shorrock also questioned the timing of the leak: Well, theyve said that before in years past, it hasnt been proven to be true, and Im wondering why this is coming out right now. That seems very dangerous on the face of it. Someone within the intelligence community is pushing for a military response by leaking this report. Turning the aggressor into the victim The Trump administration’s threats were most immediately prompted by the DIAs leak, but were also an undeniable response to a months-long campaign by corporate media to drum up fears of a North Korean attack on the American homeland. On August 2, CNNs Jake Tapper hypedunfounded fears that North Korean missile tests threatened passenger planes from the West. Every day were getting starting details about North Koreas military ambitions which seem to be proceeding at an increasingly rapid clip. Its unclear with the Trump administrations strategy is to stop the Kim Jong Un regime, Tapper declared as he introduced a segment on the supposed threat to civilian airliners. The segment featured special graphics created by CNN that showed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea striking California. While CNN correspondent Barbara Starr acknowledged that no North Korean missile test came anywhere close to downing a passenger plane, CNNs chyron read: North Korea missile tests could endanger passenger planes.” Since Trump threatened fire and fury on North Korea, mainstream media has portrayed the government of DPRK as the sole aggressor. The August 9front page of theWall Street Journalframed the presidents warning with the headline, “Trump Warns North Korea: Stop Threats.” Though Trumps choice of language might have been alarming, his threats were part of a grand bipartisan tradition. Former President Barack Obama threatened the DPRK with destruction in 2016. We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals, Obama said, while conceding that the DPRK posed relatively low level threats. What is rarely acknowledged is that North Korea’s weapons production is strictly defensive, not offensive. North Korean spokespeople have expressly pointed to countries that have been destroyed in U.S. military attacks, noting, Nothing will be more foolish if the United States thinks it can deal with us the way it treated Iraq and Libya, miserable victims of its aggression, and Syria, which did not respond immediately even after it was attacked. Even Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, has acknowledged that Kim is a rational actor. Coat conceded that Kims decision-making process was influenced by watching Muammar Gaddafi be butchered by U.S.-led forces after willingly ending his nuclear ambitions. The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukesis, unfortunately, if you had nukes, never give them up. If you dont have them, get them, Coats said at the Aspen Security Forum this year. Coats concluded that for Kim, there is some rationale backing his actions which are survival, survival for his regime, survival for his country, and he has watched I think what has happened around the world relative to nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they have and seen that having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has ever dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian population (twice). The U.S. War DepartmentsStrategic Bombing Survey acknowledged, “Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” Some historians note that the U.S. nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, was not necessary to end the war, but rather was a warning sign to the Soviet Unionand could be seen as the first act of the Cold War. Fake news on North Korea The Western media is notorious for spreading ridiculous myths about North Korea; among them, that the country discovered evidence of unicorns, that all North Koreans are forced to get the same haircut, and that leader Kim Jong-un killed his uncle by feeding him to a pack of dogs. The former Washington Post pundit Max Fisher, now at the New York Times, falsely reported that the DPRK distributed copies of Adolf Hitlers manifesto Mein Kampf to leaders. And former Wired reporter Spencer Ackerman, now a national security reporter at the Daily Beast, wrongly portrayed an obvious spoof video made by a Westerner as official North Korean propaganda. Accompanying much of the distortion-laden discussion of North Korea is an extreme dehumanization of the more than 25 million people who live there, who are often portrayed as mindlessly following the orders of their cartoon villain leaders. U.S. crimes against humanity Also conspicuously absent from media reports is any context or history for North Koreas actions. Just over 60 years ago, the U.S. waged what was essentially a genocidal war against Korea, in which it murdered millions of people. As the Intercepts Mehdi Hasannoted, The madman with nuclear weapons is Donald Trump, not Kim Jong-un. While some Western media reports and intelligence officials may acknowledge that North Korea does indeed act rationally and that Donald Trump is personally erratic to a dangerous degree they still gloss over the impact of U.S. atrocities committed during the Korean War. Over a period of three years or so, we killed off what 20 percent of the population, said Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who led the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. Journalist Blaine Harden reported this in a Washington Post op-ed titled The U.S. war crime North Korea wont forget. Harden explained, Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later Secretary of State, said the United States bombed everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another. After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops. In its three-year war on Korea, the U.S. is estimated to have killed 3 million people, approximately half of them civilians. The Korean War is sometimes called the “forgotten war” in the U.S., but it is hard to imagine that North Koreas leadership has forgotten this calamity, or that it would allow it to happen again without a response. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

@alternets Max Blumenthal Violated Society of …

Act Independently The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. Journalists should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility. So reads the Society of Professional Journalists (SJP) code of ethics. The code is not a binding set of rules for SJPs 7,500 members but a set of best practices for professional journalism in the U.S. Max Blumenthal flouted this guideline when he accepted gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment given to attendees of Russia Todays December 2015 tenth anniversary celebration. That same offer was accepted by U.S. general and top Donald Trump military advisor Michael Flynn and U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, neither of whom are journalists. So Blumenthals journalism is now compromised by his financial relationship with the Kremlin. His work since December 2015 can no longer be regarded as serving the public interest, including his two-part hit piece smearing Syrian first responders known as the White Helmets as agents of a foreign conspiracy. We have no idea if he is continuing to be paid by the Kremlin for his appearances on their network Russia Today, the most recent of which occurred on November 28, 2016. What makes Blumenthals flagrant disregard for basic journalistic ethics even worse is that he is a Senior Editor at Alternet. Not only should he know better than to take Kremlin cash, his American employer should know better as well. Employing a known Kremlin shill is going to put Alternet in the crosshairs of a new body within the U.S. government created to monitor and combat Russian government disinformation campaigns. It is almost certainly too late for Blumenthal to return whatever gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment he received from Russia Today. But to restore public faith in his journalistic integrity, he should publicly disclose the terms of his contract(s) with Russia Today as a means of reassuring everyone that he is no longer on their payroll.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Max Blumenthal – Whats Really Going on In Iran & Qatar …

Submitted by Louise on 8 June 2017 – 5:56am Big Picture Interview: Max Blumenthal, Senior Editor-AlterNet’s Grayzone Project/ Author-The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. Iran is blaming Saudi Arabia and by proxy the United States today after ISIS killed 12 people and wounded 42 more in a brazen attack in heart of Tehran. In a statement – Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards drew a direct connection between this morning’s slaughter and Donald Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia – and said that “the fact that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they [the Saudis] were involved in the brutal attack. So – were they?

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August 5, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Why Radiohead Frontman Thom Yorke’s Newest Fans Include the Israeli Govt and Far-Right Demagogues – AlterNet

Thom Yorke gives Palestine solidarity activists the finger in Glasgow, Scotland, July 7. Photo Credit: Screenshot / Twitter The famed rock band Radiohead has found a slew of fans on the far right after forcefully coming out in opposition to Palestinian human rights activists. Among the influential English music groups new admirers are some of the most notorious demagogues in U.S. and Israeli politics, including Glenn Beck, Fox News and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus extreme right-wing administration. This is an ironic development, given the bands history of speaking out for liberal causes and its strong opposition to the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Radiohead has been hyperbolically sold as the “Beatles of the 21st century. But unlike the Beatles John Lennon, who was a committed revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist, Radioheads Thom Yorke has allied with the pro-colonial right wing. The band played in Israel on July 19 to international outrage. The show came after months of campaigning by Palestinian human rights activists, who called on Radiohead to honor the international boycott of Israel on behalf of the Palestinians systematically murdered, colonized and oppressed by the Israeli government. The cultural boycott is a key element of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), a global campaign to pressure the Israeli government to stop violating international law and respect fundamental Palestinian human rights. Yorke responded to Palestine advocates dismissively. At a concert in Glasgow, Scotland, the lead singer flipped offBDS activists and shouted Some f**king people! Yorkes outburst came right after he criticized the boycott campaign in an interview with Rolling Stone. (The singer’s tantrum was first recorded by Rachael Bett, a Scottish Palestine solidarity activist, and publicized on Twitter by AlterNet senior editor Max Blumenthal). In a stormy tirade, Yorke railed at his critics, claiming they were creat[ing] divisive energy. And if you create division, the singer continued, what do you get? You get f**king Theresa May. You get [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, you get f**king Trump. That’s divisive. Israels global propaganda centerpiece Since Yorke gave peace activists the finger, he has become a poster boy for Netanyahus government and an assortment of far-right extremists. Far-right media personalities and websites from BreitbartandGlenn Beck to Fox News and Legal Insurrection applauded the singer for rejecting calls to honor the Palestinian boycott campaign. The group Artists for Palestine UK compiled a vast array of tweets from the Israeli government, numerous Israeli embassies, top Israeli officials and leading Israel lobby groups. These glowing endorsements exemplify how Radioheads performance was used for global propaganda and public relations. Excited about having the talented bunch of @radiohead here again this evening, with tens of thousands of eager fans. Welcome back! https://t.co/3yLGZS7OlF .@thomyorke of @radiohead defends their decision to play in #Israel: “Music, art & academia is about crossing borders not building them” https://t.co/CPbwBOLWY6 .@EsotericCD : Don’t Tell @radiohead It Can’t Tour in #Israel https://t.co/Rom49c0NYW pic.twitter.com/7qIRLUBicI Symbolically, Israels ambassador to South Africa rejoiced. Good article even if it broadly understates failure of hypocritical Israel-haters. Welcome @radiohead & @thomyorke! https://t.co/6kwiv59TgF The BDS cultural boycott is modeled after the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, which was honored by many renowned musicians. Several South African anti-apartheid leaders, including Desmond Tutu, are vocal supporters of BDS and have compared the oppression they experienced to Israeli apartheid. Many of the right-wing government officials, groups and public figures who praised Thom Yorke and Radiohead also vehemently attacked Pink Floyds Roger Waters, a prominent activist for Palestinian human rights, and portrayed Yorke as a role model for other artists. In response to Radioheads show, Palestinian human rights activists created a spoof of Radioheads hit Creep, spinning out satirical lyrics: When we got the call / Saw dollars in my eyes / We’re supporting apartheid / But the pay’s really high I float like white phosphorous / Over Beit Hanoun skies I wish I was ethical / We’re so very unethical But Im a creep / I’m playing Israel/What the hell am I doing here? / I don’t belong here I don’t even notice / No Palestinians around We’re selling out to war / Whatever makes Bibi happy / Whatever he wants We’re here for apartheid / Palestine’s occupied. Political, when its convenient Though Radiohead is not an especially political band, it has been firmly on the side of the Democratic Partys liberal base. Radioheads landmark 2003 album Hail to the Thief was a harsh condemnation of the George W. Bush years. The records title was a direct reference to a popular chant by anti-Bush activists protesting the theft of the 2000 presidential election. More than a decade later, Thom Yorke has rhetorically condemned the administrations of Donald Trump and his staunchly conservative counterpart Theresa May in the U.K. But now Radiohead appears to have found a niche on the right. Leaders of Palestinian civil society organizations and labor unions called for BDS in 2005. It has since grown into an international movement that is rapidly gaining momentum. In response, the U.S. and Israeli governments have harshly cracked down on the movement. Israel created an entire ministry devoted to countering it, and U.S. politicians have been desperately trying to make it illegal. At least 43 U.S. senators have even co-sponsored draconian legislation that would make boycotting Israel a felony and would imprison Palestinian human rights advocates who support BDS for up to 20 years. The ACLUhas come out forcefully against this legislation, which it notes would be antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment and would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Intercepted Podcast: Glenn Greenwald on the New Cold War – The Intercept

Subscribe to the Intercepted podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other platforms. New to podcasting? Click here. With all theconstant hype about Russia, youd think we were living in a new Cold War. This week on Intercepted: Glenn Greenwald fills in for Jeremy Scahill, and we take a deep dive into the origins and evolution of the Trump-Russia story. Fox Newss Tucker Carlson and Glenn find something they can actually agree on (the Democratic establishments Russia hysteria), but diverge on Tuckers coverage of immigration and crime. Glenn responds to stories by Peter Beinart and Jeet Heer. And Russian-American writer Masha Gessen explains how conspiracy thinking is a mirror of the leaders we put in power, and why its so tempting and dangerous to believe in simplistic reasons for Trumps election. Lost Boys: Rufio! Rufio! Rufio! Ru-fi-oooo! (Following the Leader) Donald J. Trump: Who the hell wants to speak about politics when Im in front of the Boy Scouts? LB: [Cheering] DJT: And by the way, under the Trump administration, youll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping, believe me. LB: Ru-fi-ooo! DJT: Merry Christmas. Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook: Thats enough! What is this, some sort of Lord of the Flies preschool? Where are your parents? Whos in charge here? No. Nooo, Mr. Skunkhead with too much mousse. I want to speak to a grownup! DJT: Tom, youre fired! LB: Ru-fi-ooo! RW: You are a very poor role model for these kids, did you know that? LB: (Whistling) RW: I bet you dont even have a fourth grade reading level. LB: (Whistling) DJT: Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree? LB: Ru-fi-ooo! RW: Someone has a severe caca mouth, do you know that? DJT: Make America great again. LB: (Cheering) RW: Substitute chemistry teacher. LB: Come on, Rufio, hit him back! DJT: The polls, thats also fake news. Theyre fake polls. RW: Math tutor. Prison barber. Nearsighted gynecologist. DJT: Fake media. Fake news. RW: You lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food, dude. LB: Bangarang, Peter! [Music interlude] Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted. [Music interlude] Glenn Greenwald: Im Glenn Greenwald, sitting in this week for Jeremy Scahill, and Im coming to you from The Intercept in Brazil. This is episode 24 of Intercepted. Jared Kushner: Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. GG: Russia has once again dominated the news cycle in the United States this past week. And as part of that discussion, there have been two articles, one published by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, and another by Jeet Heer published in The New Republic that criticises, quite harshly, multiple people on the Left who, in their view, have been minimizing the Russia election meddling story. And I think that both of these articles are worth discussing, in part because they do extensively critique my own views, and Id like to respond. But also, I think they highlight some of the really critical points about how this Russia story has been discussed over the course of the last year in the United States, and what the implications are. And I have two guests who come at this topic from very different perspectives. One is Tucker Carlson, the host on Fox News, who has become one of the more vocal skeptics on the Russia story, and has been subjected to a wide array of accusations. And the other is the American-Russian journalist Masha Gessen, who is a longtime critic of Vladimir Putin, and yet has also expressed some serious concerns about how this story has been discussed. And I think both of those conversations really get to the heart of what these two articles also raise. So, I want to make a couple of points about both of these articles. One, the one by Peter Beinart, and the one by Jeet Heer. And interestingly, both of them were, I think, rare and commendable good faith attempts to engage the arguments by those of us who have been skeptics on this story from the beginning without purposely distorting our views, or even worse, using innuendo about treason or allegiances to the Kremlin as a way of dismissing or demonizing the arguments about the evidence that weve been making. And yet, despite the good faith attempt by both writers in the article to engage the actual arguments without that kind of innuendo, the headline writers for each of these magazines did not have that same integrity. So, I thought it was extremely telling that the headline in The Atlantic over Peter Beinarts article was Donald Trumps Defenders on the Left. And then the sub-headline was, Why Some Progressives are Minimizing Russias Election Meddling. And the headline on the New Republic story might even actually be worse. It was Why the Anti-War Left Should Attack Putin Too. Thats the headline. And the sub-headline is His being Putins Leftist Apologist in the U.S. Media Arent Just Blind to Russias Election Meddling, But to Putins Xenophobia and Homophobia. And the reason I think those headlines are worth flagging is because there is a valid legitimate debate that I think both Beinart and Jeet are trying to have about how persuasive is the evidence that has been presented publicly about whether the Russian government under the direction of Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking, and whether they were actually motivated by a desire to help Trump, as well as whether or not there was actual collusion in those hacking crimes with the Trump campaign. And my view has been not an ideological one or a partisan one, but simply an epistemological one, that theres no tangible evidence presented, or virtually none, by the U.S. government to corroborate the claims of the intelligence community. And one can certainly dispute that. One can disagree with it. Lots of people do. But to cast those questions, that skepticism, that comes not only from me but from the other people the New Republic article names, such as Max Blumenthal, and Noam Chomsky, and Oliver Stone, and others to cast that skepticism about the evidence as being supporters of Donald Trump, or apologists for Vladimir Putin, is really the lowliest kind of rhetorical tactics that has sullied and corrupted U.S. political discourse for many years. If you go back to those who questioned the sufficiency of the evidence about Saddam Husseins weapons capability in 2002 and 2003, you find that those who were attacking people who were expressing skepticism were accusing them not of being wrong, but of being sympathizers or apologists for Saddam Hussein. You find that those who were questioning the George Bush/Dick Cheney war on terror were accused not of being wrong, but of being al Qaeda sympathizers. And now you find that those of us who question the sufficiency of the evidence about Russia, the Russia hacking story, or the implications of it, are accused not of being wrong, but of being supporters of Donald Trump or apologists for Vladimir Putin. And both of these writers, the central point that theyre making in these articles and in critiquing those of us who are skeptical the story is to say, you can be worried about Russian meddling and Russia hacking without actually trying to rejuvenate a Cold War. Theyre saying that theyre in the middle. Theyre worried about Russian hacking, but they share the concerns that it would be dangerous to revitalize a Cold War. And yet, even in their article, while they deny that they want a new Cold War, they use language that strongly suggests thats exactly what their view of the world would provoke, whether intentionally or not. So, Jeet here in his article, for example, has this paragraph that says, Fighting Trumpism in America is not enough. Leftists have to be ready to battle it in all forms, at home and abroad. So, while hes denying that he wants a new Cold War, hes demanding that leftists battle Putin and Trump and their international ideology in all forms at home and abroad. And this language to me seems to be exactly the language of the traditional Cold War years, that theres an international ideological movement spreading throughout the world thats dangerous, thats coming from the Kremlin, thats coming from Moscow, and that we as liberals are duty-bound to go fight it, not just here at home, but abroad. Peter Beinart has a sentence that is even more vivid in terms of the issue of whether its really genuine when he says he doesnt want a Cold War. He says, In his interview with Tucker Carlson, Max Blumenthal attacked Senator Ben Cardin for calling Russias meddling a political Pearl Harbor. But, writes Beinart, in some ways, its an apt analogy. So, you have two nuclear-armed countries who have in the past come very close to nuclear war that would annihilate the species, and the reason those of us who are worried about where this is going are so worried isnt because we love Vladimir Putin or support Donald Trump. Its because weve seen the effects, the incredibly destructive effects, when this kind of militaristic confrontational rhetoric takes hold of the American opinion elite class, and where that leads to. And it seems, to put it mildly, not worth risking another Cold War, another military confrontation between the United States and Russia, over what, even if you believe the claims of the CIA, notwithstanding that theres no evidence for it even if you believe them, its nothing more than some garden variety hacking that countries do to one another all the time. And at the very least, I hope going forward that we can have this debate without papering over those actual concerns and trying to suggest that those of us who are skeptical are motivated by nefarious and treasonous motives. So, I think that is an excellent framework for the discussions that Im about to have. Joining me now is the host of Weeknights on Fox News, Tucker Carlson. Tucker, welcome to Intercepted. Tucker Carlson: Thanks, Glenn. GG: I want to begin by observing that if I had to pick one word to describe U.S. political culture in the wake of Trumps victory, it would probably be manic. And I say that for a lot of reasons, primarily the fact that so many peoples longstanding position seems to be uprooted and kind of scrambled and confused. And a lot of longstanding political alliances and adversaries that have shaped U.S. politics for a long time seem to have shifted in a really short period of time, often radically. And I think that your journey is kind of illustrative of that. Just in the last week alone, for example, you had two very widely discussed Id say pretty vituperative exchanges, interviews on your Fox show, one with Max Boot, whos a longtime pro-war activist. Never met a war he didnt like. TC: And then to hear you say we need to knock off the Assad regime and things will be better in Syria you sort of wonder, like, well, maybe you should choose another profession. Selling insurance, house painting. Something youre good at. GG: And the other one is Ralph Peters, who has been a longtime kind of rightwing commentator on Foreign Affairs. Ralph Peters: He assassinates dissidents and journalists. He bombs women and children on purpose in Syria. He is as bad as Hitler. And yet, you want us to align with the Russians, with Iran, with Assad. TC: I want us to act in Americas interest RP: So do I. TC: And stop making shallow, sweeping moral claims about countries we dont fully understand, and then hope everything will be fine in the end. If a country we dont like takes active steps to kill people who are a threat to us, Im going to pause and applaud. GG: And you had very sharp disagreements with them that became kind of hostile. And then in the very same week, you had on your show Max Blumenthal, who is as far to the left as those two have been to the right. And the two of you found a lot of common ground, a lot of harmony on one of the most important or at least widely discussed political issues being discussed, which is Russia. Max Blumenthal: You know, as someone on the left whos actually gone out and protested Trump, I didnt expect this hysteria to completely take over. But now I see what the point is of it. Mark my words, Tucker, when Trump is gone, this narrative, this Russia hysteria will be repurposed by the political establishment to attack the left and anyone on the left. GG: Do you think that you have changed ideologically or politically over the past few years, or do you think theres kind of a political realignment or readjustment taking place in the wake of Trumps victory that explains this? Or is it some of both, or none? Whats your view on all that? TC: Id say its both. I mean, my views have changed. My views are always changing, and I think, you know, ones views ought to change. You ought to look up every once in awhile from your ideology and measure it against the results that you anticipated, and ask yourself, Is this working? Are my preconceptions, my assumptions are they still valid? And the one, maybe the best thing about Trumps election is that it forced a lot of people to kind of traipse up to the mental attic and take stock. And so, you know, certain moments shock you out of your stupor and force you to reassess. The Iraq War did that for me. In December of 03, I went to Iraq after someone I knew was killed there, and I was starting to become suspicious not just of that war, but of the pretext for it, and of the kind of intellectual predicates that led to it. And that experience kind of freed me from a lot of things that I thought I believed, and allowed me to say what I was coming to believe. And Trumps election, I think, had the same effect. In fact, one of the really sad things about the mass hysteria thats descended upon Washington is that it has prevented or at least forestalled like a real discussion about whats important and what we think about it. And, you know, Ive never been partisan, but Ive certainly been which is to say, Ive never had an emotional allegiance to a political party. Ive never worked in politics or anything like that. Ive mostly voted Republican because Ive been a right-winger my whole life. But all of a sudden, just because I read for a living, I started seeing pieces that I really agreed with, coming from people not only whom I disagreed with, but with whom Id been at odds for like decades, including you. In fact, I havent done this, but I probably should. Itd be amusing to type in both of our names into Google pre-2015 and see how many pieces each of us has written attacking the other. [Laughs] Quite a few. GG: Right. I kind of thought the Iraq War was gonna be this fundamental political event for people to change how they thought about a whole range of issues. I mean, I wasnt even working on politics in 2003. I was practicing law. And thats a big part of what made me start writing about politics. And for a long time, I thought it was gonna change peoples views, not just of the wisdom of those kinds of invasions, but the extent to which we trust anonymous sources, claims from the intelligence community, how the media conducts itself, its relationship to those factions. And for a time, I thought that that was happening, and now I think it isnt. I mean, I think that the prevailing sentiment among the establishment wings of both political parties is this idea that we do place faith in the intelligence community. We do believe there are claims, even when disseminated anonymously. We still believe in the necessity or virtue of U.S. force; not in self-defense, but to produce good in the world and other countries that we barely understand. Talk a little bit more about what changed for you as a result of what had been your support for the Iraq War, and then your ultimate or subsequent view that that was just terribly wrong. TC: Well, my support for it was always tepid. Part of the problem for me was I was working on a debate show at the time, Crossfire, on which you sort of had to pick a side. And so, I actually was never comfortable with it. Because I dont have a super high IQ, I tend to ask the obvious questions, like what does Iraq have to do with 9/11? And I could never get a satisfying answer. So, that made me think, as it always does, if someone cant give a straight answer that you can understand, either he doesnt understand it himself, or hes lying about it. So, it always made me uncomfortable. I was won over to the idea that the government of Saddam Hussein posed this imminent threat to America because of WMD by someone in the government whom I knew well and was close to from a former life. And he convinced me of that single handedly. And so, I kind of was for it in the last few months. And then I went there, and I was reminded of all the things that I sort of knew were like inchoate thoughts that I had had before. The law of unintended consequences is never gonna be repealed. Like, you dont know. You think you know whats gonna happen when you do something, but you really dont. And so, humility is a prerequisite for wise decision-making. And whenever you have people telling you people like Max Boot, for example we know exactly whats gonna happen when we do this, thats a tipoff that these are very unwise people who shouldnt have power. And so, I just thought, boy, this is scary, more than anything, on a political level. So, basically what you saw in Washington is what youre seeing now, and what I will be against until the day I die, which is hyperventilating group think, where people convince themselves of a thesis and then stop asking critical questions of that thesis. Like, they start with, heres what we know, okay? Heres just heres what we know. And by the way, if you dont agree to that fact, like if you ask any questions at all, then youre clearly, you know, immoral. Youre a sinner. Thats exactly what happened before the Iraq War in Washington, and thats exactly whats happening now with this Russia stuff. And by the way, just to skip ahead, I just want to say this emphatically Im totally agnostic on Russia. Never been there. I dont have strong feelings about its government. Im glad I dont live there, you know what I mean? Im like the last person whos carrying water for Russia, but its almost like my main objection is to the psychological phenomenon Im watching in progress, and its totally the product of a ruling class thats utterly homogenous, not racially, but culturally. GG: So, one of the things that I found really interesting was, I think before I even went on your show, you interviewed Congressman Adam Schiff of California, whos a Democrat, who has become, I guess you could say, the leader of the Democrats, in the House at least, when it comes to sounding the shrill alarm about Russia and Trump and the threat that is posed by the Kremlin. And he had that interview with you where you were just simply asking him for evidence of the claims that he was making about Putin ordering these hacks and about the motive that Putin had in doing so. TC: You know what? Youre dodging. Adam Schiff: And, and Tucker? Look, you are TC: To look and say, I know they did John Podestas emails AS: I think that Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave. TC: Ronald Reagan would be fine. Ronald Reagan AS: That youre carrying water for the Kremlin, which you and the president elect TC: Im not carrying water for the Im youre making look, youre a sitting member of Congress on the intel committee, and you cant say they hawked hacked AS: Youre gonna have to move your show to RT, Russian television, because this is perfect TC: You know what? Thats just so GG: This has been one of the things that has concerned me most, because I got into writing about politics in the post 9/11 era, when I felt like there was a lot of equating of criticism of the government or questioning of the government line with treason, or equating of dissent with some kind of suspicion about your loyalties. And I see very much, although different people are doing it, those tactics being used now. Would you agree that these kind of tactics that youre objecting to now that are often being applied to you have been tactics that the right has used for a long time to kind of delegitimize dissent and questioning of government policies? TC: Theres no question. And I hate to think about the degree to which I participated in it, and I dont want to ever be confronted with video evidence that Ive done it. Im sure I have. Its too easy. Its too hard to resist. The obvious example that comes to mind is Barbara Lees vote against military action in Afghanistan, which by the way, I think is justified, you know. The Taliban were based in Afghanistan. They were a terrible regime. They hosted al Qaeda, which, you know, sent 19 hijackers here and killed 3,000 Americans. So, like, I dont know. I would still support military action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I think in retrospect, it was probably pretty useful to have at least somebody stand up and say, wait a second, you know. How long are we going there? This seems a little open-ended. GG: Yeah, given that were 16 years later, not only are we still there, but the Talibans still there. TC: Exactly. Thats exactly right. So, yes. To answer your question in a word, yes. This is an old tactic. Its been employed by the Right. Again, Im sure it has been employed by me, and Im ashamed of that. But what Im so surprised by in this moment, and Im sure it happened after 9/11 too, and I know it happened during the run up to the Iraq War, is: skepticism is being treated as sinful. And thats when you know youre not really part of a policy debate. This is a theological debate. You know these are people looking for apostates. And I just feel like its incumbent upon all of us in this business to assert our right to express skepticism. And I have to say, you know, I dont want to log roll here or, you know, be ass-kissy. But, you know, you wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago in which you went after the press, not on behalf of Trump youre obviously not a Trump supporter but on the basis of their willingness, you attacked them for accepting intelligence information or intel from the intel agencies on a background basis without ever vetting it, and accepting it as true. That is not what were supposed to be doing. Were supposed to be relentlessly skeptical about everything we hear. And the press all of a sudden isnt, and its bad. GG: Theres a lot of criticism of you that I think is very partisan in nature, very ideological in nature, stuff that comes from Media Matters and the like that is boring and worthless and worth ignoring. And then theres some criticism of what you do on your show that I think is at least legitimate and valid enough to discuss. And I wanted to ask you about a couple of those lines of critique. TC: Sure. GG: One of which is the way in which you cover crime, domestic crime in the United States, is extremely selective and designed to advance an agenda as opposed to giving a realistic depiction of what the nature of violence in the United States is. And I wanted to ask you about a couple of areas, the first of which is police abuse. Last week, there were two really talked about cases involving police violence. One was, theres a police officer in Bald Springs, Texas. His name is Ray Oliver. Hes a white police officer who was indicted for the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Jordan Edwards. News of that indictment broke on July 15th, the same day that the fatal shooting took place in Minneapolis, where a Somali-American police officer shot a white Australian woman. Your show covered the Minneapolis shooting, I think, on at least several occasions, including you emphasizing that the police officer was an immigrant from Somalia, and you asked TC: Well, theres a lot going on in this story, a lot of we dont know. Mohammed Noor was an immigrant from Somalia. Is that a relevant fact? We dont know. But its being treated as one by many news organizations. How do you know that? Because theyre not reporting it. GG: But didnt talk about the indictment of this white police officer. Now, I realize, you know, I get criticized for selective coverage, and as one person with one show, you can only cover certain things. You have only an hour each night. Youre gonna necessarily leave out newsworthy stories. But do you think its at least a valid point that in choosing which stories to cover, that its important not to inflame tensions against particular groups of people, especially given the impact of the platform you have? And do you think its a fair critique that you tend to focus on violence when committed by minorities more than violence committed by white people? TC: I would say part of that criticism is fair. My coverage is selective. I mean, by the nature of the show, I select what to cover, and its informed by a lot of other opinions that I have that have nothing to do with the particular crime. Now in this case I just pulled this up as you were talking maybe this is embarrassing. I was not aware of the shooting of Jordan Edwards. So, maybe Im reading the wrong things. I didnt know that that happened. So, theres that. GG: Well, the case in Minneapolis, like why was that case so interesting to you? TC: Ill tell you. Because Im very upset about immigration in the United States. I think the whole system is destabilizing to the country. I dont think you can have this much demographic change and not have all kinds of unintended consequences. But the main reason Im upset by it is because I think its driven by economic factors, and I think that the people who are benefiting from it are really disingenuous about that. GG: How does this incident shed light on that concern? I mean, this is a guy who came to the U.S. as a kid. By all accounts, hes been law-abiding his whole life. If he became a police officer I mean, dont you see why theres a view that the reason this case is of interest to a Fox News audience is because of how inflammatory it is? Its a Somali-American immigrant cop shooting a white woman whos Australian, whereas the majority of controversies involving police abuse are white police officers shooting black people under suspicious circumstances. And so, if you focus so much on the former and give little attention to the latter, this concern arises that youre using your platform to fuel resentments against people who are more vulnerable and marginalized. TC: Right. I hope Ive been clear on my show and other shows that Ive had, I am worried about the behavior of police. Ive defended body cam requirements for all cops for that reason. I am. I dont like the abuse of power, and I think that some police officers engage in it, and I think they too often get a pass from conservatives. And Ive said that. I continue to think it. For whatever its worth, Ive been hassled twice in a big way by the police, and I know that it happens, and I dont like it. Second point I would make, is that I really dont want to do anything to inflame racial tensions. And so, you know, thats certainly unintentional. I dont like that Im worried about racial tensions in the United States. Im worried about tribalism. And so, I dont want to be a part of that at all. I really kind of GG: But there is tension between those two objectives, right? Because you can legitimately be concerned about immigration without having racist motives. TC: Yes. GG: And in fact, there was a lot of concern on the left for a long time about the effect that immigration would have on depressing the wages of U.S. workers. So, no question about that. But at the same time, you would acknowledge, right, that the reason why immigration can be such an inflammatory issue, not just in the U.S. but around the world, is because we are tribal beings by instinct. We have other instincts that balance that, and we can suppress that, like we can with all those things. So, you agree that its important at least to be careful in talking about, say, the perils of immigration, if youre somebody who believes that there are dangers to it, not to inflame those kind of terrible tribal instincts that are certainly part of TC: Yes. GG: The immigration debate in the United States and elsewhere. TC: I do. I do think that. And Im sure that there are many times when Ive fallen down in doing that, and not thought through my language enough, or have gotten upset and been unfair. I mean I you know, thats a constant struggle for me, to try to be fair even when Im mad about something, or even when I think theres a larger and more important point at stake, or again, to be unfair. I dont want to be unfair. So, Im sorry if I was. Fox News: So, you want to stop all legal immigration? TC: Absolutely. FN: So, people like, people like me [crosstalk] TC: You, you look at it no, Im talking about not a hundred years ago or 50 years ago or 20. Im talking about 2015. You look into the faces of the tens of millions of unemployed in this country and say, Im bringing in new people. How does that help you? You have to answer that question. Youre not even trying. FN: So, during the Great Depression GG: You know, Peter Beinart wrote this article about your show that I largely agree with, which is that he said, you know, even though he disagrees with you on a lot I forget exactly the terminology, but he said that your show is kind of what conservative cable news could be if its intellectually engaging. And he talked about how you advocate positions that are even too dovish for mainstream Democrats, including telling Ralph Peters that you dont even know for certain that Iran is an actual domestic threat to the U.S., which is something that you would never hear any mainstream Democratic politician saying. I agree with the praise that he had for your show. But you had this segment a couple weeks ago that I do think highlights the validity of this critique that I was asking you about. And I have to say, this is the one that bothered me the most, about this friction that you said took place or was emerging between residents of California, Pennsylvania, which is this tiny little town of 6,000 people, and this ethnic Roma population that had come from Romania seeking asylum in the U.S., and I think there was a grand total of like three dozen of them. And the segment kind of played into all of these negative stereotypes about the Roma, who are one of the most marginalized and hated groups on the planet. TC: Roma are seeking asylum, saying they suffered racism in their native Romania. Immigration is not going well. According to residents, the Roma have little regard, either for the law or public decency. Citizens say they defecate in public, chop the heads off chickens, leave trash everywhere, and more. Theyre upset. Some of them are, anywhere. George Eli is a filmmaker who GG: Its this tiny little conflict that, I dont know, didnt seem to have any repercussions to me, and had little effect on what I think on your audience other than to kind of inflame tensions about the Roma. Im just wondering why, with a platform as significant as yours, given the conflicts that are so important in the world to cover, you do cover this. Because I do have to say, it does seem like pandering to the Fox audience when you do stuff like that. Im just interested in TC: Ill tell you exactly Ill tell you exactly why. No, that was sincere on my part. And for whatever its worth, I think the Roma are actually kind of interesting, and Ive read a bunch of books on them just because Im interested in any culture that remains distinct over a thousand years through a dozen countries. So, I think theres a lot thats cool about the Roma. But I personally think that the most marginalized population in America is rural people, or people living in post-industrial parts of the country, whose life expectancy is actually in decline. Now, I live for a fair amount of the year in rural Maine in a post-industrial area that was, you know, all paper companies, timber products. Its totally collapsed. And Ive seen this exact thing happen there, where Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services or some group that thinks its doing good moves refugees into a depressed community and then leaves. And its massively disruptive for the people who live there. Massively. And nobody cares. And that drives me insane.

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July 28, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Donald Trump’s Defenders on the Left – The Atlantic

When it comes to possible collusion with Russia, Donald Trumps most interesting defenders dont reside on the political right. They reside on the political left. Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich arent defending a principle. Theyre defending a patron. Until recently they were ultra-hawks. Now, to downplay Russias meddling in the 2016 elections, they sound like ultra-doves. All that matters is supporting their ally in the White House. For left-wing defenders like Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald, by contrast, ideology is king. Blumenthal and Greenwald loathe Trump. But they loathe hawkish foreign policy more. So they minimize Russias election meddling to oppose what they see as a new Cold War. Its a genuinely principled position. The problem is that principles are blinding them to facts. On Tuesday on the Tucker Carlson show, Blumenthal laid out the progressive case against Russia hysteria. His first point was that, by obsessing about the Russia scandal, Democrats are forfeiting the chance to outline a genuinely progressive alternative to Trump. For the corporate sellout establishment that cant agree on a big economic message, that doesnt favor single payer [health care], Blumenthal argued, this is just convenient because this gives them a way of opposing Trump without having to do anything remotely progressive. This is wrong. While its true that Democratic politicians and liberal pundits have spent a lot of time discussing the Russia scandal, its not true that they havent done anything remotely progressive. To the contrary, Democrats in Congress have opposed Trumps agenda more militantly than did congressional Democrats during the Reagan and George W. Bush years. In 1981, 48 Democrats in the House and 37 in the Senate voted for Reagans tax cuts. In 2001, 10 Democrats in the House and 12 in the Senate supported Bushs. By contrast, every House Democrat opposed Trumps first big legislative push, repealing and replacing Obamacare. (Had a repeal bill come to a vote in the Senate, Democratic opposition would likely have been unanimous there too.) Its the same with Supreme Court nominations. In 1986, every Senate Democrat voted to confirm Antonin Scalia. In 2005, half of Senate Democrats voted to confirm John Roberts. This year, only three Democratic Senators voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch. Part of this, of course, is partisan sorting. There are fewer Democrats from conservative states and districts than there were decades ago. But its also because Democratic members of Congress are more responsive to their liberal base. In 2001, Californias Dianne Feinstein voted for Bushs tax cuts. A California Democrat voting for a Trump tax cut would be inconceivable today. Blumenthal is right that Democrats dont have a big economic message. But thats not primarily because of the Russia scandal. Parties that are out of power rarely have a clear agenda. Its hard to develop a clear message when you dont have a clear leader. Narratives emerge during presidential campaigns. And the early evidence is that the progressive themes Bernie Sanders pushed last yearsingle-payer health care, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wagewill carry more weight inside the Democratic Party in 2020 than they did in 2016. Blumenthals second argument is that the anti-Moscow line Democrats are now pushing will come back to haunt them. It will be repurposed by the political establishment so that anyone on the left who steps out of line on the issues of permanent war or of corporate free trade will be painted as Russia puppets. Greenwald has made a similar argument. On Monday he savaged a new foreign policy group, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which brings Clinton campaign veterans together with neoconservatives like Bill Kristol. The song Democrats are now singing about Russia and Putin, wrote Greenwald, is one the neocons wrote many years ago, and all of the accompanying rhetorical tacticsaccusing those who seek better relations with Moscow of being Putins stooges, unpatriotic, of suspect loyalties, etc.are the ones that have defined the neocons smear campaigns for decades. Theres a basis to this fear. Democrats have unleashed dangerous forces by getting to the GOPs right on foreign policy before. In 1992, for instance, Bill Clinton criticized George H.W. Bush for not deposing Saddam Hussein. In so doing, he helped lay the foundation for the push for regime change that culminated a decade later in the Iraq War. (A war I mistakenly supported.) But the problem with downplaying Russian election meddling because youre afraid it will fuel militarism is that it evades the central question: How worrisome is the meddling itself? When it comes to Russians interference in the 2016 election, progressives like Blumenthal are behaving the way many conservatives behave on climate change. Conservatives fear that progressives will use climate change to impose new regulations on the economy. And because they oppose the solution, they claim theres no problem. As with climate change, the evidence that Russia interfered in last years election appears quite strong. The CIA, the FBI, and the NSA all believe with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 designed to undermine public faith in the US democratic process. The CIA and FBI also believe with high confidenceand the NSA believes with moderate confidencethat Putin was trying to elect Trump. They claim the Kremlin did this, in part, by stealing and leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee and top Democratic officials. It also obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. Its easy to say that because Americas intelligence agencies were wrong about Iraqs weapons of mass destruction, progressives shouldnt believe them now. But there are critical differences. In 2002, the intelligence agencies faced intense pressure from the Bush White House and Pentagon to make Saddam Husseins weapons programs seem more menacing. They faced no similar political pressure to exaggerate the severity of Russias election meddling. Whats more, officials in France and Germany say Russia has tried to subvert their elections too. And in his email to Donald Trump Jr., Rob Goldstone, who was arranging a meeting with a lawyer close to figures in the Kremlin, wrote about Russia and its governments support of Mr. Trump. Blumenthal can deride a bootlicking press and a bootlicking kind of liberal opposition that believes all intelligence agencies. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller and four congressional committees are investigating the intelligence agencies conclusions. By the end of their inquiries, Americans will have a much fuller picture of Russian involvement in last years election than they had about Iraqi WMD on the eve of the Iraq War. Blumenthal and Greenwald have an ideological problem. On foreign policy, they are anti-interventionists, or what Walter Russell Mead calls Jeffersonians. They believe that Americas empire threatens not only peace and justice abroad, but liberty at home. They want the United States to stop defending its imperial borders in Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, and the Middle East, because they believe such efforts cost Americans money, cost American lives, and create a pretext for surveillance that makes Americans less free. Thats a totally legitimate view. As Mead notes, John Quincy Adams, Walter Lippmann, and George Kennan were all, in different ways, Jeffersonians. Andrew Bacevich and Ron Paul are today. And American foreign policy, which is dominated by an interventionist bipartisan elite, can benefit from a Jeffersonian critique. How does it benefit ordinary Americans to continue an endless, almost certainly unwinnable, war in Afghanistan? Why is the United States considering expanding NATO when it means pledging American lives to defend countries that many Americans have never even heard of? But its one thing to oppose defending the American empire. Its another to oppose defending the American homeland. By intervening in the 2016 election, Russia did not threaten American influence in Afghanistan or Ukraine or Syria. It threatened America itself. Near the heart of American democracy lies the idea that Americansnot foreign governmentsshould choose Americas leaders. It appears Russia challenged that by mounting a widespread, largely clandestine, campaign to get a particular candidate elected. And to make matters worse, the candidate it helped elect himself poses a serious threat to the rule of law in the United States. Already, American liberal democracy is weaker because of what Russia did. If Russia casts doubt on the legitimacy of future American electionsby hacking into voting machines or spreading disinformation to discredit the resultsit could do even greater harm. If Blumenthal and Greenwald are indignant about Kris Kobachs efforts to limit Americans ability to choose their leaders, they should be indignant about Vladimir Putins too. In his interview with Carlson, Blumenthal attacked Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin for calling Russias meddling a political Pearl Harbor. But in some ways, its an apt analogy. Until December 7, 1941, Americas conflict with Japan had been waged far from Americas shores. Tokyo wanted a sphere of influence in East Asia, its own Monroe Doctrine. The United States wanted to deny Japan hegemony over China, Indochina, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. It was a contest over imperial frontiers. Then, on December 7, Japan unexpectedly crossed the Pacific and attacked the United States itself. Suddenly, even Jeffersonians had to acknowledge that Japan constituted a threat. Similarly, in recent years the United States has waged proxy battles against Russia in places like Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan, which are far from American shores. Jeffersonians can legitimately argue that Americas struggle for influence in those countries does more harm than good. But last year, Russia unexpectedly attacked the United States itself in ways that genuinely harmed ordinary Americans. Trying to prevent Russia from doing so again doesnt make you an imperialist or a hawk. No matter how anti-interventionist you are, you need to protect your own country. Blumenthal and Greenwald need not respond to Russias meddling by supporting NATO expansion or greater military intervention in Syria. But Jeffersonians should offer their own vision for how the United States protects its elections. If that involves treaties and international organizations rather than sanctions and arms sales, thats fine. If it involves American pledges to restrain its overseas cyber attacks, thats fine too. What America badly needs is a debate, across the ideological spectrum, about how to safeguard American democracy from the new foreign threats that technology enables. Jeffersonians can play a crucial role in responding to that problem. But not if they are so afraid of the potential answers that they deny theres a problem at all.

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Americans have been ‘brainwashed’ to believe Russia has taken over their country Max Blumenthal – RT

Were seeing more and more congressional Democrats attempting to push the concept of Russian collusion onto the American electorate. I am just challenging it because it is a dangerous narrative, Max Blumenthal, American author and journalist, told RT. The White House accused the media of “Russia fever” over reports about a supposed secret meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit earlier this month. It has emerged that the leaders did speak for a second time, but only during a joint dinner with other leaders. President Trump dubbed the story “Fake News” in a tweet, saying that the press was aware of the dinner, and that all the G-20 leaders were present. Furthermore, Democratic member of the US House of Representatives Jamie Raskin was challenged by a journalist Max Blumenthal after he claimed that Trump’s ex-advisor was a host on this channel. RT spoke to Max Blumenthal. RT: You’re known for having left-wing leanings, why did you decide to confront this Democratic congressman on the claims he made during his speech? Max Blumenthal: I am much closer to Congressman Raskin ideologically than Roger Stone. I really dont support anything Roger Stone or Donald Trump stand for. I think Stone is kind of a sleazy character. But when Jamie Raskin gets up before a rally of Democrats attempting to prove that there is a secret Russian plot to subvert American democracy and tells us a series of lies, I challenge those lies. This clip that you showed [on RT] was just part of the series of challenges I put to Raskin about Russian hacking in the elections, about his calls for regime change, including of democratically elected governments, like the government of Venezuela. Raskin really had no coherent response to me. And that is what were seeing more and more from the congressional Democrats, who were attempting to push the concept of Russian collusion onto the American electorate. I am just challenging it because it is a dangerous narrative. I think that having a new Cold War will be terrible for progressive elements in the US. We need to examine the evidence in a clear rational way, and so far that hasnt happened. And then beyond that, it is interesting that the only networks that will allow me to come on and speak from a progressive perspective and challenge this new Cold War hysteria are really the major networks Fox News and RT. That says a lot about liberal media and the kind of exclusive club theyre running. RT: Did the response youve got from the Congressman surprise you? MB: It surprised me that Jamie Raskin, whose father directed one of the first one of the sort of left-wing, anti-war thing tanks in Washington, the Institute for Policy Studies, that he would make these kind of neo-conservative arguments. It appeared to me that some think-tankers, who are pushing for a new Cold War for their own interest, have basically written his speech. It was also shocking if you watch my video from this rally youll see interviews with people who have basically been brainwashed into believing that Russia has essentially taken over their country, subverted their democracy. These are people who otherwise would be supporting progressive causes this is the democratic base. So that really shocks me. The lack of information these people had, who told me that they read the New York Times and the Washington Post, and their conspiratorial perspective was shocking as well. RT: President Trump said that he and his team are subject to a political witch-hunt? Do you agree with that, or is it going too far? MB: When Trump was elected I would have never thought Id find myself in a position of agreeing with something like that. But it does appear to be the case, and there are many legitimate reasons to oppose Trump for his unconstitutional Muslim ban; for his wholesale sell out to Goldman Sachs in the big banks for his gutting of the environmental protection agency. But the Democrats dont want to take him on in a progressive way. What they have done, they have relied on intelligence services, allies of former CIA Director John Brennan, to sabotage Trumps attempt at detente with Russia through anonymous leaks. Everyday youll see in the Washington Post a story framed to paint Trump as some kind of Russian puppet for doing things that might be rational like defunding jihadist rebels in Syria. Today the headline in the Washington Post is that it is a major concession Trump is making to Russia. RT: Why do you think the mainstream media and politicians are still obsessed with the Trump-Russia collusion story? MB: It may be that Russian hackers were responsible for the Democratic National Committee [DNC] hacks, but no intelligence agency not the FBI, not the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] – has examined the e-mail servers. The DNC has in fact obstructed the FBI from examining those servers and handed over the task of attribution of the hacks to a for-profit private firm called Crowdstrike, which is now valued at $1 billion since it made the high-profile attribution of those hacks to the Russian government. It is clear that there is something very shady going, and the public has not seen the evidence. It may actually be impossible to make that attribution. Beyond that there has been simply no debate in the public realm about the evidence. Everyone just simply accepts the intelligence agencies at their word, and that to me is a deeply undemocratic impulse. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed


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