Category Archives: Media

How Western Media Bias Allows Israel to Getaway with Murder in Gaza

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well.

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organizations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western monopoly media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught — that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American corporate counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians — making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, — who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a right-wing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (right-wing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.

Unfree Media: State Stenography And Shameful Silence

A recent viral clip of Jeremy Corbyn featured vital truths about the corporate media that ought to be at the forefront of public consciousness in the approach to the UK General Election on December 12. The clip began:

A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn’t very free at all.

Corbyn continued:

Just three companies control 71 per cent of national newspaper circulation and five companies control 81 per cent of local newspaper circulation.

This unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media.

And it doesn’t stop with the newspapers, on and offline. Print too often sets the broadcast agenda, even though it is wedded so firmly to the Tories politically and to corporate interests more generally.

Corbyn’s words were not from a recent speech. They were actually delivered as part of his Alternative Mactaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2018. But they remain as relevant as ever; hence being picked up anew by ‘Tory Fibs‘, a grassroots socialist Twitter account.

Corbyn shone a spotlight on the BBC:

The BBC should be freed of government control, democratised and made representative of the country it serves to help it do that.

The BBC is meant to be independent, but its charter grants governments the power to appoint the chair and four directors of the board and set the level of the licence fee.

As regular readers will be well aware, Media Lens has long highlighted the BBC’s lack of independence and, more particularly, the insidious role of BBC News in protecting the establishment, promoting deference to the royal family and class system, as well as deflecting scrutiny of state and corporate crimes.

Corbyn concluded on the state of the media today:

We need to set journalists and citizens free to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media.

All this is arguably never more evident than when a General Election is looming. Right now, established power is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its control on society. Corporate media, including gatekeepers like the BBC and the Guardian – ‘thus far and no farther’, in the words of Noam Chomsky – play a central role in maintaining the destructive status quo.

Filtering Facts

The state-corporate management and manipulation of ‘the news’ relies on a subtle filtering process whereby leading journalists select – consciously or otherwise – which facts are ‘fit’ to be reported, and which can or should be ignored.

Consider an item on BBC News at Ten last Thursday when political editor Laura Kuenssberg reported Boris Johnson’s visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. She presented the Prime Minister in a favourable light, having amiable encounters with people in Addenbrooke’s. What the BBC did not show were the jeers of staff and patients ringing in Johnson’s ears as he left the hospital. Nor did Kuenssberg report on the young medical student who was ‘pushed aside by [a] Boris Johnson aide’ while attempting to challenge Johnson on the NHS and the climate crisis. Julia Simons, who is training at the hospital to become a doctor, called his visit a ‘PR stunt’.

We challenged the BBC political editor via Twitter:

Hello @bbclaurak,

Why did your @BBCNews at Ten piece on Boris Johnson’s visit to a Cambridge hospital omit the part where he left with jeers from staff and patients ringing in his ears?

Our tweet was ‘liked’ and retweeted hundreds of times, but there was no reply from Kuenssberg. Her Twitter bio states:

I know it’s fashionable, but even in 2019 there is nothing big or clever about shooting the messenger – tweets or retweets here aren’t necessarily my view

But, by heavily filtering the facts that Kuenssberg selects to tweet or retweet, ‘the messenger’ has transformed into an echo chamber and amplifier of government propaganda. This phenomenon of state stenography – which, of course, is far from new – was highlighted in an excellent article recently by Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph. Under the title, ‘British journalists have become part of Johnson’s fake news machine’, Oborne argued that:

From the Mail, The Times to the BBC and ITN, everyone is peddling Downing Street’s lies and smears. They’re turning their readers into dupes.

As Oborne noted, ‘mainstream’ political journalism too often relies upon whatever ‘a senior No 10 source’ says:

This modus operandi, which allow pro-government narratives to enter the public domain unmediated by proper interrogation, has become routine among political reporters since Johnson and his Vote Leave media team entered Downing Street.

Oborne observed:

There is an implicit deal. In return for access and information (much of it false) the political media spins a pro-government narrative.

As a recent example, Oborne pointed to the government’s deceitful response to the leaked ‘Yellowhammer dossier‘ setting out the damaging consequences of a no-deal Brexit on the UK – a news story that ‘deeply embarrassed’ Boris Johnson and senior ministers. Downing Street responded by feeding a false claim to compliant journalists that the leak happened on Theresa May’s watch; and that Remain-supporting ex-ministers led by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer in May’s Cabinet, were responsible. Newspapers were full of convenient headlines and stories about the alleged leakers, distracting attention from the damaging analysis of the leaked dossier itself. As Oborne noted, it turned out that the leaked document was dated nine days after Johnson came to power: the leak had occurred under his watch, not May’s.

This issue of journalist access in return for maintaining a power-friendly narrative has long been known. The media’s heavy reliance on state and corporate sources is one of the five ‘news filters’ – along with corporate ownership, advertising, flak and ‘anti-Communism’ – in the propaganda model of the media introduced by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ (1988).

Focusing on the country’s two main political editors – the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston of ITV News – Oborne added:

Political editors are so pleased to be given “insider” or “exclusive” information that they report it without challenge or question.

Oborne, as a senior journalist with experience and clout, was afforded follow-up media interviews to make his case. Perhaps the most noteworthy example was his fiery appearance on Radio 2 where he was interviewed by Amol Rajan, a former editor of the oligarch-owned Independent and now the BBC’s media editor. You do not get to such exalted positions in the corporate media, as Rajan has done, by being a thorn in the side of the establishment. In a remarkable exchange, not only did Oborne name and shame major political editors for cosying up to power, he directly, and correctly, accused Rajan of the same. (Click here, starting at around 1:09:20; or, once the BBC link has expired, listen to the relevant segment here)

Oborne commented:

You, yourself, when you were Independent editor, notoriously sucked up to power. You are a client journalist yourself…you were a crony journalist yourself. It’s time this system was exploded.

Rajan blustered:

It’s unbecoming of you, Peter, it’s unbecoming.

When Oborne added that Rajan had also ‘failed to notice’ stories as BBC media editor, there was a brief stunned silence.

In 2014, when Rajan was the Independent’s editor, he boasted of ‘our proud record on coverage of Iraq’. We responded at the time:

Sorry, we have analysed the Independent’s performance closely. Your record was and is shameful. Where to start?

Rajan did not reply. It was around this time that he blocked us on Twitter.

OPCW Whistleblowers Question The Douma Narrative

A further, grave example of present-day propaganda filtering involves the corporate media blanking of further proof that western powers, notably the US, have been manipulating the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Last month, WikiLeaks published evidence from an OPCW whistleblower showing that the international chemical watchdog had suppressed evidence suggesting that the Syrian government had not, in fact, mounted a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, on April 7, 2018. In other words, there is clear authoritative testimony from an OPCW insider contradicting the endlessly repeated narrative that ‘Assad used weapons against his own civilians’ in Douma. This state-approved script, propagated throughout the major western news media, served as the ‘justification’ for the US, UK and France to launch missile strikes on Syria seven days later.

Shockingly, as reported by WikiLeaks, a panel of experts convened by the Courage Foundation, an independent British civil society organisation, reported that:

Not only did the panel find that OPCW tampered with the evidence to produce an outcome desired by the geopolitical actors involved in this instance, it tried to silence its own senior civil servants.

One member of the panel, Richard Falk – an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years – noted that the credibility of the panel’s conclusions were strengthened by having José Bustani, a former Director-General of the OPCW, among its members.

Falk added:

Not only is there a lack of transparency and accountability with respect to the undertakings of major national governments, but there is a deliberate manipulation of evidence and obstruction of procedures designed to protect the citizenry against abuses of state, and in the case of major states, especially the United States, to protect the public interest.

This new testimony added to the earlier revelations in May that Ian Henderson, a senior OPCW scientist, had written a detailed report, suppressed by OPCW, calling into question the official version of events in Douma. As our media alert at the time noted, very little media coverage was devoted to this expert evidence questioning the Washington-stamped ‘consensus’ view.

Robert Fisk’s article in the Independent ten days after the Douma incident was a vanishingly rare exception. He interviewed a Syrian doctor who told him that the victims of the alleged chemical attack had actually suffered from hypoxia – oxygen starvation in the dusty tunnels where they had taken refuge from bombing– and not gas poisoning. As we also observed in our media alert, BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati stated on Twitter that after almost six months of investigation he had concluded that:

I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.

Two days after the Douma attack, he had tweeted:

Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative.

Dalati later deleted his tweet and set his Twitter account to ‘private’ status (it has since become accessible to the public again).

Typically, the BBC sought to minimise any public doubts about the official narrative on Douma by including only Syrian and Russian claims of ‘fabrication’. There was little, or no, coverage of sceptical Western voices. In similar fashion, in the run-up to the Iraq war of 2003, BBC News and other ‘mainstream’ outlets had relegated credible allegations that the ‘threat’ of ‘Iraqi WMD’ was fake news to the ‘evil dictator’ Saddam Hussein.

Readers may recall that award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh had difficulty publishing his in-depth, sceptical reporting about an earlier alleged Syrian government chemical weapons attack at Ghouta in 2013. In the end, he had to publish in the London Review of Books, of all places (here and here).

This is so often the fate of the best journalism: pushed to the margins where it can be safely ignored.

Corporate Eyes Averted And Tongues Bitten

The fact that a second OPCW whistleblower has now revealed extremely serious manipulation of evidence surrounding what happened at Douma has been greeted by a wall of corporate media silence. However, it was mentioned briefly by Jonathan Steele, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the Guardian, in a radio interview with Paul Henley on the BBC World Service on October 27, 2019 (listen here; from around 11:00; if no longer available from the BBC, listen to the extract archived here by Caitlin Johnstone and read her article):

Jonathan Steele: I was in Brussels last week … I attended a briefing by a whistleblower from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He was one of the inspectors who was sent out to Douma in Syria in April last year to check into the allegations by the rebels that Syrian aeroplanes had dropped two canisters of chlorine gas, killing up to 43 people. He claims he was in charge of picking up the samples in the affected areas, and in neutral areas, to check whether there were chlorine derivatives there …

Paul Henley: And?

JS: … and he found that there was no difference. So it rather suggested there was no chemical gas attack, because in the buildings where the people allegedly died there was no extra chlorinated organic chemicals than in the normal streets elsewhere. And I put this to the OPCW for comment, and they haven’t yet replied. But it rather suggests that a lot of this was propaganda…

PH: Propaganda led by?

JS: … led by the rebel side to try and bring in American planes, which in fact did happen. American, British and French planes bombed Damascus a few days after these reports. And actually this is the second whistleblower to come forward. A few months ago there was a leaked report by the person [senior OPCW scientist Ian Henderson – mentioned earlier in this alert] who looked into the ballistics, as to whether these cylinders had been dropped by planes, looking at the damage of the building and the damage on the side of the cylinders. And he decided, concluded, that the higher probability was that these cylinders were placed on the ground, rather than from planes.

PH: This would be a major revelation…

JS: … it would be a major revelation …

PH: … given the number of people rubbishing the idea that these could have been fake videos at the time.

JS: Well, these two scientists, I think they’re non-political – they wouldn’t have been sent to Douma, if they’d had strong political views, by the OPCW. They want to speak to the Conference of the Member States in November, next month, and give their views, and be allowed to come forward publicly with their concerns. Because they’ve tried to raise them internally and been – they say they’ve been – suppressed, their views have been suppressed.

PH: Very interesting.

(Transcript courtesy of Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.)

In May, when the suppressed engineering assessment report on Douma by the OPCW’s Ian Henderson was leaked, Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent, agreed that this was ‘an important story’. Despite polite nudges from Media Lens, and others, she said no more on the matter. Did BBC colleagues have a quiet word in her ear?

Following revelations of a second whistleblower last week, we challenged her once more. She again ignored us, but she did reply to one of our Twitter followers:

Thanks Philip. I’ve been in Canada this month reporting on elections & in Afghanistan for most of Sept. I did forward the earlier information to programmes but was away during more recent news so other teams /programmes would have looked at it.

While it is heartening to see any reply – perhaps a measure of Doucet’s desire to give at least the impression of being accountable to the public – it is a very evasive reply. It is remarkable that for five months she had not been around to report vital testimony from OPCW insiders blowing a hole in the official, US-friendly narrative used to ‘justify’ missile attacks on Syria. Clearly, she had decided it was not that important after all.

And what does ‘so other teams /programmes would have looked at it’ actually mean? What evidence did they examine? And how closely? Where are the BBC headlines and major coverage these revelations deserve? As far as we can tell, there has been no mention of the OPCW whistleblowers on the BBC News website; nor has there been any coverage on the main BBC News programmes. Our challenges to Paul Royall, editor of the BBC News flagship News at Six and Ten programmes, and Nick Sutton, editor of the BBC News website, have gone unanswered.

Meanwhile, the General Election on December 12 may well be, as Jeremy Corbyn says:

a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back.

But time is rapidly running out for real change – whether that be on foreign policy, such as Syria, or the largest crisis now facing all of us. A global group of 11,000 scientists declared this week that the evidence is ‘clear and unequivocal’ that humanity is in a climate emergency. The stakes, then, are even higher than ‘once-in-a-generation’. As Extinction Rebellion have repeatedly warned, there may not be more than one new generation of humanity that will survive, given the severity of climate breakdown.

America’s Education System: Teaching the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

Ask students to read for more than a couple of sentences and many will protest that they can’t do it. The most frequent complaint that teachers hear that it’s boring. It is not so much the content of the written material that is at issues here; it is the act of reading itself that is deemed to be boring. What we are facing here is not just time-honored teenage torpor, but the mismatch between a post-literate New Flesh that is too wired to concentrate and the confining concentrational logics of decaying disciplinary systems. To be bored means simply to be removed from the communicative sensation-stimulus matrix of texting, You Tube and fast food; to be denied, for a moment, the constant flow of sugary gratification on demand. Some students want Nietzsche in the same way they want a hamburger; the fail to grasp—and the logic of the consumer system encourages this misapprehension—the indigestibility, the difficulty is Nietzsche.

— Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, December 16, 2009

I am a substitute teacher (grades K-12) in a public school system located in Virginia, a state on the eastern seaboard of the United States. For many years prior to becoming a substitute teacher, I also taught at a private school in Virginia. Tuition and fees at the private school are approximately $42,000 (USD), the public schools are, of course, tuition free.

To be sure, there are highly motivated students in both educational settings that call into question Mark Fisher’s observation above. But in the main, both organizations struggle with figuring out if they are working with their subjects as students or as consumers of services provided by teachers and administrators.

From what I have observed in the tiny microcosm in which I’ve worked, adults have not figured out how to teach Generation Z. It is as if K-12 students are; well, lab rats, in a messy experiment that reflects adult confusion about how to facilitate learning in an era when all the “book learning” education seeks to impart is largely available on the World Wide Web (WWW). Reality hits video screens before adults can interpret it for their children; that is, assuming the adults are up to the task. Twitter, a modern day ticker-tape, dumbs down the American populace. Attention spans for students and adults are measured in 10 minute increments, if that.

Teachers are little more than circuits in America’s educational network and, as such, transmit surface information to the students and little more. The kids know a lot, for sure, but they, like the adults that school them and lead them, have no intellectual depth, something required for critical thinking. It is fitting, I suppose, that in these times when the United States is a polarized nation of cynics who believe in nothing, it’s not surprising that its educators teach the young to be cynics. But as Oscar Wilde noted through one of his characters, a cynic is “one who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

And yet the very adults (academics, corporate leaders, politicians) that created this cynical, digitized short attention span world whine about students not being able to read and write, think critically or master math. There is a reason for that: They are not being taught effectively to do those things. All of which reaffirms something I wrote in 2013: The American Education System is creating Ignorant Adults.

The leaders of Boeing and Lockheed Martin worry out loud about the absence of US school-aged students who can excel at science, technology, engineering and math disciplines (STEM). But they have no problem funding initiatives for Chinese students and aviation professionals in China.

Hocus Pocus

Back in the USA, school classrooms are a mishmash of technology, new wave/repackaged learning techniques and revisionist history. Apple I-Pads and Smart Boards are located in each classroom for student/teacher use. They are all connected to software that provides music, cartoons and learning platforms like Canvas for most grade levels. The latest teaching fads like Maker Learning with its “Digital Promise” backed by Google and Pixar, among others, competes with concepts like the Flipped Classroom, Blended Learning and other pedagogies that come in and out of vogue. And yet, along side all the technology are crayons, magic markers, pencils, paper and cardboard for writing and drawing.

It’s no stretch to say that I-Phones, Android and other hand-held devices may cause epigenetic changes. Students, teachers/coaches and administrators are constantly staring head down at their computing-communications devices. It is tough to get a face-to-face conversation going with most anyone in these groups as their eyes and heads are in the down position while sitting, walking or standing. Even if you are having a meat-space meeting, participants will incessantly dart their eyes to the handheld safely nearby the hand, in the hand, or on the lap (looking down again).

America’s past, woeful in many respects, is being revised again by adults to suit the agenda of those who seek to promote a narrative that seeks to change the political/cultural narrative of US society and its history, and it is aimed at young students in particular. The New York Times (NYT) 1619 Project is an example of this. According to the World Socialist Website, “The 1619 Project, launched by the Times in August, presents American history in a purely racial lens and blames all white people for the enslavement of 4 million black people as chattel property. “

The NYT has provided teaching materials that are being used by colleges, universities and high schools across the United States. Who is willing or capable of debating the claims of the New York Times; or should we say, who is willing to be labeled a racist for disagreeing with the revisionist authors of the 1619 Project? At the collegiate level, at least, there may be debate on the matter but at the high school level, what teacher is going to argue against using 1619 teaching materials. After all it is the New York Times.

What is very troubling about the NYT revisionism is that it makes the preposterous claim that racism is part of the DNA of all white people. The World Socialist Website claims that:

This is dangerous politics, and very bad history…[it] mixes anti-historical metaphors pertaining to biological determinism (that racism is printed in a “national DNA”) and to religious obscurantism (that slavery is the uniquely American “original sin”). But whether ordained by God or genetic code, racism by whites against blacks serves, for the 1619 Project, as history’s deus ex machina. There is no need to consider questions long placed at the center of historical inquiry: cause and effect, contingency and conflict, human agency and change over time. History is simply a morality tale written backwards from 2019.

Sharpen My Pencils, Fool!

I have often winced at some of the practices I observed in classrooms. On a typical day as a substitute, I arrive at a school, pick up instructions left by the teacher who is absent (or has a meeting), and head to the classroom. Substitute teachers, or Subs, are a lower class of species, members of the gig economy, and treated as such by the “real” teachers and students. I remember one teacher I subbed for was headed off to a meeting and as she left said, “Sharpen my pencils for me.” I dutifully did. A majority of the teachers and administrators don’t ask for your name, you’re just known as “The Sub.”

Once students complete their work (if they even choose to do it), which for most does not take much class time, they are free to play video games, stick ear buds in and listen to music or hang out with friends via the handheld device. One of the popular video games with male 6th to 12th graders is Krunker, a first person shooter game. Is US society really that concerned about active shooters in schools?

The State and corporations can be found in some form in the public school system. One elementary school has Lockheed Martin as a sponsor of a science program. In another elementary school, a class is learning about Virginia’s geography: The students print and video work product will ultimately be used by a tourism association in the State.

In both institutions learning is calibrated to the SAT, ACT and various Advanced Placement tests. Student test scores serve as one metric for teacher performance reviews along with standards set by school boards, the State, or independent audits in the private school case.

Students are not required to stand or even pay attention to the United States Pledge of Allegiance that is carried via intercom into the classrooms each morning. Some schools don’t even bother with it. Yet, during sporting events like American contact football, students/athletes and fans are required, or let’s say by the pressure of custom are compelled, to stand for the playing of the United States’ National Anthem. American flags are stitched into football jerseys and prior to games one football player is selected to run the American flag onto the field amidst the adrenaline fueled shouts and growls of fellow teammates following close behind. A color guard from a high school’s junior reserve officer training corps (JROTC) sometimes is present. They present in strict marching formation the American flag along with the flags of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

To stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a classroom takes one minute. To be upright for the National Anthem takes, perhaps, five minutes. The school band normally plays the latter and on occasion high school Madrigals will sing the National Anthem.

Yes, the militarization of US society and the deification of military personnel, even if they are accountants in uniform working at the Pentagon, is something to be concerned about. But saying the Pledge, and standing for the National Anthem, should be a requirement for students. There has to be some measure or display of loyalty to one’s country and the young must learn that. Still many want to wipe away any sense of citizenship, patriotism. Well, they are doing a fine job of that.

Mind the Inmates!

Students at both institutions are the beneficiaries of some serious force protection measures normally associated with protecting military personnel stationed at installations around the globe. The public schools in which I worked have armed police officers on site with a phalanx of civilian security/disciplinarians roaming the halls. Security cameras are everywhere indoors (hallways) and outside (entry and exit) recording movements. Public school buses are also outfitted with cameras and tracking systems.

The private school where I was once employed uses a less blunt force approach opting for a more subtle presence: security personnel are a bit less obvious and do not carry firearms. The school does employ a corporate style full-time director of security and safety with some serious emergency management credentials.

It is the same security scene at public and private schools across the United States which raises an interesting question: Are students really captive minds in minimum security enclosures subjected daily to social, emotional learning techniques or socialization/habilitation for entry into society? Or are they “free” learners allowed to be creative and explore beyond the confines of the pedagogy that seeks to “standardize” them.

No Student Untracked

There is a functioning big data brother at work tracking students as they make their way through K-12 known as the Common Core of Data (CCD). CCD is described by Marc Gardner in a presentation for the US National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) as “the annual collection of the universe of United States public elementary, secondary education agencies and schools. Data include enrollment by grade, race/ethnicity and sex, special education, english learners, school lunch programs, teachers, dropouts and completers.” The CCD also gathers information from state justice, health and labor departments. The NCES also collects data from private schools.

It doesn’t end there. Colleges and universities are tracking high school seniors as they begin their searches for schools they’d like to attend.  The Washington Post recently reported that many colleges and universities have hired data capture firms to track prospective students as they explore websites. “Records and interviews show that colleges are building vast repositories of data on prospective students — scanning test scores, zip codes, high school transcripts, academic interests, web browsing histories, ethnic backgrounds and household incomes…”

The owner of Canvas, referenced above, is Instructure. Their mission, according to their investor website is to “grow [the young] from the first day of school to the last day of work [retirement].” One of the capabilities that Instructure provides its clients is Canvas Folio Management. According to the investor webpage, it “delivers an institutional homepage and deep, real-time analytics on student engagement, skills and competencies, network connections, and interactions across various cohorts. Allows institutions to generate custom reports tied directly to student success initiatives and export accreditation-ready reports on learning outcomes at the student, cohort, course, program, or institutional level.”

Ah, yes, the thrill of being hunted for a life time by big data brother. Anyway, there is no escape.

Don’t try this in a Classroom

Learning is an active process, not simply a matter of banking information in a recipient passive mind. Teaching therefore has to be a transactional process rather than just the transmission of information. The transactional aspect is essential to enabling students to challenge their situations in life, which they must learn to do if they are to play their parts as active citizens of a better world…teaching must be approached as an intellectually disruptive and subversive activity if it is to instill inquiry skills in learners and encourage them to think for themselves rather than mindlessly accept received ideas. We believe it is more important in the digital age than ever before.

Ingenious: The Unintended Consequences of Human Innovation, Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson, Harvard, 2019.

• Author’s Note:  The article title is courtesy of Oscar Wilde. See inline link, paragraph 5 for more.

China Breaks the Western Debt Stranglehold on the World

The west has colonized, exploited, ravaged and assassinated the people of the Global South for hundreds of years.

Up to the mid-20th Century Europe has occupied Africa, and large parts of Asia.

In Latin America, though much of the sub-Continent was “freed” from Spain and Portugal in the 19th Century – a new kind of colonization followed by the new Empire of the United States under the so-called Monroe Doctrine, named after President James Monroe (1817 -1825), forbidding Europeans to interfere in any “American territory”. Latin America was then and is again today considered Washington’s Backyard.

In the last ten years or so, Washington has launched the Monreo Doctrine 2.0. This time expanding the interference policy beyond Europe to the world. Democratic sovereign governments in Latin America that could choose freely their political and economic alliances in the world are not tolerated. China, entering into partnership agreements with Latin American countries, sought after vividly by the latter is condemned by the US and the west, especially vassalic Europe.

Therefore, democratically elected center-left governments had to be “regime-changed’ – Honduras, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay. So far, they stumbled over Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and maybe Mexico.

Venezuela and Cuba are being economically strangled to exhaustion. But they are standing tall as pillars in defending the Latin American Continent with economic assistance and military advice from China and Russia.

*****

Latin America is waking up – and so is Africa.

In Latin America, street protests against the US / IMF imposed debt trap and de consequential austerity programs, making the rich richer and the poor poorer, are raging in Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and even in Brazil. In Argentina, in a democratic election this past weekend, 27 October, the people deposed neoliberal President Macri. He was put in the Presidency via “tricked” elections by Washington in 2015. Macri ruined the prosperous country in his 4 year-reign. He privatized public services and infrastructure, education, health, transportation and more, leading to hefty tariff increases, worker layoffs, unemployment and poverty. Poverty, at about 15% in 2015, when Macri took office, soared to over 40% in October 2019.

In 2018 Macri contracted the largest ever IMF loan of US$ 57.2 billion – a debt trap, if there was ever one. The new, just elected Fernandez-Fernandez center-left Government will have to devise programs to counter the impact of this massive debt.

All over in Latin America, people have had enough of the US / western imposed austerity and simultaneous exploitation of their natural resources. They want change – big style. They seek to detach from the economic and financial stranglehold of the west. They are looking for China and Russia as new partners in trade and in financial contracts.

The same in Africa – neocolonialism by the west, mostly France and the UK, through financial oppression, unfair trading deals and western imposed – and militarily protected – despotic and corrupt leaders, has kept Africa poor and desolate after more than 50 years of so-called Independence. Africa is arguably still the Continent with the most natural resources the west covets and needs to preserve its luxury life style and continuous armament.

People, who do not conform especially younger politicians and economists, who protest and speak out, because they see clearly through the western imposed economic crimes committed on a daily basis, are simply assassinated or otherwise silenced.

Africans are quietly seeking to move out of the claws of the west, seeking new relations with China and Russia. The recent Russian-African summit in Sochi was a vivid example.

China is invited to build infrastructure, fast trains, roads, ports and industrial parks, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is more than welcomed in Africa, as it projects common and equal development for all to benefit. BRI is the epitome for building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind. China also offers a gradual release from the US / western dominated dollar-debt claws. Freeing a country from the dollar-based economy is freeing it from the vulnerability of US / western imposed sanctions. This is an enormous relief that literally every country of the Global South – and possibly even Europe – is hoping for.

However, as could be expected, the west, led by the US of A, is pouncing China for engaging in “debt trap diplomacy”. Exactly the contrary of what is actually happening.

The truth is, though, countries throughout the world, be it in Africa, Asia, South Pacific and Latin America, are choosing to partner with China by their free will. According to a statement by a high-level African politician “China does not force or coerce us into a deal, we are free to choose and negotiate a win-win situation.” That says it all.

The difference between the west and east is stark. While anybody and any country that does not agree with the US dictate and doctrine risks being regime-changed or bombed, China does not impose her new Silk Road – the BRI – to any country. China invites, respecting national sovereignty. Who wants to join is welcome to do so. That applies as much to the Global South, as it does to Europe.

China’s President Xi Jinping launched the BRI in 2013. In 2014 Mr. Xi visited Madame Merkel in Germany, offering her to be at that time the western-most link to the BRI. Ms. Merkel, under the spell of Washington, declined. President Xi returned and China continued working quietly on this fabulous worldwide economic development project – BRI – THE economic venture of the 21st Century, so massive that it was incorporated in 2017 into the Chinese Constitution.

It took the west, however, 6 years to acknowledge this new version of the more than 2000-year-old Silk Road. Only in 2019, the western mainstream media started reporting on the BRI – and always negatively, of course. The preaching was — and still is — beware of the Chinese Dragon.  They will dominate you and everything you own with their socialism.

This train of thought is typically western. Aggression seems to be in the genes of western societies, of western culture, as the hundreds of years of violent and despotic colonization and exploitation – and ongoing – are proving. Does it have to do with western monotheistic doctrines? This is pure speculation, of course.

Again, the truth is multi-fold. First, China does not have a history of invasion. China seeks a peaceful and egalitarian development of trade, science and foremost human wellbeing – a Tao tradition of non-aggression. Second, despite the “warnings” from the throne of the falling empire, about a hundred countries have already subscribed to participate in BRI — and that voluntarily. And third, China and Russia, and along with them the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), are in a solid economic and defense alliance which encompasses close to half of the world population and represents about one-third of the globes total economic output.

Hence, SCO members are – or may be, if they so choose – largely detached from the dollar hegemony. The western privately run and Wall Street-controlled monetary transfer system, SWIFT, is no longer needed by SCO countries. They deal in local currencies and / or through the Chinese Interbank Payment System (CIPS).

It is no secret that the empire, headquartered in Washington, is gradually decaying, economically as well as militarily. It’s just a matter of time. How much time is difficult to guess. But Washington’s everyday behavior of dishing out sanctions left and right, disrupting international monetary transactions, confiscating and stealing other countries assets around the world, puts ever more nails in the Empire’s coffin. By doing this, America is herself committing economic and monetary suicide. Who wants to belong to a monetary system that can act willy-nilly to a county’s detriment? There is no need for outside help for this US-sponsored pyramid fiat monetary system to fall. It’s a house of cards that is already crumbling by its own weight.

The US dollar was some 20-25 years ago still to the tune of 90% the domineering reserve currency in the world. Today that proportion has declined to less than 60% – and falling. It is being replaced primarily by the Chinese yuan as the new reserve currency.

This is what the US-initiated trade war is all about – discrediting the yuan, a solid currency, based on China’s economy – and on gold. “Sanctioning” the Chinese economy with US tariffs is supposed to hurt the yuan, to reduce its competition with the dollar as a world reserve currency. To no avail. The yuan is a worldwide recognized solid currency, the currency of the world’s second largest economy. By some standards, like accounted by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), the most important socioeconomic indicator for mankind, China is since 2017 the world’s number one economy.

This, and other constant attacks by Washington, is a typical desperate gesture of a dying beast – thrashing wildly left and right and above and below around itself to bring down into its grave as many perceived adversaries as possible. There is, of course, a clear danger that this fight for the empire’s survival might end nuclear – god forbid!

China’s and Russia’s policy, philosophy and diplomacy of non-aggression may save the world from extinction including the people of the United States of America.

First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The “Deep State” Has Been Redefined as Career Bureaucrats Doing Their Patriotic Duty

It gets funny, this shallow analysis of the deep state that is currently big news. There’s something ghoulish about it, perfectly timed for Halloween and masked jokers. What was once ridiculed by the CIA and its attendant lackeys in the media as the paranoia of “conspiracy theorists” is now openly admitted in reverent tones of patriotic fervor.  But with a twisted twist.

The corporate mass-media has recently discovered a “deep state” that they claim to be not some evil group of assassins who work for the super-rich owners of the country and murder their own president (JFK) and other unpatriotic dissidents (Malcom X, MLK, RK, among others) and undermine democracy home and abroad, but are now said to be just fine upstanding American citizens who work within the government bureaucracies and are patriotic believers in democracy intent on doing the right thing.

This redefinition has been in the works for a few years, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that this tricky treat was being prepared for our consumption a few years ago by The Council on Foreign Relations.  In its September/October 2017 edition of its journal Foreign Affairs, Jon D. Michaels, in “Trump and the Deep State: The Government Strikes Back,” writes:

Furious at what they consider treachery by internal saboteurs, the president and his surrogates have responded by borrowing a bit of political science jargon, claiming to be victims of the “deep state,” a conspiracy of powerful, unelected bureaucrats secretly pursuing their own agenda. The concept of a deep state is valuable in its original context, the study of developing countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey, where shadowy elites in the military and government ministries have been known to countermand or simply defy democratic directives. Yet it has little relevance to the United States, where governmental power structures are almost entirely transparent, egalitarian, and rule-bound.

The White House is correct to perceive widespread resistance inside the government to many of its endeavors. But the same way the administration’s media problems come not from “fake news” but simply from news, so its bureaucratic problems come not from an insidious, undemocratic “deep state” but simply from the state—the large, complex hive of people and procedures that constitute the U.S. federal government.

Notice how in these comical passages about U.S. government transparency and egalitarianism, Michaels slyly and falsely attributes to Trump the very definition – “unelected bureaucrats” – that in the next paragraph he claims to be the real deep state, which is just the state power structures. Pseudo-innocence conquers all here as there is no mention of the Democratic party, Russiagate, etc., and all the machinations led by the intelligence services and Democratic forces to oust Trump from the day he was elected.  State power structures just move so quickly, as anyone knows who has studied the speed with which bureaucracies operate.  Ask Max Weber.

Drip by drip over the past few years, this “state bureaucracy” meme has been introduced by the mainstream media propagandists as they have gradually revealed that the government deep-staters are just doing their patriotic duty in trying openly to oust an elected president.

Many writers have commented on the recent New York Times article, Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him” asserting that the Times has finally admitted to the existence of the deep state, which is true as far as it goes, which is not too far. But in this game of deceptive revelations – going shallower to go deeper – what is missing is a focus on the linguistic mind control involved in the changed definition.

In a recent article by Robert W. Merry, whose intentions I am not questioning – “New York Times Confirms: It’s Trump Versus the Deep State” – originally published at The American Conservative and widely reprinted, the lead-in to the article proper reads: “Even the Gray Lady admits the president is up against a powerful bureaucracy that wants him sunk.”  So the “powerful bureaucracy” redefinition, this immovable force of government bureaucrats, is slipped into public consciousness as what the deep state supposedly is.  Gone are CIA conspirators and evil doers. In their place we find career civil servants doing their patriotic duty.

Then there is The New York Times’ columnist James Stewart who, appearing on the Today Show recently, where he was promoting his new book, told Savannah Guthrie that:

Well, you meet these characters in my book, and the fact is, in a sense, he’s [Trump] right. There is a deep state…there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law. They do not work for the President. They work for the American people. And, as Comey told me in my book, ‘thank goodness for that,’ because they are protecting the Constitution and the people when individuals – we don’t have a monarch, we don’t have a dictator – they restrain them from crossing the boundaries of law. What Trump calls the deep state in the United States is protecting the American people and protecting the Constitution. It’s a positive thing in this sense.

So again we are told that the deep-state bureaucracy is defending the Constitution and protecting the American people, as James Comey told Stewart, “in my book, ‘thank goodness for that,’” as he put it so eloquently. These guys talk in books, of course, not person to person, but that is the level not just of English grammar and general stupidity, but of the brazen bullshit these guys are capable of.

This new and shallow deep state definition has buried the old meaning of the deep state as evil conspirators carrying out coup d’états, assassinations, and massive media propaganda campaigns at home and abroad, and who, by implication and direct declaration, never existed in the good old U.S.A. but only in countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan where shadowy elites killed and deposed leaders and opponents in an endless series of coup d’états.  No mention in Foreign Affairs, of course, of the American support for the ruthless leaders of these countries who have always been our dear allies when they obey our every order and serve as our servile proxies in murder and mayhem.

Even Edward Snowden, the courageous whistleblower in exile in Russia, in a recent interview with Joe Rogan, repeats this nonsense when he says the deep state is just “career government officials” who want to keep their jobs and who outlast presidents.  From his own experience, he should know better.  Much better.  Interestingly, he suggests that he does when he tells Rogan that “every president since Kennedy” has been successfully “feared up” by the intelligence agencies so they will do their bidding.  He doesn’t need to add that JFK, for fearlessly refusing the bait, was shot in the head in broad daylight to send a message to those who would follow.

Linguistic mind control is insidious like the slow drip of a water faucet.  After a while you don’t hear it and just go about your business, even as your mind, like a rotting rubber washer, keeps disintegrating under propaganda’s endless reiterations.

To think that the deep state is government employees just doing their patriotic duty is plain idiocy and plainer propaganda.

It is a trick, not the treat it is made to seem.

Drug Dealers, Polluters and Sex Traffickers: Welcome to Oligarch Cloud Cuckoo Land

Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water.
Henry VIII (IV.ii.)

The notion that American oligarchs amass great wealth due to their extraordinary intelligence has become a deeply engrained tenet of liberal fundamentalist dogma. For in order for neoliberalism to maintain popular support it is necessary that the media relentlessly extol the virtues of the new robber barons. This myth of the meritocracy is sustained with fawning from the presstitutes, but also from the dubious practice of philanthrocapitalism. And yet cracks have appeared in the meritocratic facade which even the mass media has not been able to conceal.

From Andrew Carnegie to Henry Clay Frick, from John D. Rockefeller to Cornelius Vanderbilt, American capitalists have long embraced philanthropy as a means with which to not only deify themselves, but to also glorify and perpetuate a system anchored in authoritarianism, cruelty, and the impoverishment of millions.

Jeffrey Epstein hails from this blood-soaked lineage, as his rise was inextricably linked with a culture in thrall to the lie that those who are the most virtuous acquire the most wealth. A sex trafficker, who for decades managed to maintain a carefully cultivated image of an urbane and munificent New Yorker, Epstein had become a magnet for careerists, opportunists, and fellow con artists alike.

Helaine Olen writes in The Washington Post:

The major lie of the age of wealth inequality is that the moneyed are somehow better than the rest of us day-to-day working schlubs. The aristocracy of prewar Europe had their bloodlines. Our latter-day meritocratic aristocrats, we are told, possess the modern equivalent, which is extraordinary intelligence. The slothful working class are slaves to short-term pleasure. The rich, on the other hand, are disciplined. They wake up early, and they refuse to live beyond their means.

This is a lie. The Epstein scandal proves it.

Epstein preyed not only on destitute American girls from broken homes, but also on foreign girls, some of whom did not speak English, making them even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Writing in The Miami Herald, Julie K. Brown writes that “after the FBI case was closed in 2008, witnesses and alleged victims testified in civil court that there were hundreds of girls who were brought to Epstein’s homes, including girls from Europe, Latin America and former Soviet Republic countries.”

The suspicious deal worked out a little over a decade ago by Epstein’s high powered legal team allowed their client to get off with incredibly lenient sentencing terms, and served to protect other creatures of dubious repute who may have been involved in a vast criminal network. Brown continues: “The deal, called a federal non-prosecution agreement, was sealed so that no one — not even his victims — could know the full scope of Epstein’s crimes and who else was involved.”

Epstein’s “black book” contained personal phone numbers belonging to such “masters of the universe” as Donald Trump, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Senator Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, David Koch, Ehud Barak, John Kerry, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomfield, Leslie Wexner, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth, Saudi King Salman and Edward de Rothschild. Irregardless of whether these plutocrats were involved in the abuse of minors, the fact that Epstein was permitted to inhabit this peculiar parallel legal system for so many years signifies the degradation of checks and balances which has opened up the floodgates of the West to barbarism.

Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly procured underage girls for Epstein, founded the TerraMar Project in 2012, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to protecting the world’s oceans. Ghislaine’s father, Robert Maxwell, was a Mossad agent, and some have speculated that she may have introduced her boyfriend to the Israeli intelligence services.

There is a high degree of probability that Epstein was running a blackmail operation in conjunction with an intelligence agency (or agencies), as he had hidden cameras scattered throughout the rooms of his many residences, and appeared to be filming his guests as they were “getting a massage.” Epstein also had an Austrian passport, coveted by spies, due to Austria’s neutrality.

Chicago criminal defense attorney Leonard C. Goodman writes in the Chicago Reader:

A public criminal trial would have made it very hard to cover up Epstein’s relationship to intelligence agencies. These are the agencies that tell our presidents which countries to bomb, what leaders to depose, and which terrorists to assassinate by drone.

Frequently referred to by the presstitutes as a “disgraced financier,” despite the fact that no one has seen a website for the firm which he allegedly operated; and often referred to as “pedophile Jeffrey Epstein,” as if he were a lone villain acting all by himself, Epstein’s life personifies the depravity of contemporary American society. Moreover, this “financial genius” was somehow able to acquire one of the most luxurious residences in Manhattan (21,000-square-feet, and steps from Central Park), a 10,000 acre ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, a luxury villa in Palm Beach; and two islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Little Saint James and Great Saint James.

Epstein’s charitable donations were clearly a smokescreen designed to disguise extremely nefarious activities. The mega-rich in other countries may be crooks (consider Pablo Escobar, described by Wikipedia as a “narcoterrorist”), but not wealthy Americans, who are simply smarter than everyone else. That Epstein came from a working class family, and that his father, Seymour Epstein, worked for the New York Parks Department as a groundskeeper, only deepens the mystery of where this money really came from.

Ever the debonair cool guy of Manhattan’s in-crowd, Epstein donated to the Independent Filmmaker Project, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Ballet Palm Beach, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Cancer Research Wellness Institute and the Melanoma Research Alliance. In May of 2012, PR Newswire ran an article titled “The Largest Private Funder of Melanoma Research Receives Vital Support From Activist Jeffrey Epstein.”

One of Epstein’s favorite places to donate was Harvard, as this allowed him to hobnob with a variety of influential academics and scientists. As John Patrick writes in The Washington Examiner:

The disgraced finance mogul donated millions to Harvard endeavors from the late 1990s throughout the 2000s, including a $6.5 million donation to Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and a $2 million pledged donation for Harvard’s Jewish organization Hillel. Plus, Epstein contributed more than $100,000 to a Harvard performing arts organization, and gave a gift of more than $100,000 to a non-profit run by Elsa New, wife of former Harvard president and Clinton administration member Larry Summers.

Epstein also donated $2.5 million to Ohio State University and $800,000 to MIT. Taking hypocrisy to new heights, he even donated to the Women Global Cancer Initiative, the Mount Sinai Breast Health Resource Program; and to The Hewitt School, a prep school for girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Underscoring the netherworld of imaginary morality that our plutocrats inhabit, Epstein told the New York Post that “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender.’ It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”

Bernie Madoff, another exhilarating New York success story, was managing – at least according to his computer printouts – the astronomical sum of $50 billion, and was equally fond of donating to charitable causes. Yeshiva University, The Ramaz School, Maimonides School, and the Hadassah Women’s Organization were some of the institutions that suffered serious losses when Madoff’s firm revealed itself to be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Cousins of human traffickers, polluters also need to unwind from time to time, and what better way to bask in the grandeurs of perdition than donate to the arts? The New York State Theater, an important performing arts space within Lincoln Center and home to the New York City Ballet, was renamed the David H. Koch Theater in 2008; while the Metropolitan Museum of Art now offers the David H. Koch Plaza, whose namesake paid $65 million to have the new plaza built in his name. The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT is another child born of Koch philanthropy.

The Charles Koch Foundation has donated enormous sums of money to hundreds of universities with the aim of inculcating impressionable young minds with their reactionary ethos, which is anchored in the idea that all attempts at corporate regulation and maintaining a public sector should be jettisoned. The Koch brothers donated over $95 million to George Mason University, which is a public university, and this led to the Charles Koch Foundation being granted a significant amount of leverage with regard to the hiring and firing of faculty.

Steven Pearlstein writes in The Washington Post:

When someone gives $10 million to an engineering school rather than the college of humanities, it changes the university’s priorities. When someone endows a center to study the causes and consequences of climate change, it affects who is hired and what is taught and researched. When someone gives enough to name a school after a public figure, it shapes a school’s ideological profile. It would be great if all donations were unrestricted, but they aren’t. Many donors have agendas. The Kochs are just an extreme example.

The Koch brothers have left behind a toxic legacy from Corpus Christi, Texas; to Chicago and Detroit; to Crossett, Arkansas; to New Delhi, India, and beyond. Greenpeace posits that “Koch Industries is a major polluter, with ongoing incidents and violations of environmental laws.” Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone that “Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined.” He goes on to point out that “Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.” Together, Charles and David Koch accumulated around $100 billion.

The Sackler Family, which owns Purdue Pharma and made billions off of the opioid crisis, deceived doctors about the highly addictive nature of OxyContin. This particularly dangerous opioid was promoted in part through dishonest advertising, but also though manipulating physicians into believing the drug was safe. Patrick Radden Keefe writes in The New Yorker that “The marketing of OxyContin relied on an empirical circularity: the company convinced doctors of the drug’s safety with literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid, or funded, by the company.” The Sackler family is now attempting to sell the drug abroad through Mundipharma, a Purdue subsidiary, and is marketing OxyContin in Asia, South America and the Middle East.

It is noteworthy that Arthur Sackler aggressively marketed Librium and Valium in the 1960s, which earned tremendous profits for Hoffmann-La Roche, and also led many Americans down a path towards abuse and addiction. Judith Warner writes in Time:

Valium has long served extremely well as a vehicle for proving the perfidy of psychiatrists and the drug companies behind them. It was indeed dispensed in outrageous-seeming numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s. It did indeed lead to tragic levels of abuse and addiction.

The Sacklers are now one of our richest families. Like Epstein, the Sackler family sought to cultivate a worldly image anchored in their patronage of education and the arts, and some of the most prestigious museums in the Western world have galleries and wings named after them.

At the Guggenheim, there is the Sackler Center for Arts Education; at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is the Sackler Wing; and at the American Museum of Natural History, there is the Sackler Educational Laboratory. At Harvard, there is the Arthur M. Sackler Museum; in Washington DC, the Sackler Gallery; and at the Brooklyn Museum, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Moreover, there are Sackler wings and educational institutions at renowned British museums such as the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the British Museum, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and at the Tate Modern. The Sacklers have also donated to the Royal Ballet School, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Royal Opera. Perhaps the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has a board run largely by war profiteers, could receive the funds accumulated from the many lawsuits arrayed against Purdue and be renamed the Sackler.

Not content with defiling artistic institutions with their blood money, the Sacklers have donated to educational institutions. At Columbia, there is the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; and at Oxford, the Sackler Library; at Yale, there is the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences.

Particularly egregious conflicts of interest are the Sackler Brain and Spine Institute at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences at Weill Cornell, and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. No less disturbing, in the winter of 2010 Thomas J. Lynch Jr., MD, was named Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Cancer Center. The Sacklers have also donated millions to Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard’s oldest teaching hospital. Andrew Joseph writes in “Purdue Cemented Ties with Universities and Hospitals to Expand Opioid Sales, Documents Contend,” that “At Mass. General, the agreement with Purdue allowed the company to suggest curriculum for pain education.” No less outrageous, in Israel there is the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. Emblazoned in its lobby are the words “Dedicated to Mankind for the Health of All People.”

Some arts institutions have disassociated themselves from the Sacklers, such as the Louvre, which took down the Sackler name from its Wing of Oriental Antiquities. A number of prominent museums, such as the Guggenheim, the Met, and the Tate galleries have refused to accept further donations from the Sacklers, although the name continues to sully their august halls.

Teva Pharmaceuticals has likewise played a role in the opioid crisis, and partners with Mount Sinai, a blatant conflict of interest. Ostensibly, they will treat “multiple chronic conditions” together. Teva has donated to a wide variety of health care organizations and gave $2.5 million to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In an article in The Times of Israel titled “Federal Data Reveals Extent of Teva’s Role in Fueling US Opioid Crisis,” the authors write that between 2006 and 2012 “Teva Pharmaceuticals USA produced 690 million opioid pills.”

When not getting Americans addicted to opioids and psychotropic drugs, Johnson and Johnson delights in donating to Johnson & Johnson Vision and the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), both of which make endearing videos replete with cute kids and teary-eyed grandparents.

Indeed, this was how some of the most diabolical drug dealers in America, were, at least for a time, able to convey an image of benevolence, munificence and altruism. Keefe writes that “Over time, the origins of a clan’s largesse are largely forgotten, and we recall only the philanthropic legacy, prompted by the name on the building.”

Where are our heroes, America? Our novelists, labor leaders, artists and intellectuals? What would Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, or Mark Twain say about these soulless creatures who sought to use their lucre to envelop themselves in a halo of veneration and hagiography? A society that prostrates itself at the altar of depravity is a society of death.

Let us disenthrall ourselves from the shackles of materialism and careerism. Let us cast the false idol of avarice from the tallest cliffs, and from its ashes embrace a phoenix reborn, a harbinger of compassion, altruism and justice.

The Takeover of WBAI in New York

A few days ago (October 7), several people from KPFA went to New York and took part in a shut down of WBAI 99.5 FM, the Pacifica sister station in that city. This action was done in the name of Pacifica, which owns WBAI as well as KPFA and three other stations, but it was in complete violation of the Pacifica bylaws, and was planned in secret and kept from other board members. The takeover was temporarily halted by a TRO, but the studios were vandalized, computers and other equipment removed. At a court hearing on October 10th a judge reversed most of the TRO. KPFA retains control of WBAI’s airwaves, and is reportedly using them to hold a fund drive in New York — a fund drive for KPFA. (It will be interesting to see if they harvest anything more than a lot of ill will.)

The idea behind that ham-handed action was supposedly to save the Pacifica network from financial disaster. The financial problems are real, nobody disputes that. None of the five Pacifica stations are doing really well. KPFA has lost over half of its membership during the past two decades, and it continues to lose listeners; its cash flow shows a $433,000 short fall. Ironically, the only Pacifica station showing signs of improvement is WBAI; its listenership has increased. But whatever WBAI’s potential for recovery may have been, it seems pretty well nipped in the bud. No matter how this turns out, it’s going to cost money that Pacifica cannot afford, further dragging the network deeper into the hole.

Even if WBAI could somehow be magically disappeared from the network, a complex host of other problems would remain. Some of these are unique to Pacifica, and some are not. Most non-commercial stations are in trouble these days.

The various reasons seem to be complex. I will talk about just one particular aspect which I’ve seen during my 15 years as an observer of KPFA and now a board member. Namely, that KPFA has for many years been living beyond its means. There’s a huge amount of denial about that; it’s kind of like trying to tell the CEO of a petroleum company that oil and natural gas need to stay in the ground.

I might call this “Denial in Action.” At times it has often looked to me as though this whole insane spending spree were driven by some deliberate force. Can some people really be that incompetent? I often wonder. Well, these are some of my observations going back to 2005. Hopefully this can serve as background to what we’re seeing today. I am of course relating my experiences at KPFA, the Pacifica station where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Warnings were sounded at least as far back as in 2005 when several board members expressed concern that there were “too many FTEs.” It came up during one of the first board meetings I attended, and I remember asking the person next to me what an FTE was. “A full-time equivalent,” I was told, and it was afterwards explained that the station was acquiring more paid staff than it could afford in the long run. That was detailed in the Local Station Board’s Minority Report of September 17, 2005.

In those days the station was actually doing well financially. But according to several board members, LaVarn Williams, Max Blanchet and Marnie Tattersall (all with solid backgrounds in finance), the cost of so much paid staff was not sustainable. KPFA needed to slow down on the hiring, look ahead, and plan accordingly.

Nevertheless, year after year, the warnings were ignored, dismissed, disregarded. Persons expressing them were disparaged, even yelled at. The unsustainable budgets were promoted by “Save KPFA,” the slate of board members who represented the station’s power clique.

That group has used several names over the years, first it was “KPFA Forward,” later “Concerned Listeners,” then “SaveKPFA.” (They currently use the name UIR, “United for Independent Radio.”)

Although SaveKPFA refused to acknowledge publicly that their hiring policy was not sustainable, they seem to have been anticipating a crisis and were prepared to put the blame on others. An intriguing email from that same month of September 2005 turned up as sort of a one-email Wikileak. It’s the email which infamously suggested “dismantling the LSB.” An even more foreboding line in that same email read: “How do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come?” The author was Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who appeared to be SaveKPFA’s chief strategist.

It wasn’t just the bloated budgets at KPFA that caused the eventual crisis. There was also SaveKPFA’s unholy alliance with JUC, the New York group which was then running WBAI into the ground, generating another financial drain on the Pacifica network. Interestingly, these two groups, SaveKPFA and JUC, seemed to thoroughly dislike each other. Their alliance appears to have been one of convenience, a mutual non-aggression pact, one of shielding each other from oversight. Mismanagement at both stations bled the network.

Several years passed in this irresponsible fashion until the recession of 2008. It hit Pacifica hard, and the inevitable financial crisis was no longer deniable. Even SaveKPFA’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert expressed concern and called for layoffs throughout the network. These very necessary cutbacks were carried out at the rest of Pacifica’s five stations, but not at KPFA.

It was always difficult, often impossible, to get accurate, detailed information from the SaveKPFA-dominated management. In 2005, board members LaVarn Williams and Richard Phelps spent over a year fighting SaveKPFA to get access to financial records of the foundation. They won that battle, but the war went on. In 2008 SaveKPFA’s Dan Siegel illegally stopped an inspection. The power clique did not willingly allow access to information; board members outside the inner circle continued to be denied it.

For most of the decade up until 2009, the Pacifica National Board (PNB) was dominated by SaveKPFA and its allies, but in that year they were voted out and the new Executive Director and CFO were chosen from the opposition. SaveKPFA then launched a disinformation campaign against the Pacifica Foundation. On August 6, 2009, there was a front page article in the Berkeley Daily Planet accusing Pacifica of improperly taking $100K from KPFA. That news leak came from Brian Edwards-Tiekert, the treasurer. But on investigation it was found that no such “raid” on KPFA’s money had occurred. The newspaper printed a retraction, but SaveKPFA continued to spread the story, despite its having been exposed as false. Then LSB chair Conn Hallinan, who certainly must have known better, wrote an email accusing Pacifica of “an old fashioned smash and grab” on KPFA’s funds.

That was the beginning of a swiftboating campaign against Pacifica in which the SaveKPFA group worked to conjure up images of 1999, portraying Pacifica as the bad guy, the beast, the oppressor and exploiter of KPFA. It was at that time that the group took the name “SaveKPFA,” stealing it from an opposition group of the early 1990s. Members of the original 1993 Save KPFA group were outraged and objected strenuously. But the new “SaveKPFA” continued to use its ill-gotten name.

At the end of 2009 it was discovered that a $375,000 check had been left in a drawer until after it expired. KPFA’s then General Manager, Lemlem Rijio, took the fall for that and was fired. But it seems highly unlikely that she was the only one who knew about that “forgotten” check.

“How could anyone forget a six-figure check!” KPFA activists asked. Some suspected the “oversight” was intentional and that SaveKPFA folks were deliberately working to bankrupt Pacifica in order to acquire KPFA. Until then, few had openly expressed such suspicions. But after that “forgotten” check-in-the-drawer incident, many of us concluded that if SaveKPFA were not actually planning some such scenario, then it could only be surmised that they were destroying both KPFA and Pacifica out of sheer stupidity.

That was in 2010. Disaster was averted that year, though not without a huge fight. For now, let’s fast-forward to 2015: SaveKPFA and its allies were back in charge of KPFA/Pacifica, again pushing the network towards financial extinction. We discovered that Dan Siegel and another prominent SaveKPFA member, Margy Wilkinson, had secretly created, filed and registered a corporation, complete with articles of incorporation, which they named the “KPFA Foundation.” It appears that Siegel and Wilkinson created this clandestine “KPFA Foundation” for the purpose of privately taking over KPFA’s radio license and real estate assets upon the dissolution of the Pacifica Foundation. In short, it was a plan to steal KPFA/Pacifica.

Strange things continued. In 2015 General Manager Quincy McCoy canceled the summer’s fund drive when KPFA had received two large bequests, enabling the station to skip the drive. It seemed as though the station were suddenly awash in money. However, it turned out that $400,000 of the bequest money was specifically intended for the Pacifica National Office, and was improperly diverted to KPFA by members of SaveKPFA. That wrongful diversion of funds intensified the chaos in a system that was far from robust.

Meanwhile, there’s the matter of the station’s programming, which traditionally had been staunchly antiwar. However, the station has been moving towards the Right, increasingly echoing neoliberal/neocon narratives of “humanitarian” intervention. Several programs have been taken off the air, most famously “Guns and Butter,” which was disappeared along with its 17-year archive. “Counterspin,” “Discrete Music,” and “Twit Wit Radio” have also been taken down and replaced by greatly watered-down fare.

We’ve been waiting fearfully to see which radical KPFA program would be next on the chopping block. It turns out they were aiming for bigger game — they went clear across the continent, all the way to New York, and shut down Pacifica sister station WBAI 99.5 FM.

Why Trump Is Facing Impeachment

The United States has spent EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS fighting and policing in the Middle East. Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side. GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE…..

— Tweet, Donald J. Trump, October 9, 2019.

Granted Trump may arguably be more corrupt than Biden. But that’s splitting hairs over which crook is more crooked. Bullying vassal states and “doing well by doing good” are indicators of finesse in Washington. Inside the beltway, corruption is not a liability for holding high political office, but a requirement. The key to membership in the power elite club is carrying water for the imperial state, and most club members must go through an elaborate vetting process to prove that they are reliable. Some such as Trump slip through.

The sine qua non for membership in this exclusive club is to prove you’ll take a hit for the empire. When the results of the 2000 US presidential election were inconclusive, Al Gore took a fall rather than risk instability at the top: “(for) the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.” There are higher callings than merely winning the presidency for good servants of the empire.

But would Trump have been so compliant? Maybe not. So, impeachment is in order to either chasten him to faithful obedience or get rid of him.

The Not Thoroughly Vetted President

The presidential primaries are an audition process to see who can best serve the ruling class while conning the public. If the presidential “debates” demonstrate anything, it is that all the contestants are aspiring reality TV stars. Trump was different only in that he had previous experience.

Whenever one of the contestants shows vacillation on empire, they get slapped on the side of the head. Gabbard got summarily dismissed from the debates for her failure of faith in wars of imperial aggression as the highest expression of humanitarianism. Sanders had to grovel, calling the democratically elected president of Venezuela a “vicious tyrant.”

And to qualify for the debates, a contestant must first prove that they are a “serious candidate.” In a “democracy” where bribing politicians is considered “free speech” and where corporations are afforded the constitutional rights of “persons,” the single overriding measure of seriousness is raising bundles of money from the rich. Of course, the rich did not become rich without expecting a return on their investments. Warren’s surge, as it was dutifully reported in the press, came when some of the big money began to shift from Biden to her.

Trump on the other hand had his own billionaire’s booty to back him, plus a little help from his wealthy cohorts. As billionaire Ross Perot proved in 1992, if you are filthy rich, you can independently run for president. And, in his case, throw the election from Bush the Elder to Bill Clinton.

To win a presidential election, however, you need more than deep pockets…you need a little help from your friends in getting a major party backing. Why a major party ballot line is so useful has constitutional antecedents.

The revolution of 1776, the last revolution that the US elites liked that was not rigged by the CIA, gave us the Articles of Confederation as the ruling document for the new sovereign. By 1787 the US elites of the time, Hamilton and supporting cast, were chaffing under what they characterized as the “excesses of democracy.” A new constitution was drafted and approved with “checks and balances.” What needed to be checked and balanced? Democracy, the direct rule of the people, was what was checked in the new document, while slavery was reaffirmed under the highest law of the land.

The new constitution gave us the Electoral College, whereby presidents are selected by “electors” rather than trusting the direct vote of the people and states can vote as a block. This allowed Trump to triumph even when his opponent received some 3 million more votes. Oddly, his Democratic Party opponents have since focused on alleged Russian interference through Facebook ads rather than the need to make the US Constitution an instrument for expression of the popular will.

But we are getting ahead of the story, because Trump still had to become the front runner in a crowded Republican field before he could even take on the other party of capital. Here he had help from friends in unexpected quarters. The Republican establishment hated him, but Clinton and the so-called liberal media became Trump boosters. The corporate media gave the flamboyant Trump a bully platform because it was good for ratings.

Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, as revealed in their leaked emails published by Wikileaks, pulled for Trump because they thought him an easier opponent than, say, the mainstream Republican heir-apparent Jeb Bush. There was precious little difference between the positions of Jeb and Hillary, though the popular images projected by the two major parties superficially diverged. The core of both parties greatly overlap, while the right fringe of the Republicans and the left fringe of the Democrats provide the contrasting colors but not the contending policy directions.

The 2016 electoral contest was a spectacle of insurgencies. Initially, there was Sanders. That he was somehow considered an “outsider” is a symptom of just how terminally ingrown the US polity has become. How could someone who served years in the US Senate and caucused with the Democrats be an outsider? Sanders ran on two premises: supporting the Democratic Party and raising suppressed issues such as income inequality. He succeeded in the first and failed in the second.

Meanwhile after 40 years of neoliberalism, CEO compensation has grown 940%  as compared to 12% for typical employees in the US.

Trump in his way also pandered to the genuinely deteriorating condition of US workers. Both the Trump and the Sanders anti-establishment insurgencies, however, were contained within the two-party system and thus were structurally destined not to come to fruition. The establishment won’t come down by joining them.

Unfaithful Servant of Imperialism

Defying even the Las Vegas bookies’ predictions, Trump became the 45th President of the US. He had kvetched about the plight of US workers and made some noise about ending unending wars, but was he for real? After all, Obama had promised to get out of Gitmo and NAFTA, but ended up doing neither. Obama, the former critic of Bush’s Iraq war, continued Bush’s wars and started a handful of his own.

Upon occupying the Oval Office, Trump not unexpectedly threw the working class under the bus with his tax cut for the rich and similar actions, which must have won him some brownie points from the owning class. But to date he has failed to start a new war. The last US president with a similar failing was the one-term Jimmy Carter. And now Trump is showing insufficient enthusiasm for continuing the war in Syria and possibly even a closet aversion to starting World War III with nuclear-armed Russia. These may be impeachable offenses in the estimation of parts of the ruling class.

David R. Sanger, writing in the October 7 New York Times, represents “liberal” establishment views in support of US imperialism: “Mr. Trump’s sudden abandonment of the Kurds was another example of the independent, parallel foreign policy he has run from the White House, which has largely abandoned the elaborate systems created since President Harry Truman’s day to think ahead about the potential costs and benefits of presidential decisions.”

There you have it. Trump is accused of having an “independent” foreign policy, emanating out of his office of all places, even though he is the elected President of the US and the one charged with executing foreign policy.

Who is Trump “independent” from? It’s not the US citizenry according to the Times. As the article points out: “Mr. Trump sensed that many Americans share his view – and polls show he is right… Mr. Trump has correctly read the American people who, after Iraq and Afghanistan, also have a deep distaste for forever wars.”

So, who might Trump have betrayed? According to the article, it’s “circumventing the American generals and diplomats who sing the praises of maintaining the traditional American forward presence around the world.” This is whom his alleged crime of independence is against. They fear Trump could “abandon” the post-war imperial consensus.

Note that the Times, as reflective of current ruling class ideology, no longer bothers to justify the dictates of the world’s sole hegemon as a crusade against the current evil, be it communism or terrorism. Simply, the imperial state must be supported. Hence, Trump’s view that “acting as the world’s policeman was too expensive” or his tweet, “time for us to get out,” have become grounds for impeachment.

The article favorably cites Republican majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell, who called on Trump “to exercise American leadership” by capitulating to the dictates of the imperial state, while contrasting it to that glory day “not even three months after his inauguration, [when] he ordered the first military strike of his presidency.”

The Times article continues: “That system is badly broken today. Mr. Trump is so suspicious of the professional staff – many drawn from the State Department and the C.I.A. – and so dismissive of the ‘deep state’ foreign policy establishment, that he usually announces decisions first, and forces the staff to deal with them later.”

“That system,” cited above, is the post-WWII permanent state. Trump is chastised in the Times for being “so dismissive of the ‘deep state’ foreign policy establishment.” Trump instead, according to the article, has the temerity to make his own decisions and then he expects the agencies of government to follow his instructions. For some, having the elected representative formulate policy and the unelected state apparatus follow it would be democratic. But not so for the cheerleaders of US imperialism.

The Dark Knight Rises

Trump’s habitual corruption and bullying has now been outed by a whistleblower. Unlike Ellsberg, Manning, and Snowden, who sought to correct US imperial policy, this whistleblower comes from the very gatekeeper of imperialism, the CIA. According to his lawyers, there is not a lone whistleblower but a whole cabal of well-placed spooks in the secret US security apparatus. The deep state (I would prefer the term “permanent” state) is more than a conspiracy theory.

The impeachment imbroglio is bigger than Trump. That the outing of Trump was done by a current employee of a US agency shrouded in secrecy, who is unaccountable and unknown, should be a subject of enormous concern for all small-d democrats and not just anti-imperialists. The CIA has the means and mission to overthrow regimes, and now ours may be one of them, however undesirable the current president may be.

We, the people, should take no solace that Trump, in his careening about, may stumble in the direction of anti-imperialism. Trump is just as much an imperialist as the rest. Only he is not as reliably consistent and that is what has gotten leading segments of the ruling class into a hissy fit. The ruling class is not always unified on policy. Here we are witness to an intra-class struggle. But we needn’t take sides, because the ruling class is always unified in serving their class interests, which are not ours.

A policy conflict, some have speculated, is raging within the ruling class between Trump’s “isolationist” and a more “globalist” imperialism. Rest assured the ruling class has institutions to adjudicate these disputes such as the Council on Foreign Relations. For the neocons and the “liberal” right-to-protect “humanitarian imperialists,” Trump’s lurches in the direction of non-intervention and rapprochement are only venial sins. The mortal sin would be if the erratic Trump fails to listen to what the Times delicately calls the “professionals.”

A corollary fear is if the “populist” (note how the ruling class thinks of this as a pejorative) Trump listens to the people’s desire for peace. Unlike the first fear, the latter is unwarranted. That is, unwarranted unless and until the people rebuild an independent peace movement to check the rising tide of US militarism.

An Open Letter to Science and Global Security

Dear Editors at Science and Global Security

Science and Global Security (SGS) has been publishing technical articles on arms control and related issues since 1989. I urge you not to succumb to political censorship.

Recently it was announced you are withholding publication of an article titled “Computational Forensic Analysis for the Chemical Weapons Attack at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017.” The article presents evidence that a crater in the road in the town of Khan Sheikhoun (Syria) could have been caused by an “improvised rocket-propelled artillery round with a high explosive warhead” rather than an aerial bomb dropped by a Syrian plane. The paper was authored by seven scientists from prominent universities and laboratories in the USA and China and based on advanced modelling techniques and computer simulations.

According to the article “Scientists clash over paper that questions Syrian government’s role in sarin attack” a campaign to stop you from publishing the analysis was launched by Gregory Koblentz. He is a political scientist not an engineer or physical scientist. His criticism of the article is because of the conclusion.

The political bias of Koblentz is clear from his article titled “Syria’s Chemical Weapons Kill Chain.” It accuses the Syrian government of using chemical weapons and speculates on the chain of command. It distorts the findings of the UN report on the attack of August 21, 2013. Actually, the UN lead investigator, Ake Sellstrom, suggested that it was a “fair guess” that the rockets carrying the sarin travelled 2 kilometers. This would have put the launch firmly in opposition held territory, directly contradicting Koblentz’s assertions that the Syrian government was to blame.

Facts and Investigations

You may not be aware of the following facts:

* The report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism was definitive about the crater. On page 7/33 it says, “the Mechanism assessed that the crater was most probably caused by a heavy object travelling at a high rate of velocity, such as an aerial bomb with a small explosive charge…The Mechanism also examined whether an IED could have caused the crater. While this possibility could not be completed ruled out, the experts assessed that that scenario was less likely….. ” (emphasis added).

* Some of the most proven investigative journalists have concluded that the incident was staged by the opposition. For example, the late Robert Parry wrote an article titled “Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack.” He noted that “Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity.” As Parry wrote, “More than 100 patients would appear to have been exposed to sarin before the alleged warplane could have dropped the alleged bomb and the victims could be evacuated, a finding that alone would have destroyed the JIM’s case against the Syrian government. But the JIM seemed more interested in burying this evidence of Al Qaeda staging the incident …”

* Seymour Hersh is another proven journalist. His research confirmed that no chemical bomb was used at Khan Sheikhoun. The Russians had even informed the US military ahead of time that they would be bombing an important meeting of groups that even the US defined as “terrorist”. Hersh’s conclusions are outlined in the article “Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried from View.”

* Yet another proven journalist, Gareth Porter, did a detailed investigation including confidential interviews with scientists with close ties to the OPCW. His in depth report is titled “Have We Been Deceived Over Syrian Sarin Attack? Scrutinizing the Evidence ….” Among many points he debunks the notion that the crater could have been caused by a chemical weapons bomb which is designed to release chemicals and NOT burn them in a large explosion.

* Finally, yet another proven journalist, Robert Fisk, has written about bias at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). One year after the incident at Khan Sheikhoun, another chemical weapons incident happened in Syria. In his article titled “question “the value of publishing the article given the sensitive and contested issue of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.” That is precisely the reason that you SHOULD publish the article, to be relevant and contribute to important public debate.

Global security is being threatened by claims and counter-claims about weapons of mass destruction. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on such claims. The “intelligence community” was certain but wrong. Now, in Syria there are similar claims and counter-claims. Two nuclear armed countries, the US and Russia, are involved.

The US has already attacked Syria on the basis of media reports to the approval of people like Gregory Koblentz. The pattern of aggression on the basis of dubious or false evidence is very dangerous and could lead to much greater conflict.
Political censorship does not serve science or global security. Publish the article.

Climate and the Little Green Women and Men

The Little Green Women and Men (LGWM) are us, humanoids, especially those living in the west, believing we command Mother Earth. Well, no wonder, there is a group among us, who claims to be “God’s Chosen People” – and they act it all the way. So much so, that they and their influence on LGWMs, have almost managed to dominate all the women, men and resources of Mother Earth.

Humanoids, LGWMs, are easily manipulated. They have chosen to be green, because “green” is IN. They are ‘little’, because in the big scheme of things, as compared to Mother Nature, for example, they are diminutive. Very.  Yet, they pretend to command the climate. Green parties all over the western world are multiplying fast; almost like the legendary grain on a chessboard. They are called green but they come in all shades, from brown to green to red, and everything in between. In Germany the Greens have become so popular that during the next elections they may catch up to 30 % of the votes.

Question is: What will they do when they come to real power, when they are in Government, confronted with the interests of big business? Will they bend over, cave in – as did the Socialist parties throughout Europe during the last half of the 20th Century?

Today, one has to be green to belong. Who is green, (pretends) fighting for the environment, for the protection of the environment – which is good, per se. But fighting for the environment is not a linear affair, as they, the LGWMs, are made to believe, and many of them believe, as “science” tells them to believe. When they believe, they create a comfort zone for themselves, where guilt disappears. They don’t question anymore. THE authority, called “science”, tells them the “facts” to believe. And if they do, they are almost absolved from guilt.

Almost – because to be really absolved in our western ultra-capitalist world, only money can really absolve you. So, they – or we, collectively, whether we believe in the propaganda or not (fortunately some of us don’t), will be asked to pay – to pay environmental fees and taxes of all kinds and shapes. To be more attractive they may be called ‘climate taxes’ for using fossil fuel, for buying plastic, for flying in airplanes, for consuming no end and-so-on. Hardly anybody asks what will be done with this new tax money.

As it cannot stop climate from changing, it will most likely end up in private banks, mostly Wall Street banks, where the billions collected will grow into speculative multi-trillions-dollar bubbles. And we know what eventually happens with bubbles. We all remember the Carbon Funds, which apparently are not dead yet, but will rather be resuscitated in this new fervor to fight climate change.

Stamped by our western Judeo-Christian guilt culture, we truly believe from the bottom of our hearts that paying a climate tax will free us from environmental responsibilities and put us back into our comfort zones. We then comfortably and guiltlessly continue driving our huge gas guzzling, CO2-emitting SUVs. That’s why the corporate manipulators — BIG-BIG money and their media — tells us every day, the Climate Armageddon is coming. So, we pay to postpone it.

It was coming already at the first UN-sponsored Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 which was extended to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, by 192 nations. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

But despite all the warnings of Armageddon, nothing has happened. Even if mankind was responsible for the CO2 production that changes climate, mankind, or rather the LGWMs, have ignored it. Climate Armageddon is still written all over the walls. But it moves from wall to wall, further into the future, as nobody seems to be interested in preventing it.

After Kyoto followed Copenhagen, the next UN-sponsored Climate Change Conference, also called the Copenhagen Summit, in December 2009. Similar discourse, and new targets were set and propagated; billions of dollars were pledged by governments – but few paid-in, mostly because already then it was not quite clear who should administer the funds and who should invest in what and where to stop the climate from changing. Copenhagen also coined the 350-slogan. It stands for 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide (CO2) which has been identified as the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. As of today, there is climate NGO called 350.org.

In 2019, CO2 is expected to pass the 410-ppm level.

As per the New Scientist (25 January 2019), carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019. We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.

No stopping of climate change is happening and Armageddon is moving on.

What this climate movement doesn’t seem to understand, or those that manage it do not want the world to know, that climate is a complex structure of ever shifting values and natural phenomena; that climate is influenced by many factors which are all inter-related and orders of magnitude more important than what man can ever contribute. There is the sun with its constantly changing eruptions and radiation emissions, perhaps the most important influence; then the oceans, while they absorb CO2, they also emit CO2 – and most important according to a 30-year NASA study the oceans themselves change temperatures in natural intervals of roughly ten years, which is called El Niño in the Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Atlantic. They are responsible for large-scale weather patterns, also orders of magnitude larger than what man could ever create. In addition, there are the volcanos around the world, many of which are active. A massive eruption of one of them; i.e., Iceland, the Philippines, Italy, Hawaii may produce a multiple of CO2 levels of what man produces in one year.

And we should also be aware of what is not much talked about, that the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed since the sixties a weather control-program that functions with electromagnetic waves emitted in the Ionosphere, altering ionospheric temperatures to create specific weather patterns. The intention is to weaponize the weather so as to control entire regions by weather, floods, droughts, hurricanes… you name it. This program has been tested and applied during the Vietnam war, when it was capable to prolong and enhance the Monsoon season, so as the paths the Vietcong used to transit from the North to the South were made impassable. That is really man-made.

The program used to be called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and was stationed in Alaska. It has now nominally been dismantled, but continuous more clandestinely to be sophisticated enough to allow the US to control the world’s weather by 2030, according to the Pentagon.

Talking about military and climate – the wars and conflicts mostly inspired by the US and carried out by the Pentagon, NATO or their mercenary proxies — cause more than half of the man-made CO2 emissions. This is a fact that may never be discussed in these UN-sponsored climate conferences — a strict rule imposed by Washington.

These are just a few climate-influencing elements, the composite of which is much larger than each one acting linearly on its own, because they are all inter-related, they are all acting holistically and dynamically – in other words, not predictably – and with a power orders of magnitude larger than CO2 by itself, let alone man-made CO2 which is but a tiny fraction of all greenhouse gases produced by nature. And these ever-occurring climate changes, are well controlled by nature, as NASA’s Earth Observatory found out by studying the oceans for over 30 years (). They are kept in balance by our Mother Earth, no matter how much we would like to influence them.

*****

Notice this: We are today threatened by nuclear war, a nuclear war that could wipe out mankind within a few days – yet we talk and demonstrate for climate change prevention, man-made CO2 reduction. Public Icon, the Swedish teenager, Greta, and her followers, the Friday for the Future kids and those that call themselves “Extinction Rebellion”, take to the streets in so-called climate strikes by the hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

Seriously, imagine the use of CO2-producing fossil fuel and an industrial agriculture infesting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the engine for 90% of the world’s economy – and let’s not forget the CO2 produced by wars and hostilities around the globe – all of which is also the engine for huge corporate profits!  Does anyone seriously believe that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, demonstrating against climate change  will have an iota of influence on corporate behavior and profit oriented growth policies?

These kids – the LGWMs – are dreaming. Most of them anyway. Some of their leaders are directed by the same corporations they pretend to fight and to demonstrate against. Generally, the LGWM movement doesn’t have a clear agenda, other than talking loosely and abstractly about CO2 reduction. But they don’t really know how to go about it and what this means, what steps need to be taken and by whom, what implications and consequences this would have for our today’s civilization and every-day life, yes, theirs too, the climate kids’ every-day life. Thy have no program of what has to change; they just believe the change has to come from ‘outside’; i.e., the politicians. No idea either that these same politicians are captured by the same industrial, financial and specifically the war industrial complex and that this highly capitalist money-making machinery also commands the propaganda apparatus on which they drive and thrive.

These climate folks managed to organize a special UN Climate event preceding the 2019 UN General Assembly, during which the most powerful and obnoxious representatives of nations and heads of states, notably of the US of A, talked aggression no end to those countries that do not bend to their orders and do not want to submit their people and natural resources for exploitation and profit of the western elite. In the special firing line are the usual condemned and sanctioned – but almost the only true sovereign countries left on this globe – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea – and, of course, Russia and China.

Instead of seeking peace, the essence of the UN Charter, the UN has become a forum for war declarations and climate change. If ever man wants to make a true contribution to climate change, it can only be done by PEACE, through peaceful cooperation and solidarity among nations across the globe.

The LGWM movement has to wake up to a reality which is not propaganda-based and has to do with our behavior, with our entire attitude, with our socioeconomic system, with a turbo-capitalist system that is growth-based with ever larger profit margins. The system to survive has to expand every day, every year.  It induces extreme consumerism, thrives on fashion trends, and on generation of massive waste, most of which is not biodegradable, but accumulates and – yes, influences our ambiance, living conditions – and eventually being part of a holistic world, also influences the climate.

We are living in a throw-away society, driven by an industrial apparatus that uses obsolescence as a tool for consumerism and growth, to generate more profit, no matter how much more non-renewable resources will have to be sacrificed and wasted – ending up as waste, rotting away, polluting the air we breathe, the soil we use to grow our food and the water – the all-important water, without which no life is possible.

To slow down and eventually stop the rapid decline of our existence on this lovely and generous planet, we ALL have to contribute in solidarity to PEACE. A life in peace is a sine qua non for improving our planet’s environment and thereby our sheer living conditions, quality of life, and foremost to bring about more societal equality, less poverty a better distribution of wealth. All of this requires a massive awakening, an awakening towards a consciousness that is immune to egocentricity to fake propaganda that is 180 degrees opposite to the current selfie-culture.

In the 1950s, I’m old enough to remember, we wrote letters to our friends and relatives, shopped in corner grocery stores, bought beverages in recycled glass bottles, filled our staple food from bulk containers into recycled paper bags, and wrapped fresh vegetables into newspapers (not plastic), went to public phone booths to call our girlfriends, walked, or biked to school, and if at all, our parents had small cars, no SUVs, prepared our sandwiches for school, used the same cloths for years, talked with each other eye-to-eye, enjoyed nature.

Today, nature is the same in the city or the countryside, because we stumble through nature wherever we go watching the little screen of an obsolescence disposable smartphone, with which we chat, smile and also make some phone calls. Then, in the post WWII fifties, our lives were more modest and happier. Then, we consumed less than what Mother Earth could sustainably provide us with. In the 1960s we started exceeding that threshold. Today, we, in the west, use three to four times what nature can give us (Africa about 0.6) and that for sure will not go on forever.

Perhaps we have to think about jumping forward to a life style of the fifties and that consciously and conscientiously – and we won’t have to worry about 350-ppm CO2 as the limit for sustainable climate, because it will happen naturally and climate change will continue to happen naturally, as it always did for 4 billion years of our planet’s existence and never bothered us. And most importantly, we have to learn to consciously remind ourselves that we are a solidary peaceful society, and we have to consciously disconnect from MSM, turn off our ears to the ever blaring and lying media propaganda lyrics. Consciousness is our integrity and base for social cohesiveness.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO