The notion that "we found no WMDs in Iraq" was Pentagon propaganda. We found over 5,000 chemical warheads, most from before 1991. Why would the Pentagon cover this up? Who made the decision, who followed the decision, and for what reasons?

The author, John Paul Williams, has no previous history at the New York Times and I cannot find a journalist with that name. This makes me wonder if this is a pseudonym and/or if he is a spook or a Pentagon officer himself. [EDIT]: Tang can't read. Williams is apparently the photographer credit on an image that isn't showing up in my browser. The author is C.J. Chivers.

"According to Fox News:

The government’s "Cash for Clunkers" program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road -- may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.

As evidence for this conclusion, the article goes on to say that people traded in their big gas-guzzling vehicles for small fuel-efficient cars. In other words, the program worked exactly as intended. Fox calls it a failure because the small cars are also cheaper, so the auto industry made less money than they could have if people were buying big expensive gas guzzlers instead.

Faisal Gill, the director of intelligence policy policy director of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection unit at the Department of Homeland Security, had previously worked for al-Qaeda frontman Abdurahman Alamoudi. That does not make him a bad guy; he could have been one of ours spying on Alamoudi's people. It does make one wonder just what the hell was going on over there.


This came to my attention now because Glenn Greenwald published a list of people under investigation by the NSA, Gill was the first name on the list, and I Googled him. This investigation is being framed by Greenwald as an injury to liberty; it is supposed to somehow be wrong that the government got a warrant to eavesdrop on the communications of a guy with a known direct connection to al-Qaeda. The position of Greenwald and his echo chamber is that these people should be immune from investigation for their connections to al-Qaeda because they happen to be Muslim. What the hell is going on over there?


Edit Aug. 12: On rereading the article, Gill was policy director of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division.

Newspeak

May. 10th, 2014 03:20 pm

George W. Bush invested the phrase "enemy combatants" to deny that captured al-Qaeda soldiers are prisoners of war, and to prefatorily convict certain captured persons as combatants when the evidence may have been thin on that point.

The New York Times and Washington Post have invented the phrase "armed civilians" to prefatorialy deny that persons are either al-Qaeda or soldiers regardless of whatever later evidence may come in.

Boko Haram has a lobby. Back in June 2012, William Minter of the Africa Focus Bulletin (allafrica.com) created a petition to not declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization. This raises the question: Who is this idiot?

A month before creating the MoveOn petition, Minter circulated a petition opposing sanctions on Boko Haram on the grounds that:

  1. it would "internationalize" a group that was already part of international al-Qaeda and getting support from all over the place
  2. it would show that some attention is being paid to counter-terrorism
  3. defeating Boko Haram would "undermine Nigeria's progress on the rule of law" because only the Nigerian state is responsible for human rights abuses, and only a Muslim may be the legitimate ruler of Nigeria
  4. it would impede "humanitarian" and "academic" financial support for Boko Haram

Minter's May letter is signed by these idiots: long list cut )


What's sad is that many of the people who signed on to this have spent time in Nigeria and ought to know better. I am reminded of an old quote about an idea being so stupid that only an educated man could support it.


I will propose a very, very low bar for analysing a strategic policy proposal. I don't care how long you've studied the region or how many letters you have after your name, but if your proposal would have a measurably worse outcome in terms of human rights and human suffering than Ann Coulter's proposal to invade and torture and kill everything that moves and convert any survivors to Christianity at gunpoint, you suck at peace studies and conflict resolution.


The expertise of some signatories dates back to the '70s, which means they have completely missed the rise of the new fundamentalists over the past 30 years, which means they are not experts at all. To anyone still under the impression that Boko Haram is an African problem arising from local conditions, I prescribe a reading of Revolutionary Sudan, particularly the parts about how the RCC managed conflict with Sudanese traditions.


There is a disconnect between the public and the education system. When close to 100 people who are specialists in their field take a position like this, it should cause a bigger dent in the public consciousness even if they are wrong.


Potentially related: see earlier.


Sourcewatch associates William Minter with Walter Turner, "President of the Board of Directors for several San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits, including Sound Vision, Global Exchange, and the Institute for a New South Africa" and producer/host of Africa Today on Pacifica Radio. About those groups:

  • The Sound Vision Foundation is run by Abdul Malik Mujahid who was a member of the Shura council of the ICNA in 1999 and won the American Library Association's Outstanding Academic Book of the Year Award in 1990 for a book saying that all of the "Untouchables" of India should convert to Islam.
  • Global Exchange is alleged, always by the far right and never convincingly, to be a front for Cuban intelligence. Then you look at the stuff they do and it's hard not to call them a front for Cuban intelligence.
  • The Institute for a New South Africa, in Turner's words, "began in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s to build links between communities and city officials in the United States and South Africa" and "did not survive the 1990s", probably because the apartheid government fell.

I found nothing else to link Minter to Turner other than a few appearances of Minter on Turner's radio program.


The Union for a Better Nigeria, which is apparently one guy with a Facebook page, created a competing MoveOn petition to call for President Obama to publicly oppose Boko Haram. I can't tell you the specifics because the page says "Petition Not Available: This petition has been taken down." It is not clear whether it was taken down by the submitter or by MoveOn.


[Edit May 9] Someone at MoveOn took down the Minter petition. "The content of this petition is under review." Down the memory hole and pretend it never happened. Someone must have been embarrassed.


[Edit May 11] Examples of ongoing propaganda on behalf of Boko Haram:

The al-Jazeera news network is housing exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders at its own expense. Remember hearing that they are unbiased? Remember hearing that they are the only trustworthy source of news in the Middle East, that you should think happy thoughts when you see their name, that the allegation of their alignment with extremists was unfounded? We even kept hearing that after 2010 when it was learned that al-Jazeera's then-director Wadah Khanfar had previously been the director of a Muslim Brotherhood front group, the International Islamic Federation of Student Organisations. Now they are giving literal and material support to the MB. For an analogy, if we found the heads of the KKK living rent-free in the Fox News building (insert "we already did" joke here), wouldn't that raise questions of bias? Now what does this say about everyone who was flogging al-Jazeera?

Glenn Greenwald has promoted al-Qaeda leader Anwar Awlawki, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and he has agreed to be the keynote speaker at a convention of CAIR, aka these guys. He is also gay, which only matters because all of the above think he should be killed for that reason and he supports them. Now what does this say about everyone who has been flogging Greenwald as a serious journalist whose judgement should be trusted?

At a lower profile but also in the news recently, Max Blumenthal became a serious journalist by blaming the Jews collectively for two drunk racist Americans he found in Jerusalem. That somehow gave him credibility. After a few more years of bashing the Jews for daring to live on their own land, Blumenthal condemned the Jews as "non-indigenous" to Judea and told them to "be part of the Arab world" (i.e., convert to Islam) or die. Now what does this say about the "academics" and "journalists" who have been flogging Max Blumenthal?

"Redskins" was a name that certain Native Americans tribes called themselves, which, combined with the lack of the word's use as a pejorative, makes the current controversy over the name nonsensical. Similarly, Crayola changed the name of its "Indian Red" crayon color because it was supposedly offensive to Native Americans to name a crayon color after a pigment from India.

Stuff

Nov. 2nd, 2013 06:51 pm

Interesting reading: The CIA reviews several instances of Russia planting stories in the media from 1957-1959. Anyone who thinks this sort of thing stopped happening in the 1950s is an idiot.


Raymond Ibrahim alleges that American universities have rewritten history to portray Mohammed's warriors as a leftist liberation force. Where I will agree with him is in seeing a general pattern in society of reliance on recently published secondary sources combined with ignorance of both primary sources and older secondary sources that may be better informed by being less distantly removed from events than a modern publication. I place the majority of the blame on the fact that old books do not have marketing agencies.


Times change: Rhode Island's Brown University, which in 1966 reluctantly allowed a speech by Nazi Party leader George Rockwell in the name of free speech, has now forbidden a speech by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.


A quick note on US politics: If Americans want less extremist Republicans, Americans will need to elect less extremist Republicans. What would happen if the Republicans ran a pro-choice, pro-marijuana liberal who speaks out against the Tea Party and the other extremists on his side? This is not a hypothetical scenario. It is the NYC mayoral race. The last time I looked at the polls, the liberal Republican was down by more than 50 points.


Another quick note on US politics: Obamacare is looking bad, and I'm not talking about the website. The website is a distraction. A website can be fixed. The system itself seems to be resulting in higher costs for everyone for exactly the reasons Republicans have been claiming it would, but everyone treated their talk about the wonders of market economics with a Reaganesque dismissal of "there you go again". Horror stories include people seeing their insurance costs doubling when they are allowed to keep their insurance, their work hours cut to save their employers the cost of insuring them, and deductables so high they get literally no benefit from being insured. Whether the Republicans will see any political benefit from correctly predicting this mess will depend on who the public blames for these features: the newly enacted legal system or the "it's the system, man!" of all rich corporations except for the Democratic-donor insurance companies who are going to be making a bigger fortune from this. From my perspective, the right-wingers who tried to stop it by blocking the budget are starting to look like heroes.

That's not even getting into my concerns about the "health care markets" where I've been predicting that the finance capitalists are going to do to your insurance costs what they did to California's energy costs twelve years ago when we had an energy market that was supposed to lower our energy costs.


How much is a human life worth? Among the many problems of the United States is the escalating value of damages in civil cases for death, injury, and emotional distress. I don't know of any study on the issue, but judging from headlines the change in jury valuation of these woes far exceeds the rate of inflation. Some headlines report claims as much as ten times what the average man will make in a lifetime. People are beginning to perceive lawsuits as a combination winning the lottery, a rare opportunity to bring sudden wealth to someone in your social class, and a form of punishment rather than a means of rebalancing society after a harm has been committed. A small city or business can be bankrupted by an accidental death claim if it is not insured, resulting in the cost of insurance going up and public services going down. Individuals used to be safe from these lawsuits until the second OJ trial. Now, the only reason they are not being sued is that they don't have enough money to go after. A related issue is that the lives of some people are valued more than others in awarding damages for lost wages, as if it were known for certain that the victim would not have been downsized or hit by a bus the next day.

One of the most celebrated foundations of civilization is the Code of Hammurabi which was largely a table of damages for claims for death and injury, literally written in stone. Medieval Germany had the concept of Weregild, literally Man-Gold, the value of a life. Anybody who took a life could make amends by paying a value of gold equivalent to about $50,000 USD. Is this something our modern civilization needs? If we were to set a limit on claims for wrongful death or injury, it would benefit most the rich who would be less harmed by a fine than the poor. Most importantly, would it work? I believe that California does have a liability limit on medical claims, but it has not had a significant effect on medical insurance costs. There is some evidence against, from experience.

The Independent describes convicted murderers as "political prisoners" and justifies it by saying that they killed for a political cause. By that standard, Charles Manson and Anders Breivik are political prisoners and must be released immediately...

Side note: The Independent cites Amnesty as an authority. Nobody paying attention takes them seriously since they fired Gita Saghal to get on the Taliban's good side.

The Revolutionary Communist Party (note the sign), the Workers World Party (note the signs), the Occupy movement, and the Muslim Brotherhood are mobilizing in support of Trayvon Martin's right to beat up any untermensch he feels like attacking because he is of a superior race.

(For anyone who missed the trial, we learned from the prosecution's witnesses that Martin confronted Zimmerman, Martin started the fight, Martin was the one beating Zimmerman while Zimmerman was calling for help, Martin had racist motivations, Zimmerman did not, Zimmerman was telling the truth this whole time, and everything you've heard from the press against Zimmerman was wrong. The defense only had to show up.)

Beware of disinformation. All of these groups lie their lips off as a standard tactic and justify it as a way to hasten the revolution, and all four are competent at getting their propaganda into the mainstream culture.

Why is the MB involved? My guess is political strategy, making inroads into other groups. Next guess is someone is paying them.

One thing that's interesting is that these groups have international networks and also tend to take curious positions on international issues that would coincide with what fronts for hostile foreign intelligence agencies would be expected to say. It's curious. I'd love to have a look at their financial records.

I have been hellbanned from Hacker News for standing up to the mindless Snowden hysteria and demanding that other commenters justify their claims of what he exposed based on the facts of what he has actually exposed and not what they have heard from the rumour mill. Meanwhile, Paul Graham has let the political spammers ruin his site for weeks, and moderators who have flagged the duplicate articles as spam have lost their moderation privileges. I wonder if PG is a sucker for propaganda or if he's on the take as part of the PR campaign.
Ice cream manufacturers are cheapening their product to the point that it is not legally ice cream anymore. Even worse: the brand used as an example is Breyers, which used to be a national brand that could be trusted to produce real ice cream with real ingredients. So if the ice cream is a lie and the cake is a lie, put the two negatives together and you will have a positively wrecked your diet.

The cynic in me says that every country runs propaganda in other countries, especially the US, but Norway got caught. One hand of the government was upset enough to release the reports. I wonder how much influence is bought by 250 million kronor ($42.5 million) annually.

Interesting quote: "Norway is, after Qatar and the UAE, the largest foreign government contributor to Brookings..." (later) "Only Qatar and the UAE give more money than Norway two foreign policy research Conducted by think tanks and research institutes, but Norway distributes funds two a wider range of grantees." I would like to see the reports on where they send their money and what they get for it given Qatar's position as one of the leading state sponsors of international terrorism these days.

News item: The Syrian rebels named US technology executive Ghassan Hitto as their leader.

Meta-news item: "So far, U.S. media has completely failed to identify any of these [Muslim Brotherhood leadership] positions held by Mr. Hitto who has now become the fourth U.S. Muslim Brotherhood figure to be identified as part of the Syrian National Council." Read more... )


As a side note, Syria and the "rebels" are trading accusations of using chemical weapons on Aleppo. Reuters says that the victims were treated at two specific hospitals. These hospitals are in the western part of Aleppo that is still under Assad's control. In other words, the victims were Assad's people.

Assad is not going to risk being caught firing on his own supporters. He needs all the help he can get, and anybody who would believe the state media is already with him. The attack was almost certainly done by the "rebels".

Several bloggers were caught running paid propaganda as news articles. They were mostly Republicans, including a few big names: Josh "Tacitus" Trevino, Red State co-founder Ben Domenech, "Funding Evil" author Rachel Ehrenfeld, and Commentary Magazine editor Seth Mandel.

Trevino described it as "a fairly standard PR operation", raising the question of how widespread such practices actually are.

MyDD founder Jerome Armstrong may have also been involved.

The story was covered two years ago by Sarawak Report.

The Washington Free Beacon obtained emails showing media figures conspiring to smear Elliot Abrams for publicly opposing Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Members of the private mailing list included Atlantic magazine writer James Fallows; American Conservative magazine editor Scott McConnell; probable Saudi agent Chas Freeman, who is in good standing in this crowd; TruthOut board president Robert Naiman; and David Fenton, founder of the Fenton Communications public relations group.

Fenton worked for the Muslim Brotherhood's campaign to open an arms route to Gaza by pressuring the international community into forbidding anyone from inspecting the shipments; this was also known as the "Free Gaza flotilla". The Turkish group IHH was heavily involved in that campaign. From the book Alms for Jihad, authors J. Millard Burr and Robert Collins describe IHH as:

... founded in Istanbul in 1995 specifically to provide support for the Bosniaks [Izetbegovic's forces]. IHH raised immediate suspicions with Turkish authorities, and was eventually closed for a time in 1998 after investigators found bombs in its Turkish office.

Burr and Collins source this information to the US allegations in the case against Aldurahman Alamoudi, who appears to be the same person as Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who incidentally is the link between al-Qaeda and the Republican party (he shared an office with Grover Norquist). Burr and Collins also write about Al-Fatih Ali Hassanein, "a stalwart follower of Hasan al-Turabi" who "was able to maintain contact from Europe with Turabi, Bin Laden, and Shaykh Omar Abd al-Rahman in New York." On Izetbegovic's behalf, Hassanein founded the Third World Relief Agency which became "the principal humanitarian front for moving arms to Bosnia" [emphasis in Burr/Collins], and he was IHH's contact in Bosnia. In other words, al-Qaeda provided the guns, money, and men for Izetbegovic's war; IHH was founded to provide additional support for the war from Turkish sources; and Fenton provided propaganda support to an IHH project.

Fenton is also a big influence in the Democratic Party and has done work for the Huffington Post, MoveOn, People for the American Way, and other Democratic groups. It is a quite loose connection that demands further knowledge before any conclusion can be made on whether Fenton is guilty of anything. Fenton loudly quit the job after it was reported in the press, but it still is interesting that as one walks closer to the social circles Fenton inhabits, one is more likely to bump into fake peace activists who support terrorism and other wars of aggression. For example, J[ihad] Street was founded by a Fenton executive, and we see David Fenton on the same mailing list as the likes of Chas Freeman and Robert Naiman.

An additional matter of interest is that Fenton's involvement with IHH came on a contract with the state of Qatar, suggesting terrorist funding by a state that is supposed to be a US ally.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole in the sense that ingesting certain substances might help, some right-wing sources commenting on Fenton include World Net Daily, Discover the Networks, and the Capital Research Center.

How did I miss this? Several atheist bloggers who I used to highly respect have formed a closed-minded clique called Atheism Plus, which means Atheism Plus Stalinism. Their goal is to kick out all free thinkers from atheist social networks, online and offline, until everyone who is left obediently follows orders. Mix in some vague talk about social justice and feminism, but actual adherence to these values does not matter as much as never dissenting. Disagree, and out you go.

This all stems from an incident when a guy at an atheist convention was chatting up a girl and asked her to bed, she said no, and that was the end of it. The clique agreed that this means that the average atheist hates women, that anybody criticising this line of reasoning also hates women, that the atheist threat to women needs to be highlighted, that anybody asking what the hell threat they're talking about hates women, and that anybody blaming this fearmongering on the 50% drop in female attendance at the next convention also hates women. Freethought Kampala provides a long and rather critical runthrough (and addendum). The process reached a point of absurdity when a feminist wearing a T-shirt with an actual feminist message was denounced as hateful to women for being off-script.

For what little it's worth, The Atheism Plus clique defends their actions as necessary to "bring more gender diversity to our communities" and to stand against the "terrible harassment" and "attempts to shout down, bully and intimidate" -- people disagreeing with them -- by assigning awful motives to these people and pressuring "the leaders of the top atheist/secular organizations" to expel them from atheist organizations.

As an interesting side note, thunderf00t alleges pressure from the Atheism Plus clique to avoid condemning Islam. I have observed that it is quite common for atheists to be openly bigoted against all religions and religious people in general. Why the special protection for Muslims?

Somebody with way too much time on their hands created a Freethoughtblogs parody site, parts of which actually are offensive to women, probably intentionally.

Atheists who still have brains can be found at Skeptic Ink.

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