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Aftermath of Helsinki summit: American ‘democracy’ in action

© Erin Scott / Global Look Press
By Finian Cunningham | RT | July 19, 2018

After his landmark summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, US President Donald Trump was apparently forced into an embarrassing u-turn over allegations of Russian interference in American elections.

On returning to the White House from his summit in Finland, Trump read out a statement, saying that he “accepted” US intelligence claims that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

He offered the explanation that he had “mis-spoken” during his press conference with Putin in Helsinki the day before, when he appeared then to accept the Russian president’s “powerful denial” that his country had not interfered in the race for the White House.

What to make of it? Was Trump correcting a glitch in his speech, or is there something more sinister at play?

In any case, political and media critics in the US don’t believe the president’s “attempt at backtracking,” as the Washington Post put it.

Senior Democrats insisted Trump “could not squirm his way out” of the torrent of accusations that he had “capitulated to Putin” and dishonored US intelligence services by appearing to accept Moscow’s assurances it had not interfered in the elections.

The context of words spoken at the press conference in Helsinki does indeed suggest that Trump was countenancing Putin’s denial of Russian meddling. The US president went on to say that the various probes into the matter were a “disaster” for America’s international image and for bilateral relations with Russia. This is consistent with Trump’s long-held view that the Mueller inquiry is a “witch-hunt” based on “fake news”.

So, Trump’s belated about-turn on what he meant to say in Helsinki regarding alleged Russian interference does not seem to be a convincing, genuine correction on his part. It suggests rather that the president is being forced into making a retraction.

What could be viewed as more disturbing is the way the American president has been browbeaten and cowed to make an embarrassing denial of something he actually believes. In other words, Trump has been humiliated or intimidated into toeing a line.

The US media reaction following the summit with Putin was immediate and shockingly coordinated, like a full-on assault.

“Trump faces tidal wave of criticism over handling of summit with Putin,” reported US government-funded Radio Free Europe.

The president was assailed with a torrent of abuse, decrying him as a “disgrace” and “traitor” for having engaged in a cordial manner with the Russian leader. The uniform scorn poured on Trump by the political and media establishment was something to behold.

Rabid pundits in supposedly prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times were declaring that it’s “Trump and Putin vs. America,” claiming that “the president’s refusal to condemn Russian attacks was a betrayal of every single American citizen.”

The media backlash of vituperation against the president was nothing short of extraordinary. It was a concerted campaign of sedition against his authority which, at times, openly called for a palace coup to oust him.

Under the headline, “This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man,” one oped in the Washington Post posed the question: “Which Republicans will stand behind a president who puts Russia first?”

Ironically, Trump’s instincts about the whole Russiagate affair are correct. It is a load of unsubstantiated farrago promoted by Democrats and large sections of supportive news media who have never got over the ignominy of Hillary Clinton losing out to “deplorable Trump.” Clinton was also backed by high-ranking officials in the state intelligence apparatus, as well as the foreign policy establishment.

This constituency of the political class in Washington shared Clinton’s avowed hostility towards Putin. It is to their unforgivable chagrin that Donald Trump was elected. Moreover, Trump was elected partly on the promise of restoring normal relations between the US and Russia. His policy was given a democratic mandate upon his election to the White House.

After nearly two years of relentless Russophobia from the US political and media establishment, the case for alleged Russian interference in American politics remains embarrassingly vacuous. Not even the latest so-called indictments produced by special counsel Robert Mueller have any credibility to anyone who looks earnestly at the charges. What’s more, ordinary American citizens seem to agree that the whole Russiagate affair is a frivolity indulged in by the political and media elites confined to Washington’s Beltway Bubble.

In a poll out this week following the Helsinki summit, a small majority of Americans (55 percent) seem to think that Trump is “mishandling” relations with Russia. It is perhaps not surprising, given the wall-to-wall media pillorying of the president as a “traitor.” Nevertheless, the same poll found that only a minority of Americans view Russia as “an enemy” (38 percent) or an “imminent threat” (27 per cent).

These figures are cold comfort for the US political establishment, which has assiduously pushed the narrative of Russian malevolence.

What the astounding media backlash against Trump shows is not so much the fecklessness of his character. No, the really perplexing issue is how American democracy is warped and fashioned to meet the demands of powerful unelected forces. The imperative is brazen and brutal.

Trump may want to normalize relations with Russia. The people may have voted for this policy. But the powers-that-be are making sure that this policy is not implemented. They want hostility towards Russia to prevail, as it would have explicitly if Hillary Clinton had been elected.

In short, what we are seeing this week is “American democracy” in action. Meaning there is no actual democracy exercised by the power of the people. It is power exercised by elite interests.

In that way, Russian reaction to the Helsinki summit should be restrained.

Indeed, it was welcome to see Trump and Putin engage in cordial, mutual dialogue. Trump deserves credit for holding the summit and for his civilized manner towards the Russian leader, instead of adopting the vulgar offensiveness for which so much of the US establishment is baying.

The problem is that Trump has evidently very limited political authority to implement the obvious goodwill he desires between Washington and Moscow. He has limited authority to actually adopt one of the key policies for which he was elected by the people.

Trump’s cringe-making u-turn was not a correction over his misuse of “double negative speech.” It was a positively damning sign that the president and the citizens who voted for him have actually negligible power when it comes to overturning a fundamental objective of the unelected plutocrats of the deep state.

For Russia, and indeed the wider world, that is deeply troubling. Because the American powers-that-be are evidently hell-bent on pursuing a hostile agenda towards Russia. Their Russophobia is not just some passing phase. It’s a symptom of an incorrigible malaise and desire within the US establishment for conflict.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Maxine Waters: ‘Hustler of hate’ or Democratic nominee in 2020?

By Danielle Ryan | RT | July 19, 2018

Crazy. Unhinged. Un-American. Those are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Congresswoman Maxine Waters as she emerges as a star of the anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ and riles both Democrats and Republicans with her fervor.

The California Democrat has drawn sharp criticism even from her own party for what many interpreted as an incitement to ‘mob violence’ when she called on Americans to harass members of Donald Trump’s administration if they saw them in public — antics which led her to receive serious threats against her life.

While Democrats have tried to criticize Waters in a more diplomatic manner, appealing for calm in trying times, Republicans haven’t been holding back. One congressional candidate called her a “hustler of hate” who should be behind bars.

President Waters?

Waters has embarrassed herself on a number of other occasions in recent months, too; There was the time she called for Trump to be impeached because Russia had (according to her) invaded Korea. Then there was the time she claimed that RT had hacked C-SPAN in an effort to interfere specifically with her speech on the House floor — and let’s not forget the time she promised two phone pranksters posing as the Ukrainian prime minister that the US would “stand with” Ukraine to keep sanctions on Russia. She also has what seems like an unhealthy preoccupation with the idea of being shot at.

And now, there is speculation that she could be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020.

CNN political commentator John Phillips penned a piece last week for the L.A. Daily News arguing that “Mad Max” really could be the nominee two years from now. Waters, he wrote, is “the only one dancing to the beat” of the resistance.

The scary thing is, he could be right. Waters, with her fiery, nothing-held-back approach has tapped into the rage and anger many Americans are feeling about Trump — and she is feeding it, to her own advantage. The woman, Phillips wrote, “who is the biggest rock star with liberals right now is Auntie Maxine” — and it doesn’t even matter that she was just called un-American by her own party leadership.

Waters is a bit like marmite. People seem to love her or hate her — and it’s not just since Trump became president and gave her license to reveal her own special brand of crazy.

Back in 2013, I met Waters in Washington D.C. at the screening of a documentary about America’s war on drugs and the desperate need to reform the country’s criminal justice system.

The documentary was co-produced by Danny Glover, Brad Pitt, Russell Simmons and John Legend — but, as I wrote at the time, Waters herself turned into the unlikely star of the show. After the screening, as I tried to get near her to ask a few questions, she was mobbed by supporters looking for selfies. That day she came across as a celebrity in her own right.

And, speaking, of celebrity, Phillips makes the point that the media and political pundits wrote Donald Trump off as a “reality show buffoon” and a “shameless self-promoter” with zero chance of winning the election. Here again, he is correct.

The media did write Trump off — and he won. So if Waters, crazy and all as she might be, did throw her hat in the ring for the 2020 election, pundits would want to be very careful not to assume for a second time that there is such thing as ‘too crazy’ or radical to win.

In the same way Trump challenged Republican party orthodoxy and defeated 16 other primary challengers to win the nomination, Phillips thinks Waters could tread a similar path.“[Trump] understood the mood and frustrations of the electorate better than anyone in the race,” he wrote.

No frontrunner

But Phillips’ musing also highlights something else; just how lacking the Democratic party is in good alternatives to Trump. That someone as erratic and downright strange as Maxine Waters could be reasonably considered a viable candidate says a lot about the state of the Democratic party — and just guess who thinks she is poised to take advantage of that sorry state of affairs?

None other than Hillary Clinton. Confirming beyond doubt that incompetence reigns in the Democratic Party is the recent bout of speculation that Clinton is gearing up to run for president —again — and that people within the party structure might actually be supportive of that plan.

Clinton has been running around giving campaign-style speeches and doing some vigorous fundraising — and although she says publicly she won’t run again, that’s what she said after she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, so it might be advisable to take those words with a big pinch of salt.

But perhaps she should think twice about going in for round three. A new poll has found that 73 percent of Democrats want a fresh face to challenge Trump in 2020 — while only 16 percent said they would be happy with a candidate who has run before. The Rasmussen survey also found that 58 percent of Democratic voters think Clinton has damaged the party’s standing.

It has been largely accepted among liberal pundits and (by all accounts) many high profile Clinton supporters that she was a terrible candidate — so terrible that she managed to lose to a hated reality TV star who broke every rule in the playbook —and yet here they are, thinking of wheeling her out again, hoping it’ll be third time’s the charm.

This is the kind of backward thinking that could potentially see Trump — the object of their rage — sail straight back into the White House for another four years in 2020.

But it’s hard to feel sorry for the Democrats. They have positioned themselves as close to the centre as politically possible (some would even argue they are a centre-right party at this point). They have shown only disdain to progressive left candidates, despite ample proof that they are hugely popular with voters. The party threw away the only real chance it had to win in 2016 when it rigged the primary against Bernie Sanders and sent a hugely unpopular candidate to fight and lose against Trump — and now they’re seriously considering doing it all over again.

When you look at it that way, maybe Maxine Waters is their best hope.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist. Having lived and worked in the US, Germany and Russia, she is currently based in Budapest, Hungary. Her work has been featured by Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, Russia Direct, teleSUR, The BRICS Post and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ, check out her Facebook page, or visit her website: danielle-ryan.com

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God is on our side! Maxine Waters calls on restaurants, gas stations to boo Trump admin

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real

By Thomas L. Knapp | The Garrison Center | July 17, 2018

According to a new poll conducted by Ipsos  in partnership with the University of Virginia Center for Politics, 51% of respondents agree (15% “strongly” and 36% “somewhat”) with the statement “American elections are fair and open.”

The Ipsos headline characterizes that percentage as “only half.” That’s akin to noting that “only half” of Americans believe the Earth is a flat disc of provolone cheese, balanced atop the fingertips of seven celestial belly dancers. “Only” half?

Republicans, males, people over 55, people making more than $50,000 a year, and whites are more likely to believe this bizarre claim than Democrats, females, younger voters, the under-$50k crowd, and non-whites, but even among the latter buy-in is disturbingly high.

That over-55 demographic is plenty old enough to remember that after Ross Perot made it onto the presidential debate stage in 1992 (as an independent) and 1996 (as the Reform Party’s nominee), the Commission on Presidential Debates added a 15% polling bar to its rules to ensure that only Republicans and Democrats need apply.

Every four years, the CPD — established after the National Commission on Elections recommended  “[t]urning over the sponsorship of Presidential debates to the two major parties” — makes millions in illegal in-kind campaign contributions to Republican and Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and no others, in the form of joint campaign commercials falsely advertised as “debates.”

Most disturbing: 49% of self-described “independent” voters — voters deprived of choice by a tangled web of ballot access laws expressly designed to keep third party and independent candidates off the ballot and campaign finance laws that keep them marginalized if they get over those ballot access hurdles — still believe in the Fair and Open Election Fairy.

American elections started becoming less fair and less open in the late 19th century when state governments started printing “Australian” ballots and controlling access to those ballots. Before that, American voters hand-wrote their ballots, orally dictated their ballots to election officials if they couldn’t write, or used pre-printed ballots provided to them by their parties or candidates of choice.

While movements for more fair and more open elections have made some advances since then — for example,  constitutional amendment to provide for female suffrage, and partial gains versus attempts to suppress the African-American vote — we’ve still got a long way to go.

As champions of addiction recovery like to say, the first step is admitting we have a problem. Fairies aren’t real. And American elections aren’t fair and open. Yet.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Henningsen: ‘US Can Help Refugee Crisis By Lifting Sanctions and Getting Out of Syria’

21st Century Wire | July 18, 2018

One potentially positive outcome from Monday’s Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, Finland was a clear signal that both leaders have talked about cooperating in Syria, rather than treating each other as geopolitical adversaries at the expense of Syria’s own welfare.

While this has been received with fury by the US mainstream corporate media, pro-war Democrats and Neocon Republicans – it has been seen by the rest of the world as a much-needed diplomatic overture which could help to stabilize the situation, rather than exacerbate existing problems across the country and the Middle East in general. Russia’s Defense Ministry announced it is already prepared to ‘boost cooperation’ with the U.S. military in Syria, saying in a statement Tuesday that it’s ready for “practical implementation” of any memorandums of understanding reached between Trump and Putin, including the extension of the START arms control treaty.

21WIRE editor Patrick Henningsen spoke to RT International yesterday about what the US and its EU counterparts need to do to mitigate Europe’s Migrant Crisis as well as Syria and the Middle East’s refugee crisis – namely, lifting punitive joint US-EU economic sanctions on Syria, and also seeing the US end its illegal occupation with its Kurdish SDF proxy militias in northeastern Syria: Watch:

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

We want to hear from Scotland Yard, not media reports on Skripals’ case – Russian envoy to UK

RT | July 19, 2018

Moscow is waiting for any official statement on the Skripal attack suspects, Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has said in the wake of media reports that police identified some “Russians” as the culprits.

On Thursday, the Press Association reported that British investigators believe they identified “the suspected perpetrators” of the March poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. After analyzing CCTV footage, they reportedly came to the conclusion that some “Russians” are involved in the attack.

Commenting on the media claims, the Russian envoy said that official London remains silent on the issue, stressing that media reports often fail to find any confirmation.

“These are media reports, unfortunately there are no official statements from the British side. I want to hear from Scotland Yard, from the Foreign Office. Many versions [published] in the newspapers are not confirmed on the official level,” Yakovenko told journalists in Moscow.

The envoy also warned that Moscow “will exert pressure” on London, including through official requests and dialogue, over the Skripal case, as it is “a political issue.” He also plans to discuss the issue during the meeting with the UK’s new foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt.

The Skripal case was not on the agenda during the recent Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki as London failed to provide evidence not only to Russia, but even to its allies, Yakovenko noted.

“If the British had managed to provide any official information regarding the ongoing investigation, it might have been a topic for [Trump-Putin] discussion,” the envoy said. “But because the British side still does not provide anything to the Russian side, and moreover, presented nothing to its allies, then what is there to actually discuss?”

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury in March. In late June, a British couple, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were exposed to the same substance in the town of Amesbury, around 12km from Salisbury. After Sturgess died on June 8, the Russian embassy in the UK said that a leak at the Porton Down chemical laboratory, located some 8km from both Salisbury and Amesbury, might be to blame for the incidents.

The UK authorities have pointed a finger at Moscow for the Skripals’ poisoning since March, while still failing to present any evidence. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, asking to share the data on the incident, but still has received nothing but allegations so far.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

You’ll never guess where the next James Bond villain is from…

RT | July 19, 2018

James Bond’s nemesis in the upcoming 007 film will be (now whisper it)… Russian. In what could be a sign of the times, it’s the first time in 20 years the fictional English spy will be battling it out with a Moscow baddie.

1999’s ‘The World Is Not Enough’ was the last Bond film to star a significant Russian villain – Victor ‘Renard’ Zokas, an ex-KGB agent turned-high tech terrorist, played with a questionable accent by Scottish actor Robert Carlyle.

The movie, once again starring Daniel Craig as Bond, has the working title ‘Bond 25’. It will be directed by Danny Boyle. Filming is scheduled to commence in December, with a proposed release date of October 2019, the Mirror reports.

The makers of the 007 film franchise are said to be seeking a 30 to 60-year-old leading male, from Russia or the Balkans. Producers say he must be “charismatic, powerful, innovative, cold and vindictive.”

As if one leading role being Russian wasn’t a scary enough proposition for James Bond fans, producers have revealed they intend to also cast a female in a leading role as a Russian. They must be “very striking” with “strong physical combat skills.”

Her character is described as “intelligent, brave, fierce and charming, she’s witty and skilful, a survivor.” The two Russian principal characters are rumored to have a Maori henchman who must possess “combat skills” and be “ruthless and loyal.”

Bond has a history of trading shots with evil characters from behind the old Iron Curtain in movies such as ‘From Russia With Love’. The prospective Russian villains will be following in the footsteps of Rosa Klebb and General Orlov.

Dua Lipa, the London-born singer-songwriter, is rumored to have been chosen to perform the theme song.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Trump’s Russian Meddling Reversal Suggests US Becoming ‘Authoritarian’

Sputnik – July 19, 2018

Both media and political backlash being thrown against US President Donald Trump for his flip-flopping antics on whether or not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election suggests that the Land of the Free is heading toward an authoritarian route, historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter told Sputnik.

POTUS spent a second day Wednesday attempting to reassure critics that he’d misspoken at the Helsinki summit on Monday, telling reporters that “there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”

“All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there, look unfortunately at what happened in Syria recently,” Trump told journalists. “I think President Putin knows that better than anybody — certainly a lot better than the media — he understands it, and he’s not happy about it. And he shouldn’t be happy about it, because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”

​Porter told Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear on Wednesday that 45’s decision to walk back his statements suggests that the US is going to be heading down a road where political heads won’t be able to speak freely.

“To me, this is really the primary case study of how this political system is moving at a very rapid pace toward a rather authoritarian — very authoritarian — political caste, in which it’s going to become much more difficult to take positions that are at odds with the extremely hardline new Cold War position of the combined political media and national security elites,” the historian told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

When asked what might be driving the media’s persistent critiques of Trump, Porter indicated that it might have to do both with corporate media simply not liking the president and wanting to appease national security officials.

“There’s no doubt that 95 percent of the corporate media is partisan against Trump and in fact feels personally that he’s a menace to the United States,” he told Kiriakou. “At the same time, I think that 100 percent of the corporate media believe that it is vital to the interest of those people who they are close to in the military, the intelligence agencies and the political elites, that the United States start a new Cold War with Russia and that it be pursued to the hilt both militarily and especially in terms of intelligence and counterintelligence activities on the part of the US government.”

But would the media have reacted the same way if it was former US President Barack Obama who’d acted as Trump has? Yes, with maybe just some slight differences, according to Porter.

“If Obama had taken anything like in substance the position that Trump was taking… I think that the answer is pretty much yes,” he said. “It would be very similar; it would be different, of course, but it would be strikingly similar.”

Noting that Obama wasn’t attacked or vilified for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2009, Porter indicated that the US’ stance on Russia took a pivotal turn in 2014 when Crimeans made a decision and voted to reunify with the Russian Federation.

“The single most important watershed, if you will, was Ukraine and the fact that Russia took that kind of action… despite the fact that the US government was taking a strong position in the ‘Ukraine crisis,'” Porter explained. “This was both an insult to the US power on one hand and an opportunity on the other, and I would argue in a sense that it’s the opportunity that’s more important here.”

“My guess is that that was seen as an opportunity to retake advantage of the situation to push for a major plus up in the [US] military budget for Russia and to play up the threat from Russia in a way that they could not do before that.”

“You have sort of a continued growth in this idea that Russia is the enemy, that it’s the new threat and a major challenge to the United States,” the historian said.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

US arrest of Russian attempt to undermine Trump-Putin summit

Press TV – July 18, 2018

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the arrest this week of a Russian national in the United States was a deliberate attempt to undermine a summit between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday the detention of Maria Butina, which took place on Sunday, a day before the summit, had no grounds and was meant to affect the positive outcome of the summit.

Putin and Trump met in a freighted atmosphere amid criticism that Trump was approaching Russia at the expense of Washington’s allies in Europe. Trump is also accused of trying to cover up his alleged links to the Russians in the run-up to his presidency two years ago.

US authorities said Monday that they had charged Butina, 29, with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian government through establishing relationships and infiltrating organizations that have influence in US politics.

“Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank,” said the US Department of Justice in a press release, adding, “This Russian official was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.”

Zakharova dismissed the charges and said the arrest happened “with the obvious task of minimizing the positive effect” of the summit between Putin and Trump.

Both leaders have described their meeting as positive, saying it would help Moscow and Washington improve their strained relations.

The US and Russia have clashed on several issues over the past years, including Russia’s alleged interference in Ukraine, which Moscow denies, its military presence in Syria and allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential election, which led to Trump’s victory.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up

By Bruce E. Levine | CounterPunch | July 18, 2018

Despite increased spending on mental health treatment, mental illness disability and suicide rates have skyrocketed. “Perhaps more disturbingly,” notes clinical psychologist Noël Hunter, “recent evidence has demonstrated that as contact with psychiatric intervention increases, so too does completed suicide, suggesting the possibility that the current mental health system may be creating the very problems it purports to aid.” In Hunter’s recently published Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), she asks, “Are we continuing to funnel money into a fundamentally broken system?”

For many on the Left, it is obvious that the military-industrial complex is devoted only to its own preservation and expansion, thus routinely jeopardizing national security and freedom—this despite many men and women serving in the U.S. military who care about national security and freedom. Far fewer on the Left recognize that the psychiatric-industrial complex (which includes the American Psychiatric Association and its Big Pharma financial partners) is also devoted only to its own preservation and expansion, thus routinely exacerbating emotional suffering—this despite many individual practitioners who want to help their patients.

The majority of psychiatrists and psychologists, owing to both ignorance and cowardice, routinely comply with diagnostic and treatment notions that pretend to be scientific but which have been politically and financially forged. There are, however, a handful of anti-authoritarian professionals who have rebelled, and Noël Hunter is one of them.

Hunter is a rare psychologist. She not only has extensive knowledge of the empirical research, but she herself was once diagnosed with serious mental illness, and she takes very seriously the insights of “experts by experience”—recovered ex-patients—who Hunter quotes throughout her book. Both objective and subjective sources make clear to Hunter that the essential cause for what is called serious mental illness is not some kind of biochemical or genetic defect but some kind of trauma, and that the essential remedy is healing from trauma. For critical thinkers who are not mental health professionals, Hunter’s assertions in Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services may sound like simple common sense, but it is sense that is not common in the mental health profession.

Wisdom has been derailed by politics and misinformation in the mental health profession (as is the case for many other aspects of U.S. society). Despite what the general public repeatedly hears from the mass media, there is no actual science behind proclamations that “schizophrenia” or other “serious mental illnesses” are caused by a biochemical imbalance, a genetic flaw, or any other innate defect. After many years and much money spent attempting to prove defect theories, even establishment mental health has rejected the widely popularized chemical-imbalance theory of mental illness (though word of this rejection hasn’t gotten out to much of the U.S. general public or to even many practitioners).

In contrast, there is a great deal of scientific evidence showing that people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses are far more likely to have been victims of societal and familial trauma. Citing the empirical research, Hunter reports:

“Adverse experiences, particularly in childhood (such as physical and sexual abuse, parental separation, bullying, parental death, foster care, neighborhood violence, poverty, racism, etc.), have been demonstrated to have a direct and dose-response relationship (meaning the more adversity, the greater the risk) with adult mental health issues like hearing voices, suicidality, drug abuse, experiencing altered states of consciousness, extreme and intense emotions, fragmented sense of self, obesity, depression, paranoia, beliefs in conflict with consensus reality, anxiety, and more.”

A great tragedy for people viewed as biochemically defective rather than as victims of trauma is that such individuals who are already suffering are then stigmatized and marginalized owing to their defect status. Hunter reports that “ongoing efforts to combat stigma by asserting that ‘mental illness is an illness like any other’ are actually associated with increased stigma and increased efforts to distance oneself from those deemed mentally ill.”

Politics has long dictated a trauma cover-up. The significance of trauma, Hunter recounts, was obvious over a century ago to Pierre Janet, and so too did Sigmund Freud recognize the importance of sexual abuse as a cause of his patients’ problems. However, Freud then shifted his focus onto unconscious conflicts. While it took some courage for Freud to talk about repressed sexuality, it would have likely been reputation suicide if he had continued to focus on societal and familial trauma—this would have challenged those in society who had far greater status and influence than he had.

To be clear, modern psychiatry does not completely reject trauma as a cause of emotional suffering, and with good luck a patient can get the kind of diagnosis in which trauma is taken seriously. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was included in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic bible, the DSM, in 1980. “This inclusion,” Hunter points out, “was largely the result of political efforts on the part of American veterans of war.”

Politics, not science, dictates not only the explanations for mental illnesses but their creation (as with the case of PTSD) and abolition, as was the case with homosexuality. By the 1970s, gay Americans, angry about their sexual preference being viewed as a disease and defect, finally had enough political power to compel the American Psychiatric Association to abolish homosexuality as a mental illness, and it was excluded from the APA’s 1980 DSM-III. Unfortunately, people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses lack the political power to change psychiatric dogma, and so they are seen as defective rather than as victims of trauma.

Phil Ochs sang: “There but for fortune may go you or I.” This is the reality when it comes to psychiatric diagnoses. You and I can exhibit the same behaviors, but whether you or I become a chronic psychiatric patient depends on our bad or good fortune. I’ve talked to many people who as teenagers and young adults innocently told their parents about voices that they were hearing and were then labeled by doctors as schizophrenic, resulting in long careers as mental patients. And I’ve talked with others who kept their voice hearing to themselves; these voices actually helped them have breakthroughs, and they have had no such careers as mental patients.

In a scientific sense, terms like “schizophrenia” are completely meaningless—wastebaskets to toss people who are behaving in ways that appear bizarre to doctors. Often what causes people acting in unusual ways to become chronically dysfunctional are their doctors’ problematic reactions and “treatments.” In other words, it is common for the source of chronic dysfunction to be physician-induced (iatrogenic) trauma.

In the real world of psychiatric diagnoses, probably the most important criteria for whether you are diagnosed with schizophrenia or dissociative identify disorder (DID) is how much your doctor likes you, and Hunter was likable enough to get a DID diagnosis. For reasons of dogma, not science, trauma is taken seriously for DID but not for schizophrenia (in which one is simply seen as defective). So, Hunter considers herself relatively lucky, and one senses her “survival guilt.”

Unlike many books critical of the psychiatric-industrial complex, Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services offers a great deal of practical help for both practitioners and for those in emotional turmoil. In very concrete terms, Hunter offers chapters on what is helpful and what is not. The research, her own experience as a patient, and her discussions with other ex-patients inform her: “Relationships matter. Relaxation matters. Nutrition matters. Hope and purpose matter. Nature matters. Love matters.”

Professionals often waste their limited time obsessing over a diagnostic process that is scientifically invalid and unreliable. “Rather,” Hunter concludes, “what is more important is to take an individualized, collaborative, trauma-informed approach that is attuned to individual needs without making assumptions and considering the person’s subjective experiences as real and something to be respected.” It’s important, Hunter concludes, to help people find meaning and value in the adaptive nature of their atypical experiences.

In general, I have little hope for the mental health profession, but I have seen individual professionals rise above their desire for security and then revolt against the policies of institutions in the psychiatric-industrial complex. In academia, such rebellion can jeopardize one’s chances for tenure, yet a handful of educators are willing to take that risk. They care less about security than being remembered by their students for turning them on to a book in which they actually acquire knowledge about some very interesting human beings and that is of great value in helping them. Such a book is Noël Hunter’s Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services.

Bruce E. Levine, a practicing clinical psychologist often at odds with the mainstream of his profession, writes and speaks about how society, culture, politics and psychology intersect. His most recent book is Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian―Strategies, Tools, and Models(AK Press, September, 2018). His Web site is brucelevine.net

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

I’m the Reporter Mentioned in Mueller’s Indictment. Why Hasn’t He Spoken to Me?

By Lee Stranahan | Sputnik | July 18, 2018

I was as surprised as anyone last Friday, when just days before US President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller dropped an indictment against 12 Russian nationals claiming that they were Guccifer 2.0, the entity that took credit on June 15, 2016, for the hack of the DNC and DCCC.

I was even more surprised to find that I was discussed in Mueller’s indictment.

Section 43c of the indictment says, “On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter Movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.”

I am that reporter.

Part of the reason I was surprised is that I have never been contacted by anyone from Mueller’s investigative team. That’s one reason I personally know that this is a shoddy investigation, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

When I saw that I was being discussed in the indictment, I immediately mentioned it on Twitter. I also made it clear to the media that I was available for interviews. No media outlet has contacted me.

I went public because I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the reason that Mueller’s team knew about my contacts with Guccifer 2.0 is because I posted the direct messages we exchanged over Twitter myself a year ago.

For the record, I didn’t know who Guccifer 2.0 was at the time and I still don’t, despite Mueller’s indictment. I have never believed that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian state actor and have seen no evidence that persuades me otherwise.

At the time of this contact with Guccifer 2.0, I was the lead investigative reporter for Breitbart News ; today, I co-host the best morning news radio show in America, Fault Lines with Nixon and Stranahan, which airs Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Radio Sputnik. Fault Lines is broadcast on 105.5 FM and 1390 AM in Washington, DC, and around the world on the Sputnik News website.

Of course, just seeing both Russian-funded Sputnik and formerly Steve Bannon-led-Breitbart News on my resume is enough to give many in the media the flutters. Never mind that I also wrote for years at the Huffington Post or did independent journalism on issues like the Syrian war, which I traveled to Beirut in 2013 to cover. All of that and more gets left out of media narrative on Russian CollusionTM!

Thus, the New York Times only mentions my work at Breitbart and Sputnik in their scarily titled article, Tracing Guccifer 2.0’s Many Tentacles in the 2016 Election. And like Mueller’s team, the New York Times also never bothered to get in touch with me for their story.

A few hours after the Mueller indictment came out, I left for my planned trip to Helsinki to cover the Trump-Putin summit for Sputnik.

A couple of days later, CNN’s Jake Tapper retweeted my initial tweet about my cameo in the indictment and added the comment “Employee for Sputnik confirms that when he was at Breitbart he was in touch with who DOJ says was Russian military intelligence masquerading as hacker Guccifer 2.0.”

I’ve spoken to Jake privately a number of times in the past. He’s praised my work on other stories. I’m easy to reach. Yet despite highlighting my contact with Guccifer 2.0, Tapper has also not reached out to interview me.

It’s almost like the media and Muller have no interest in hearing what I have to say. No, wait — it’s exactly like that, because there’s plenty that the indictment and the media leave out.

For example, when Guccifer 2.0 contacted me on August 22, 2016, Steve Bannon was no longer leading Breitbart News. Whoever Guccifer 2.0 is, they expressed no interest at all in the fact that Bannon had left Breitbart to head the Trump campaign.

Furthermore, when the indictment says I was given material on the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s not exactly accurate, something Mueller would know if he’d ever talked to me.

In fact, I was sent a file with a few documents, including one that was a memo about the Black Lives Matter movement that was sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That document sparked my interest because I’d been covering Black Lives Matter for months and had been arrested a little over a month earlier while covering the protests over the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. I was one of four journalists arrested. (All charges were dropped and we reached a very small settlement with the city.)

If the Muller investigation was legitimately trying to get to the truth, I’d think they would have asked me for this set of files, since it might contain useful information for a forensic investigation. I’d think they would also want to see my direct messages with Guccifer 2.0 for themselves.

That might not be possible now. You see, after Mueller’s indictment was released, the public Twitter account for Guccifer 2.0 was removed from Twitter. I no longer have live access to my direct messages, nor can the public see the account for themselves live on Twitter. For anyone wanting to make up his or her own mind about this facet of the Russiagate narrative, including through viewing the original information for themselves, this is an interesting development.

Luckily, researcher Adam Carter has saved screen captures of the entire account as well as Guccifer 2.0’s WordPress site on his must-read site dedicated to Guccifer 2.0.

People disinclined to simply take Mueller at his word on his unproven accusations will also want to read this article by Carter showing the contradictions between the information in the Mueller indictment and what is available already in public record.

Anyone who looks at that record for themselves can see what the media isn’t telling you — that I was far from the first journalist to talk to or interview Guccifer 2.0. It also makes clear that I did not request info from Guccifer 2.0, but was offered it.

However, as I’ve said, I did nothing remotely wrong in talking to Guccifer 2.0, no matter who is ultimately shown to be behind the account. I was following a story and working a lead. I wanted to find out who Guccifer 2.0 really was and I still do.

Robert Mueller’s investigation has now muddied that trail, and hindered the efforts of truth seekers everywhere.

The author is Lee Stranahan, co-host of Fault Lines on Radio Sputnik. 

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Israel’s nukes, not Syria: Man kicked out from Trump-Putin summit says AP misquoted him

Security removes Sam Husseini before the Putin-Trump press conference in Helsinki. © Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Reuters
RT | July 18, 2018

Political activist and writer Sam Husseini, who was ousted from a joint media conference by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, accuses the media of lying about his goal at the event. He had a question about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Husseini, a contributor to The Nation who also wrote for a number of major media outlets as well as the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), was evicted from a media conference held by the two presidents on Tuesday in Helsinki.

The news agency Associated Press (AP) quoted him as saying that he had a question “on Syria’s nuclear policy” and the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia.

Husseini says AP misquoted him and that he wanted to hear Putin’s and Trump’s opinion on Israel’s clandestine nuclear arsenal, the existence of which the Jewish state neither acknowledges nor denies.

In further tweets Husseini called the AP story by Jari Tanner a “piece of garbage” that has spread to other media outlets. He added his ousting from the event was falsely attributed by many to Russian officials, while in fact the decision was made by Finnish security. The statement even made it to his Wikipedia page.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Ocasio-Cortez “Evolves” Her Position on Palestine to Please Zionist Democratic Mega-Donors

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | July 16, 2018

NEW YORK – During a recent interview with PBS and just two weeks after her historic upset victory against 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed already to be walking back from at least some of her more “radical” positions voiced prior to her Democratic primary win.

While her primary victory has certainly made the young New Yorker a new “rising star” in the Democratic Party, all the new attention seems to have come at a price, particularly as she now aims to court major Democratic Party donors as the general election approaches. Many of those donors, such as the Zionist entertainment billionaire Haim Saban, are unlikely to be supportive of her past positions on key issues, particularly her prior statements on Israel and Palestine.

Appearing on PBS’ Firing Line on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez surprised many of her supporters as she toned down statements she had made earlier this year regarding Israel, particularly Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its brutal crackdown on demonstrators in the Gaza Strip. That crackdown saw over 6,000 unarmed protesters shot by Israeli Defense Forces and hundreds killed, resulting in international condemnation.

Though she had tweeted on May 14 that the Israeli crackdown in Gaza was a “massacre,” and expressed hope that her “peers have the moral courage to call it such,” Ocasio-Cortez distanced herself from that statement during her recent PBS interview, asserting that she had made that statement as an “activist” and not as a congressional candidate for the Democratic Party.

That statement alone suggests that other positions voiced by Ocasio-Cortez prior to her primary win could also be subject to revision over the next few months in the lead-up to the midterm elections in November.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to distance herself from other past statements she had made regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, including having used the term “occupation” when referring to Israel’s military rule over Palestine’s West Bank. For instance, when asked to expand on what she had meant by “the occupation of Palestine,” Ocasio-Cortez only referred to the fact that “[Israeli] settlements … are increasing in some of these areas.” When prodded further, she stated that she was “not the expert on geo-politics on this issue” and that she may not always “use the right words” when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The 28-year-old candidate, whom PBS had introduced as “the vanguard of the American progressive movement,” also expressed during the interview that she believes “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” and called herself a “proponent of the two-state solution.” However, given Israel’s aggressive policies aimed towards annexation of the West Bank and the U.S. government’s current support for such measures, Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the two-state solution reflects either a lack of knowledge on the subject or an unwillingness to face the fact that a two-state solution is largely impossible. Given her past statements on Palestine while still an “activist,” the latter seems to be more likely.

Indeed, prior to the PBS interview, Ocasio-Cortez had been promoted as a “pro-Palestine socialist” and had been praised by leftist pundits like Glenn Greenwald for her “moral courage” in standing up for the “human dignity” of Palestinians. Given the amount of attention her past pro-Palestine comments had received, her decision to walk back those positions just a few weeks after her primary win is particularly jarring.

Also eye-opening was the fact that Ocasio-Cortez concluded her statements on the topic by saying that she was willing to “learn and evolve on this issue.” In other words, she essentially rejected her past “activist” positions on Palestine in favor of allowing her position on the issue to “evolve” into one more acceptable to the Democratic centrists and the powerful pro-Israel elements that hold considerable sway within the Democratic party. Indeed, the pro-Israel lobby has already given over $5 million to the Democratic Party over the past year.

It remains to be seen whether Ocasio-Cortez is equally willing to renege, or rather “evolve,” on other progressive issues as the general election approaches. Yet, given that she is already walking back on her past rhetoric just a few weeks after her victory, it seems likely that Ocasio-Cortez of November could be very different in terms of policy from the Ocasio-Cortez of today.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments