Posts Tagged ‘disinformation’
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on Civil Liberties, Attacks on the Working Class, Mind Control and Disinformation, The Global Economic Crisis
Peter McGrain 2011
The hour-long documentary Ethos, narrated by actor/activist Woody Harrelson, is now available free online.
In my opinion, it has powerful take home lessons for Americans across the political spectrum. Largely because it addresses what I view as the two main obstacles to political change in the US 1) the immense power private banks enjoy via their control over the money supply and 2) the enormous power the corporate media exerts over public information. Much of this is elucidated through excellent cameo interviews with prominent dissidents such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Edward Said, Cynthia McKinney, Norman Solomon, Benjamin Barber and Chalmers Johnson.
The main goal of the film is to clearly articulate the current political crisis Americans face in the 21st century, which it does by exploring the historical context in which the crisis has developed. The documentary describes a number of significant historical events that are usually omitted from history textbooks.
It starts out with a general overview of the ways in which corporations have steadily increased their control over our supposedly democratic government.
There is special emphasis on the power private banks wield by controlling the money supply. Harrelson starts back in 1910 with the secret “conspiracy” by J.P. Morgan and other major bankers to create the Federal Reserve. Contrary to popular belief, the Fed isn’t a branch of the federal government. What it is, in essence, is a cartel of private banks.
Harrelson also devotes a long section to the use of the corporate media to manipulate public opinion and instigate Americans’ overwhelming drive to consume. He begins by describing the work, in the early 20th century, of Edward Bernays. Bernays, considered the father of the public relations industry, held the view common to many corporate elites that the wider public must be controlled because they’re incapable of meaningful participation in democratic government. Bernays perfected the technique of manipulating unconscious fears and desires, not only to help corporations sell people stuff they don’t need, but to assist government in social control.
In the final part of the film, Harrelson reveals how the Bush administration used the science of public relations to 1) convince the American people of the need for the US to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan and 2) generate sufficient fear in the population to pass legislation stripping Americans of most civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Crossposted at Daily Censored
by stuartbramhall in Mind Control and Disinformation
This is Part II of a two part guest post by Dr Danny Weil. It’s a repost of an article Cornell University to Offer the “Hypodermic Needle Theory” of Education in an Attempt to Colonize Consciousness and Groom Future Elites originally published at Daily Censored
Cornell to use the hypodermic needle theory of propaganda
By Dr Danny Weil
As I wrote at Truthout.com in September of last year, the use of Hollywood to propagandize right wing, reactionary causes has a long history (http://truth-out.org/news/item/11225-film-wont-back-down-models-hollywood-propaganda-in-age-of-school-reform). The core assumption underlying the use of Hollywood and propaganda films during the 1940s and 1950s was known as the hypodermic needle theory and the theory can be seen in its shocking and marked nakedness today.
This theory suggested that corporate media could influence large groups of people directly and homogeneously by “shooting” or “injecting” them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. During the 1940s, several factors arose which contributed to this theory of propaganda, including:
- The fast rise and popularization of radio and television.
- The emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda.
- The Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children.
- Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during World War II to unify the German public behind the Nazi party.
- The assumption that people are passive and are seen as having a lot media material “shot” at them, and therefore end up thinking what they are told is true due to the fact that there is no other source of information (ibid).
The reactionary elites, like Gates and Walton and slew of others are one of the most class conscious reactionaries since the putrid monarchies under feudalism. To ‘inject’ propaganda into the minds of the population they are not limited to simply Hollywood, which they use to modify consciousness, but they are also busy building a core of elite cadre whom will carry out their rancid plans to corporatize and privatize all education. These elites must be trained and they must have pedigrees from elite colleges.
Cornell’s propaganda course, “Waiting for Superman”
Below is the course syllabus for the Cornell propaganda course. As you will see upon perusal, the course attempts to masquerade as a critical analysis of the “crisis” in education. However, don’t be fooled. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the construction of the William H. Gates Hall at Cornell to the tune of $25 million back in 2006. According to Cornell’s own website:
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $25 million to Cornell University to support the construction of the signature building for a planned information campus that will bring together the several units of the university’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS)”.
“The Gates Foundation’s grant will have a transformative effect on our academic and research programs by bringing together faculty members who are now scattered across the campus, enhancing opportunities for creative interaction, and serving as a focus for computing education and research within the university,” said Cornell President Hunter Rawlings. “It will make Cornell a model for education in the age of digital information by allowing every student, studying any subject, to understand the impact of computers on the development of that subject, and it will distinguish our graduates in every field” (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Jan06/GatesCIS.ws.html).
Power and money, the Powell memo and the hypodermic needle theory of propaganda have all come together in a perfect storm for purposes of inhabiting consciousness and creating the conditions for ideological control. Capitalizing on the financial economic “crisis”, the New Gilded Age philanthropic-pirates have indeed employed the reactionary methodologies laid out in the Powell memo that are needed to colonize college campuses and ‘breed’ needed administrative personnel (this, when they are not working to actually destroy working people’s campuses in the interest of privatization, corporatization and consolidated corporate power).
Does one really think that within the gated community of the William H. Gates Hall that critical thinking will be employed by teachers and students to study the so-called “education crisis”? One would have to be naïve to even entertain this in thought. No, teachers, their assistants and administrative personnel are all being employed as eager supplicants for the colonization of consciousness.
Below, readers can see the “advertisement” for the course:
PAM 2550: Waiting for Superman? Perspectives on the “Crisis” in American K12 Education Spring 2013T Th 2:55-4:10pm MVR G73
Professor: Teaching Assistants
Kristin Office: 133 MVR Hall OH: TBA
Office Hours: Tuesday 10–11:30am (& by appt.)
This course examines the widespread perception and the varied responses to the notion that the American K12 education system is failing to adequately prepare its students.
In this course we will examine the structure of the U.S. K12 education system, the role of and rationale for different levels in government in school finance and oversight, and its recent performance in producing student achievement overall, and for subgroups of the population in historical and international context. With this as background, we will discuss the large array of school reforms currently being pursued to improve student outcomes, including increases in funding, teacher training and recruitment, school autonomy (charter schools), student and teacher accountability, and improving incentives for teacher and student performance.
None. Courses in intermediate micro-economics and statistics are recommended. The latter part of the course will involve some reading of original research articles, requiring a modicum of literacy in statistical reasoning.
Your grade for the course will be based on your performance on 3 exams, and a short policy memo, with the following weights. Please note the dates below are tentative, and may be changed to accommodate guest speakers, etc.
Prelim 1: 20% February 21
Prelim 2: 20% April 4
Policy Memo: 20% due in class on May 3
Quizzes, Discussion posts 10% see below
Final Exam: 30% May 9, 2 4:30pm
Exams will emphasize material covered since the last exam, but will be cumulative in the core concepts of the class. The policy memo, due on the last day of class, will be capped at 1,000 words in length and will involve reacting to a current policy issue using knowledge from the course. Exams must be taken on schedule makeups will only be granted in exceptional circumstances in accordance with Cornell policies.
Our cumulative final exam is scheduled for Thursday, May 9, 2:00 4:30pm.
In addition to the exams and memos, there will be 4-5 pop quizzes and required participation in discussion forums on Blackboard following guest speakers. The pop quizzes will be straight forward multiple choice questions focused primarily on assigned readings. Throughout the semester we will have guest speakers from people involved in various aspects of education reform. After each speaker (expect between 5 and 10)
I will post a discussion forum for students to post reactions to the speaker and discuss issues arising in the conversation. Student posts will be graded as satisfactory/unsatisfactory or not participating
Grades for pop quizzes and discussion posts will be averaged to comprise 10% of the final grade. I will drop the two lowest grades. No makeups for quizzes or discussion posts will be allowed.
Students agree that by taking this course all required papers might be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of Turnitin.com service is subject to the Usage Policy posted on the Turnitin.com site.
There are no required books or texts for this course. All materials will be provided in pdf format via the Blackboard website. Readings will be available approximately 1 week before they are due.
The policy landscape in K12 education is changing rapidly. I highly recommend staying abreast of current developments through the news, and introducing such topics for discussion during the course. The ‘Education’ section of the New York Times, or websites such as ‘Education Week’ are popular sources.
Surveys and I will from time to time ask you to respond to brief web surveys about your educational experiences to gain information to provide more context for the course.
Your participation is mandatory, but I will never divulge your private information.
Please contact with me with any concerns you may have. Similarly, I may decide to require you to have an “i>clicker” to facilitate quizzes and in class polling to make the class more interactive. I will announce such a decision at least a week in advance.
Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student. A Cornell student’s submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the students’ own. Any and all outside assistance must be acknowledged. For the specifics of this code of conduct, see
Ignorance of its contents is not an acceptable excuse for any infractions.
Students with documented physical or learning disabilities or who anticipate needing accommodation should notify me at the beginning of the semester and 1 week before each exam.
Course Overview (note this schedule is approximate and will be changed)
Topics by week of the course
Part I: background
1.Introduction to the Course and Overview of U.S. Education System. What are Returns to/Goals of Education?
2.Why Should Government be Involved in Education? Education finance.
3.Government’s Oversight Role in Education and Introduction to the “Crisis”
4.U.S. Education in International Comparative Context
5. Inequality in student outcomes
6. History of School Reform Efforts
Part II: topics in reform
7. Quick primer on Casual Inference. Does Money Matter?
8. School and Student Level Accountability Policies
9. School Choice and Competition (vouchers and school choice etc.)
11. Charter schools and Teacher Unions
12. Teacher Quality: Importance and Measurement
13. Teacher Performance Evaluation and Workforce Development
14. Student and Teacher Incentive Programs
15. Technology in (and out of) the Classroom
Dr Danny Weil is an investigative journalist, author and public interest attorney who practiced public interest law for more than twenty years and has been published in a case of first impression in California. He now lives in Ecuador.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
The War You Don’t See
Produced and directed by John Pilger
Americans now have the opportunity of seeing John Pilger’s critically acclaimed The War You Don’t See as a free download at http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/war-you-dont-see/ The groundbreaking documentary was effectively banned in the US when Patrick Lannan, who funds the “liberal” Lannon Foundation, canceled the American premier (and all Pilger’s public appearances) in June 2010. Pilger provides the full background of this blatant act of censorship at his website www.johnpilger.com. After seeing the film, I believe its strong support of Julian Assange (who the US Department of Justice is attempting to prosecute) is the most likely reason it’s not being shown in American theatres.
Pilger’s documentary centers around the clear propaganda role both the British and US press played in cheerleading the US/British invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. It includes a series of interviews in which Pilger confronts British and American journalists (including Dan Rather) and news executives regarding their failure to give air time to weapons inspectors and military/intelligence analysts who were publicly challenging the justification for these invasions. The Australian filmmaker focuses heavily on the fabricated evidence (Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and links to 9-11) that was used to convince American and British lawmakers to go along with an illegal attack on a defenceless nation (Iraq).
Making News Executives Squirm
Pilger also confronts the British news executives (from the BBC and ITV) for reporting — unchallenged — Israeli propagandist Mark Regev regarding the May 2010 Israeli attack (in international waters) of the international peace flotilla and murder of nine Turkish peace activists (including six who were executed in the back of the head at point blank range).
Although none of the news makers offer a satisfactory explanation for their actions, British news executives show obvious embarrassment when Pilger forces them to admit they knew about opposing views and failed to offer them equal air time. In my view, the main value of the film is reminding us how essential it is to hold journalists to account for their lack of objectivity. Too many activists (myself included) have allowed ourselves to become too cynical about the mainstream media to hold individual reporters and their editors and managers accountable when they function as government propagandists instead of journalists.
The War You Don’t See was released in Britain in December 2010, in the context of a Parliamentary investigation into the Blair government’s use of manufactured intelligence to ensnare the UK into a disastrous ten year foreign war. Government/corporate censorship is far more efficient in the US, and the odds of a similar Congressional investigation occurring in the US seem extremely low.
Edward Bernays: the Public is the Enemy
The film begins with a thumbnail history of modern war propaganda, which Pilger traces back to Edward Bernays, the father of public relations. Bernays, who began his career by helping Woodrow Wilson to “sell” World War I to the American people, talks in his famous book Propaganda about the public being the “enemy” which must be “countered.”
Independent Journalism is Hazardous to Your Health
The most powerful segment features the Wikileaks gunship video released in April 2010, followed by Pilger’s interview with a Pentagon spokesperson regarding this sadistic 2007 attack on unarmed Iraqi civilians. This is followed by excerpts of a public presentation by a GI on the ground at the time of assault, who was denied permission to medically evacuate two children injured in the attack.
The documentary also focuses heavily on the Pentagon’s deliberate use of “embedded” journalists to report the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the extreme threat (often from American forces) faced by independent, non-embedded journalists. According to Pilger, a record 240 independent journalists were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Palestine, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has killed ten independent journalists since 1992. The War You Don’t See includes footage of a recent IDF attack on a Palestinian cameraman, who miraculously survived, despite losing both legs.
Pilger goes on to talk about the deliberate bombing of Al Jazeera headquarters in Kabul and Baghdad, mainly because the Arab network was the only outlet reporting on civilian atrocities. This section features excellent Al Jazeera footage of home invasions of two civilian families — in one case by British and the other by American troops — who were brutally terrorized and subjected to torture tactics.
The Interview that Got the Film Banned
The film concludes with a brief interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who discusses the increasing secrecy and failure of democratic control over the military industrial intelligence complex. Assange presents his view that this complex consists of a network of thousands of players (government employees and contractors and defense lobbyists) who make major policy decisions in their own self-interest with virtually no government oversight.
Pilger and Assange also discuss the aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers by Obama, who has the worst record of First Amendment violations of any president. They also discuss the positive implications of the willingness of military and intelligence insiders to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents. It shows clear dissent in the ranks about the blatant criminality that motivates US foreign policy decisions.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
The Language of Empire is an examination of the Abu Ghraib scandal, from the perspective that the US military’s use of torture was primarily an instrument of terror (i.e. a military tactic intended to cause intimidation). In addition to outlining what actually happened at Abu Ghraib, Rajiva also looks at the Senate Armed Services Committee investigation triggered when the scandal first broke in April 2004. However most of book concerns the media coverage of Abu Ghraib and what it tells us about the highly sophisticated psychological strategies employed by Pentagon and Wall Street propagandists.
The book starts off with a detailed catalog of the different forms of torture employed against prisoners (who were for the most part civilian non-combatants) at Abu Ghraib, with particular emphasis on the rape of female prisoners (only reported by the Christian Science Monitor) and the sodomizing of Iraqi teenagers, both largely ignored by the mainstream media. The third chapter is devoted to the Senate investigation, which in Rajiva’s view was a whitewash allowing the Republican majority to scapegoat a few “bad apples” – rather than investigate Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and four of his deputies, who had clearly mandated the use of torture in interrogations. Rajiva is also critical of Senate Democrats, who focused entirely on the legal paper trail and the Pentagon’s failure to keep Congress informed, rather than a diseased Pentagon culture that enabled the US to adopt torture as official policy.
Rumsfeld’s Corporatization of the Pentagon
She goes on to describe Rumsfeld’s wholesale “corporatization” of defense – citing his misguided cost-cutting (resulting in dangerously low troop levels and shortages in armored jeeps and other protective equipment) and his consolidation of all Middle East intelligence and propaganda functions under the Pentagon. Far more politically significant, however, was his move to contract with private companies to perm major military and intelligence functions. This, in turn, introduced the secrecy of the corporate boardroom into military operations, while simultaneously transferring major policy decisions from military professionals to civilians. As Rajiva points out, civilian leaders have also been far more eager than generals (she gives the example of Eisenhower and MacCarthur opposing the nuking of Japan) to employ weapons of terror.
The US War Of Terror
Having laid down this context, Rajiva proceeds to discuss the media coverage and propaganda function of what she, like many international and progressive analysts view as a US war of terror – the deliberate use of force to intimidate foreign and domestic opponents – rather than a war on or against terror. She devotes an entire chapter to the kidnapping and beheading of Nicholas Berg, which coincidentally took place the same week the torture scandal broke and pre-empted coverage of Abu Ghraib for 24 hours. The Nick Berg melodrama also served as a focus for right wing media attacks on what they claimed was excessive coverage of the torture of Muslim terrorists in contrast to the slaughter of “innocent” civilian Nick Berg. Rajiva, like many progressive bloggers, disputes Berg’s alleged “innocence.” Like 9/11, Berg’s kidnapping resulted in numerous unanswered questions, with his detention by the US military the week before his kidnapping and his apparent links to one of the 9/11 hijackers and to the intelligence community (US, Iranian and/or Israeli – take your pick).
The Psychology of Terrorism
Although she deals briefly with the cultural use of forced nakedness, sexuality and homosexual role play, compounded by the global distribution of photos of Muslim men humiliated in this way, most of this section deals with the intended psyops function of Abu Ghraib coverage on the American public. I found this to be the most valuable part of the book, as it provides a detailed analysis of the psychological underpinnings of America’s complex government and corporate propaganda systems.
Rajiva explores two broad themes in analyzing the psychological effects of a sophisticated propaganda network in which Wall Street, the Pentagon and US intelligence play overlapping roles. The first relates to deliberately orchestrating fear and confusion in the American public to increase their susceptibility to ideological propaganda. The second relates to the deliberate use of fragmented, highly emotive images and scenarios in the absence of historical or logical context.
Deliberately Orchestrating Fear and Confusion
For most Americans, according to Rajiva, the new millennium has seen the replacement of normal social interaction with incoherent economic and biological drives reinforced by continual advertising messages to consume. In this virtual reality, where 40% of Americans can’t locate Iraq (or France) on a map, this makes them exquisitely vulnerable to manipulation by Pentagon ideological messaging. Layered on top of this are the red state/blue state “culture wars,” which Rajiva believes are a deliberate government/corporate strategy to confuse the US public over the real battle in every state: the conflict between corporate interests and their artificial mass culture and the real needs of people and their communities. She also highlights the role of the corporate media in heightening the insecurity of white males over increasing competition from women and minorities and declining white birth rates – and effectively projecting these internal fears on an external enemy (Islam).
Appealing to the Unconscious with Highly Emotive, Visceral Images
Rajiva gives numerous examples where Arab society is misrepresented as inherently violent, tribal and uncivilized. At the same time Islamic insurgents are made to appear as monstrous as possible by 1) exaggerating their alleged religious fundamentalism and negating their rational motivation (poverty and US occupation and atrocities) for their terrorist activities and 2) defining them as evil by nature, with subhuman descriptors (animals, insects, slime, etc). She also describes a trick of logic played by government/media propagandists, whereby the US killing of thousands of civilians is “rational” because it’s (supposedly) accidental. In contrast acts of violence by militants are portrayed as “irrational” because they occur in response to genuine grievances.
Lila Rajiva is a journalist and author residing in Baltimore. She has degrees in economics and English from India, as well as a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, where she did doctoral work in international relations and political philosophy. She has taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
by David Ray Griffin (author of The New Pearl Harbor)
Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive attempts to explain how America’s favorite terrorist came to release 19 video and audiotapes following his death and funeral – duly reported by the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, the Telegraph and Time magazine – in December 2001. As often happens in the mainstream media, the events Griffin documents have vanished down the old memory hole. Because they are inconvenient to policymakers pursuing a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, US news outlets simply fail to mention them in discussing the alleged May 2 capture and assassination of the Al Qaeda leader.
Coverage of Bin Laden’s 2001 Death and Funeral
In late December 2001, both an Egyptian and a Pakistani paper carried the story that bin Laden had died in Afghanistan of lung complications of end stage renal disease. The articles report that his December 15th funeral was attended by his family, 30 Al Queda fighters and a few Taliban friends. They also refer to an anonymous Afghan official who positively identified the Al Quaeda leader prior to his burial (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,41576,00.html).
Bin Laden’s terminal kidney disease was already public knowledge after an October 2001 Le Figaro story about treatment he received for it in July 2001 at American Hospital in Dubai, as well as the order he placed to have two mobile dialysis machines delivered to Afghanistan. Patient with no kidney function can only be kept alive via dialysis three times a week.
Bin Laden’s View that Killing Innocent Civilians Violates Islam
Griffin goes on to describe five communiques bin Laden issued between 9/11 and his reported death on December 13 or 14, 2001. He feels they are significant for two reasons. Most importantly, bin Laden uses them to deny any involvement or foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. I found this section of the book particularly disturbing, as it paints a very different picture of the Al Qaeda leader than the blood thirsty fanatic portrayed by the Bush administration and the US media. In a September 28, 2001 interview with Unmat (Kurachi), bin Laden specifically condemns the killing of innocent women, children and “other humans” as strictly forbidden by Islam, even in battle. This reiterates an earlier statement he made to JABC’s in 1998 about Islam forbidding the killing of innocent civilians (http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a042301muscle&scale=0). He also mentions his obligation as a good Muslim not to lie. In addition, in a September 17, 2001 statement to the Afghan Islamic Press (where bin Laden again denies involvement in 9/11), he refers to an oath of allegiance he has sworn to Mullah Omar that prevents him from planning or ordering terrorist activities on Afghan soil. In this statement he also mentions being falsely blamed for past terrorist activities.
Bin Laden’s Terminal Kidney Disease
Also significant, is that three videotapes recorded immediately post 9/11 reveal a chronically ill individual whose health is deteriorating quickly. In January 2002, “terrorism expert” Peter Bergen discussed the October 7, 2001 video with CNN’s Paula Zahn, observing that bin Laden had “aged enormously” in the four years since Bergen had last seen him. Two days later Zahn discussed a November 16 video (which Griffin believes bin Laden ordered to be released following his death) with CNN’s medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta. Gupta notes that bin Laden’s condition has deteriorated even further since the October 7th tape. He is gaunt and pale, his beard is nearly totally white and his left arm appears paralyzed from a stroke – all of which Gupta finds consistent with advanced renal failure. Gupta also expresses reservations about the feasibility of undergoing dialysis three times a week in Tora Bora, owing to lack of access to electricity, sanitary conditions or blood monitoring.
Griffin then cites a number of government and intelligence sources who all expressed strong certainty in 2001-2002 that bin Laden was dead: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Kenton Keith (spokesman for US-led coalition in Afghanistan), former CIA officer Robert Baer, Islamic studies professor Bruce Lawrence, FBI counter terrorism chief Dale Watson, and Israeli intelligence officials.
Bin Laden’s Posthumous Audio and Videotapes
The middle section of Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive contains a detailed inventory of 19 bin Laden audio and videotapes released to the media between November 2001 and January 2009, along with detailed evidence that they were most likely fabricated. The first forged videotape, alleged recording November 9, 2001, was released November 13. In it, bin Laden has miraculously recovered from the terminal condition apparent on the November 3 tape (he is heavier and has fuller cheeks and has regained the use of his left arm). Griffin marvels how the Al Qaeda leader suddenly goes downhill again (and again loses the use of his left arm) a week later in his November 16 video). Griffin also finds it highly significant that bin Laden suddenly reverses himself in this video, boasting and gloating about planning the 9/11 attack after spending two months denying any involvement. This pattern – of boasting about 9/11 and threatening further attacks against American civilians – continues in the other 18 tapes released post-2001.
Griffin notes that there was no independent attempt (except by unnamed intelligence officials) to authenticate the November 9 or subsequent audio or videotapes. He also details a number of bizarre discrepancies in each of the tapes, such as bin Laden’s dark black beard in September 2007 (which intelligence and media analysts variously to dyeing his beard – a violation of Wahabi Islam – or shaving it off and wearing a fake one).
Who Fabricated the Post-2001 bin Laden Tapes?
The last section of the book concerns Griffin’s (and others’) observations that all tapes released following bin Laden’s reported death surfaced coincidentally when the Bush administration was struggling with low poll numbers or other political embarrassments. For example,a May 23, 2006 audiotape appeared shortly after a Zoby poll revealed that 45% of Americans thought the 9/11 attacks should be reinvestigated – and a September 6, 2007 video appeared the same day as a Zogby poll showing that 51% of Americans wanted Bush and Cheney investigated in relation to 911.
Griffen believes the Pentagon, rather than the FBI or CIA, was the source of the fabricated tapes. Prior to the alleged May 2 storming of bin Laden’s Pakistani fortress, the CIA and FBI have been curiously silent regarding his whereabouts. Griffin finds it significant that the FBI have never included 9/11 as one of bin Laden’s crimes on their Most Wanted webpage – which in 2006 Rex Tomb, the FBI’s chief officer of investigative publicity attributed to the absence of “hard evidence” (the FBI seems unconvinced by all the videotaped confessions) for bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11.
I, like Griffin, find it significant that the CIA closed their bin Laden unit in 2006. In September 2008, former CIA operative Rober Baer polled all the CIA officers involved in monitoring bin Laden’s communications since the early 1990s. None reported any intercepts after December 13, 2001. (www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyID=95285396).
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, Mind Control and Disinformation
It’s extremely heartening to see Americans’ fascination with the popular uprisings in the Middle East, as well as speculation across the blogosphere about the potential to replicate them in the US. Massive turnout in Madison and other state capitals is very promising, as American workers realize that they are being punished for the Wall Street greed and criminality that caused the 2008 economic collapse. Many are beginning to believe, as I do, that Wall Street and their friends in government are deliberately using the “economic crisis” to justify a massive attack on the working class.
It seems a logical conclusion, given the soaring profits and stock prices of Wall Street banks and corporations, especially as they are the result of major cost cutting in the form of mass lay-offs and wage cuts. American workers would have to be pretty gullible not to question why they are being told to tighten their belts, while the banksters responsible for the collapse are rewarded with a $12.5 trillion secret bailout (see http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/02/13/bernie-sanders-filibuster-and-the-secret-12-5-trillion-bailout/), billions of dollars of CEO bonuses and tax cuts. In addition to facing the likelihood that some of us (including many young people under 24) are now permanently unemployed and/or homeless, the rest of us face another round of lay-offs and home foreclosures, wage freezes/cuts, longer work hours, increased workloads, Social Security and Medicare cuts, a likely increase in the retirement age to 70 – and even more cuts in critical public services, including school, library and clinic closures; police and teacher lay-offs; and cutbacks in street lighting and road and bridge repairs.
The Way Forward
As we have seen in Europe, the Middle East and Europe, the only effective way to challenge these relentless attacks against working people is by banding together to fight them through industrial action and mass mobilization. As individuals waiting for politicians to do the right thing, we are relatively powerless. However, as we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, when we join together in unions and grassroots organizations, we have the ability to bring society to a standstill.
Over the past three decades, such collective action has been rare in the US. Americans from all walks of life seem much more reluctant than their foreign counterparts to join any community groups or organizations, much less unions or political causes. This, I believe, relates mainly to constant bombardment (mainly via the media) with highly sophisticated political messaging prompting Americans to see themselves as “consumers” rather than engaged citizens in a participatory democracy. Wall Street has created an entire industry – the public relations industry – around creating such messages. Ironically, as the late Alex Carey describes in Taking the Risk Out of Democracy (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25/006.html), the original purpose of “pubic relations” was to discredit union organizing and strikes and simultaneously undermine strong pro-worker sentiment among the American public.
Below are five of the most paralyzing anti-organizing messages Americans are bombarded with on a daily basis:
- Being labeled or associated with “workers,” “working class,” or “unions” equates with low social status. In the US, everyone with a full time job is automatically “middle class.” Because class differences have been abolished in the US, there is no need to join or form unions or to protest and/or strike.
- The US and Americans are distinctly different (better) than the rest of the world. Living standards are (and will always be) much better for American workers than for their foreign counterparts.
- The proper role of workers under fifty is supporting and/or looking after their families. If they strike or protest, their children will suffer.
- There is no alternative – corporations, corporate controlled government and the corporate controlled media are all too powerful for ordinary people to bring about change. Organizing is pointless because we are helpless to change anything.
- Politics and economics are too complicated for ordinary people to understand. We can only make things better by going shopping and taking care of our families while we wait for honest, wise political leaders to get us out of this mess.
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, End of Capitalism, Mind Control and Disinformation, The Global Economic Crisis, Things That Aren't What They Seem
What Does Collapse Look Like?
“Collapse” could mean the collapse of the US dollar or economy, the electrical or telecommunications grid, food distribution or all of the above. It could also mean the breakdown of federal political authority into local or regional units or of law and order into major civil unrest. In contrast, most analysts view failed statehood as something less extreme – a mere breakdown in specific governance functions.
People look to historical models of collapse – usually the Soviet Union, which fell apart suddenly, or Rome, which decayed slowly over centuries. Looking to the USSR as an example is confusing, in view of increasing evidence that Americans were misled about what the Soviet “collapse” really looked like. It’s true that Gorbachev and a lot of Communist bureaucrats were thrown out of power; that most of the Soviet republics broke away from Russia; and that state support of factories, collective farms, hospitals, and oil and natural gas production ceased.
However clearly the KGB (the state security apparatus) remained more or less intact and, under the new name Federal Security Service (FSB), remains firmly in control today. In fact, it’s no coincidence that Vladimir Putin, Russian’s prime minister and once and future president was a career KGB officer between 1975 and 1991. Or that most of his KGB cronies, who (with FBI support collusion) came to control most of Russia’s wealth as leaders of the Russian mafia and/or private entrepreneurs. (see http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/04/news/international/powell_KGB.fortune/index.htn and http://www.stoptheftaa.org/artman/publish/article_36.shtml).
Also see http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1078954.html. This is a Radio Free Europe site, but the fact that the CIA most likely wrote it makes it even more revealing.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind people of the billions of dollars of US and World Bank loans that disappeared into the pockets of the Russian mafia during the nineties.
The Gradual Decay Scenario
I personally believe American’s demise will be gradual – like Rome’s – unless food shortages or a major catastrophe, like Katrina or the BP oil spill, triggers mass insurrection. However unlike Rome, I believe we are looking at something that will occur over than decades, rather than centuries, owing to the increasing scarcity of essential resources like fossil fuels, water, topsoil and fertilizer. All that will happen is that more and more middle class Americans will find themselves leading third world lives, as they adjust to chronic joblessness, overcrowding, substandard housing, hunger, water shortages, and the illnesses (and early death) associated with such living conditions (TB, hepatitis, meningitis, whooping cough, measles, asthma, pneumonia, and infant diarrhea). At the same time, more people will die in extreme weather events (heat and cold waves, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires) associated with global warming.
Implications for Activists
As Vaknin, myself and others have noted, the mainstream media doesn’t report on the federal government’s failure to perform governance functions – or the increasing shift of political power to states, cities, and to a limited extent, citizen groups. Justin Raimondo wrote last week at Antiwar.com that our media is a branch of government. They don’t want us to recognize the declining ability of the US government to govern or our own increasing power. They want us to believe we are totally helpless and powerless and that our organizing efforts are destined to failure.
This means activists must consciously reject the attempt by government and the media to re-shape their reality. As Noam Chomsky insists, the power elite prefers to govern by controlling our consciousness. They create an illusion of democracy, through censorship and and disarming us psychologically with highly sophisticated propaganda. Their increasing reliance (since 1999) on police violence and direct repression (open government spying, repeal of habeas corpus, invasive airport searches and targeting of citizen activists with FBI raids and grand jury investigations) suggest the softer ideological methods are no longer work. In other words, they are a clear response to the growing strength of civil resistance movements.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, End of Capitalism, The Global Economic Crisis, The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
Sam Vaknin’s third criterion for a semi-failed state is that other countries regard it with derision, fear and abhorrence. This, like Americans’ attitude towards government, is hard to measure objectively. My personal experience, in talking to New Zealanders and other immigrants willing to talk about attitudes in their home country – is that most foreigners are quick to make a distinction between Americans and the US government. Also in most cases, negative feelings about the US government fall well short of “derision, fear, and abhorrence.”
Nevertheless there seems to be universal disapproval of the US wars in the Middle East, which everyone I encounter views as an America’s attempt to dominate global oil resources. To many Kiwis’ dismay, the New Zealand government joined the October 2002 invasion of Afghanistan. We currently have a 140 member reconstruction team stationed there, as well as 67 “Special Forces” (members of the New Zealand SAS, modeled after the British SAS).
Fortunately, by March 2003, the New Zealand antiwar movement was large and vocal enough to keep this country out of the “Coalition of the Willing” that invaded Iraq. (Canada also refused to join.)
Harsh Condemnation for US War Crimes
In general, people tend to be less critical of the wars themselves than of the blatant war crimes the US government has committed in the prosecution of these wars – and their military support for the Israel occupation of Palestine:
1. The harsh, indefinite detention of so-called “terrorists” in Guatanamo, without adequate legal representation or regard for UN and Red Cross conventions regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war.
2. The use of torture in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other Afghan and Iraqi prisons.
3. The repeated and callous targeting of civilian populations by ground forces, bombers, and drones.
4. The use of “extraordinary rendition” – the CIA kidnapping of civilians on European soil to be transported to totalitarian regimes that engage in torture.
5. Continued US support ($2.77 billion in military aid in 2010) for the brutal and illegal (under UN convention) Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Only Refugees Express Derision, Fear, and Abhorrence
I only encounter frank “derision, fear, and abhorrence” in refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan – or from other countries affected by US military or economic “intervention.” This could include replacing (through military aggression or covert CIA economic sabotage or “terrorism”) a democratically elected government with a puppet dictator, active suppression of a popular movement to overthrow a dictator, or devastation of a third world economy via predatory IMF and World Bank lending practices or the wholesale dumping of cheap US agricultural surpluses.
List of countries where democratic governments and popular movements were destroyed by the US government:
- Iran 1953
- Vietnam 1954-1975
- Guatemala 1954, 1993
- Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960
- Iraq 1963, 1968, 1973
- Brazil 1964
- Indonesia 1965
- Ghana 1966
- Chile 1973
- Afghanistan 1973
- Argentina 1976
- Iran 1980
- Nicaragua 1981-1990
- El Salvador 1980-1992
- Cambodia 9980-95
- Angola 1980-90
- Philippines 1986
- Serbia 2000
- Haiti 2004
- Palestinian Authority 2006-2011
- Somalia 2006-2007
Predatory US Economic Policy
This topic is far too complex to do justice in a short essay. Economist Michael Hudson wrote an excellent article in Counterpunch in 2009 regarding the destructive role the IMF plays in the developing world: http://www.counterpunch.org/hudson04062009.html
I also highly recommend John Perkins’ 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
The following are excellent articles regarding the role of predatory US trade practices in creating famine in Haiti and Africa:
To be continued with a discussion of Vaknin’s last two criteria for a semi-failed state and implications for activists.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, End of Capitalism, Mind Control and Disinformation, The Global Economic Crisis, Things That Aren't What They Seem
It seems it should be easy to blog about Vaknin’s 2nd criterion (see full criteria below) for a semi-failed state: a disgruntled, hostile and suspicious citizenry. I don’t know anyone who thinks Obama has done a good job of running the country. Both right wing Republicans and left leaning progressives have been extremely vocal about this – both in the media and in the streets. I suspect, based on Bush’s low approval ratings, that this dissatisfaction with government remains quite constant, no matter which party is in power.
Yet I find it really difficult to separate genuine dissatisfaction with government from the anti-big government hype put out by Fox News, Glen Beck, and the Teapartiers’ other media allies. In fact, the entire mainstream media seems really skilled at deflecting this negativity towards Obama and the Democrats.
The De Facto Embargo on Objectivity
The one clear constant I see, across the political spectrum and through different administrations, is this increasing sense that the government chronically lies to us. I have received interesting feedback on three prior blogs about America’s status as a failed or semi-failed state. Thus far, the only firm conclusions I can draw are 1) Americans who follow world events are aware of our country’s declining status among world powers, 2) most Americans (including me) find failed statehood and/or collapse very difficult concepts to get our heads around, and 3) most of us sense we are not being told the truth about the US economy and body politic.
For example, the mainstream media tells us for two years that the economy is recovering, when it;s clearly not. They tell us unemployment is 9.7%, when we know the true number is 20% or more (that the government doesn’t include part timers unable to get full time work or people out of work for more than two years). They tell us that American cattle don’t carry mad cow disease, while whistle blowers produce compelling evidence that they do. And finally they tell us that oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, while independent geologists and engineers have photographic evidence that it hasn’t.
Being Lied to Breeds Anger and Mistrust
In my opinion the root cause of most of the hostility and suspicion towards government is Americans’ increasing difficulty filtering any meaningful information from the “spin” we are offered – in the form mass distraction (aka infotainment), jingoistic propaganda, “massaged” statistical data, cover-ups, and frank lies. I think even Americans who accept Fox News as gospel recognize – at least some of the time – the corrupting influence corporations have on elections and government policy via campaign donations and “lobbying” (I’m sure lawmakers get lots of free pens and other perks – like doctors get from drug companies). Unfortunately Fox viewers don’t seem to recognize that corporate money has the same corrupting effect on the disinformation they receive from Fox News and other media outlets.
Sam Vaknin’s criteria for a semi-failed state (see http://samvak.tripod.com/failedstate.html):
1. It maintains all the appearances of power, legitimacy and control but is actually a “political and societal zombie state” in its failure to perform the domestic governing functions expected of a national government. It only continues in power due to the absence of other alternatives.
2. Its citizenry is characteristically disgruntled, hostile and suspicious
3. It”s generally regarded by other countries with derision, fear and abhorrence.
4. It replaces rational reconstruction and policy making at home with Empire building.
5. Social fragmentation occurs as popular and local leaders, backed by angry and rebellious constituents, take matters into their own hands.
To be continued with a discussion of criteria 3-5 and implications for political activists.
by stuartbramhall in Medical Censorship
As I have blogged previously, the whole notion of fluoride being safe and good for teeth is based on decades of corporations paying researchers to produce the scientific results they want – and burying research and firing and blacklisting scientists whose studies show otherwise.
A Systematic Corporate Cover-Up
As Christopher Bryson points out in his 2004 book the Fluoride Deception, it was actually mass fluoride poisoning that kick-started the environmental movement, following an air pollution disaster in 1948 that killed 20 people and sickened hundreds more. A temperature inversion and air pollution from a US Steel factory is blamed for the Donora (Pennsylvania) Death Fog. However owing to extreme pressure from the steel and aluminum industry, public health authorities colluded in a systematic cover-up of the autopsy results – which revealed the victims had toxic fluoride levels in their blood (see http://www.fluoridation.com/donora.htm).
GM researcher Charles Kettering, one of the corporate pioneers of water fluoridation, also suppressed the results of his own lab’s 1962 studies demonstrating that fluoride produced lung damage in beagles.
This sordid history also includes deliberate smear campaigns against extremely reputable doctors and scientists who published research and clinical findings showing that water fluoridation has adverse health effects:
- Dr. George Waldbott a world famous doctor who first identified penicillin allergy and the link between smoking and emphysema. Waldbott published numerous double blind studies in the fifties showing that fluoride is harmful to human health. The result was a massive corporate smear campaign that destroyed his reputation by marginalizing and demonizing him.
- Dr William Marcus – a senior EPA toxicologist in the Office of Water, fired in 1992 for attempting to publicize studies revealing that fluoride causes bone and liver cancer (see http://www.gaia-health.com/articles251/000293-epa-scientists-oppose-fluoridation.shtml). In 1994 Marcus won lawsuit against the federal government and was reinstated. While the EPA still refuses to ban water fluoridation, the unions representing EPA scientists have called for a moratorium (see http://www.nteu280.org/Issues/Fluoride/Press%20Release.%20Fluoride.htm).
- Dr Phyllis Mullinix – research toxicologist hired by Forsyth Dental Institute to study the effect of fluoride on the brain. Mullinex was first fired and then blacklisted in the mid-nineties when she published research showing fluoride produces memory and behavior problems in children.
Where Does Fluoride Comes From?
Although fluoride is added to municipal water supplies as a “drug” – that allegedly improves dental health – it has never been approved by the FDA. In fact most communities source their fluoride from the phosphate fertilizer industry, as hydrofluorosilicic acid. This is an extremely toxic, hazardous waste, and the EPA requires phosphate manufacturers to capture it via “wet scrubbers” in their chimneys (to prevent toxic fluoride gas from being released into the air). The resulting liquid is then loaded, unpurified, into tanker trucks and sold to cities to be added to their public water supply. In addition to fluoride, it also contains a number of heavy metals and radionucleotides (radioactive elements – mainly uranium-238, uranium-234, thorium-230, radium-226, radon-222, lead-210, and polonium-210).
Why Have 98% of European Communities Banned Water Fluoridation
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden all forbid water fluoridation – for five main reasons:
1. The preponderance of independent research reveals (as I blogged on Nov 30th) that fluoridation (at levels of 7 parts per million) increases the risk of hip fracture, liver and bone cancer and lowered IQ in children – as well as being strongly implicated in an American epidemic of hypothyroidism, arthritis and infertility.
2. It ‘s an absolute violation of medical ethics for a doctor to prescribe a drug, in unlimited doses (people who eat processed foods or drink large amounts of fruit juice, soft drinks and tea get much higher doses), to someone they have never met, without informed consent or ongoing monitoring of their response.
3. The World Health Organization has compared communities with and without water fluoridation and found the rate of cavities is no higher in communities who don’t fluoridate their water (and doesn’t increase when they remove it). In fact communities who don’t fluoridate seem to have somewhat better dental health. Individuals who accumulate toxic levels of fluoride (known as dental fluorisis) actually have weaker tooth enamel. (Americans have the highest rate of dental fluorosis in the world – 33% – higher (41%) in teenagers between 12-15). Research has consistently shown that fluoride only reduces tooth decay when it’s applied directly to the teeth – drinking fluoride appears to weaken the enamel.
4. All medical and dental authorities worldwide agree that infants are at risk of fluoride toxicity if their formula is made up with fluoridated water (see http://www.fluoridealert.org/infant-warning.pdf). This poses a real health hazard to low income families, who can’t afford the luxury of distilled water. And fourth and most importantly, the vast majority of Europeans don’t want fluoride in their water.
5. The vast majority of Europeans don’t want fluoride in their water when the risks are explained to them. (The administration of any drug requires informed consent – and they don’t consent.)