Why American Leaders Persist in Waging Losing Wars

[Politics]
Why American Leaders Persist in Waging Losing Wars
By William J. Astore
Posted November 21, 2018

one price of warAs America enters the 18th year of its war in Afghanistan and its 16th in Iraq, the war on terror continues in Yemen, Syria, and parts of Africa, including Libya, Niger, and Somalia. Meanwhile, the Trump administration threatens yet more war, this time with Iran. (And given these last years, just how do you imagine that’s likely to turn out?) Honestly, isn’t it time Americans gave a little more thought to why their leaders persist in waging losing wars across significant parts of the planet? So consider the rest of this piece my attempt to do just that.

Let’s face it: profits and power should be classified as perennial reasons why U.S. leaders persist in waging such conflicts. War may be a racket, as General Smedley Butler claimed long ago, but who cares these days since business is booming? And let’s add to such profits a few other all-American motivations. Start with the fact that, in some curious sense, war is in the American bloodstream. As former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges once put it, “War is a force that gives us meaning.” Historically, we Americans are a violent people who have invested much in a self-image of toughness now being displayed across the “global battlespace.” (Hence all the talk in this country not about our soldiers but about our “warriors.”) As the bumper stickers I see regularly where I live say: “God, guns, & guts made America free.” To make the world freer, why not export all three? More…

Shadow Banning Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: We’re All Digital Ghosts Now

[Media]
Shadow Banning Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: We’re All Digital Ghosts Now
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted November 19, 2018

have you been shadow banned?If you do a search of shadow banning, you’ll find sites that claim to help you identify whether Twitter or Instagram has shadow banned your account. The basic idea of shadow banning is to spoof the shadow-banned user into believing their public posts are visible to all while in reality the posts are visible only to the user or in some cases to the users’ followers.

Here is whatis.com’s description: “Shadow banning is controversial because it allows an administrator or moderator to effectively become a censor and prevent specific users from interacting with other members of an online community on an equal basis.”

Shadow banning and outright banning are only the tip of the iceberg: everyone who posts content on the web or social media is subject to much more subtle and completely opaque controls on how much of your digital presence has been ghosted–not just in social media communities but in searches and how links to your site/content and re-posts of your content are handled by the tech cartel that controls what’s visible and “found” on the web and social media. More…

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider

[Media]
Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider
By Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague
Posted November 18, 2018

Rise of a new McCarthyismAt a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media.

This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets maintained by American users. Among those wiped out in the coordinated purge were popular sites that scrutinized police brutality and U.S. interventionism, like The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block, along with the pages of journalists like Rachel Blevins.

Facebook claimed that these pages had “broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” However, sites like The Free Thought Project were verified by Facebook and widely recognized as legitimate sources of news and opinion. John Vibes, an independent reporter who contributed to Free Thought, accused Facebook of “favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices.” More…

Appeals Court Tells Georgia: State Code Can’t be Copyrighted

[Justice]
Appeals Court Tells Georgia: State Code Can’t be Copyrighted
By Joe Mullin
Posted November 18, 2018

Georgia thought it could copyright its own lawsIn a democracy, people should have the right to read, and publish, the law. In theory, that should be easier than ever today. The Internet has vastly improved public access to the “operating system” of our government—the local, state, and federal statutes and regulations we are expected to abide by.

Unfortunately, some states have actually fought against easy access to the law. In Georgia, state officials have used copyright to extract fees and reward companies with state contracts.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed down a powerful opinion [PDF] that struck down the state of Georgia’s attempt to use copyright to suppress publication of its own laws. The ruling, which gives Georgians the right to read and publish the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, or OCGA, may also improve public access to legislative documents in other states. It’s just in time for this year’s Open Access Week, a time to celebrate the social benefits that we all reap when information is readily accessible. More…

Globalization Has Hollowed Out Rural America

[Economic]
Globalization Has Hollowed Out Rural America
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted November 17, 2018

support your local businessesProponents of globalization claim the few hundred dollars in annual household savings generated by shipping in commoditized goods are so beneficial nothing else matters. But if the cost of these paltry, essentially meaningless savings is the destruction of the local economy except for a handful of global corporate outposts and jumble shops, was this trade-off a good deal for rural communities?

I have often discussed the tyranny of price: making the sticker price the sole arbiter of value distorts the concept of value to the point of meaninglessness. Proponents of globalization overlook the intrinsic value of local control and local capital.

Once control of the local economy has been ceded to global corporations, the community has lost control of its destiny: the global corporation has only one goal and reason to exist: to increase capital and maximize profits by any means available. More…

Energy Transfer: New Name for Pipeline Company But Same Spills and Violence Against Protesters

[Justice]
Energy Transfer: New Name for Pipeline Company But Same Spills and Violence Against Protesters
By Sharon Kelly
Posted November 16, 2018

Kelsey Warren, Energy Transfer CEOBattles over new shale gas and oil pipelines involving Energy Transfer, formerly known as Energy Transfer Partners, have heated up in recent weeks — an escalation that carries a tilt, as one side stands accused of acts of violence.

Energy Transfer (ET) security contractors have been accused of physically assaulting pipeline opponents on multiple occasions, including incidents in which security allegedly pointed a gun at one pipeline opponent, struck another with the butt of a shotgun, and overturned two boats carrying a television film crew and pipeline opponents into a Louisiana swamp, according to a new report published by Greenpeace USA on October 18. More…

Western Media Attacks Critics of the White Helmets

[Media]
Western Media Attacks Critics of the White Helmets
Written by Rick Sterling
Posted November 16, 2018

white helmets narrative crumblingThe October 16 issue of NY Review of Books has an article by Janine di Giovani titled “Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets”. The article exemplifies how western media promotes the White Helmets uncritically and attacks those who challenge the myth.

Giovani’s article attacks several journalists by name. She singles out Vanessa Beeley and echoes the Guardian’s characterization of Beeley as the “high priestess of Syria propaganda”. She does this without challenging a single article or claim by the journalist. She might have acknowledged that Vanessa Beeley has some familiarity with the Middle East; she is the daughter of one of the foremost British Arabists and diplomats including British Ambassador to Egypt.

Giovanni might have explored Beeley’s research in Syria that revealed the White Helmets founder (British military contractor James LeMesurier) assigned the name Syria Civil Defence despite the fact there is a real Syrian organization by that name that has existed since the 1950’s. For the past several years, Beeley has done many on-the-ground reports and investigations in Syria. None of these are challenged by Giovanni. More…

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