Saturday, August 18, 2018

Seymour Hersh And The Death Of Journalism

ORIGINAL LINK

Authored by James Bovard via The American Conservative,

He won a Pulitzer for My Lai and cracked Abu Ghraib wide open. But this reporter is still a lonely breed.

Seymour Hersh, Reporter: A Memoir, Sy Hersh. Knopf, June 2018, 368 pages

When people are comforted by government lies, trafficking the truth becomes hellishly difficult. Disclosing damning facts is especially tricky when editors en masse lose their spines. These are some of the takeaways from legendary Seymour Hersh’s riveting new memoir, Reporter.   

Shortly before Hersh started covering the Pentagon for the Associated Press in 1965, Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, berated a group of war correspondents in Saigon: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.” Hersh was astonished by the “stunningly sedate” Pentagon press room, which to him resembled “a high-end social club.”

Hersh never signed on to that stenographers’ pool. He was soon shocked to realize“the extent to which the men running the war would lie to protect their losing hand.” Hersh did heroic work in the late 1960s and early 1970s exposing the lies behind the Vietnam War. His New Yorker articles on the My Lai massacre scored a Pulitzer Prize and put atrocities in headlines where they remained till the war’s end.   

Hersh’s 1974 expose on the CIA’s illegal spying on Americans helped spur one of the best congressional investigations of federal wrongdoing since World War II. (Many of the well-written reports from the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities remain regrettably relevant to the Leviathan in our time.) By the late 1970s, despite revelations of CIA assassinations and other atrocities, Hersh was chagrined that “[n]o one in the CIA had been prosecuted for the crimes that had been committed against the American people and the Constitution.” Welcome to Washington.

Any journalist who has been hung out to dry will relish Hersh’s revelations of editors who flinched. After Hersh joined the Washington bureau of the New York Times, he hustled approval for an article going to the heart of foreign policy perfidy. Bureau chief Max Frankel finally approved a truncated version of Hersh’s pitch with the caveat that he should run the story by “Henry [Kissinger] and [CIA chief] Dick [Helms].” Hersh was horrified: “They were the architects of the idiocy and criminality I was desperate to write about.” A subsequent Washington bureau chief noted that the Times “was scared to death of being first on a controversial story that challenged the credibility of the government.”

After Hersh exited the Times, snaring high-profile newshole became more challenging. When he pitched a piece to the New Yorker on the turmoil and coverups permeating the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, editor Robert Gottlieb told him to “go for it.” But as Hersh was exiting Gottlieb’s office, the editor added: “Sy, I just want you to know that I don’t like controversy.” Gottlieb had the wrong dude. Elsewhere in the book, Hersh slams a gutless specimen at Life magazine, “If there is a journalism hell, that editor belongs there;” he also clobbers the Times business section’s “ass-kissing coterie of moronic editors.” On the other hand, throwing a typewriter through a plate glass window would perturb even the paper’s non-moronic editors.  

Despite superb demolitions by Hersh and other reporters, the credibility of government agencies soon revived like a salamander growing a new tail. After Nixon was toppled, “the pendulum had swung back to a place where a president’s argument that national security trumps the people’s right to know was once again carrying weight with editors and publishers,” Hersh noted. A few weeks before the 9/11 attacks, New York Times columnist Flora Lewis, wrote that “there will probably never be a return to the… collusion with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well.” But the collapse of the World Trade Center towers made the media more craven than at any time since Vietnam. Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained that, in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’” 

Hersh’s career revived after 9/11 with a series of New Yorker exposés on the lies, failures, and shenanigans of the War on Terror. He soon “began to comprehend that 8 or 9 neoconservatives who were political outsiders in the Clinton years had essentially overthrown the government of the United States—with ease.” Hersh eventually concluded that “America’s neocons were a menace to civilization.” But, with the exception of his explosive work on Abu Ghraib and the torture scandal, his articles rarely received the attention they deserved. Hersh’s reports on the war on terror have been far more accurate and prescient than the vast majority of the stories touted by cable news, but he is rarely credited for his foresight.

In recent years, Hersh has been criticized for writing articles that rely too heavily on too few, and not altogether authoritative sources. After his articles on the killing of Osama Bin Laden (he presented an alternative scenario that questioned the Pentagon’s version of events) and  White House claims about a 2013 Syrian chemical weapons attack were rejected by American publications, he published them in London Review of Books and has continued to publish his gumshoe reporting there and in places like Germany’s Welt am Sonntag. In his book, Hersh declares that “insider sources” are “what every reporter needs.” But some of the sources he now relies on  may have long since retired or no longer have access to 24 karat insider information.

There are some excellent investigative journalists at New York TimesUSA Today, and elsewhere, but the most visible media venues have often ignored the most potentially damning stories. The mainstream media continues to pursue Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential campaign like Captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick. At the same time, they almost completely ignore how U.S. government manipulations are paving the path to war with Iran. Most of the American media coverage of the Syrian civil war has been appalling, touting a fairytale of terrorist extremists as freedom fighters, and ignoring the flip-flops and contradictions in U.S. policy. In a 2013 interview, Hersh derided the American media’s fixation on “looking for [Pulitzer] prizes. It’s packaged journalism so you pick a target like are railway crossings safe and stuff like that.”

Reporting nowadays rarely penetrates the Leviathan’s armor. Fourteen years after Hersh broke Abu Ghraib, many of the details of the post- 9/11 torture scandal remain unrevealed. Could anyone imagine Liuetenant William Calley, who was convicted of mass murder for the 1968 My Lai carnage, subsequently becoming a favorite media commentator on military ethics, foreign policy, and democracy? No. But the main culprits in the torture scandal and coverup—from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to former CIA chief John Brennan—are all regularly touted these days as founts of wisdom. The veneration of Bush, Cheney, and Brennan is one of the starkest measures of the failure of journalism in our time.

Hersh’s Reporter has plenty of tips for journalists willing to vigorously hound government wrongdoing. But finding good venues for smoking guns may be more difficult now than ever. As Assistant Pentagon Secretary Sylvester scoffed at reporters in that 1965 Saigon briefing, “I don’t even have to talk to you people. I know how to deal with you through your editors and publishers back in the States.” Unfortunately, there are too many editors and publishers who would rather kowtow than fight.



via IFTTT

MoA - John Brennan Is No Match For Trump

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/08/john-brennan-is-no-match-for-trump-.html

We're All Lab Rats In The Largest-Ever Monetary Experiment In Human History

ORIGINAL LINK

Authored by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com,

...and how do things usually work out for the rat?

There are ample warning signs that another serious financial crisis is on the way.

These warning signs are being soundly ignored by the majority, though. Perhaps understandably so.

After 10 years of near-constant central bank interventions to prop up markets and make stocks, bonds and real estate rise in price -- while also simultaneously hammering commodities to mask the inflationary impact of their money printing from the masses -- it’s difficult to imagine that “they” will allow markets to ever fall again.

This is known as the “central bank put”: whenever the markets begin to teeter, the central banks will step in to prop/nudge/cajole the markets back towards the “correct” direction, which is always: Up!

It’s easy in retrospect to see how the central banks have become caught in this trap of their own making, where they're now responsible for supporting all the markets all the time.

The 2008 crisis really spooked them. Hence their massive money printing spree to "rescue" the system.

But instead of admitting that Great Financial Crisis was the logical result of flawed policies implemented after the 2000 Dot-Com crash (which, in turn, was the result of flawed policies pursued in the 1990’s), the central banks decided after 2008 to double down on their bets -- implementing even worse policies.

The Largest-Ever Monetary Experiment In Human History

It’s not hyperbole to say that the monetary experiment conducted over the past ten years by the world’s leading central banks (and its resulting social and political ramifications) is the largest-ever in human history:

(Source)

This global flood of freshly-printed 'thin air' money has no parallel in the historical records. All around the world, each of us is part of a grand experiment being conducted without the benefits of either prior experience or controls. Its outcome will be binary: either super-great or spectacularly awful.

If the former, then no worries. We'll just continue to borrow and spend in ever-greater amounts -- forever. Perpetual prosperity for everyone!

But if things hit a breaking point, then you had better be prepared for some truly bad times.

Excessive money printing leads to the destruction of currency. Fiat money (like the US dollar, the Euro, the Yen, and every other world currency) is a social contract and has an associated set of related agreements. When that contract and those agreements are broken by reckless expansion of the currency base, things fall apart fast. We need look no further than current-day Venezuela to understand that.

It’s important to remember that money -- whether physical cash or in digital form, stocks, or bonds -- is just a claim on real wealth. Real wealth is land, clothes, food, oil…you know, real things.

We expect that our cash will be able to buy us the real things we want when we want them. We trust that our stocks give us an ownership stake in a real company producing real things for real profits. We rely on our bonds being re-paid in the future along with interest; but if not, we expect that our bond becomes a claim on valuable collateral.

Ideally, the money supply and the amount of real wealth should exist in balance. As money is a claim on "stuff", as economic output (i.e. "stuff") increases, than so should the claims. And vice-versa during periods of economic contraction.

But what happens when the claims start to far outweigh the real "stuff"? That's when things get precarious.

Note how dramatically the claims represented by just the S&P 500 index alone have quadrupaled since the start of 2009, driven by the central banks' quantitative easing programs:

(Source)

The flood of money unleashed by QE didn't result in vast amounts of new actual wealth being created (i.e. greater productive output per capita). But it did result in grotesquely-inflated financial asset prices that have helped to create the most profound wealth and income inequality seen in our lifetime (perhaps ever).

The Many Sins Of The Central Banks

The list of central bank-induced injustices is long. It reads like the rap sheet of a virulent psychopath: $trillions looted from savers and handed to the big banks and leveraged speculators, ruined pensions, shattered retirement dreams for millions, record amounts of debt in every corner of the global economy, and an increasingly unaffordable cost of living for everyone but the elite 1%.

“But we had to save the system!” cry the central bankers in their defense.

Even if that were the case (and I dispute whether the world is really better off for having saved Citibank et al.), that rescue should have ended back in mid-2009, at the latest.

But instead, the central banks ramped up their wanton ways in the years since the GFC. Did you know that their largest-ever printing spree happened over the past two years? (2016 to 2017):

The bigger the printing spree the bigger the fundamental distortions. In such a world, up becomes down, black becomes white, and right becomes wrong.

All of which means that fundamental analysis, has been all but useless as a predictor of prices. All that has mattered is the answer to the question: "How much will the central banks print next?"

In such an environment, there's no room for investors. It forces all of us to become speculators, trying to predict what a small cabal of bankers are thinking.

But among their very worst offenses has been the manipulation of sentiment. The prices of financial assets and commodities have become political and propaganda tools, which means that nothing can be left to chance. All prices have to send the "right" signals at all times, in the same way that certain news outlets pump a point of view endlessly. Repetition creates its own reality.

Because of the increasingly frequent (probably daily), interventions by central banks and their proxies, the financial markets have become ““markets””. They no provide us with any useful signals about the future or about the current health of the economy.

Instead, they only tell us what the authorities want us to hear.

To them, all that matters is strength and stability. As long as those conditions contine to be met for stocks, bonds and real estate prices, most people are content to let things ride and not probe too deeply.

But when this scam comes to its inevitable end, the crash will be spectacular when it arrives.

This reckoning is already way overdue.  At this point, we find ourselves in the odd positin of rooting for it to happen soon, as the potential energy in the system builds with every passing day. Our worry is that if the crash is delayed for much longer, its resulting carnage will be so large that it will be unsurvivable.

And while we mean that in the figurative sense for people’s portfolios, it's possible that the crash could become literally unsurvivable if the political “solution” to deflect blame away from the the central banks and their DC partners-in-crime is a kinetic war.

When viewed in that light, America's histrionic attempts to demonize Russia over the past few years begin to make frighteningly more sense.

It's Time To Talk Turkey

We've been vocal of late about the numerous signs that another great financial crisis is building. The gut-punch Turkey hit global markets with this week is just one example.

Yes, it will be painful to crash from here. But once the needed correction is underway, we'll have the opportunity to make the best of it.

We can pick up the pieces and begin building towards a future we can all believe in.

Yes, there's no avoiding the pain of taking our lumps for the the past mistakes we've made. But we don’t have to compound our misery by continuing to do more of exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. We simply need the courage to face the psychological burden of admitting to our prior failings.

That's doable.

It all starts with being honest with ourselves.

Look, we all know the world is finite. Infinite economic growth on a finite planet is an impossibility. We have all the data we need to make that conclusion. Every passing day where we pretend that’s somehow untrue or avoidable makes the eventual adjustment that much more wrenching.

It’s an intellectually simple exercise to conduct. But an emotionally impossible task for those whose internal belief systems would be hopelessly compromised by allowing that logic to penetrate their world view.

And so the future will be represented by two sorts of people: those able to face what’s coming head on and prepare accordingly, and those who can't.

I sincerely hope that you're not among those deterred from preparing by the last gleaming of today's glittering stock prices. We’re going to need as many prepared people as possible in the coming future.

And we may need them soon. The severe recent deterioration in the Emerging Markets threatens a contagion that could well start the next crisis.

Turkey is currently in a major currency crisis threatening to metastisize into a full-blown sovereign debt crisis. Defaults there will spill over into Europe’s banking system (which has made loads of shaky loans to Turkey), and from there cause domino effects throughout the rest of the world.

But Turkey isn't the weakest or the most worrying country faltering: Italy is stumbling, as is Brazil, and even China. But Asia ex-China is the real powderkeg. Their unserviceable debts dwarf everybody else.

In Part 2: The Emerging Market Threat, we detail out the specific concerns to watch for in the fast-unfolding Emerging Markets drama. Which countries pose the greatest threat? And how bad could things get if the contagion indeed spreads?

For years we have predicted that the next crisis will progress "from the outside in" as the weaker players succumb first. That appears to be what we are seeing now, and it's causing me to advance my own personal preparations.

I recommend you do the same.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)



via IFTTT

Friday, August 17, 2018

"Deeply Troubling" - Wall Street Journal Implores "What Was Bruce Ohr Doing?"

ORIGINAL LINK

The Wall Street Journal continues to counter  the  liberal mainstream media's Trump Derangement Syndrome, dropping uncomfortable truth-bombs and refusing to back off its intense pressure to get to the truth and hold those responsible, accountable (in a forum that is hard for the establishment to shrug off as 'Alt-Right' or 'Nazi' or be 'punished' by search- and social-media-giants).

And once again Kimberley Strassel  - who by now has become the focus of social media attacks for her truth-seeking reporting - does it again this morning, as she points out - hours after former CIA Director Brennan threw a tantrum over having his security clearance removed - that while Justice has released some damning documents - particularly on what Bruce Ohr was doing - much of the truth is still classified.

Via The Wall Street Journal,

What Was Bruce Ohr Doing?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department have continued to insist they did nothing wrong in their Trump-Russia investigation. This week should finally bring an end to that claim, given the clear evidence of malfeasance via the use of Bruce Ohr.

Mr. Ohr was until last year associate deputy attorney general.

He began feeding information to the FBI from dossier author Christopher Steele in late 2016 - after the FBI had terminated Mr. Steele as a confidential informant for violating the bureau’s rules. He also collected dirt from Glenn Simpson, cofounder of Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and employed Mr. Steele. Altogether, the FBI pumped Mr. Ohr for information at least a dozen times, debriefs that remain in classified 302 forms.

All the while, Mr. Ohr failed to disclose on financial forms that his wife, Nellie, worked alongside Mr. Steele in 2016, getting paid by Mr. Simpson for anti-Trump research. The Justice Department has now turned over Ohr documents to Congress that show how deeply tied up he was with the Clinton crew - with dozens of emails, calls, meetings and notes that describe his interactions and what he collected.

Mr. Ohr’s conduct is itself deeply troubling. He was acting as a witness (via FBI interviews) in a case being overseen by a Justice Department in which he held a very senior position. He appears to have concealed this role from at least some superiors, since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified that he’d been unaware of Mr. Ohr’s intermediary status.

Lawyers meanwhile note that it is a crime for a federal official to participate in any government matter in which he has a financial interest. Fusion’s bank records presumably show Nellie Ohr, and by extension her husband, benefiting from the Trump opposition research that Mr. Ohr continued to pass to the FBI. The Justice Department declined to comment.

But for all Mr. Ohr’s misdeeds, the worse misconduct is by the FBI and Justice Department.

It’s bad enough that the bureau relied on a dossier crafted by a man in the employ of the rival presidential campaign. Bad enough that it never informed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of that dossier’s provenance. And bad enough that the FBI didn’t fire Mr. Steele as a confidential human source in September 2016 when it should have been obvious he was leaking FBI details to the press to harm Donald Trump’s electoral chances. It terminated him only when it was absolutely forced to, after Mr. Steele gave an on-the-record interview on Oct. 31, 2016.

But now we discover the FBI continued to go to this discredited informant in its investigation after the firing—by funneling his information via a Justice Department cutout. The FBI has an entire manual governing the use of confidential sources, with elaborate rules on validations, standards and documentation. Mr. Steele failed these standards. The FBI then evaded its own program to get at his info anyway.

And it did so even though we have evidence that lead FBI investigators may have suspected Mr. Ohr was a problem.

An Oct. 7, 2016, text message from now-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok to his colleague Lisa Page reads: “Jesus. More BO leaks in the NYT,” which could be a reference to Mr. Ohr.

The FBI may also have been obtaining, via Mr. Ohr, information that came from a man the FBI had never even vetted as a source—Mr. Simpson. Mr. Steele had at least worked with the FBI before; Mr. Simpson was a paid political operative. And the Ohr notes raise further doubts about Mr. Simpson’s forthrightness. In House testimony in November 2017, Mr. Simpson said only that he reached out to Mr. Ohr after the election, and at Mr. Steele’s suggestion. But Mr. Ohr’s inbox shows an email from Mr. Simpson dated Aug. 22, 2016 that reads, in full: “Can u ring.”

The Justice Department hasn’t tried to justify any of this; in fact, last year it quietly demoted Mr. Ohr. In what smells of a further admission of impropriety, it didn’t initially turn over the Ohr documents; Congress had to fight to get them.

But it raises at least two further crucial questions.

First, who authorized or knew about this improper procedure? Mr. Strzok seems to be in the thick of it, having admitted to Congress interactions with Mr. Ohr at the end of 2016. While Mr. Rosenstein disclaims knowledge, Mr. Ohr’s direct supervisor at the time was the previous deputy attorney general, Sally Yates. Who else in former FBI Director Jim Comey’s inner circle and at the Obama Justice Department nodded at the FBI’s back-door interaction with a sacked source and a Clinton operative?

Second, did the FBI continue to submit Steele- or Simpson-sourced information to the FISA court? Having informed the court in later applications that it had fired Mr. Steele, the FBI would have had no business continuing to use any Steele information laundered through an intermediary.

*  *  *

Strassel concludes with the point that she and The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board have been hammering for months...

We could have these answers pronto; they rest in part in those Ohr 302 forms. And so once again: a call for President Trump to declassify.

It's time for things to get more serious than slaps on the wrist, firings, and self-inflicted black-eyes!

 

 

 



via IFTTT

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Corporate Media Join in Editorializing for Press Freedom | Dissident Voice

https://dissidentvoice.org/2018/08/corporate-media-join-in-editorializing-for-press-freedom/

Weed-Killing Carcinogen Glyphosate Found In Children's Foods

ORIGINAL LINK

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The known carcinogen and infamous weed killing chemical glyphosate has just been found in breakfast foods marketed for children. A new study has discovered trace amounts of the most widely used herbicide in the country in oats, granolas, and snack bars.

Concern over glyphosate has continued to grow in the United States in recent years.  Although the chemical may be safe in some amounts to spray on weeds if certain safety precautions are taken, it is probably a lot more dangerous if it’s ingested by a child. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that thirty-one out of 45 tested products had levels of glyphosate that were higher than what many scientists consider safe for children.

The study, which was conducted by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that many of the breakfast foods marketed to children contain glyphosate.  “I was shocked,” said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, who heads the Council on Environmental Health for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although not much is known about the effects of the chemical on children, parents and doctors are concerned. “We don’t know a lot about the effects of glyphosate on children,” Lowry said. “And essentially we’re just throwing it at them.”

We’re very concerned that consumers are eating more glyphosate than they know,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG, according to CBS News. Faber has been working to improve food safety standards for more than a decade. He said he and his team at EWG conducted the study which included a lab test involving “45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.” The researchers found glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed-killer Roundup, in all but two of the products.

EWG used it’s own very stringent standards of safe levels of glyphosate when testing the products, which should also be noted. Because of that, in response to EWG’s study, Monsanto said, “even at the highest level reported… an adult would have to eat 118 pounds of the food item every day for the rest of their life in order to reach the EPA’s limit” for glyphosate residues. Just last week, in fact, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay one man $289 million in damages after his lawsuit claimed the company’s weedkillers caused his cancer. EWG’s Faber is skeptical of EPA’s glyphosate limits.

The World Health Organization says glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” and California lists it as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.” Monsanto continues to dispute the claim that the chemical is carcinogenic, saying in a statement, “glyphosate does not cause cancer” and “has a more than 40-year history of safe use.”

As the debate over glyphosate’s safety continues, it isn’t likely to see tests on the stuff cease anytime soon. And Faber isn’t the only person concerned over its possible carcinogenic effects.  “It is time now for them to step up and do their jobs to ban glyphosate,” said Zen Honeycutt, who heads Moms Across America, a group formed to raise awareness about toxic exposures. “We want to trust that what is in the grocery store is safe and the shocking reality is that in many cases it’s not,” Honeycutt said.



via IFTTT

The Prussian Model and the failure of personal ethics

ORIGINAL LINK

Speedchange.at.medium

The system of education that we use in the United States (and many other nations) is called the Prussian Model. Born of Prussia’s military failings in the Napoleonic Wars, the German kingdom developed an “education” system designed to indoctrinate children, year-by-year, from age 6 to 16, into full compliance with the state and its military leaders. The point was, bluntly, to ensure that “no German soldier would ever disobey an order again.”

The system worked. To the world’s horror, German soldiers and citizens — despite growing up in what seemed like a liberal democracy — a socialist liberal democracy at that — committed any atrocity asked of them during World War II.

The Prussian Model largely explains why American and British schools are so often staffed by compliant rule followers and petty tyrants.

But I hope that the irony of the phrase helps to justify my decision to let students climb into school through the window. Who was I to judge their reasons for being late? What if they were taking care of a sick sibling? What if they were traveling a long distance because they’d been camped out on someone’s couch last night? What if they planned to skip school, then had a change of heart at the last minute? The inherent message of penalizing kids for being late, instead of just getting them into the classroom as quickly as possible, is Dude, if you’re going to be late to class, don’t even bother. Just stay home.”

Read the Medium post linked above. Please. It is important.

In the post Benjamin Ludwig @biludwig of the Writing Project explains how he, as a teacher, has built his understanding of education laws into a rationale for defying his principal in order not to compromise his principles.

Too many of those with authority over children allow the training of the Prussian Model — comply, comply, do as you’re told, stay at grade level, do your homework, ignore inequity — to rule their lives. They become the teachers who won’t stand up for kids. The principals who don’t support teachers who stand up to the system. The administrators who push principals to do things wrong for kids. The Superintendents who believe that their word is law.

What Benjamin Ludwig says is — your personal morality, your personal ethics must be your guide. That your responsibility to humans — to children — matters more than anything else.

In any war there are heroes. My Vietnam War heroes are Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, Jr., and his helicopter crew. At My Lai, on March 16, 1968, “Thompson and his Hiller OH-23 Raven crew, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, stopped a number of killings by threatening and blocking officers and enlisted soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division. Additionally, Thompson and his crew saved a number of Vietnamese civilians by personally escorting them away from advancing United States Army ground units and assuring their evacuation by air. Thompson reported the atrocities by radio several times while at Sơn Mỹ.” [Wikipedia]

Reports suggest that Thompson’s crew pointed their machine guns at other US troops in order to stop a senseless massacre of civilians, including children. But he wasn’t seen as a hero by those around him — ”Thompson was condemned and ostracized by many individuals in the United States military and government, as well as the public, for his role in the investigations and trials concerning the My Lai massacre. As a direct result of what he experienced, Thompson suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, divorce, and severe nightmare disorder. Despite the adversity he faced, he remained in the United States Army until November 1, 1983" [Wikipedia]

“No good deed goes unpunished,” I was told last week. And standing up for what is right, protecting those who need protecting, challenging your superiors to do the right thing — these are all actions that come with massive risks, indeed, they can come with catastrophic consequences to the person taking those actions.

And yet…

Who are we if we do not do the right thing every day? A school superintendent told me in July, “you are an artist, you try to make every day a masterpiece.” And I guess I have always tried to do that though every day I fall far, far short. But there are two ways to live: you can be compliant or you can be heroic — and those terms are mutually exclusive. Just as you can be a tyrant or you can be humane — again, mutually exclusive.

I know — it is not easy. We, every day, need to reach down into our personal morality, our ethical foundation, to find the power to try to make a real difference every day.

Whatever the cost, I have tried to choose the heroic and the humane, and so far I’m still breathing after six decades.

I urge all of you to do the same.

  • Ira Socol
stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSou

via IFTTT

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TSA Breaks Silence, Defends Secretive Domestic Surveillance Program

ORIGINAL LINK

The TSA has broken its silence to defend its alarming domestic surveillance program called "Quiet Skies" which allows the agency to use teams of armed Air Marshals to follow, track and surveil virtually anyone. TSA administrator David Pekoske told CBS news in a recent interview that the program "...makes an awful lot of sense, to be able to look at some risks that we think exist on certain flights and put air marshals on those flights."

We were one of the first to report on the "Quiet Skies" program at the end of July after the Boston Globe uncovered it in a lengthy and revealing expose. The secret program was set up to monitor US citizens with no prior record and who don't result in red flags being raised at the airport. The people surveilled by this program are, according to a TSA memo cited by the Globe's original article, "not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base", setting of numerous privacy red flags.

Now, two weeks after the Globe's report, the TSA is finally speaking out about the program to CBS News:

"Our job overall as an agency, and the air marshals in particular, in flight, are working to make sure that we mitigate any risks that could occur in aircraft at 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 feet," Pekoske told CBS News in his first TV interview since the "Quiet Skies" program was disclosed to the public. "If an agency responsible for security has some information that might indicate that there may be -- emphasis on may be -- more risk with a particular passenger, providing some mitigation or some risk management on the flight is a very important and very reassuring thing to me."

In a slippery slope that could lead the TSA to just about any air traveler, Pekoske said that "different passengers present different levels of risk" and that the TSA wanted to be able to "have a presence" with passengers who fall below the threshold that would prevent them from flying:

"Throughout the entire system … different passengers present different levels of risk," Pekoske said. "Passengers have a right to fly and if we ever thought the risk reached the point where the passenger shouldn't fly, then we have the authority to deny flight for that particular passenger."

"But as you can appreciate, there are some passengers that fall below that threshold but still create a level of concern that we need -- we felt we needed to have a presence on the flights that they were flying on," he said.

According to the TSA, travelers who may present a risk should be allowed to fly regardless. These comments, of course, all come after the TSA wouldn’t definitively confirm that the program existed (or if it has resulted in any arrests or thwarted crimes) back in late July. The Boston Globe had to use documents like this one provided to it to verify the existence of the program.

Since the Globe's report, the program has also seen backlash from members of congress like Senator Ed Markey, who has called it "the very definition of 'Big Brother'" and who also stated that "innocent Americans should not be subject to this kind of violations of their rights". Markey outlined other concerns, including what criteria was being used to select individuals for surveillance, in a letter he penned to the TSA, according to the CBS news report.

Further, as we reported in our original piece, concerns have been raised by legal experts, like Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, who said that "if this was about foreign citizens, the government would have considerable power. But if it’s US citizens — US citizens don’t lose their rights simply because they are in an airplane at 30,000 feet."

What exactly do armed Air Marshals look for when a "small team of them" watches you as you fly home to visit relatives or for the holidays? Amazingly, the red flag "triggers" for in depth surveillance involve behaviors that essentially all passengers are susceptible to, such as:

  • whether or not passengers fidget
  • whether or not they are using a computer on the flight
  • whether or not they stare off into space
  • face touching
  • exaggerated emotions
  • whether or not a subject has lost or gained weight from the information provided to authorities
  • whether or not the subject has facial hair, tattoos, piercings,
  • whether not they slept during the flight
  • whether not they use the bathroom on the flight
  • how they were picked up when they arrive.

Just like Edward Snowden and the NSA, the Globe pointed out that pushback against this kind of indiscriminate profiling is rising as "dozens of air marshals have raised concerns about the Quiet Skies program with senior officials and colleagues, sought legal counsel, and expressed misgivings about the surveillance program, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Globe."

The biggest irony, as several Air Marshals observed, is that the potentially illegal program which infringes on the privacy and constitutional rights of US citizens, is also being paid for by those very same US citizens - just like with the NSA.

Even the president of the Air Marshal Association has spoken out against the program:

John Casaretti, president of the Air Marshal Association, said in a statement: “The Air Marshal Association believes that missions based on recognized intelligence, or in support of ongoing federal investigations, is the proper criteria for flight scheduling. Currently the Quiet Skies program does not meet the criteria we find acceptable.

“The American public would be better served if these [air marshals] were instead assigned to airport screening and check in areas so that active shooter events can be swiftly ended, and violations of federal crimes can be properly and consistently addressed.”

However, the objections of the Air Marshals being utilized by the TSA for such surveillance doesn't seem to matter much to Pekoske, who continues to back the party line given to CBS by the TSA last month when it stated that the program was simply to "ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel", individual privacy rights be damned.



via IFTTT

Chemotherapy Is Losing Its Luster

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/06/20/chemotherapy-losing-luster.aspx

Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

ORIGINAL LINK

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

“Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”

– Bangambiki Habyarimana

Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign.  It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company’s gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.

Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

But it’s all out in the open now. Facebook isn’t even hiding the fact that it’s outsourcing much of its “fake news” analysis to the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors. As reported by Reuters:

Facebook began looking for outside help amid criticism for failing to rein in Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential elections…

With scores of its own cybersecurity professionals and $40 billion in annual revenue in 2017, Facebook might not seem in need of outside help.

It doesn’t need outside help, it needs political cover, which is the real driver behind this.

But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements. On last week’s call with reporters, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, said the company should not be expected to identify or blame specific governments for all the campaigns it detects.

“Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state,” said Stamos, who is leaving the company this month for a post at Stanford University. Instead, he said Facebook would stick to amassing digital evidence and turning it over to authorities and researchers.

It would also be awkward for Facebook to accuse a government of wrongdoing when the company is trying to enter or expand in a market under that government’s control.

Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.

Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks. The more he succeeds, the fewer complications for Facebook’s expansion, the smaller its payroll, and the more plausible its positioning as a neutral platform. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

With that in mind go ahead and check out the Atlantic Council’s donor list and all the shady characters on its board.

Atlantic Council's board members include Kissinger, fmr CIA chief Michael Hayden, fmr CIA head Mike Morell (who said US should kill Russians & Iranians in Syria), Bush DHS chief Michael Chertoff (inventor of color coded terror chart). Funded by Lockheed Martin, Chevron, UAE, NATO https://t.co/4CSDMWsfHu

— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) August 9, 2018

Now that it’s been established that Facebook is in fact censoring based on advice provided by former spooks and other assorted establishment charlatans, let’s talk about what this means. I think there are two major takeaways.

First and foremost, the entire push to make arbitrary de-platforming by tech giants the new norm proves the establishment is scared to death. The very powerful folks accustomed to manipulating and shaping the world via narrative creation aren’t terrified about what Alex Jones says, they’re terrified that it’s popular. The establishment “elites” are in such denial about the consequences of the world they created, all they can do is spastically attack symptoms. Trump didn’t divide U.S. society and Alex Jones didn’t cause our widespread (and entirely justifiably) distrust in institutions; the status quo system did that via its spectacular failures. Trump’s election and Alex Jones’ popularity are merely symptoms of an incredibly corrupt and failed status quo paradigm, the stewards of which continually refuse to take a look in the mirror, accept blame and reform.

The way I see it, two key events of the 21st century directly led to the situation we find ourselves in currently. The launching of the Iraq war based on false evidence spread by intelligence agencies, politicians and the media, and the decision to bail out bankers and protect them from jail in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Combined, these two things created an environment of anger and distrust in which nearly anything becomes possible politically and socially. Trump and Alex Jones are symptoms of a failing society, not the root causes of it.

If I’m right about this, censorship of such voices by SilIcon Valley billionaires will backfire spectacularly. Alex Jones has now been made a martyr by tech oligarchs and deep state think tanks, which gives him more street cred than he had before. De-platforming does nothing to the demand side of the equation when it comes to his content, as we saw with his Infowars app soaring in the charts soon after the purge. If people want to find Alex Jones and Infowars, they will find it. Moreover, other communities are beginning to wake up to how dangerous all of this is. For example, last week we witnessed a growing number of Bitcoiners create accounts at decentralized Twitter-alternative Mastodon in case Jack Dorsey decides to step up censorship there.

Ultimately, it’s safer for society to have open public forums where all ideas — whether you consider them dangerous and crazy or not — can be openly expressed alongside each other. That way we can see what’s out there and debate or debunk them in front of large and diverse audiences.

This is 2018 and de-platforming popular content won’t make it go away. It’ll just shift it over into areas of the internet you can’t see, where it’ll fester and grow stronger over time in even more intense and radicalized echo chambers. You’ll think it’s gone from society because it’s been safely cleansed from your corporate-government Facebook timeline, but it may grow even stronger in the shadows. This is particularly the case in a nation dominated by an entrenched, corrupt and unaccountable elitist class. One that refuses to confront the reality of its monumental failures, and instead chooses to self-interestedly obsess over what are just symptoms of a decadent empire in decline.

*  *  *

If you liked this article and enjoy my work, consider becoming a monthly Patron, or visit the Support Page to show your appreciation for independent content creators.



via IFTTT

Watch "Behind The Scenes At The Twitter Purge - With Peter Van Buren and Scott Horton" on YouTube

https://youtu.be/cF1VeiZ6Tuw

How Social Science Might Be Misunderstanding Conservatives

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/how-social-science-might-be-misunderstanding-conservatives.html

The big one: how environmental killing becomes a medical disease - Nexus Newsfeed

https://www.nexusnewsfeed.com/article/jon-rappoport/the-big-one-how-environmental-killing-becomes-a-medical-disease/

Russian Collusion Investigation: It Was Hillary Clinton All Along

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/russian-collusion-hillary-clinton/

Google’s snooping proves big tech will not change – unless governments step in | Arwa Mahdawi

ORIGINAL LINK

News that the company tracks users even when they forbid it shows that technology giants do not take our privacy seriously. They must be regulated

Every move you make, every step you take, Google is watching you. Even, apparently, when you have explicitly told it not to. A recent investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that Google records your movements regardless of whether you have disabled the “location history” setting. This is egregious, especially considering Google’s support page on the issue states: “With location history off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

While it is possible to prevent Google from time-stamping your every digital footstep, it is not exactly intuitive. You must log in to your Google account, go to the “manage your Google activity” section, open “activity controls” and disable the permissions there, which are enabled by default. This stops apps such as Google Maps and browsers from recording your location. However, it doesn’t wipe your past location data; more steps are needed to delete that.

Continue reading...

via IFTTT

The media's blatant hypocrisy -- even about media-bashing...

ORIGINAL LINK

The media's blatant hypocrisy -- even about media-bashing...


(First column, 12th story, link)


DrudgeReportFeed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA DrudgeReportFeed?i=tqJtl9oWsVM:bAy1gzQ1q DrudgeReportFeed?d=qj6IDK7rITs DrudgeReportFeed?i=tqJtl9oWsVM:bAy1gzQ1q


via IFTTT