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Depicting Putin as ‘Madman’ Eliminates Need for Diplomacy

The Western media caricature of Putin as a psychopathic leader acting on irrational and idiosyncratic beliefs is a  convenient propaganda narrative that excuses US officials from taking diplomacy seriously—at the expense of Ukrainian lives and nuclear brinkmanship

FAIR, JOSHUA CHO, 30 Mar 22, Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Western media have depicted Russian President Vladimir Putin as an irrational—perhaps mentally ill—leader who cannot be reasoned or bargained with. Such portrayals have only intensified as the Ukraine crisis came to dominate the news agenda.

The implications underlying these media debates and speculations about Putin’s psyche are immense. If one believes that Putin is a “madman,” the implication is that meaningful diplomatic negotiations with Russia are impossible, pushing military options to the forefront as the means of resolving the Ukraine situation.

If Putin is not a rational actor, the implication is that no kind of diplomacy could have prevented the Russian invasion, and therefore no other country besides Russia shares blame for ongoing violence. (See FAIR.org3/4/22.) Yet another implication is that if Putin’s defects made Russia’s invasion unavoidable, then regime change may be necessary to resolve the conflict.

‘Increasingly insane’

Western media have for years been debating whether Putin is insane (Extra!5/14; FAIR.org2/12/15) or merely pretending to be—speculation that has only intensified in recent weeks:

  • Guardian (2/24/22): “Decision to Invade Ukraine Raises Questions Over Putin’s ‘Sense of Reality’”
  • Daily Beast (3/1/22): “The Russian People May Be Starting to Think Putin Is Insane”
  • Vanity Fair (3/1/22): “Report: An ‘Increasingly Frustrated’ Putin, a Madman With Nuclear Weapons, Is Lashing Out at His Inner Circle”
  • New York (3/4/22): “Putin’s War Looks Increasingly Insane”

The Guardian report (2/24/22) cited concerns raised in European official circles about Putin’s mental state:

They worry about a 69-year-old man whose tendency towards insularity has been amplified by his precautions against Covid, leaving him surrounded by an ever-shrinking coterie of fearful obedient courtiers. He appears increasingly uncoupled from the contemporary world, preferring to burrow deep into history and a personal quest for greatness.

Even when other media analysts argued that Putin’s alleged mental illness was merely a ruse to wrest concessions from the west, this was not presented as a rationale for negotiating with him, but rather as a reason to reject de-escalation and diplomacy. Forbes (3/1/22)……….

‘Detached from reality’

In the Daily Beast (3/1/22), Amy Knight, a historian of Russia and the USSR, displayed a remarkable ability to read Putin’s mind, discerning the real motivations of someone she describes as possibly “detached from reality…………………..

Reason is not going to work’

Other Western media headlines offered quite specific, though varying, evaluations of Putin’s mental state from a distance. ……..


Atlantic 
(4/15/14): “Vladimir Putin, Narcissist?”Independent (2/1/15): “President Putin Is a Dangerous Psychopath—Reason Is Not Going to Work With Him”USA Today (2/4/15): “Pentagon 2008 Study Claims Putin Has Asperger’s Syndrome”Sun (2/28/22): “Vladimir Putin Is Egocentric, Narcissistic & Exhibits Key Traits of a Psychopath”Fox News (3/2/22): “Russian President Vladimir Putin Has Features of a Psychopath: Expert”

These diagnoses from afar have been going on for a long time…………………………………………………..

As of this writing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hasn’t attempted any conversations with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while Russian military commanders are declining calls from the Pentagon, likely due to the US sharing military intelligence with the Ukrainian government. This silence on both the diplomatic and military fronts risks further escalation instead of a quick negotiated end to the war.

The Western media caricature of Putin as a psychopathic leader acting on irrational and idiosyncratic beliefs is a  convenient propaganda narrative that excuses US officials from taking diplomacy seriously—at the expense of Ukrainian lives and nuclear brinkmanship (Antiwar.com3/10/22). Recent negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul were hailed by both parties as constructive, with Russia vowing to reduce military activity around Kyiv and northern Ukraine as a result (NPR3/29/22). It’s important not to let US officials subvert peace negotiations between the two parties on the evidence-free grounds that negotiations with Russia are pointless.  https://fair.org/home/depicting-putin-as-madman-eliminates-need-for-diplomacy/

March 31, 2022 Posted by | media, politics international, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

As UK government touted ”media freedom”, Julian Assange in high security Belmarsh Prison was an embarassment

JULIAN ASSANGE POSED PR PROBLEM FOR UK GOVERNMENT’S MEDIA CAMPAIGN  https://declassifieduk.org/julian-assange-posed-pr-problem-for-uk-governments-media-campaign/

UK officials were worried about public reaction to their hosting a media freedom event a few miles from Belmarsh prison, where Assange is incarcerated. The Foreign Office monitored activity online, developed ‘lines to take’ and warned ‘we should be ready’, emails show.

JOHN MCEVOY23 MARCH 2022  The UK’s treatment of Julian Assange posed a public relations problem for the Foreign Office’s media freedom campaign, files seen by Declassified UK show.

In July 2019, the UK co-hosted a Global Conference for Media Freedom, a first-of-its-kind event where 50 countries gathered to form a Media Freedom Coalition.

Costing £2.4 million, the event was hailed as “a major milestone” in the UK government’s “campaign to protect journalists doing their job”.

The conference was held just months after WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 

He was transferred to Belmarsh prison, “the closest comparison in the United Kingdom to Guantánamo”, as a UK parliamentary report has described it.

Addressing the media conference, then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt declared: “If we act together, we can shine a spotlight on abuses and impose a diplomatic price on those who would harm journalists or lock them up for doing their jobs”.

‘We should be ready’

The hosting of a media freedom event within miles of Belmarsh prison in southeast London was seen as a public relations problem. Internal Foreign Office emails show UK officials monitored online behaviour accordingly.

After Hunt announced plans for the conference in February 2019, one official complained about “a few individual crazy responses to the FS’ [Foreign Secretary’s] tweet”.

By June, officials were requesting “Lines to Take on how best to respond to questions we expect to be raised on this occasion about the UK handling of the case of Julian Assange”.

In particular, “Icelandic criticism of UK handling of [the] Assange case” was seen to be “affecting messaging on media freedom”. 

This email was likely related to former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, who had asserted in June that the Assange case put “the British justice system…on trial”

On 8 July, two days before the conference began, an unnamed official wrote about “a ramp up in activity by Assange campaigners”. 

One cause for concern was Assange’s mother Christine, who had “joined calls for a tweetstorm during the conference”, as well as “accounts [which] are small scale or are run by active trolls and provocateurs”.

The official outlined rules for engagement, noting “our current approach is right and we shouldn’t engage…However, we should be ready. I’m keen that we agree ahead of time how and when our approach would evolve”.

In an email with the subject line “Media Freedom Conference – online register of interest form”, one official even questioned: “what if someone like Assange applied to attend?”

The Foreign Office emails discussing Assange remain heavily redacted for reasons of “national security”.

‘No communications strategy can make this go away’

According to a recent academic study, Julian Assange “was by far the most frequently discussed individual on Twitter” with regards to the Media Freedom Coalition.

“Numerous tweets highlighted the apparent irony that the UK was establishing and leading an international initiative on media freedom, while simultaneously undermining free media…in their handling of Assange”, the researchers found.

Since 2019, the UK has nonetheless continued to use the Global Conference for Media Freedom as a vehicle through which to claim it supports press freedom.

Rebecca Vincent, the Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), commented:

“It is disappointing that rather than looking to address the very serious substantive concerns about the case of Julian Assange, the UK Foreign Office seems to have treated the matter as only a public relations inconvenience as it prepared to host the Global Media Freedom Conference and launch the Media Freedom Coalition. 

“But the truth is that no communications strategy can make this go away. As long as Assange remains detained in the UK and as long as the US continues to seek his extradition and prosecution for publishing information in the public interest, this case will serve as a thorn in the sides of both governments and the Media Freedom Coalition itself.”

She added: “They should instead lead by example by dropping the charges, releasing Assange, and putting an end to his persecution once and for all”.

March 24, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Veterans warn against no-fly zone in UK: Examine Western propaganda critically

……………………….   you should question everything that you are being told by anyone and from any source. But you should still seek out alternative sources and stories to consider before thinking upon them and deciding what to believe. Only by using your critical thinking skills can you arrive at some general semblance of the truth while humbly accepting that you can never be too certain of the truth. 

There are often more questions than answers. But corporate media in the United States and the West in general is not to be trusted. They generally deliver more propaganda than truth. So question what you are told. Think for yourself………………… 

The Peace Press — Saturday, March 19, 2022 edition Major kudos to the organization to which I belong, Veterans for Peace, for issuing a press release warning against a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. A no-fly-zone would be an act of war and it would represent a major escalation of hostilities by pitting U.S.-NATO planes directly against Russian military planes. This would be a major escalation that could considerably broaden the war and possibly lead to even nuclear war. The Establishment of a No-Fly-Zone must be avoided at all costs.

“VETERANS WARN AGAINST “NO-FLY ZONE” IN UKRAINE

Veterans of several U.S. wars are urging President Biden to hold fast against growing political pressure to implement a “no-fly zone.”

A No Fly Zone is an area established by a military power over which opposing aircraft are not permitted. No Fly Zones are enforced by military interception of aircraft and missiles using deadly force, and sometimes include preemptive strikes to prevent potential violations. In other words, a country that declares a no-fly zone must then be ready to enforce the protected space, putting the U.S. in direct military conflict with Russia, escalating war between two nuclear powers.”

~Veterans for Peace

………………………… let there be no mistake that the Russians bear the responsibility for invading and that is condemnable but let us also remember that the U.S.-American Empire navigated and manipulated the situation in such a manner that convinced the Russians that they had no alternative but to invade. So pinning all the blame on one side of this conflict without blaming or recognizing the actions of the other side is but an exercise in blatant propaganda by either one side or the other side. Both are culpable and both must be held to account through equal condemnations in the same breath. Good versus evil dichotomies typically only exist in fairy- tales and religion. The real world is full of nuance, gray areas, complexity and multi-layered histories working in tandem with each other. So is this case with Ukraine where to pin all the blame on only one actor is an example of propaganda.

Contrary to what is being blasted from all corners of corporate media in their attempt to paint an easy to understand narrative of good-vs-evil where we, of course, are good as is implied, this war has surprisingly little to do with Vladimir Putin. In fact, this is a Russian Establishment reactive war for which Putin himself was under massive internal political pressure to initiate. Contrary to what we are told by corporate media, Putin is not a dictator, he is an elected politician who must respond to internal pressures because his political power resides in the consent and approval of those constituencies inside Russia. The pressure to militarily intervene in Ukraine was strongly emanating from powerful quarters of the Russian political system primarily from the nationalist and military wings and also as expressed in the legislative actions of the Duma which recognized the breakaway Republics in Ukraine just prior to the invasion. Putin acquiesced to this massive political pressure.

Contrary to the madman Adolf Hitler effigy that corporate media rolls out for every new war, the reality is far more complex, convoluted, multi-layered and primarily rooted in Russian internal politics as so many wars often are rooted in internal politics. Furthermore, a lot of what we see now and saw before is baseless propaganda. To this day, there is a long list of allegations against President Putin but a vastly shorter list of actual evidence to support these many allegations. He could be guilty of such allegations but the lack of evidence does not support that view. More likely, this is all just part of a wider smear campaign designed to get everyone onboard with hating Putin and Russia. And more to the point, even if some of these allegations are true, how Russia treats its citizens and who Russia’s citizens elect to be their president is not the business of anyone but Russian citizens. We should keep our damn noses out of it. To those who propose regime change in Russia, may I remind you that there is no guarantee that what will come next will be any better than the current leadership and in fact could be far worse. 

 As an example of this I cite Saddam Hussein and Iraq. While Americans may think Iraq is better off now, that feeling does not square with the hundreds-of-thousands of Iraqi’s who perished in civil wars that were caused by deposing Saddam Hussein. In reality, our toppling of Saddam Hussein destabilized the Middle East, caused unimaginable suffering and massive death and destruction, so be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. But again, who or what government rules in Russia is no business of the United States of America. I say these things because I think it is very important to dispel myths and discern reality by separating fact from fiction especially now that the media is whipping people up into a frenzy of war fever.

Vladimir Putin, to his credit, exhausted nearly every diplomatic channel for the last 14 years dating back to the Munich Conference of 2008 to warn the West that both Georgia and Ukraine were red lines for Russian national security interests. These warnings were meant to avoid war and avoid what would be seen by the Russian Establishment as absolutely critical and necessary Russian military involvement if such red lines were crossed. We have long known this to be true but the U.S. Empire continued to cross those red lines, almost seemingly wanting the Russians to invade. Think about that for a moment. Who benefits from a new Cold War with Russia? Perhaps, those who reap vast profits, like weapons-makers for example? Yes, the economics of vast profits is yet another driver of war. At every turn, the U.S. rebuffed and ignored these warnings preferring instead to bask in American Exceptionalism which basically boils down to an American Empire imposed rules-based-world-order but one in which the United States Empire is conveniently exempt from obeying. In short, do as we say, not as we do otherwise known as hypocrisy.

Furthermore, ever since the U.S. American Empire got into bed with neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine and helped them overthrow a democratically-elected government in 2014, both the Russian Establishment and the ethnic Russian Ukranian population of Eastern Ukraine were completely freaked out and felt directly threatened, This fear was for good reason, as later events would clearly demonstrate namely the neo-Nazi slaugther of ethnic-Russian Eastern Ukrainians. This prompted a separtist movement that formed in response to this threat, since the separtists feared the oversized influence of neo-Nazi elements inside the Ukrainian government along with a understandable revulsion against the installed puppet regime by the United States in Ukraine. This created a major civil conflict inside Ukraine that ultimately prompted diplomatic efforts to resolve. As a result, in 2015 after many negotiations, the Minsk Accords were signed by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine and this signaled a significant diplomatic breakthrough to resolving internal strife in Ukraine by recognizing the human rights of the ethnic Russian population of Eastern Ukraine by promoting political autonomy for them and by establishing specific guarantees to allay Russian national security concerns. This is another example of how the Russians attempted to use diplomacy to avert a war. 

However, since 2015 the Ukrainian government, under heavy Imperialist pressure from the United States/American Empire, scuttled and ignored the Minsk Accords, thus essentially blocking their implementation. This action by the American Empire operating through its Ukrainian government puppet coupled with the NATO-ization of Ukraine (militarization of Ukraine) and by an array of other aggressive U.S. actions including aggressive military maneuvers and nuclear missile emplacements close to Russian borders virtually guaranteed a Russian military response. Remember that our military-industrial-complex benefits greatly reaping soaring profits from a new Cold War with Russia while the rest of us get financially screwed. That is also what this conflict is about, the wealthy want more money and war is how they intend to get it while the rest of us suffer greatly. Therefore, one cannot honestly criticize one side of this war without also laying equal blame upon the other side of this war. Meanwhile, Ukranians die at the hands of Russian guns but upon the altar of American Imperialist maneuverings that provoked this war. The American Empire is as much to blame as the Russians for this war. Every condemnation of this war should reflect that.

But how many Ukrainian civilians are actually dying in this war? One could say that even one death is too many and they would be right. But here again, civilian death totals are more prone to being twisted by propaganda from either one side or the other. While we are bombarded with an endless barrage of good-vs-evil reporting from mass media, where we are always good and the Russians are always evil, the truth is far more complex, difficult, unclear and unpleasant. While we are consistently fed the line that Russians are wantonly massacring civilians en masse, the numbers simply do not seem to support this allegation. So you should question this kind of reporting that is susceptible to propaganda. The relatively low numbers of civilian casualties 3 weeks into an invasion (less than 1000) along with the relatively slow advance of Russian forces along with the fact that Russian troops are mostly staying in areas of Eastern Ukraine along with the fact that Eastern Ukraine is primarily composed of an ethnic Russian and Russian speaking population, would all seem to suggest that the Russian military is taking great care to avoid civilian loss of life upon their ethnic Russian brethren in Eastern Ukraine, contrary to what we are being told on corporate media. 

This would logically make sense since the population of Eastern Ukraine is largely comprised of ethnic-Russians who primarily speak Russian — — — -why would they want to kill their own brethren? That just doesn’t make sense (which is how I know it is likely Western propaganda — — — you just have to think for yourself just a little). So far it seems, Russian military actions are predominantly focused upon Ukrainian military targets and neo-Nazi strongholds as in Mariupol and foreign fighter bases near the Polish border and an assortment of weapons depots. There are also reports that neo-Nazi elements, particularly near their stronghold at Mariupol are blocking refugee escape corridors thus driving up civilian casualty counts unneccessarily.

……………………….   you should question everything that you are being told by anyone and from any source. But you should still seek out alternative sources and stories to consider before thinking upon them and deciding what to believe. Only by using your critical thinking skills can you arrive at some general semblance of the truth while humbly accepting that you can never be too certain of the truth. 

…..  more https://www.veteransforpeace.org/pressroom/news/2022/03/17/release-veterans-warn-against-no-fly-zone-ukrai

March 21, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | 1 Comment

How Much Less Newsworthy Are Civilians in Other Conflicts?

A lot less, particularly when they’re victims of the US, FAIR, JULIE HOLLAR, 18 Mar 22, As US news media covered the first shocking weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some media observers—like FAIR founder Jeff Cohen (Common Dreams2/28/22)—have noted their impressions of how coverage differed from wars past, particularly in terms of a new focus on the impact on civilians.

To quantify and deepen these observations, FAIR studied the first week of coverage of the Ukraine war (2/24–3/2/22) on ABC World News TonightCBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News. We used the Nexis news database to count both sources (whose voices get to be heard?) and segments (what angles are covered?) about Ukraine during the study period. Comparing this coverage to that of other conflicts reveals both a familiar reliance on US officials to frame events, as well as a newfound ability to cover the impact on civilians—when those civilians are white and under attack by an official US enemy, rather than by the US itself.

Ukrainian sourcesno experts

One of the most striking things about early coverage has been the sheer number of Ukrainian sources. FAIR always challenges news media to seek out the perspective of those most impacted by events, and US outlets are doing so to a much greater extent in this war than in any war in recent history. Of 234 total sources—230 of whom had identifiable nationalities—119 were Ukrainian (including five living in the United States.)

However, these were overwhelmingly person-on-the-street interviews that rarely consisted of more than one or two lines. Even the three Ukrainian individuals identified as having a relevant professional expertise—two doctors and a journalist—spoke only of their personal experience of the war. Twenty-one (17% of Ukrainian sources) were current or former government or military officials.

Airing so many Ukrainian voices, but asking so few to provide actual analysis, has the effect of generating sympathy, but for a people painted primarily as pawns or victims, rather than as having valuable knowledge, history and potential contributions to determine their own futures.

Meanwhile, Russian government sources only appeared four times. Sixteen other Russian sources were quoted: 13 persons on the street, an opposition politician and two members of wealthy families.

Eighty sources were from the United States, including 57 current or former US officials. Despite the diplomatic involvement of the European Union, only two Western European sources were featured: the Norwegian NATO Secretary General and a German civilian helping refugees in Poland. There were also eight foreign civilians featured living in Ukraine: three from the US, three African and two Middle Eastern.

And while political leaders certainly bring important knowledge and perspective to war coverage, so too do scholars, think tanks and civic organizations with regional expertise. But these voices were almost completely marginalized, with only five such civil society experts appearing during the study period. All were in the United States, although one was Ukrainian-American Michael Sawkiw (CBS2/24/22), who represented the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (an organization associated with Stepan Bandera’s faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which participated in the Holocaust during World War II).

In effect, then, US news media have largely allowed US officials to frame the terms of the conflict for viewers. While officials lambasted the Russian government and emphasized “what we’re going to do to help the Ukrainian people in the struggle” (NBC, 3/1/22), no sources questioned the US’s own role in contributing to the conflict (FAIR.org, 3/4/22), or the impact of Western sanctions on Russian civilians.

The bias in favor of US officials, and the marginalization of experts from the country being invaded—as well as civil society experts from any country—recalls US TV news coverage of another large-scale invasion in recent history: the US invasion of Iraq. A FAIR study (Extra!5–6/03) at the time found that in the three weeks after the US launched that war, current and former US officials made up more than half (52%) of all sources on the primetime news programs on ABCCBSNBCCNNFox and PBS. Iraqis were only 12% of sources, and 4% of all sources were academic, think tank or NGO representatives.

n other words, though the bias is even greater when the US is leading the war, US media seem content to let US officials fashion the narrative around any war, and to mute their critics.

Visible and invisible civilians

But there are striking differences as well in coverage of the two wars. Most notably, when the US invaded Iraq, civilians in the country made up a far smaller percentage of sources: 8% to Ukraine’s 45%.

n other words, though the bias is even greater when the US is leading the war, US media seem content to let US officials fashion the narrative around any war, and to mute their critics.

Visible and invisible civilians

But there are striking differences as well in coverage of the two wars. Most notably, when the US invaded Iraq, civilians in the country made up a far smaller percentage of sources: 8% to Ukraine’s 45%.

But on US TV news, antiwar sentiment appeared starkly different in the two conflicts. Of the 20 Russian sources in the study, ten (50%) expressed opposition to the war, significantly higher than the proportion polls were showing. Meanwhile, antiwar voices represented only 3% of all US sources in early Iraq coverage (FAIR.org5/03), a dramatic downplaying of public opposition.

Civilian-centered war coverage

The brunt of modern wars is almost always borne by innocent civilians. But US media coverage of that civilian toll is rarely in sharp focus, such that recent reporting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offers an exceptional view of what civilian-centered war coverage can look like—under certain circumstances.

In our study, we looked not just at sources, but also the content of segments about Ukraine. In the first week of the war, the US primetime news broadcasts on ABCCBS and NBC offered regular reports on the civilian toll of the invasion, sending reporters to major targeted cities, as well as to border areas receiving refugees.

Seventy-one segments across the three networks covered the impact on Ukrainian civilians, both those remaining behind and those fleeing the violence. Twenty-eight of these mentioned or centered on civilian casualties.

Many reports described or aired soundbites of civilians describing their fear and the challenges they faced; several highlighted children. A representative ABC segment (2/28/22), for instance, featured correspondent Matt Gutman reporting: “This little girl on the train sobbing into her stuffed animal, just one of the more than 500,000 people leaving everything behind, fleeing in cramped trains.”

Making the impact on civilians the focus of the story, and featuring their experiences, encourages sympathy for those civilians and condemnation of war. But this demonstration of news media’s ability to center the civilian impact, including civilian casualties, in Ukraine is all the more damning of their coverage of wars in which the US and its allies have been the aggressors—or in which the victims have not been white.

They seem so like us’

Many pundits and journalists have been caught saying the quiet part loud. “They seem so like us,” wrote Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph (2/26/22). “That is what makes it so shocking.”

CBS News‘ Charlie D’Agata (2/25/22) told viewers that Ukraine

isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.

“What’s compelling is, just looking at them, the way they are dressed, these are prosperous—I’m loath to use the expression—middle-class people,” marveled BBC reporter Peter Dobbie on Al Jazeera (2/27/22):

These are not obviously refugees looking to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war. These are not people trying to get away from areas in North Africa. They look like any European family that you would live next door to.

While US news media have at times shown interest in Black and brown refugees and victims of war (e.g., Extra!10/15), it’s hard to imagine them ever getting the kind of massive coverage granted the Ukrainians who “look like us”—as defined by white journalists.

‘Give war a chance’

And one can certainly think of instances in which non-white refugees are given short shrift by US news. Despite their claims of deep concern for the people of Afghanistan as the US withdrew troops last year, for example, these same TV networks have barely covered the predictable and preventable humanitarian catastrophe facing the country (FAIR.org12/21/21). More than 5 million Afghan civilians are either refugees or internally displaced……………………………………

‘The booms of distant wars’

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced, NBC anchor Lester Holt (2/25/22) mused:

Tonight, there are at least 27 armed conflicts raging on this planet. Yet so often the booms of distant wars fade before they reach our consciousness. Other times, raw calculations of shared national interests close that distance. But as we are reminded again in images from Ukraine, the pain of war is borderless.

Holt spoke as though journalists like himself play no role in determining which wars reach our consciousness and which fade. The pain of war might be borderless, but international responses to that pain depend very much on the sympathy generated by journalists through their coverage of it. And Western journalists have made very clear which victims’ pain is most newsworthy to them.  https://fair.org/home/how-much-less-newsworthy-are-civilians-in-other-conflicts/

March 19, 2022 Posted by | media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Silence in the media and Labour “left” on Assange’s extradition danger

Silence in the media and Labour “left” on Assange’s extradition danger, WSWS, 16 Mar 22,

Thomas Scripp,  Julian Assange was shunted a step closer to his would-be executioners on Monday. The UK Supreme Court issued a one-line decision refusing to hear the WikiLeaks founder’s appeal against an earlier decision ordering his extradition to the United States.
The case will now be returned to the original court as a formality before being passed to the home secretary, Priti Patel, to give the final order. Once Patel receives the case, Assange could be on a plane to the US in just four weeks’ time, except for inevitable further appeals.The Biden administration intends to prosecute Assange for charges under the Espionage Act with a potential sentence of 175 years in prison. This would be served in barbaric conditions that previous judgements acknowledged could drive him to suicide. His health has already been destroyed by years of incarceration in Britain’s maximum security Belmarsh prison.
Despite the immense danger faced by the most significant journalist of the 21st century, many major newspapers did not cover the Supreme Court decision. Those that did ran entirely perfunctory stories, largely without comment.Britain’s leading liberal newspaper, the Guardian, did not write a single critical line in its cursory 350-word article, quoting just two sentences from his legal team. The US New York Times managed, “If Mr. Assange were extradited to the United States and faced a trial, the case could raise profound First Amendment issues. His prosecution has alarmed advocates of press freedom.”

These are publications which have spent the last weeks screaming about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s censorship and attacks on free speech and journalistic freedoms. When speaking out about democratic rights lines up with imperialist war aims, they are fervent advocates. In the case of Assange, who exposed the systematic crimes of US and British imperialism, the “democratic principles” they so fiercely defend in Russia whither on the vine.

The NATO-Russia war over Ukraine has not only accelerated Assange’s persecution, but intensified his long and deliberate isolation by the corporate media.

At a briefing with the Foreign Press Association last month, to introduce his new book The Trial of Julian Assange: A Story of Persecution, UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer accused the mainstream media of failing in their duty as the “fourth estate” to hold governments to account. Melzer’s book is based on his three years of efforts to end the illegal mistreatment of the WikiLeaks founder.

In it, he criticises the “too little, too late”, “tame and lame” reporting of the British, American and American press, exposing their cynical pseudo-support for Assange:“A handful of half-hearted opinion pieces in the Guardian and the New York Times rejecting Assange’s extradition are not bold enough, and so fail to convince. While both papers have timidly declared that convicting Assange of espionage would endanger press freedom, not a single mainstream media outlet protests the blatant violations of due process, human dignity and the rule of law that pervade the entire trial. None holds the involved governments to account for their crimes and corruption; none has the courage to confront political leaders with uncomfortable questions; none feels dutybound to inform and empower the people—a mere shadow of what was once the ‘fourth estate’.”

Amid the war frenzy and the need to present Britain and the US as champions of global democracy, even the days of the half-hearted opinion piece are over.

Melzer’s point extends far beyond the media. The UN rapporteur is one of just a handful of prominent public figures in any sphere with an honourable record on Assange. At his FPA event, he described his inability to seek redress “through the diplomatic channels at my disposal, or by alerting the General Assembly [of the UN] or the Human Rights Council in Geneva,” describing Assange as “the untouchable case,” kept behind a “wall of silence”.

Among the more significant silences is kept by the British “left”.

In July 2020, only 26 MPs could bring themselves to sign an early day motion, “Julian Assange, press freedom and public-interest journalism”, which asserted, “That this House notes the July 2020 statement by the National Union of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and others in relation to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and affirms its commitment to press freedom and public-interest journalism.”

Among the signatories were 16 Labour MPs, including now former party leader Jeremy Corbyn and several of his shadow front benchers: John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Ian Lavery and Clive Lewis.

Of this rump, only one, Claudia Webbe, has spoken on Assange since the Supreme Court decision. Webbe is no longer a Labour MP, having been expelled from the party after a criminal harassment conviction. She tweeted simply, “Julian Assange should be free”…………………….   https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/03/16/assa-m16.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

March 17, 2022 Posted by | media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Message to Biden: Help De-Escalation in Ukraine or Risk Nuclear War

 https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/03/14/message-biden-help-de-escalation-ukraine-or-risk-nuclear-war, Instead of pouring in weapons and piling on sanctions, we should call on President Biden to begin good faith negotiations with all concerned parties, respecting each of their security concerns.

GERRY CONDON, March 14, 2022  “The first casualty of  war is truth.” This simple yet profound statement is attributed to many, including Hiram Johnson in a speech in the U.S. Senate in 1918, during the “war to end all wars.”……………….. 

As the war rages in Ukraine in 2022, actual combat is eclipsed by well-practiced information warfare. It was not surprising when the White House and State Department began shouting that the Russians were about to launch a “false flag” event to justify their pending invasion of Ukraine. After all, isn’t that the way it is always done? Isn’t that the way the US did it with the Tonkin Gulf Incident in Vietnam, babies being thrown out of incubators in Kuwait, and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Of course, the US has a bigger challenge claiming self-defense as it invades smaller, weaker countries halfway around the globe. 

Twenty-four hour news coverage is keeping Americans hyped up and dumbed down

Once the fighting commences, deception is also an important ploy on the battlefield. The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus wrote, “God is not adverse to deceit in a just cause.”  Aside from keeping the enemy guessing about when and where the next attack will be launched, it is critically important to maintain popular support for a questionable enterprise that requires the sacrifice of blood and treasure. 

Totally absent from nonstop coverage of the war and condemnations of Russian president Putin is any reporting on the role of the United States and NATO in creating the crisis over Ukraine. No reports about the relentless NATO expansion up to the very borders of Russia.  No mention of US missile emplacements in Romania and Poland.  Nothing about the unilateral US exit from vital nuclear treaties—the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (George W. Bush, 2002), and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (Donald Trump, 2018).

Twenty-four hour cable news coverage of the ugly war in Ukraine is keeping Americans hyped up and dumbed down.  The very real horror of war is on the screen for all to see. The bombed-out buildings, the mounting civilian casualties and the frightened refugees speak their own truth. Unfortunately, we rarely see the victims, the grieving families and the terrified refugees when the invader is the US. The “shock and awe” US terror bombing campaign on Baghdad was described by one network TV anchor as a “beautiful thing to see.”

Joe Biden is also worried about nuclear war, a serious concern for all modern presidents. Vladimir Putin is brandishing his large nuclear arsenal as a disincentive for direct US/NATO engagement in the Ukraine war. The US canceled a planned ICBM test launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California to its usual target in the much-bombed Marshall Islands. Apparently, the US did not want to risk spooking Putin, about whose mental state many people are speculating. Could it be that Putin is employing Richard Nixon’s famous “madman theory,” keeping his enemies at bay with unpredictability?

Of course, Russia has its own propaganda apparatus, but we will not be much exposed to it here in the US. Russia Today (RT) has been removed from most cable TV services as well as from YouTube. Well actually, almost everything Russian is currently being canceled, in a furious frenzy of the Russia-hating that has been central to US culture ever since World War II. The Russians are never given credit for their outsized role in defeating the Nazis, nor sympathy for the 27 million lives lost in that war.

The US routinely violates the UN Charter—and now Russia has done so

The Russian invasion is a terrible violation of the UN Charter, but hardly unprecedented. International law in no way restrained US war-making in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia or Yemen. Russia’s invasion was not in self-defense—except in a preemptive sense—they were not under immediate military attack.

Some say that the ongoing Ukrainian war against two breakaway Russia-aligned provinces in eastern Ukraine provided Just Cause for Russia’s invasion. Fourteen thousand people have died in the violence there since 2014, when a US-backed coup overthrew a Russia-friendly president and replaced him with someone handpicked by the US.

Another annoying factoid is the well-documented role of Nazi militias in the 2014 coup and in the current government and military. These inconvenient truths in no way can justify the blatant Russian aggression, however, which is killing hundreds of innocent civilians and has created a dangerous crisis for humanity.

The Information War Presents the Peace Movement with a Dilemma

The nonstop barrage of information, misinformation, disinformation and rallying around the flag has presented the peace movement with a dilemma. How do peace-loving people righteously condemn the Russian invasion—the destruction of cities, the killing of hundreds of civilians, the displacement of millions?  How do we express our outrage and our strong disapproval of this aggression and violence without appearing to join in the war fervor that is sweeping the US?

Conversely, how do we explain the role of the US and NATO in creating this crisis without appearing to justify this horrible violence? How do we demand that President Biden stop pouring fuel on the fire by sending more weapons into Ukraine? How do we tell people that sanctions are not an alternative to war, but rather an escalation of war?

Escalation is the very last thing we want. The Ukraine war presents the entire world with an existential threat. It is not alarmist to say this is the greatest imminent threat of nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The one where the US was reacting to Russian nuclear missiles being positioned in Cuba, way too close for comfort. Does that ring a bell?

The Danger of Nuclear War Should Focus Our Attention

The very real danger of nuclear war should focus all our attention. With both US and Russian nukes on “hair-trigger alert,” what could go wrong? And then there are the 15 or so nuclear power plants in Ukraine, several of them reportedly compromised by the war. Is that a real threat or is it war propaganda? Perhaps both. It is in EVERYBODY’s interest to end this very dangerous war as soon as possible.

Joe Biden is not new to this conflict. Biden and—famously—his son Hunter, have been involved in the Ukraine mess at least since the 2014 coup, after which a Ukrainian oil company paid Hunter Biden $50,000 a month to sit on its Board. No conflict of interest there, all the Democrats insisted. Even without family enrichment, Joe Biden has long been dedicated to the Cold War project of putting the Soviet Union—and now Russia—in its place, which is no place, and with no respect.

The United States leads NATO—the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe is always a U.S. general. President Biden probably could have headed off the Russian invasion by simply saying publicly that Ukraine would not become a member of NATO. But he refused to do that. He called Putin’s bluff, and Putin showed him it was no bluff.

President Biden Must Act Now to De-Escalate this Dangerous War

Whatever disagreements there are about how the Ukraine war came about, reasonable people should be able to agree on this: This war is very dangerous. It threatens to become a wider war in Europe. It could even lead to a civilization-ending nuclear war.  It therefore must be brought to an end as soon as possible. 

President Biden is in a position to make a bold diplomatic move that could bring this war to a screeching halt. Instead of pouring in weapons and piling on sanctions, we should call on President Biden to begin good faith negotiations with all concerned parties, respecting each of their security concerns.

Once the world has—hopefully—pulled back from the brink, we should begin a serious international discussion about how to abolish nuclear weapons and war once and for all. How will we avoid getting into the same kind of war with China over Taiwan? How can the United States adjust to a multi-polar world where it is no longer The Sheriff?

Veterans For Peace is offering its own Nuclear Posture Review, with sections on Russia and Europe and all the nuclear powers. It makes well-researched recommendations, such as implementing No First Use policies and taking nuclear missiles off “hair-trigger alert.” It calls on the US to rejoin the ABM and INF treaties, and to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It calls on the U.S. to initiate negotiations “to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons,” as the five permanent UN Security Council members—the original nuclear powers—agreed when they signed the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If the United States and other nuclear powers had kept their promise to eliminate nuclear weapons, we would probably not be at war today in Ukraine, or worrying about Armageddon.

March 15, 2022 Posted by | media, politics, spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The US And Ukraine Have Every Reason To Lie About The War 

The US-centralized empire is censoring and propagandizing as though it is in a hot war with Russia currently. Officially the US and its allies are not at war, but the imperial narrative management machine is behaving as though we are. This makes sense because when two nuclear-armed powers are fighting for dominance and know a direct military confrontation can kill them both, other types of warfare are used instead, including propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare.

For this reason it is necessary to take everything claimed about what happens in Ukraine with a planet-sized grain of salt, whether it’s by Russia, Ukraine, or the US and its allies. Be very skeptical of anything you hear about chemical attacks or any other narrative that can be used to get military firepower moving in a way that it otherwise would not. All parties involved in this conflict have every reason in the world to lie about such things.

The US And Ukraine Have Every Reason To Lie About The War  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-us-and-ukraine-have-every-reason?s=w

Caitlin JohnstoneThe Washington Post has a new article out titled “Intelligence points to heightened risk of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine, officials say,” and I challenge you to find me any Russian state media with two opening paragraphs that are more brazenly propagandistic and bereft of journalistic ethics than these:

The United States and its allies have intelligence thatRussia may be preparing to use chemical weapons against Ukraine, U.S. and European officials saidFriday, as Moscow sought to invigorate its faltering military offensive through increasingly brutal assaults across multiple Ukrainian cities.

“Security officials and diplomats said the intelligence, which they declined to detail, pointed to possible preparations by Russia for deploying chemical munitions, and warned the Kremlin may seek to carry out a ‘false-flag’ attack that attempts to pin the blame on Ukrainians, or perhaps Western governments. The officials, like others quoted in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.”

So Russia is preparing to stage a chemical attack, and also the Russian chemical attack might look like Ukrainians or western governments committing a chemical attack, and also the evidence for this is secret, and also the details are secret, and also the government officials advancing this claim are secret, and also Russia’s military offensive is faltering. Gotcha.

The third paragraph is even better:

“The accusations surfaced as Russia repeated claims that the United States and Ukraine were operating secret biological weapons labs in Eastern Europe — an allegation that the Biden administration dismissed as ‘total nonsense’ and ‘outright lies.’”

This paragraph is awesome in two different ways. First, it’s awesome because The Washington Post goes out of its way to inform readers that Russia’s claims have been dismissed as “total nonsense” and “outright lies” after having literally just reported completely unevidenced claims by anonymous government officials with no criticism or scrutiny of any kind. Secondly, it’s awesome because at no point during the rest of the article is any mention made of Victoria Nuland’s incendiary admission before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Ukraine has “biological research facilities” that the US is “quite concerned” might end up “falling into the hands of Russian forces”.

Over and over again throughout the article The Washington Post takes great care to inform readers that Russian claims about biological weapons are not to be trusted, with allegations from Moscow described as “unproven accusations” made with “no verifiable evidence“, “absurd and laughable“, “outrageous claims”, “utter nonsense”, “sinking to new depths” and “baseless“.

This, again, after uncritically reporting completely unsubstantiated allegations by government officials and sheltering them from any accountability by granting them the cover of anonymity. Unproven claims by the Russian government are laughable absurdities presented without evidence; unproven claims by the US government are just The News.

The Washington Post also refers to past Russian dismissals of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria as false flags used to frame Damascus, while of course making no mention of the mountains of evidence that this has indeed occurred. It also says the UN human rights office “has received ‘credible reports’ of Russia using cluster bombs” which “could constitute war crimes”, making no mention of the USA’s abundant use and sale of these same munitions.

Democracy Dies in Darkness.

The fact that this Russian false flag narrative is being shoved forward with so much propagandistic fervor, not just by The Washington Post but also by government officials and CIA media pundits, makes it all the more concerning that we’re seeing things like YouTube banning the denial of “well-documented violent events” involving Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We could soon see a chemical weapons incident occur in Ukraine, after which Silicon Valley platforms ban all accounts who express skepticism of the official western narrative about what happened.

The US-centralized empire is censoring and propagandizing as though it is in a hot war with Russia currently. Officially the US and its allies are not at war, but the imperial narrative management machine is behaving as though we are. This makes sense because when two nuclear-armed powers are fighting for dominance and know a direct military confrontation can kill them both, other types of warfare are used instead, including propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare.

There is a widespread general understanding in the west that Russia stands everything to gain by lying about what happens on the ground in Ukraine and cannot be taken at its word about occurrences during this war. There is much less widespread understanding of the fact that both Ukraine and the United States stand everything to gain by lying about this war as well and cannot be trusted either.

The Washington Post’s own reporting says that behind the scenes western governments see Russian victory in this war as a foregone conclusion. Ukraine’s only chance at stopping Russia in the near term would be if it could persuade NATO powers to take a more direct role in combat, like setting up a no-fly zone as President Zelensky has persistently pleaded with them to do. One way to get around NATO’s rational resistance to directly attacking the military forces of a nuclear superpower would be to appeal to emotion via atrocity propaganda. By circulating a narrative that Russia has done something heinous which cries out to the heavens for vengeance, regardless of the risks entailed.

The United States would also benefit from circulating atrocity propaganda about Russia, in that it would further consolidate international support behind the agenda to economically strangle the nation to death in facilitation of the empire’s struggle for unipolar planetary hegemony. Even before the invasion the US was already pushing the narrative that Russia has a list of dissidents, journalists and “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons” who it plans on rounding up and torturing.

To be clear, it is not conjecture that the US and its proxies make use of atrocity propaganda. The infamous Nayirah testimony for example helped manufacture consent for the Gulf War when a 15 year-old girl who turned out to be a coached plant falsely told the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she’d witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators in Kuwait and leaving them on the floor to die. 

Atrocity propaganda has been in use for as long as war and media have coexisted, and it would be incredibly naive to believe it won’t continue to be. Especially by power structures with a known history of doing so. 

For this reason it is necessary to take everything claimed about what happens in Ukraine with a planet-sized grain of salt, whether it’s by Russia, Ukraine, or the US and its allies. Be very skeptical of anything you hear about chemical attacks or any other narrative that can be used to get military firepower moving in a way that it otherwise would not. All parties involved in this conflict have every reason in the world to lie about such things.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Western media trumpets blanket condemnation of Putin, without any consideration of the circumstances

Monbiot, let us note, has not used a single one of his weekly columns at The Guardian to highlight the years-long plight of Julian Assange, locked away in a British dungeon for revealing U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the gravest attack on a free press in living memory, and yet Monbiot used his most recent column to attack Assange supporters, such as veteran journalist John Pilger, for not being voluble enough in denouncing Putin.

The West’s Hands in Ukraine as Bloody as Putin’s,   Consortium News, By Jonathan Cook

March 11, 2022  Jonathan Cook confronts the demand throughout the Western press and social media to not only “condemn” the Russian president, but do so without qualification.

Jonathan-Cook.net  There is a discursive nervous tic all over social media at the moment, including from prominent journalists such as Guardian columnist George Monbiot. The demand is that everyone not only “condemn” Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, but do so without qualification.

Any reluctance to submit is considered certain proof that the person is a Putin apologist or a Kremlin bot, and that their views on everything under the sun – especially their criticisms of equivalent Western war crimes – can be safely ignored.

How convenient for all those Western leaders who have committed war crimes at least as bad as Russia’s current ones.

I have repeatedly described Russia’s invasion as illegal; I have regularly called Putin a war criminal (you may not have noticed but I just did it again in the two preceding paragraphs); and I have consistently compared Putin’s deeds to the very worst actions taken by the West over the past two decades. But none of that is enough. More is always needed.

The demand for unequivocal denunciation is a strange, if common, one and suggests that those insisting on it are being dishonest – if only with themselves. The function of the demand is not to clarify whether any particular piece of information or an argument is credible; it is intended purely as a “gotcha” meme.

I don’t remember an insistence that anyone condemn Tony Blair or George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 before they could be heard or taken seriously. Or that they denounce the U.S.-backed overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that plunged that country into murderous chaos. Or that they deplore the West’s material support for Saudi Arabia’s slaughter of Yemen’s population, including Britain’s sale of planes, bombs and training to Riyadh. Or that they criticize the West’s backing of head-chopping jihadists in Syria (who coincidentally now appear to be drifting into Ukraine to become our allies again). Or that they decry decades of Western support for Israel as it has disappeared the Palestinian people.

And those are things for which we – meaning Westerners – are directly responsible. We elected the politicians who caused this unquantifiable suffering. Those bombs were ours. We ought to be clamoring for our leaders to be dragged to The Hague to be tried for war crimes.

By contrast, we – meaning Westerners – are not responsible for Putin or his actions. I cannot vote him out of office. Nothing I say will make him alter course. And worse, anything I do say against him or Russia simply amplifies the mindless chorus of self-righteous Western commentary intended to cast stones at Russia’s warmongers while leaving our own home-grown warmongers in place.

Westerners denouncing Putin won’t make compromise and peace more likely. It will make it less likely. Russians need to be highlighting Putin’s crimes as best they can to drive him to the negotiating table, while we need to be doing the same to our leaders to push them to the same table. As long as our attention is on Putin and his crimes, it is not on our leaders and their crimes.

Fog of War

Those who insist it is quite possible to denounce both Putin and Western leaders at the same time are precisely the people who have been so half-hearted in holding our own leaders to account.

Monbiot, let us note, has not used a single one of his weekly columns at The Guardian to highlight the years-long plight of Julian Assange, locked away in a British dungeon for revealing U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the gravest attack on a free press in living memory, and yet Monbiot used his most recent column to attack Assange supporters, such as veteran journalist John Pilger, for not being voluble enough in denouncing Putin.

Those who require unequivocal condemnation of Putin insist that now – in the midst of a war – is not the time to be sowing doubt or undermining morale in the rightness of “our” cause. (A small giveaway that they think of this as a Western, not Ukrainian, war with Russia.)

Again conveniently, that is precisely the message Western leaders want to send too – just ask Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, whose “Partygate” scandal is now a distant memory as he seeks to evoke Churchillian gravitas in facing off with Russia. Instead, the parties in the British parliament put aside their very superficial differences this week as the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, rallied them with a “historic address.”

What, really, is the point of demanding Westerners denounce Putin unequivocally when the entire Western media and political class is directing our gaze exclusively at Russia’s crimes precisely so Westerners don’t look at equivalent Western crimes?

The truth is that, in power politics, unequivocal denunciations are for politicians and diplomats – and virtue-signalers. Condemnations may be emotionally satisfying, but the rest of us can put our energies to far better use.For most of us, the better course would be to blow away the immediate fog of war and instead analyze our – meaning the West’s – role in the unfolding events……………………………………………………………………………….. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/11/the-wests-hands-in-ukraine-as-bloody-as-putins/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

Umm….. Are we the baddies?

Umm… Are We The Baddies?  https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/03/11/umm-are-we-the-baddies/

Reuters reports that Facebook and Instagram are now allowing calls for the death of Russians and Russian leaders in exemption from the platforms’ hate speech terms of service due to the war in Ukraine:

“Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy.”

Twitter has also altered its rules against incitement and death threats in the case of Russian leaders and military personnel, as Ben Norton explains here for Multipolarista.

Last month we also learned that Facebook is now allowing users to praise the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion because of the war, a move that is arguably the most liberal thing that has ever happened.

Western institutions everywhere are rejecting all things Russia with such a savage degree of xenophobia it really ought to shock anyone who was born after the 1800s. Everything from Russian athletes to Russian musicians to Russian-made films to Russian composers to Russian Netflix shows to lectures about Russian authors to Russian restaurants to Russian vodka to Russian-bred cats to Russian trees to dishes that sound a little too much like “Putin” have been cancelled to varying degrees around the western world.

Normally when the US and its allies are involved in a war they’ll at least pay lip service to the notion that they have nothing but good will for the people of the enemy nation, claiming they only oppose their oppressive rulers. With Russia it’s just a complete rejection of the entire culture, the entire ethnicity. It’s a widespread promotion of hatred for the actual people because of who they are.

These are the people who are being smashed with crushing economic sanctions while western pundits proclaim that “There are no more ‘innocent’ ‘neutral’ Russians anymore” and ask “At what point do you hold a people responsible for putting an evil despot in power?” This even as the Russian people are being arrested by the thousands in anti-war protests, putting to shame our own western society that has generally slept through war after war in the years since 9/11 while our militaries have been killing of millions of people.

And this is all over a war that the western empire knowingly provokedalmost certainly planned in advance, and appears to be doing everything possible to ensure that it continues. Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports that Washington is still to this day not engaging in any serious diplomacy with Moscow over this conflict, preferring to strangle Russia economically and pour weapons into Ukraine to make the war as painful and costly as possible. Both of these preferences just so happen to nicely complement the US empire’s goal of unipolar planetary hegemony.

Meanwhile the entire western political/media class seems to be doing everything it can to turn this from a regional proxy war into a very fast and radioactive World War 3. Calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would require directly attacking the Russian military and risking a nuclear exchange in the resulting escalations, are now ubiquitous. Claims that more directly confrontational military aggressions against Russia won’t start a nuclear war (or that it’s worth the risk anyway) are becoming more and more common in western punditry. Democrats are braying for Russian blood while Republicans like Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney are attacking Democrats for being insufficiently hawkish and escalatory in this conflict, creating a horrifying dynamic where both parties are trying to out-hawk each other to score political points and nobody is calling for de-escalation and detente.

As luck would have it, US officials have also selected this precarious nuclear tightrope walk as the perfect time to begin hurling accusations that Russia is preparing a biological attack, potentially as a false flag blamed on Ukraine or the United States. This coincides with Victoria Nuland’s admission before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Ukraine has “biological research facilities” that the US is “quite concerned” might end up “falling into the hands of Russian forces”.

All of this on top of the unprecedented wave of authoritarian censorship that has been tearing through the US-centralized empire as our rulers work to quash dissident voices around the world. It certainly is interesting that the fight for freedom and democracy requires so much censorship, warmongering, xenophobia, propaganda and bloodlust.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder: are we the baddies?

I am of course only trying to make a point here. Geopolitical power struggles are not contested by opposing sides of heroes and baddies like a Marvel superhero movie, though you’d never know it from all the hero worship of Volodymyr Zelensky and the self-righteous posturing of mainstream westerners over this war. Vladimir Putin is no Peter Parker, but neither is Zelensky or Biden or any of the other empire managers overseeing this campaign to overwhelm all challengers to US global domination.

The power structure loosely centralized around the United States is without question the single most depraved and destructive on earth. No one else has spent the 21st century waging wars that have killed millions and displaced tens of millions. No one else is circling the planet with military bases and working to destroy any nation on earth which disobeys it. Not Russia. Not China. Nobody.

The hypocrisy, dishonesty and phoniness of this whole song and dance about Ukraine is one of the most distasteful things that I have ever witnessed. Rather than engaging in click-friendly Instagram activism with blue and yellow profile pics making risk-free criticisms of a foreign leader in a far off country who has nothing to do with us, perhaps we would be better served by a bit more introspection, and by a somewhat more difficult stance: intense scrutiny of the corruption and abuses running rampant in our own society.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Russia’s disinformation machine, (and Trump’s, in USA)

Russia’s Disinformation Machine Runs So Deep, Some Don’t Know War Is Happening,   William Rivers PittTruthout , March 7, 2022  

Imagine that you, as a refugee from extreme violence in Ukraine, called your family across the border for help — and were flatly told they did not believe you, that there was no war. You’ve witnessed the indiscriminate shelling of your city, including your own apartment building. You have been hiding in a train station with a thousand others as the crash and smash of an artillery bombardment shakes the rubble from the cracked ceiling. You’ve seen dead people, soldiers and civilians, left in the street. If this is not real, “real” does not exist. How can your relatives in Russia not know this is happening?

The Washington Post explains:

As Ukrainians deal with the devastation of the Russian attacks in their homeland, many are also encountering a confounding and almost surreal backlash from family members in Russia, who refuse to believe that Russian soldiers could bomb innocent people, or even that a war is taking place at all.

These relatives have essentially bought into the official Kremlin position: that President Vladimir V. Putin’s army is conducting a limited “special military operation” with the honorable mission of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. Mr. Putin has referred to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a native Russian speaker with a Jewish background, as a “drug-addled Nazi” in his attempts to justify the invasion.

Those narratives are emerging amid a wave of disinformation emanating from the Russian state as the Kremlin moves to clamp down on independent news reporting while shaping the messages most Russians are receiving.

It is estimated that there are approximately 11 million people in Russia with relatives in Ukraine. It would be an act of stupendous hubris for Russian President Vladimir Putin to believe he could keep so many in the dark about the reality of Ukraine, but this is exactly what he has endeavored to do. Most of what passed for an independent press in Russia has been swept away, and overwhelmingly, the information being provided comes from Russian state media. There is no war, they preach, no mass civilian displacement. This is a limited act of liberation to free Ukraine from Nazi control by way of precision strikes on military targets only, they say, with Russian soldiers bringing food and warm clothes to all affected civilians.

It is an absolute wonder, however thoroughly horrifying, that Putin is attempting to pull off a gaslighting of such magnitude. ………….

However, Russia’s disinformation campaign should not look entirely unfamiliar to us in the United States. Let us not forget that, not so long ago, we were led into a long and bloody war under the false pretenses of “weapons of mass destruction,” which reverberated across mainstream media. In certain media sectors, those official lies echo strongly to this day.

And then, there is the lie-based future Donald Trump and his allies have been striving to construct for the U.S. for the last seven years. Any story not in praise of Trumpism is immediately labeled false, backed by an anti-logic that mangles civic discourse beyond recognition. Even trying to deconstruct a Trumpist’s “fake news” charge is a victory for the one leveling it, because it means you have accepted the premise that it could be fake news, thus giving partisans just enough of a peg to hang their hat on.

With a tight enough media bubble, reinforced by the long-espoused idea that other viewpoints stem from evil sources and must be shunned as a moral imperative, a segment of any population can be manipulated and even controlled in ways that leave those outside looking in astonished and stunned. While Trump likely would not have been able to hide a whole war with a neighbor, he has painted a masterwork of disinformation about COVID-19, masks, vaccines and basic safety measures. Tens of millions have bought what he is peddling, to the ongoing detriment of the COVID fight, leaving the country badly fractured and unable to escape the gravity well of the pandemic.

Yet, we in the U.S. independent media know well that state attempts to manipulate public opinion cannot easily quell grassroots movements. Where there is war and repression, there is resistance, and the same is true in Russia in this moment. More than 13,000 antiwar protesters have been arrested in Russia, and still they come.

And resistance to the tyranny of the outside invaders is a touchstone of the Ukrainian ethos. They will not surrender it lightly.

Meanwhile, those of us in the United States, confronting Putin’s disinformation machine, must not assume that it can be torn down by sanctions, our own military and state mechanisms of information warfare. Rather, we must take note of the fact that if many thousands of Russians are protesting in the face of massive state repression, grassroots channels of information are being used and new ones created. We must work our hardest to amplify our own channels for truth, particularly those that lift up grassroots resistance movements. As Khury Petersen-Smith writes in Truthout, “Our challenge is to build protest across borders that stands in solidarity with those facing the violence of war, and is independent — and defiant of — the governments where we reside.”  https://truthout.org/articles/russias-disinformation-machine-runs-so-deep-some-dont-know-war-is-happening/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=fcdefd4d-3561-4da4-9d86-8e4a6ec8a93a

March 10, 2022 Posted by | media, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Caitlin Johnstone: Freedom & Democracy Via Censorship.

You’d think a free society would have no objection to people trying to learn about the other side of  a war in which NATO powers very plainly had a hand in starting. By Caitlin Johnstone 4 Mar 22,  Consortium News

CaitlinJohnstone.com              Kremlin-backed media outlets have been banned throughout the European Union, both on television and on apps and online platforms. RT has lost its Sky TV slot in the U.K., where the outlet is also blocked on YouTube.

Australian TV providers SBS and Foxtel have dropped RT, and the federal government is putting pressure on social media platforms to block Russian media in Australia.

In the Czech RepublicSlovakia and Latvia, speaking in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will get you years in prison.

Twitter, historically the last of the major online platforms to jump on any new internet censorship escalation, is now actively minimizing the number of people who see Russian media content, saying that it is “reducing the content’s visibility” and “taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter.” This is exactly what I speculated might emerge after former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey resigned in November, due to previous comments supporting the tactic of censorship-by-algorithm by his successor Parag Agrawal.

Twitter is also placing warnings labels on all Russia-backed media and delivering a pop-up message informing you that you are committing wrongthink if you try to share or even “like” a post linking to such outlets on the platform. It has also placed the label “Russia state-affiliated media” on every tweet made by the personal accounts of employees of those platforms, baselessly giving the impression that the dissident opinions tweeted by those accounts are paid Kremlin content and not simply their own legitimate perspectives. Some are complaining that this new label has led to online harassment amid the post-9/11-like anti-Russia hysteria that’s currently turning western brains into clam chowder

(Many Tweets quoted here)

This is all on top of all the other drastic escalations in censorship which came roaring in at the beginning of the Ukraine war, and I personally find it a bit scary how fast it’s all happening, how fine people are with it, and how much worse it seems likely to get.

Others agree.

“The purge of RT and other Russian media outlets in the US and Europe is 100% censorship,” tweets journalist Michael Tracey. “Go ahead and argue it’s justified, but at least don’t be a coward and admit you are advocating censorship.”

“The western world believes that it has a monopoly on what constitutes ‘political truth’ and that their ideological worldview is the only correct, valid and authoritative one,” writer and analyst Tom Fowdy observed. “They preach freedom of speech and the press to other countries, but exempt themselves from it.”

And I can’t help but find it odd that the fight for freedom and democracy should require such copious amounts of censorship. You’d think a free society would have no objection to people trying to learn the other side of the debate about a war which NATO powers very plainly had a hand in starting, rather than being forced to consume only Western mass media narratives which tell us this is happening exclusively because Russian President Vladimir Putin is evil and Hitlery and hates freedom…………..

It makes you wonder if we have foolishly consented to a reality where the most powerful people in the world get to control the information people consume in order to shut down dissent against a murderous and oppressive globe-spanning oligarchic empire.

And it kind of makes you wonder, as we watch the same empire that just destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen being entrusted to carefully navigate extremely delicate nuclear brinkmanship escalations without ending the world, if we might perhaps be better off with a lot more dissent, rather than a lot less. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/03/caitlin-johnstone-freedom-democracy-via-censorship/

March 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The US and NATO have never been sanctioned for start ing wars. Why? — RT World News

That’s right – you can’t read this, now that the Western powers have censored it.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Setting the record straight on the background to events in Ukraine

First, both the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass region voted for independence from Ukraine in 2014 in resistance to a U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February of that year. The independence vote came just eight days after neo-Nazis burned dozens of ethnic Russians alive in Odessa.  To crush their bid for independence, the new U.S.-installed Ukrainian government then launched an “anti-terrorist” war against the provinces, with the assistance of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which had taken part in the coup. It is a war that is still going on eight years later, a war that Russia has just entered.

During these eight years, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Azov have used artillery, snipers and assassination teams to systematically butcher more than 5,000 people (another 8,000 were wounded) — mostly civilians — in the Donetsk Peoples Republic, according to the leader of the DPR, who provided these figures in a press conference recently. In the Luhansk People’s Republic, an additional 2,000 civilians were killed and 3,365 injured. The total number of people killed and wounded in Donbass since 2014 is more than 18,000.

This has received at most superficial coverage by The New York Times; it has not been covered by Western corporate media because it does not fit the official Washington narrative

Ukraine & Nukes     After a New York Times reporter grossly distorted what Putin and Zelensky have said and done about nuclear weapons, Steven Starr corrects the record and deplores Western media, in general, for misinforming  and leading the entire world in a dangerous direction.  https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/03/ukraine-nukes/ By Steven Starr,

   The New York Times recently published an article by David Sanger entitled “Putin spins a conspiracy theory that Ukraine is on a path to produce nuclear weapons.”  Unfortunately, it is Sanger who puts so much spin in his reporting that he leaves his readers with a grossly distorted version of the what the presidents of Russia and Ukraine have said and done.

Ukrainian Volodymyr  Zelensky’s recent statements at the Munich conference centered around the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which welcomed Ukraine’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in conjunction with Ukraine’s decision to return to Russia the nuclear weapons left on its territory by the Soviet Union.

In other words, the Budapest Memorandum was expressly about Ukraine giving up its nukes and not becoming a nuclear weapon state in the future. Zelensky’s speech at Munich made it clear that Ukraine was moving to repudiate the Budapest Memorandum; Zelensky essentially stated that Ukraine must be made a member of NATO, otherwise it would acquire nuclear weapons.  

This is what Zelensky said, with emphasis added: 

“I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.

Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability [i.e. Ukraine relinquished the Soviet nuclear weapons that had been placed in Ukraine during the Cold War]. We don’t have that weapon. … Therefore, we have something. The right to demand a shift from a policy of appeasement to ensuring security and peace guarantees. 

Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. . . I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt. . . 

I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.”

Sanger’s Times article implies that it was a “conspiracy theory” that Zelensky was calling for Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapons. Sanger was not ignorant of the meaning of the Budapest Memorandum, rather he chose to deliberately ignore it and misrepresented the facts. 

President Vladimir Putin, along with the majority of Russians, could not ignore such a threat for a number of historical reasons that The New York Times and ideologues such as Sanger have also chosen to ignore. It is important to list some of those facts, since most Americans are unaware of them, as they have not been reported in the Western mainstream media. Leaving parts of the story out turns Putin into just a madman bent on conquest without any reason to intervene.

First, both the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass region voted for independence from Ukraine in 2014 in resistance to a U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February of that year. The independence vote came just eight days after neo-Nazis burned dozens of ethnic Russians alive in Odessa.  To crush their bid for independence, the new U.S.-installed Ukrainian government then launched an “anti-terrorist” war against the provinces, with the assistance of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which had taken part in the coup. It is a war that is still going on eight years later, a war that Russia has just entered. 

During these eight years, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Azov have used artillery, snipers and assassination teams to systematically butcher more than 5,000 people (another 8,000 were wounded) — mostly civilians — in the Donetsk Peoples Republic, according to the leader of the DPR, who provided these figures in a press conference recently. In the Luhansk People’s Republic, an additional 2,000 civilians were killed and 3,365 injured. The total number of people killed and wounded in Donbass since 2014 is more than 18,000.

This has received at most superficial coverage by The New York Times; it has not been covered by Western corporate media because it does not fit the official Washington narrative that Ukraine is pursuing an “anti-terrorist operation” in its unrelenting attacks on the people of Donbass.  For eight years the war instead has been portrayed as a Russian “invasion,” well before Russia’s current intervention.

Likewise, The New York Times, in its overall coveragechose not to report that the Ukrainian forces had deployed half of its army, about 125,000 troops, to its border with Donbass by the beginning of 2022. 

In other words, acquiring tactical nuclear weapons will be much easier for Ukraine than for some other states I am not going to mention here, which are conducting such research, especially if Kiev receives foreign technological support. We c

The importance of neo-Nazi Right Sektor politicians in the Ukraine government and neo-Nazi militias (such as the Azov Battalion) to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, also goes unreported in the mainstream corporate media.  The Azov battalion flies Nazi flags; they have been trained by teams of U.S. military advisers and praised on Facebook these days. In 2014, Azov was incorporated in the Ukrainian National Guard under the direction of the Interior Ministry.

The Nazis killed something on the order of 27 million Soviets/Russians during World War II (the U.S. lost 404,000). Russia has not forgotten and is extremely sensitive to any threats and violence coming from neo-Nazis. Americans generally do not understand what this means to Russians as the United States has never been invaded.  

So, when the leader of Ukraine essentially threatens to obtain nuclear weapons, this is most certainly considered to be an existential threat to Russia. That is why Putin focused on this during his speech preceding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sanger and The New York Times must discount a Ukrainian nuclear threat; they can get away with doing so because they have systematically omitted news pertaining to this for many years.

Sanger makes a very misleading statement when he writes, “Today Ukraine does not even have the basic infrastructure to produce nuclear fuel.”

Ukraine is not interested in making nuclear fuel — which Ukraine already purchases from the U.S. Ukraine has plenty of plutonium, which is commonly used to make nuclear weapons today; eight years ago Ukraine held more than 50 tons of plutonium in its spent fuel assemblies stored at its many nuclear power plants (probably considerably more today, as the reactors have continued to run and produce spent fuel). Once plutonium is reprocessed/separated from spent nuclear fuel, it becomes weapons usable. Putin noted that Ukraine already has missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, and they certainly have scientists capable of developing reprocessing facilities and building nuclear weapons.

In his Feb. 21 televised address, Putin said Ukraine still has the infrastructure leftover from Soviet days to build a bomb. He said:

“As we know, it has already been stated today that Ukraine intends to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not just bragging.

Ukraine has the nuclear technologies created back in the Soviet times and delivery vehicles for such weapons, including aircraft, as well as the Soviet-designed Tochka-U precision tactical missiles with a range of over 100 kilometers.

But they can do more; it is only a matter of time. They have had the groundwork for this since the Soviet era.

If Ukraine acquires weapons of mass destruction, the situation in the world and in Europe will drastically change, especially for us, for Russia. We cannot but react to this real danger, all the more so since let me repeat, Ukraine’s Western patrons may help it acquire these weapons to create yet another threat to our country.”

NATO-US Refuse Binding Nuclear Treaties

In his Times piece, Sanger states, “American officials have said repeatedly that they have no plans to place nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”

But the U.S. and NATO have refused to sign legally binding treaties with Russia to this effect. In reality, the U.S. has been making Ukraine a de facto member of NATO, while training and supplying its military forces and conducting joint exercises on Ukrainian territory. Why wouldn’t the U.S. place nuclear weapons in Ukraine — they have already done so at military bases within the borders of five other European members of NATO.  This in fact violates the spirit of the NPT, another issue that Sanger avoids when he notes that Russia has demanded that the U.S. remove nuclear weapons from the European NATO-member states.

For years the U.S. proclaimed that the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) facilities it was placing in Romania and Poland, on the Russian border, were to protect against an “Iranian threat,” even though Iran had no nuclear weapons or missiles that could reach the U.S. But the dual-use Mark 41 launching systems used in the Aegis Ashore BMD facilities can be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, and will be fitted with SM-6 missiles that, if armed with nuclear warheads, could hit Moscow in five-to-six minutes. Putin explicitly warned journalists about this danger in 2016; Russia included the removal of the U.S. BMD facilities in Romania and Poland in its draft treaties presented to the U.S. and NATO last December. 

I wonder if Sanger has ever considered what the U.S. response would be if Russia placed missile launching facilities on the Canadian or Mexican border? Would the U.S. consider that a threat, would it demand that Russia remove them or else the U.S. would use military means to do so?

30 Years Ago 

Sanger states that today Russia takes a “starkly different from the tone Moscow was taking 30 years ago, when Russian nuclear scientists were being voluntarily retrained to use their skills for peaceful purposes.”

Russians would reply that 30 years ago NATO had not moved to Russian borders and was not flooding Ukraine with hundreds of tons of weapons and the U.S. had not yet overthrown the government in Kiev to install an anti-Russian regime.

While the Times is still considered the U.S. “paper of record,” during the last few decades it has devolved into the primary mouthpiece for the official narratives coming from Washington.

There is a real danger to the nation when a free press is replaced with corporate media that stifles and censors dissent. Rather than a free press, we now have a Ministry of Propaganda that acts as an echo chamber for the latest diktats from the White House. The systematic creation of false narratives by corporate media, designed to serve the purposes of the federal government, have so misinformed the American public about world events that we find the nation ready to go to war with Russia. 

This is suicidal course for not only the U.S. and the EU, but for civilization as a whole, because this would likely end in a nuclear war that will destroy all nations and peoples.  

Steven Starr is the former director of the University of Missouri’s Clinical Laboratory Science Program, and former board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.  His articles have been published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Federation of American Scientists and the Strategic Arms Reduction website of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He maintains the Nuclear Famine website.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | history, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Blanket anti-Russian propaganda leaves no tolerance for nuanced reporting – media censorship is expanding

……….Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Humans are storytelling creatures, so whoever can control the stories the humans are telling themselves about what’s going on in the world has a great deal of control over the humans.

The powerful understand this, while the general public mostly does not.

[Western govts and] media are pushing for more. Articles and news segments warning of the sinister threat posed by Russian propaganda to misinform and divide western populations.

………….  They’re not worried about Russian propaganda operations, they’re worried about someone else running interference on their own propaganda operations.

Russian Propaganda’ Is The Latest Excuse To Expand Censorship Substack, Caitlin Johnstone, 28 Feb 22,

“I’m concerned about Russian disinformation spreading online, so today I wrote to the CEOs of major tech companies to ask them to restrict the spread of Russian propaganda,” US Senator Mark Warner tweeted on Friday.

Since then YouTube has announced that it has suppressed videos by Russian state media channels so that they’ll be seen by fewer people in accordance with its openly acknowledged policy of algorithmically censoring unauthorized content, as well as de-monetizing all such videos on the platform. Google and Facebook/Instagram parent company Meta both banned Russian state media from running ads and monetizing on their platforms in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Twitter announced a pause on ads in both Russia and Ukraine.

“Glad to see action from tech companies to reign in Russian propaganda and disinformation after my letter to their CEOs yesterday,” Warner tweeted on Saturday. “These are important first steps, but I’ll keep pushing for more.”

For years US lawmakers have been using threats of profit-destroying consequences to pressure Silicon Valley companies into limiting online speech in a way that aligns with the interests of Washington, effectively creating a system of government censorship by proxy. It would appear that we’re seeing a new expansion of this phenomenon today.

And the imperial media are pushing for more. Articles and news segments warning of the sinister threat posed by Russian propaganda to misinform and divide western populations using the internet are being churned out at a rate that’s only likely to increase as this latest narrative management campaign gets into full gear. The Associated Press has a new article out for example titled “War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine“.

…………………………..  As tends to happen whenever a consensus begins to form that a certain category of speech must be purged from the internet, imperial spinmeisters are already working to expand the definition of “Russian propaganda” which must be purged from the internet to include independent anti-imperialist commentators like myself…………………..

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, an empire-loyal NGO ostensibly focused primarily on fighting racism and prejudice, has published a report accusing Facebook of failing to label Russian propaganda as such 91 percent of the times it occurs. The CCDH decried Mark Zuckerberg’s “failure to stop Facebook being weaponized by the Russian state”.

………….  They’re not worried about Russian propaganda operations, they’re worried about someone else running interference on their own propaganda operations.

……….Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Humans are storytelling creatures, so whoever can control the stories the humans are telling themselves about what’s going on in the world has a great deal of control over the humans. Our mental chatter tends to dominate such a large percentage of our existence that if it can be controlled the controller can exert a tremendous amount of influence over the way we think, act, and vote. 

The powerful understand this, while the general public mostly does not.

That’s all we’ve been seeing in these attempts to regulate ideas and information as human communication becomes more and more rapid and networked. An entire oligarchic empire is built on the ability to prevent us from realizing at mass scale that that empire does not serve us and inflicts great evil upon our world. The question of whether our species can awaken to its highest potential or not boils down to whether our dominators will succeed in locking down our minds, or if we will find some way to break free.  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/russian-propaganda-is-the-latest?utm_source=url

February 28, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Glenn Greenwald: war propaganda about Ukraine becoming more militaristic, authoritarian, and reckless

War Propaganda About Ukraine Becoming More Militaristic, Authoritarian, and Reckless

To believe that this is a conflict of pure Good versus pure Evil, that Putin bears all blame for the conflict and the U.S., the West, and Ukraine bear none, and that the only way to understand this conflict is through the prism of war criminality and aggression only takes one so far.

there is still a wide range of vital geopolitical and factual questions that must be considered and freely debated, including:

The severe dangers of unintended escalation with greater U.S. involvement and confrontation toward Russia;
The mammoth instability and risks that would be created by collapsing the Russian economy and/or forcing Putin from power, leaving the world’s largest or second-largest nuclear stockpile to a very uncertain fate;
The ongoing validity of Obama’s long-standing view of Ukraine (echoed by Trump), which persisted even after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum, that Ukraine is of vital interest only to Russia and not the U.S., and the U.S. should never risk war with Russia over it;

The bizarre way in which it has become completely taboo and laughable to suggest that NATO expansion to the Russian border and threats to offer Ukraine membership is deeply and genuinely threatening not just to Putin but all Russian

The clearly valid questions regarding the actual U.S intentions concerning Ukraine: i.e., that a noble, selfless and benevolent American desire to protect a fledgling democracy against a despotic aggressor may not be the predominant goal.

Every useful or pleasing claim about the war, no matter how unverified or subsequently debunked, rapidly spreads, while dissenters are vilified as traitors or Kremlin agents.

Glenn Greenwald, 27 Feb 22, In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, those warning of the possible dangers of U.S. involvement were assured that such concerns were baseless. The prevailing line insisted that nobody in Washington is even considering let alone advocating that the U.S. become militarily involved in a conflict with Russia. That the concern was based not on the belief that the U.S. would actively seek such a war, but rather on the oft-unintended consequences of being swamped with war propaganda and the high levels of tribalism, jingoism and emotionalism that accompany it, was ignored. It did not matter how many wars one could point to in history that began unintentionally, with unchecked, dangerous tensions spiraling out of control. Anyone warning of this obviously dangerous possibility was met with the “straw man” cliché: you are arguing against a position that literally nobody in D.C. is defending.

Less than a week into this war, that can no longer be said.

Continue reading

February 28, 2022 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment