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Independent Media as Vehicle for Character Assassination

By Kim Petersen | Dissident Voice | August 23, 2013

Common decency demands that when someone slanders you in a public forum that you should have the right to respond in that same forum.

TRNN is an independent news network that provides thought-provoking news, analysis, and commentary. TRNN is much more than news headlines. For the greatest part, news events are reported in context and with relevant background information. This distinguishes TRNN very much from state and corporate media news. In addition, TRNN senior editor Paul Jay is very adept at playing devil’s advocate, laying out the corporate media/government line whereby guest analysts can probe and expose propaganda and disinformation.

Since criticizing the corporate media is very much like flogging a dead horse and because getting the real news out there is so important, I tend to focus my media criticism on TRNN. For instance, I criticized TRNN for parroting a corporate-state media message about North Korea (without providing relevant background information).1 Its US electoral coverage in 2008 and 2012 was fundamentally anti-democratic because of its inordinate focus on the evilist parties rather than allotting equal coverage to all parties (albeit third party coverage did increase from 2008 to 2012).

Recently TRNN has been presenting a series called “Reality Asserts Itself.” Some fine insight has been provided by Chris Hedges, Vijay Prashad, and Max Blumenthal. However, in a recent installment of the show, Blumenthal engaged in, what can best be described as, character assassination. Blumenthal’s target was the jazz musician/author Gilad Atzmon.2

At the beginning of the segment, Jay stated “some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.” Jay provided no examples of this. I am failing to see how criticism of a state can be construed as anti-the people. If someone criticizes the Canadian state, should he also be construed as anti-Canadian? I have heard of people who criticized the United States subsequently being denounced as anti-American, but outside of the examples of criticizing Israel or the US, I have seldom, if ever, encountered charges of being anti-the people because of criticizing the people’s state. Maybe what Jay claims could be true, but as its stands, what he has said is just an assertion.3

Blumenthal responded “some who criticize Israel are anti-Semites.” This is likeliest true. And Jay agreed.

Blumenthal continued, charging that some of Israel’s critics are neo-fascists, racists, Islomophobic, and fearful of the Other.

Then Blumenthal launched into his character assassination of Gilad Atzmon “who,” claims Blumenthal, “pretends to be an anti-Zionist but is actually just pure anti-Semitic.” Without specific examples, Blumenthal’s charge amounts to pure ad hominem. Ad hominem, as Israel critic Noam Chomsky argued, is a despicable tactic:

If someone calls you an anti-Semite, what can you say? I’m not an anti-Semite? If someone says you’re a racist, you’re a Nazi or something, you always lose. The person who throws the mud always wins because there is no way of responding to such charges.4

There’s something unsettling and peculiar in denouncing racism (holding derogatory opinions or beliefs about the entirety of a particular group – ethnic, religious, gender, national, etc.) and then engaging in, what can be labeled as, personism (holding derogatory opinions about a person based on who one believes – as opposed to knows — that person is).

Jay appeared caught-off-guard by Blumenthal’s calumny; he left the character assassination unchallenged, and he quickly moved on to the next topic.

Atzmon says Blumenthal has not read his book,5 The Wandering Who.6 ‎ Since Blumenthal did not provide evidence for his ad hominem other than hearsay, his acerbic position is mired in epistemological quicksand.

Jay also allowed his guest to denigrate historical revisionists — Holocaust deniers Blumenthal calls them. That might also be more ad hominem. The right to challenge the historical record and narrative must be inalienable, otherwise history risks becoming mere propaganda.7 Nonetheless, Blumenthal did proffer an explanation for his attack noting that historical revisionists told him they dislike Jews because they are liberals.

I have read Atzmon’s book. Unless it is racist to explore the relations among Jews and how they integrate or separate from others, view the Other, accept or oppose occupation, then the book is not anti-Semitic. There is a certain tribalism among Jews. This is true among many groups except the tribalism takes the form of allegiance to a nation state (referred to as patriotism) rather than to a pseudo ethnic/religious affiliation.

I do not need to defend Atzmon; he can do that quite well himself. What I will call for is Atzmon’s right to defend himself in the same forum.

Does TRNN want a free thinking viewership who consider the facts, analysis, and conclusions presented and arrive at their own reason-based conclusions after examining, discussing with others, cogitating over the facts, and testing the cogency of the logic? Or does TRNN want viewers who uncritically accept what is said on their reports as gospel? It must not be the latter as this would thoroughly undermine the raison d’être of The Real News Network.

Consequently, since TRNN has allowed its program to be used as a vehicle for character assassination, it is incumbent on an ethical, professional, self-respecting, viewer-respecting news organization to allow the maligned Gilad Atzmon a chance at an on-air rebuttal.

  1. See Kim Petersen, “Independent Media as Mouthpiece for Centers of Power,” Dissident Voice, 28 May 2010.
  2. See “Israel, Anti-Semitism, and Negotiations Without End,” TRNN, 22 August 2013.
  3. During this episode of “Reality Asserts Itself,” Jay and Blumental both disdained, and rightfully so, anti-Semitism, anti-Arabism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and racism in general.
  4. From Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media NFB, 1992. Cited in Kim Petersen, “Anti,” Dissident Voice, 6 April 2004.
  5. Gilad Atzmon, “Max Blumenthal on Anti Semitism, Neo Fascists and Gilad Atzmon (Amusing As Well As Tragic),” 22 August 2013.
  6. See review.
  7. See Kim Petersen, “Progressivism, Skepticism, and Historical Revisionism: The Inalienable Right to Question History,” Dissident Voice, 19 December 2005.

Kim Petersen can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli officers torture detained Palestinian children

Palestine Information Center – 23/08/2013

NAZARETH — B’Tselem organization published on Thursday a report that includes testimonies from children detained in Israeli jails, on charges of throwing stones at soldiers, saying they were subjected to torture during their interrogation.

B’Tselem said that since November 2009, it has received testimonies from dozens of Palestinian residents of the Bethlehem and al-Khalil, most of them minors, saying that they were subjected to threats and violence, sometimes amounting to torture, during their interrogation at the police station at Gush Etzion.

The testimonies describe interrogations in which the minors were forced to confess to alleged offenses, mostly stone-throwing.

The report included the testimony of a minor, aged 14 from Husan in Bethlehem. He said “The interrogator made me go into a room. He grabbed my head and started banging it against the wall. Then he punched me, slapped me and kicked my legs. The pain was immense, and I felt like I couldn’t stand any longer.”

“Then he started swearing at me. He said filthy things about me and about my mother. He threatened to rape me, or perform sexual acts on me, if I didn’t confess to throwing stones,” the child added.

He said: “His threats really scared me, because he was very cruel and it was just the two of us in the room. I remembered what I’d seen on the news, when British and American soldiers raped and took photos of naked Iraqis.”

B’Tselem reported that until July 2013 its field researchers collected 64 testimonies from residents of eight communities in the southern West Bank who reported such incidents. “Fifty-six of them were minors at the time of their interrogation.”

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snowden Accuses UK Gov’t Of Leaking Documents He Never Leaked To Make Him Look Bad

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | August 23, 2013

The UK’s Independent newspaper today had an “exclusive” article, in which they claim that documents from Ed Snowden’s leaks revealed a secret internet surveillance base in the Middle East run by the UK government. There’s just one problem. While the article implies (though does not state) that it got those documents from Snowden, Snowden says he’s never talked to nor given anything to The Independent. Instead, he argues, that he’s worked carefully with key journalists (namely, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Barton Gellman) to make sure that the things they publish don’t reveal anything that might put anyone in danger. Snowden suggests, instead, that this is the UK government itself releasing this information in an attempt to “defend” the detention of David Miranda.

I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.

If you read the Independent’s coverage carefully, they never actually claim they got the documents from Snowden, even if they leave that impression. Instead, they claim that “information on [the base’s] activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.” In other words, they got that information from someone else — almost certainly the UK government. And, yes, that’s convenient timing for the UK government to claim that some of the documents that Snowden downloaded might contain useful information to terrorists, so that they can then turn around and argue that they detained Miranda and took all of his electronics (and destroyed a Guardian hard drive) to avoid having this information “fall into the hands of terrorists.”

The Independent article also implies that the UK government is afraid that Greenwald is going to start revealing this type of info in response to the Miranda detention, even though there’s no basis to believe that all. Greenwald has been quite careful so far not to reveal any information that puts anyone at risk, so it’s odd to believe that he’d start doing so now. Of course, it’s fairly bizarre since the Independent story itself contains tons of details — the kinds of details that Greenwald has avoided.

If Snowden’s assertion is correct — and it does seem like the most plausible argument at this point — then it highlights the ridiculous lengths to which the UK government is going: releasing potentially damaging information that Snowden himself has avoided revealing just to suggest that Snowden was leaking damaging information. Incredible.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US income has declined by 7.2% since 2000: Report

Press TV – August 22, 2013

US median income has declined by 7.2 percent since 2000 presenting fresh evidence of the deep economic stagnation the nation has suffered for more than a decade, according to a new report.

US median household income, adjusted for inflation, has also fallen 4.4 percent to $52,098 since the recession officially ended in 2009, according to the report released Wednesday from Sentier Research.

Current US median household income is 6.1 percent below the $55,480 that the median household took in when the recession began in December 2007.

The report, underscoring the lasting damage wrought by the economic downturn, is based on an analysis of Census Bureau data.

Economists view median income as a key marker for the well-being of the nation’s middle class.

Analysts said the report reflects the shrinking middle class and the increasing economic gap between the rich and poor, indicated in previous studies as well.

“Median income is affected by trends in inequality, and you are seeing that to the extent there has been income growth in the past decade, it has disproportionately gone to those at the top and very top,” said Gregory Acs, director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a research organization.

Income is down even though the number of people who report having a college degree is up sharply since the end of the recession, the report said.

Part of the decline in Americans’ income is because of the surge in part-time hiring by US businesses.

Three out of four of the nearly 1 million people hired by US businesses this year are working part-time or receive low wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Thousands of frustrated fast-food and retail workers in the US are planning another job strike across the country on Aug, 29 to protest low wages and part-time work.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

The Terrifying World of Electronic Monitoring

By JAMES KILGORE | August 23, 2013

I spend a considerable part of my life doing research and writing about electronic monitors-those  black plastic ankle bracelets best known for landing on the legs of a number of the rich and notorious-Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton, Michael Vick, and Charley Sheen, just to name a few.  I hear stories about house arrest and the absurd sets of obstacles authorities put in peoples’ way as they try to wend their way back into life post-incarceration while being tracked by the latest technology.

I reflect a lot about little computer chips and spying and what some lawyers call the deprivation of liberty by technological means.  In essence, electronic monitoring is about tracking and marking. The GPS technology that is trending  in electronic monitors tracks people’s every movement with the purpose of marking them for punishment if they deviate from the program (or at least if the technology reports that they have deviated from the program.)

Though everyone keeps telling me that at least being on a monitor is better than being in prison, (which I agree with, having done both) I keep telling them they are missing the point. The point is that we need to have some control over this technology, some clear rules, guidelines and ideas about what it should and should not be allowed to do, that while it may be applied to those “guilty” of a crime today, we don’t actually know who is next.

Edward Snowden’s revelations have awakened people to this sort of reality since NSA surveillance is all about tracking and marking. Only the NSA is monitoring everyone-tracking and marking, though none of us are exactly sure who is being marked, why they are being marked or what the consequences of that marking will be. We are leaving the whole process to the security and technology experts to decide. They will determine what patterns of telecommunications amount to a threat or a violation warranting action by the authorities.

None of this comes as a big shock to me since I have seen how with the advance of GPS, people on parole who are minding their own business trying to do what normal people do-shop, get their laundry done, play with their child in the park, are constantly presented with the record of their movements.  If they stop at an address that is not on the approved list, if they go to a store that is not on the approved list they run the risk of being violated and either kept under lockdown (24 hour a day house arrest) or sent back to prison.

Not long ago I heard the story of a man who stopped for nine minutes at a house a block away from where he lived to ask about some things the owner was selling. Those nine minutes got sent to the parole office via his GPS tracker and he got a few days of lockdown in response.  The neighbor’s address was not on the approved list.

And then there are the dozen cases in Wisconsin unveiled by journalist Mario Koran where the GPS device falsely reported people  as out of the house when they were at home.  Aaron Hicks served 51 days in jail for what he claims was one of those false violations. You can’t argue with the facts. As one man on monitoring who chose to remain anonymous because he’s still on parole told me, “we are the guinea pigs.”

But this mark and track process hit a new low last week with the release of Gregory Johnsen’s Atlantic magazine story about an eight year old Yemeni boy named Barq al-Kulaybi.  Once an impoverished  street child in the village of Baty-al-Ahmar, al-Kulaybi had been taken in by an apparently kind man named Adnan al-Qadhi.  Unbeknownst to the little boy, Yemeni authorities (and likely the CIA)  suspected al-Qadhi of having links with Al Qaeda.  In a bizarre translated video, al-Kulaybi told the story of how last year his biological father, a member of the Yemeni  Republican Guard, and some fellow security personnel persuaded him to plant a computer chip on al-Qadhi.  Given precise instructions on how to activate the chip, the boy explained how he dropped it into the man’s coat pocket when al-Qadhi was out of the room.  The boy had kicked off a track and mark process with a tragic ending.  On November 7, 2012 a US drone strike killed al-Qadhi. Subsequently, Al Qaeda kidnapped the boy and his father and produced the video mentioned above.  According to a Johnsen interview on Democracy Now, Al-Qaeda has apparently executed the boy’s father.  Tracking and marking can be a deadly business.

The story of Barq al-Kulaybi is disturbing on many levels.  The use of an eight year old boy as an operative in this instance qualifies as one of the low points even in the murky amoral world of surveillance.  But the real problem is that like with the NSA monitors and with the parole agents who put people on lockdown at their own discretion, there is no process of accountability, not even any transparent guidelines of operation.  The technology experts (read: boys with toys) are in the driver’s seat and following a map that no one else can see, much less read. I wish the case of Barq al-Kulaybi would give people pause, would at least occasion a few  sighs of distress before we think about how small these chips are going to be in the future, all the new “apps” they will have, who will control them and whose pocket they may end up in. Who is next to be tracked and marked? By the way, have you switched off your cellphone?

James Kilgore is a research scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). He writes on issues of mass incarceration with a focus on electronic monitoring and labor. He is also the author of three novels, all of which he drafted during his six and a half years in prison, 2002-09.  He can be contacted at waazn1@gmail.com

Source

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan’s policy on Syria counterproductive

By Prof. Rodney Shakespeare | Press TV | August 23, 2013

Turkey’s policy is being smashed apart. It has no depth, no vision, no principle and no morality. It is not just a case of muddle or a failure of cynical opportunism. Rather, it is something which is completely inexplicable without there having been some sort of big bribe (probably of the “We will make you the regional big-wig” variety) for Erdogan, the Prime Minister.

Turkey had a clear, simple policy – be friends with all neighbors. It was a very sensible policy and, as a result, Turkey was able to build its economic and political strength and was increasingly being recognized as a regional leader. (Remember the deal arranged between Turkey, Brazil and Iran over 20% uranium enrichment which made Obama look like a fool, as he is?)

Importantly, Turkey was also seen as a successful example of how Islam and politics can integrate in a modern way.

But now look what has happened! History has many examples of countries, led by incompetent prime ministers, shooting themselves in the foot. However, in the case of Turkey, it’s an instance of shooting itself in both feet.

In Syria, no doubt dreaming of a huge territorial expansion under his benign rule, Erdogan went from friend to not just enemy but to being the worst thing of all – a vicious sectarian out to put the whole of the Middle East at each other’s throats. What a disgraceful turnabout for a man who was being held up as an example to the world!

And look at the consequences! Can anybody guess how many hundreds of thousands, even millions, of refugees will soon be living within Turkey’s borders? What is that going to do for Turkey’s economy?

Can anybody guess what will be the consequences for the unity of Turkey itself (which has a large Kurdish minority) given that the Kurds of Syria have to fight against the Takfiri throat-slitters supported by Turkey?

Will the Kurds in Turkey remain silent? And what about those throat-slitters in Syria (who also like a bit of head-chopping and gas-choking on the side)? Are they going to leave Turkey alone (since they have no intent of leaving anybody else alone)? Turkey is arming them and establishing secret routes for them, in fact, doing everything to ensure that Turkey itself is one day going to be attacked by them. How idiotic can you get?

Moreover, goodness me! What about Turkey’s middle class? They are enraged with Erodogan’s Syria policy and, as history teaches, politicians who upset the middle classes do so at their peril….

Erdogan has been doing some slimy creepy-crawling to the Israelis and Americans (after all, they were the ones promising that he would become the Big Caliph big-wig if he only did a bit of their bidding). But now, Erdogan is being given a nasty dose of reality – the last thing the USA and Israel want is a Big Caliph: rather, all they want is a Greater Israel (from the Mediterranean across to the River Euphrates and down to the Nile).

So, Erdogan is now accusing Israel of being behind Morsi’s ouster in Egypt which is a very reasonable accusation given that Israel (together with the USA and Saudi Arabia) is a member of the Axis of Evil which interferes everywhere in the Middle East. Of course, the USA is angry that anybody should even hint that Israel is behind anything but, then, the USA is another country regularly shooting itself in the foot and, in its case, the feet are very big, clumsy ones.

Thus, Turkey is finding out the hard way that it cannot rely on the USA or Israel as allies (and who, in their right mind, would think otherwise?)

Behind all this, of course, are some big geo-political realities one of which is that China, Russia and Iran are holding firm in backing Assad of Syria. Therefore, the USA is unlikely to intervene in Syria even though it wants to.

So, Turkey’s Syria policy is now down the drain and it’s beginning to look as if Turkey itself is going down the drain (although the country will probably push Erdogan down the drain before it gets near to going down itself….)

Where will Erdogan turn now? He is promoting sectarianism and, by doing so, has betrayed Islam.

The obvious thing to do would be to turn away from the West and Israel and look more to stronger relationships with Muslim countries. But to whom? Saudi Arabia? That would be another strategic mistake (and it is disgraceful that Erdogan has allowed a disgusting Saudi Arabia to become more influential.) Egypt? Unlikely. Iraq? Very unlikely …

Erdogan’s made a ripe mess, hasn’t he? He’s alone. Why should anybody trust him when he has betrayed everybody else? We can expect the Turkish people to be taking action soon.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Terms and Conditions May Apply

August 18, 2013

This is an important and frightening film, about how Google, Amzaon, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkdin – and IMDb? – harvest our personal information and onsell it to the highest bidder, or to the government. How we don’t read that wodge of text in capitals comprising “Terms and conditions” before we click “Accept” – nobody could, it would take a month per year for everything we sign. But even when that text is brief and written in plain English, it gives those corporations unprecedented power over our personal information – including the right to change the rules without telling us, to increase their power without limit and without asking again, and to keep it forever, even after we have “deleted” it.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Global Jihad” accused of rocket attacks on occupied Palestine, Zionist warplanes raid PFLP site


Syrian rockets land in eastern Lebanon

Al-Akhbar | August 22, 2013

Several Syrian rockets landed in Lebanon’s border region on Thursday, causing material damage, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

The rockets landed at dawn in the Wadi Khaled region in the Bekaa, damaging a number of houses, an NNA correspondent said. There were no reports of human casualties.

The source of the rockets was unknown. … Full article


Alert in Northern Zionist Entity as 4 Rockets Fired from Lebanon

Al-Manar | August 22, 2013

Four modified Grad missiles landed on Thursday in the northern area of Occupied Palestine, local and international media outlets reported, as Zionist army spokesman accused the “global jihad” of the attack.

Witnesses reported hearing several blasts near the northern coastal town of Nahariya, while al-Mayadeen TV said that rockets landed between Aka and Nahariya.

“Unknown gunmen fired four rockets from two positions, south and east of Tyre, at Israel,” a military source told Agence France Presse.

“The rockets were fired from primitive wooden launch pads, 700 meters afar from residential areas,” a Lebanese security source told Al-Manar website reporter.

The Lebanese army cordoned the area and urged citizens to keep away, amid intensive flights of the enemy spy drone, the reporter added.

No casualties or damage were immediately reported, however, the Zionist Magen David Adom declared state of alert.

Following the explosions, sirens in northern Palestine went off for about a minute.

The Zionist army said the Iron Dome defense system intercepted one rocket, without specifying its location or giving any details about the other rockets.

Shelters have been opened in West Galilee as Zionist police urged settlers of the north Occupied Palestine to remain close to fortified zones.


Zionist Warplanes Raid Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine Naameh Site

Al-Manar | August 23, 2013

Israeli warplanes raided Friday at dawn the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine military site in Naameh, south of Beirut, according to the National News Agency.

For his part, the Front’s chief in Lebanon, Ramez Moustafa, confirmed the news and clarified that the Zionist warplanes fired one rocket onto Naameh valley and that no losses or damages were recorded.

“We will not respond to this assault in the way that serves the Zionist plan to lure us, yet in the proper place and at the proper time,” Moustafa pointed out.

The spokesman of the Israeli army asserted that the assault responds to the rockets that were fired Thursday from the Lebanese territories into Nahariya and Akka, north of occupied Palestine.


Twin bombing hits Lebanon’s Tripoli

Al-Akhbar | August 23, 2013

Two bombs exploded within minutes of each other outside separate mosques in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Friday following the end of prayers, state news and television networks reported.

One of the bombs exploded near the Taqwa mosque. Minutes later a second explosion struck the Salam mosque in the Mina area near the waterfront.

Gunfire was heard following the explosions, according to TV reports. TV images from the two attacks showed plumes of smoke billowing from the sites of the explosions.

Casualties are not yet known.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment