We Are Living in a ‘Post-Truth’ Era

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By Richard Edmondson

Recently Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an interesting comment. He described the time we are living in as a “post-truth” era. It’s a very apt, on-target description.

Lavrov made the comment at the Munich Security Conference, held February 17-19 in Munich, Germany. In his remarks at the gathering he spoke of the need for nations to seek harmony by advancing justice and also by practicing “modesty,” as he termed it. It’s hard to find fault with such a proposal.

“If everyone adopts that approach,” said Lavrov, “we could overcome the period of post-truth fast and resist information wars imposed on the international community.”

“Information wars” in a “post-truth” era–this of course is what we are experiencing now.

Lavrov also said that the expansion of NATO “has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe,” and yet Russia now nonetheless seeks a relationship with the US based upon “pragmatism, mutual respect, and an understanding of special responsibility for global stability.”

Compare Lavrov’s remarks to those of Vice President Mike Pence, who represented America at the conference. Pence alluded to President Trump’s desire for better relations with Russia, but at the same time he also adopted a belligerent tone, calling for Russia to be held “accountable” for events in Ukraine.

“In regard to Ukraine we must hold Russia accountable and demand that they honor the Minsk agreements, beginning by deescalating the violence in eastern Ukraine,” Pence said.

He also spoke of “Russia’s efforts to redraw international borders by force,” an apparent reference to the alleged “forced annexation” of Crimea. Despite claims perpetually made by the media in this post-truth era, Crimea was not annexed by force. A referendum was held there on March 16, 2014 in which more than 96 percent of the people voted to join Russia. The referendum took place after the US had sponsored a coup in Kiev, overthrowing the legitimate, democratically-elected government.

One wonders: does Pence believe the US should be held “accountable” for organizing the coup which triggered the Ukrainian conflict in the first place? Apparently he does not.

Another US speaker at the conference in Munich was Sen. John McCain, who discussed what he views as the indispensable role that America and the rest of the West have played in advancing “truth,” and in advancing the current global order as well as the “prosperity” that the West now supposedly enjoys.

“We must take our own side in this fight,” said McCain. “We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values—that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair.”

McCain made no mention of America’s shameful support for terrorists in Syria, and it defies logic of course to describe the US, whose mainstream media are widely recognized as the number one purveyors of fake news, as standing “for truth against falsehood” in today’s world.

The Arizona senator also described the West as having ushered in an “unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades”–and of course for the wealthiest one percent, we are, no doubt about it, in an “unprecedented” period of prosperity. But the unemployment rolls and the numbers of homeless people on the streets of America would suggest that the “prosperity” has not been enjoyed by all. McCain may not be “certified,” as such, but he does appear to be a fully-fledged lunatic.

The unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades did not happen by accident. It happened not only because of the appeal of our values, but because we backed them with our power and persevered in their defense. Our predecessors did not believe in the end of history—or that it bends, inevitably, toward justice. That is up to us. That requires our persistent, painstaking effort. And that is why we come to Munich, year after year after year.

McCain objectified his laudatory comments in terms of “the West,” for of course he was speaking at a conference held in the EU. But in his use of the words “we” and “us,” what he really meant was America. America is the “indispensable” and “exceptional” nation–this is the ideology relentlessly, one might even say fanatically, adhered to by US leaders and the mainstream media.

So it seems that while we get truth out of a Russian official like Lavrov, we get delusions, reverie, fantasy, and outright lies from our own leaders. Americans, I would say for the most part, are good, decent people. How did we end up in this fix?

Perhaps worth recalling are the words of Jesus: “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” If that principle applies to nations as well as to individuals, then the implications for America are not good.

By the way, those words–about the last becoming first and the first becoming last–appear in one form or another in Matthew 19:30 and again in 20:16, as well as in Mark 10:31 and Luke 13:30. Additionally, in Luke 9:48 we have Jesus telling his disciples that, “the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest,” this after overhearing them arguing about which one was to become the “greatest.”

And let us not forget also the episode related in the Gospel of John of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. What we can conclude, then, is that the practicing of humility was a central tenet of Jesus’ teachings. Perhaps little wonder that Jesus was not terribly popular with his fellow Jews. Jewish “exceptionalism” (or more specifically “chosenness”) was, and still is, a central component of Judaic belief.

And yes, what we have in America are leaders who, rather than practice humility, spout boastful words like McCain’s. Thus it should come as no surprise we now find ourselves in a “post-truth” era. After all, boasting and lying are two human traits which go very much hand in hand.

I often wonder when, if ever, we will have a leader who will make Americans proud to be Americans again. Sadly it has been a very long time since we had one.

USA Govt., chief purveyor of #fakenews, passes Bill Making Alternative Media Illegal

Obama Signs Christmas Bill Making Alternative Media Illegal

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Obama signs bill making alternative media illegal

President Obama has just quietly signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.

On Friday, just two days before Christmas, Obama signed the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017” bill into law.

Wearechange.org reports:

This bill will “Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web,” a key piece of legislation meant to crack down on free speech and independent media. In Layman’s terms, the act will allow the government to crack down with impunity against any media outlet it deems “propaganda.” The next piece of the legislation will provide substantial amounts of money to fund “counter propaganda,” to make sure the government’s approved stories drown out alternative media and journalists who question the status quo.

The “right to free speech and freedom of the press,” is guaranteed by the First Amendment to The U.S. Constitution. It is a foundation of American values, put in place by our Founding Fathers to protect our liberties, is now being endangered by this new law.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.” – John Adams, Samuel Adams, James Bowdoin (1780). Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is not the first time that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was used to disguise a piece of legislation. Back in 2012, Obama signed a law that allowed for the “indefinite detention of American citizens” without a judge or jury. Then in 2013, Obama signed an NDAA bill that packaged an end to the Smith-Mundit act that prevented the government from using propaganda against its own citizens enabling the government again to legally produce propaganda.

What does that mean for you if you are an independent journalist or blogger? You can read more here, but it means that for simply writing this and asking questions and pointing out that Obama always signs these bills around the holidays like I did in this poem, if I am accused of “fake news” or propaganda, I could face criminal charges.

In other words the stage is now set for the U.S. government to legally crack down on every media outlet that the they deem to be “foreign propaganda.” The ministry of truth is setup. Welcome to 1984.

In a statement, Obama said that:

Today, I have signed into law S. 2943, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This Act authorizes fiscal year 2017 appropriations principally for the Department of Defense and for Department of Energy national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe. It continues many critical authorizations necessary to ensure that we are able to sustain our momentum in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to reassure our European allies, as well as many new authorizations that, among other things, provide the Departments of Defense and Energy more flexibility in countering cyber-attacks and our adversaries’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Orwell’s 1984: EU Resolution on Russian Media First Step Toward Total Censorship, One of the Harshest Attacks on the Profession of Journalist

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Orwell’s 1984: EU Resolution on Russian Media First Step Toward Total Censorship

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament against Russia’s media outlets is the first step towards imposing censorship against all media sources which express different views from those promoted by the EU leadership, Italian journalist Giulietto Chiesa warns.

The European Parliament’s decision to crack down on Russia’s news websites, most notably Sputnik and RT, and considering them alongside terrorist groups like Daesh and Al-Qaeda, has stirred a heated debate among international media pundits and independent observers.

“I write for Sputnik and cooperate with different Russian television broadcasters. So what will they do to me now?” Giulietto Chiesa, an Italian journalist and Director of PandoraTV.it, asks rhetorically.

According to Chiesa, the adoption of the controversial resolution is a step towards imposing censorship not only on Russian news websites but on all media outlets which express a point of view different from that of the EU establishment.

“To put it bluntly: the aim of the resolution, whatever arguments are cited, is to impose censorship against all media — both Russian and non-Russian — which express opinions different from those postulated by Western leaders,” Chiesa writes in his op-ed for Sputnik Italia.


EU Resolution on Russian Media ‘Insult to Daesh Victims’ – Serbian Minister


The Italian journalist calls attention to the fact that in accordance with the criteria cited by the resolution every citizen of the European Union who supports, reproduces or disseminates opinions and critique of the West’s actions can be now branded as “a supporter of the Kremlin propaganda” that poses a “threat” to the sovereignty of this or that EU member state or the bloc in general.

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“It is clear to anyone that this is the way to kick off a ‘witch hunt’, that would ultimately silence all forms of political dissent in Europe,” the Italian journalist warns.

“Therefore what lies at the root of the problem is not just the right to spread the views expressed by the Russian media in the West, but the right of free speech and expression for all journalists, bloggers and media activists who work and live in the West,” Chiesa highlights.


EU Resolution on Sputnik, RT: ‘Media Siege Formulated by the United States’


Commenting on the result of the vote in the European Parliament the Italian journalist notes that the vote showed a change of mind toward Russia among EU lawmakers.

While there is a powerful anti-Russian lobby comprising of a hundred or so MPs, apparently nostalgic of the Cold War times, this time the resolution was passed with 304 votes, while 179 legislators were against and 208 abstained from voting, Chiesa underscores.

De facto, the number of those who did not support the controversial document exceeded the number of those who voted for it, he stresses.

Chiesa asks ironically whether the EU establishment would now label the French presidential candidate Francois Fillon as “a Kremlin propagandist” and a “threat” to the European sovereignty given the fact that during his interview with Radio Europe 1 Fillon urged his audience not to believe that Russia is Europe’s enemy.

Jugoslav Cosic of N1 news channel, CNN International’s local broadcast partner and affiliate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, echoes Chiesa.

Citing the resolution’s passage de facto equating Russian media organizations to al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups’ propaganda, the journalist stresses that it is highly inappropriate to paint journalists and terrorists with one and the same brush.

“I don’t think it is right to equate the work of Russian journalists (or any other media workers) and the actions of terrorist groups. I also believe it’s not right to brand mass media of any country as a propaganda tool,” Cosic told Sputnik.

If a media outlet has indeed been spotted disseminating “propaganda” then the evidence needs to be presented to prove this instead of labeling all media as instruments of propaganda, he noted.

“This greatly worries me, as we had a very negative experience of group stigmatizing here in Serbia, when NATO bombed the building of RTS channel in 1999, justifying that as ‘the struggle against the Milosevic propaganda machine.’ The airstrikes killed 16 of our colleagues,” the journalist emphasized.

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament claims that the Sputnik news agency, the RT channel, the Russkiy Mir foundation and the Russian Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Cultural Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) pose a threat to the European Union.

To resist the “Russian propaganda” the document calls on the EU member states to cooperate with NATO to develop common mechanisms to counter “hybrid threats”.


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EU Resolution One of the Harshest Attacks on the Profession of Journalist

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament that compared Russian media to Daesh propaganda, is one of the harshest attacks on journalism, Director of the Radio Belgrade (Radio Beograda) Milivoje Mihajlovic told Sputnik on Thursday.

Mihajlovic said that the document is directly targeting the freedom of media.

“I am particularly surprised by the comparison of the media with terrorist organizations. It’s a classic self-inflicted mistake of the European Parliament, and it will be remembered as one of the harshest attacks on the profession of journalist,” Mihajlovic said.


Serbian Lawmaker Says EU Media Resolution ‘Rude’ Violation of Human Rights


On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution on countering Russian media outlets, such as the Sputnik news agency and the RT broadcaster. As many as 304 voted in favor the document, 179 voted against and 208 abstained. With a total of 691 officials taking part in the vote, less than half supported the resolution, which draws parallel between Russian media and the propaganda disseminated by the Islamic State, a jihadist group outlawed in Russia.

The resolution said that Sputnik and RT posed a danger to European unity and called for extra European Commission funding for counter-propaganda projects.

Sputnik responded by calling the move a direct violation of media freedom and human rights, while Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the matter by pointing out that the document indicates a degradation of democracy in the West. Praising Sputnik and RT for their work, the president expressed hope that real media restrictions would not follow.

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SOURCES:
SputnikNews
SputnikNews
Submitted by Lone Bear 
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/eu-orwells-1984/
~

“Here at our convention there will be no lies. We will honor the American People with the Truth”

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By Richard Edmondson

Immediately after Donald Trump spoke those words at the Republican national convention last night, the massive crowd erupted into chants of “USA…USA…USA!”

Whenever I hear crowds yelling “USA” like that it always gives me a queasy feeling, for what it suggests is blind patriotism. Trump’s speech came three days after 20 civilians died in US airstrikes on the Syrian city of Manbij; two days after the French airstrikes that killed 120 more civilians in the village of Toukhan al-Kubra, just to the north of Manbij; and also two days after the emergence of a horrendously graphic video showing US-backed “moderate rebels” of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki movement beheading a young boy from Aleppo.

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While plenty of people have expressed shock over the video and made note of the fact that the boy’s murderers were backed by the US, few have bothered to report the youngster’s name. According to Al Manar, his name was Abdullah Issa. He was 12 years old. The report also mentions that he suffered from Thalassemia, a blood disorder, and was abducted from a hospital after a brother of Omar Salkho, Nour al-Din al-Zenki’s Aleppo commander, was killed. Apparently this was sufficient cause for beheading a child.

A heartbreaking exchange is said to have taken place when Salkho reportedly asked the terrified young boy if he had a last wish.

“I wish to be shot dead,” Abdullah reportedly replied.

“You will not be shot dead,” the terrorist leader is said to have answered. “We are worse than ISIL.”

In the video below, Salkho is presumably the man in the green cap.

I hope that these killers are brought to justice–though not through random shelling upon the battlefield. I hope instead that they are captured alive and placed on trial, and during their trial, I would hope they would be questioned not only about beheadings and other crimes committed, but also as to what contacts they may have had with US or possibly Israeli officials. Did they, for instance, undergo training at a US training camp in Jordan or Turkey? According toWikipedia, Nour al-Din al-Zenki has received BGM-71 Tow anti-tank missiles from the US, and quite possibly they have received other assistance as well.

Perhaps the most unseemly performance of all was not so much the shouts of “USA” at the Republican convention but a comment given at the State Department by spokesperson Mark Toner, who, when told about Abdullah Issa’s beheading, remarked offhandedly,

“If we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved… it would give us pause about any assistance or, frankly, any further involvement with this group.”

The words “it would give us pause” raise serious questions about what value Toner places upon the lives of children living in countries torn and ripped apart by US regime change operations. Had the victim in this case been a 12-year-old Israeli boy, rather than Syrian, can we for a moment imagine Toner responding “it would give us pause” when told that such a child had been decapitated?

***

“But here at our convention, there will be no lies,” Trump orated in last night’s speech. “We will honor the American people with the truth and nothing else.”

“USA…USA…USA…USA…USA…”

So did Trump honor the American people with the truth about the beheading of Abdulla Issa or US support for terrorists who carry out war crime atrocities? No, he didn’t, sad to say. Well what exactly is the truth, according to Donald Trump? What “truths” came from the presidential contender’s lips during his acceptance speech?

Some of his truths are self-evident on their face. For instance:

  • that 4 in 10 African-American children live in poverty while 58% of African-American youth are unemployed
  • that the national debt has almost doubled under Obama, now standing at more than $19 trillion
  • that Hillary Clinton pushed a “failed policy of nation building and regime change”–in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria–that should now be abandoned;

Other of his “truths” are a bit more subjective:

  • the Iran deal will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated
  • the Chinese are the greatest currency manipulators ever
  • law enforcement (as it pertains to street crime) has been too lax under the Obama administration

And some are blatantly false:

  • businesses are overregulated, particularly in the energy sector (presumably an endorsement for fracking, given the candidate’s reported choice forEnergy Secretary)
  • our military is “depleted” and needs to be rebuilt
  • Israel is our “greatest ally” in the Middle East

So yes, Trump spoke a few truths, mixed in with some partial truths, along with some outright untruths. Isn’t that what we have come to expect from the US political system? But the greatest truths, the truths most direly in need of being spoken–about the influence of the Israeli lobby, the control of virtually the entire mainstream media by just six corporations, the need to totally rearrange the system to eliminate the influence of money–these and other truths that direly need to be expressed were missing from the speech.

Some might take a little bit of heart from Trump’s criticism of Clinton for her regime change efforts in the Middle East, but it should be noted that in the very same speech the New York billionaire chastised Obama apparently over his refusal to launch an all-out war against the Syrian government in the wake of the Ghouta chemical attacks in 2013:

“Another humiliation came when president Obama drew a red line in Syria – and the whole world knew it meant absolutely nothing,” the candidate asserted.

Trump obviously believes that the Syrian Army carried out the chemical attack–a claim that has been thoroughly discredited but which the mainstream media continue to propagate nonetheless.

Controlled as it is by money, the US political system is a snake pit. The chances of a person of genuine integrity rising from such a system to become president are probably something like a million to one. Of course many people are naturally hopeful, and there is always a tendency to believe that this or that candidate is the one in a million exception to the rule. This is human nature. But the reality is that the snake pit is what produced the government we have now, a government that pursues a policy of arming terrorist head choppers, as well as State Department spokespeople capable of uttering, without barely a blink of an eye, that the beheading of a 12-year-old child might “give us pause.”

Trump or Hillary? Would Trump end up becoming the new “worst president ever”? Would Hillary be just as bad–maybe worse (maybe a hundred times worse)?  Should you vote for the Green Party or the Libertarian candidate? Maybe write in the name of your favorite poet, clown, or mathematician? It’s hard to say, and I’m not here to tell anybody how to vote, or whether to even vote at all or simply boycott the snake pit and stay home on election day. The decision is yours.

I’m only here to say that the choices aren’t good–but then you already knew that.

Beltway Bubble: US Senators Internalize the Propaganda

 

Never underestimate the media’s power to deceive and delude. A question that could have grave implications on the prospects for avoiding war is the question of the extent to which Washington officials themselves have come to be deluded…

The following, recorded at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on June 7, would suggest that at least two members of the committee, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of Connecticut and Marco Rubio of Florida, have internalized, or come to believe, the anti-Russian propaganda being pumped out by Western media. Shaheen’s question about what the US is doing to counter Russian “disinformation” is especially telling, for the question is worded in such a way–and the tone of her voice would suggest as well–that she is thoroughly convinced that the disinformation is coming entirely from the Russian side and not from the likes of the New York Times and CNN.

Much like Sheehan, Rubio, too, seems to detect no reason for questioning what US mega-media owners are telling him regarding the so-called “Russian aggression” we hear so much about. In fact, as you can see from his first question, Rubio seems totally to buy into the idea, propounded by Gen. Philip Breedlove, that Russia represents a “long term existential threat” to the US and Europe.

Interestingly, both Rubio and Shaheen seem to be bedazzled by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is married to neocon Robert Kagan and was instrumental in carrying out the coup in Ukraine. What a person to place your faith and your trust in!

Should a vote come before the Senate on whether or not to go to war with Russia, how do you expect senators like Shaheen and Rubio, who have seemingly so thoroughly internalized the media line on Russia, will vote?

Rest In Peace Muhammad

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