Censorship, fake news, perception management

Questions, Comments, Concerns etc about The Bell
User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:31 am

The Manufactured McCain and the Real McCain

There’s a real John Sidney McCain III and there’s a fake one, manufactured for the public relations of US empire. Imperial PR needs to justify, even sanctify the ecocidal and genocidal rule of the rich by portraying its servants not as the venal and bloodthirsty thieves they are, but as the brightest, the best, the most noble and deserving among us. The Manufactured McCain whom the corporate media will spend another week on top of the previous one lifting up to the heavens bears only passing resemblance to the real John McCain. The real McCain was no hero. He was a lying, bribe taking, neo-nazi sympathizing politician and war criminal, who served the US empire and himself for all of his long life.

By 1904 the US had coveted Panama, the northernmost province of Colombia for some time. US global ambitions dictated the need for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The French had already tried to build the canal and failed at a cost of billions in today’s money and 22,000 dead – black laborers recruited from around the Caribbean who mostly perished from disease. When the Colombian government refused to simply hand Panama over on US terms, President Teddy Roosevelt sent down a battleship or two and some Colombians in Washington DC were recruited to declare independence. The US immediately recognized the government of the new republic, which granted Washington the power do do pretty much whatever they liked. Like the French before them, the North Americans imported tens of thousands of black labors – not their families, only the laborers – from around the Caribbean to build the canal, and they imposed a vicious southern US-style Jim Crow regime upon what they called the Canal Zone. Another 6,000 black laborers and a few hundred whites died building the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914.

The real John McCain was born in 1936 in US occupied Panama, which the empire’s law at the time considered an “unincorporated territory of the US .” That’s why McCain never took part in the Republican birther craze, which falsely claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and why the Manufactured McCain never talked much about his birthplace.

The real John McCain spent many childhood summers at Teoc, the 2,000 acre Carroll County Mississippi plantation which belonged to his great great grandfather Dr. William Alexander McCain. The antebellum McCains once owned at least 52 slaves who made their masters quite wealthy raising corn and cotton. There are still black McCains in Carroll County whose ancestors were owned by white McCains with whom they neither claim nor deny any blood kinship. The black McCains hold a family reunion every other year, and though they did invite Senator McCain he never attended. One of William Alexander McCain’s grandsons made brigadier general in the US Army, and another, Henry Pinkney McCain was a US Army major general. A third of Dr. McCain’s grandsons was Senator McCain’s grandfather, a 4 star US Navy Admiral. His son, Senator McCain's father was also a 4 star US Navy admiral. Their ancestors include officers in the American Revolutions related to the family of George Washington.

Despite the real McCain’s military-aristocratic lineage and those childhood summers on the plantation, the Manufactured McCain campaigning for president in 2000 ridiculously claimed he didn’t think his family had ever owned any slaves. Reporters had to produce documents with the names and descriptions of 52 McCain plantation slaves before the Manufactured McCain acknowledged his family had been slaveholders. “ It makes sense… I didn’t know that,” he reportedly said.

The manufactured war hero VS the real accident-prone pilot.

The Manufactured McCain sometimes called himself a “fighter pilot.” That’s not what the US Navy called the Real McCain. In navy language, fighter pilots are the elite of the elite, the ones who fight other planes in the air. The Real McCain flew ground attack aircraft, which in Vietnam meant bombing mostly undefended civilian ground targets.

The real McCain was a slipshod and reckless pilot who totaled 3 aircraft in incidents where navy investigators pinned the cause of the crash upon lapses in pilot’s judgment, in each and every case contradicting the Real McCain’s official reports of those accidents. A 2008 Los Angeles Times article titled “McCain’s Mishaps in the Cockpit by Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano examines the Real McCain’s 3 plane crashes in some detail. Aircraft are not cheap, and it’s hard to believe any military on earth allows pilots with three at-fault plane crashes to keep his wings. That is, unless you’re US Navy royalty, the son and the grandson of admirals. Decades later, as a politician writing one or another version of his autobiography the Manufactured McCain was more truthful, describing a 1961 incident in which he flew into power lines in southern Spain causing a local blackout, as “daredevil clowning.” He managed to bring the plane back to the carrier that time, trailing ten feet of power line, so that didn’t count among the Real McCain’s at-fault plane crashes.

McCain was assigned to Yankee station off the coast of North Vietnam where he took part in Operation Rolling Thunder, the US code name for 31 months of the bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and killed tens of thousands of civilians at the very least. McCain flew 27 ground attack missions before being shot down in October 1967 trying to bomb a Hanoi power plant. Many have argued that bombing undefended civilian targets is a war crime. That’s certainly the way the Vietnamese viewed the matter, and they subjected the already seriously injured McCain and other downed US pilots to close confinement and torture. His own mistreatment during 5 years as a prisoner of war was the reason why Senator John McCain would later publicly disagree with 21st century US policy that publicly embraced the idea of torture.

When the Vietnamese discovered that McCain was US Navy royalty, they sensibly offered him early release ahead of pilots captured before him. Just as sensibly, he refused the offer, and the manufactured narrative of John McCain as the heroic prisoner of war began to be established, and since has been added to many times by his own writing and speeches and by others connected to actual events and not. Released after five and a half years imprisonment, he was already a kind of celebrity. McCain remained in the Navy several years after his release. His final Navy assignment was US Navy liaison to the Senate. During this time he divorced his first wife and married Cindy Hensley, daughter of one of the biggest beer distributors in the country. Hobnobbing with politicians and military contractors seemed to suit him, so he left the navy in 1981, as Jeff Gates put, cashing in his war hero chits to start a political career.

The Manufactured McCain: the straight talking war hero as venal bribe taking politician.

While still in the Navy McCain had campaigned for Ronald Reagan vigorously enough to earn warnings from his superiors, and to be a frequent guest of honor at Reagan dinners. He moved to Arizona to campaign for Congress. According to Jeff Gates’ book Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self Deceit Took America to War, his wife received a gift of $689,000 from her wealthy family just before or at the beginning of his congressional run, which probably enabled him to lend his own campaign $167,000. McCain’s prenuptial agreement allowed him to omit his wife’s multimillion dollar income and holdings from public financial disclosures.

Fresh from his insider stint as Reagan’s favorite dinner guest Navy liaison to the Senate he campaigned as the straight talking political outsider and war hero, winning election in 1982. and again 1984. As expected, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, who’d been the 1968 Republican presidential candidate retired in 1986 and McCain won the seat. Among the early investors in McCain’s political career was a Phoenix millionaire Charles Keating who got in on the ground floor. According to Gates in the aforementioned book:

“Keating family members and employees made 40 donations to his first congressional campaign, at least 32 to his second… no less than 45 when ran for the Senate in 1986…

“The McCains made 9 vacation trips on a jet owned by Keating’s company including … trips to Keating’s posh resort in the Bahamas. Only after the S&L scandal years later did McCain reimburse Keating…

“McCain’s wife and father in law invested $359,000 in a Keating shopping mall deal. Their profit remains unknown.”

In 1984 Keating bought a California savings and loan with 26 branches. Under Presidents Carter and Reagan restrictions on how and what savings and loan institutions could invest had been repeatedly loosened. Keating was one who pushed even these limits and purchased legislators by the pocketful to sometimes meet directly with federal regulators to argue his case. The so-called Keating Five were a handful of senators receiving $1.3 million in contributions, of which McCain got $112,000. They met with federal regulators on a number of occasions, and according to one regulator, argued Keating’s case like defense lawyers. Republican John McCain was one of these, along with Democrats John Glenn and Alan Cranston and two others.

A few years later, 1,038 Savings and Loan institutions went belly-up, causing the savings of hundreds of thousand to vanish overnight, and the fund which supposedly insured them unable to cover the losses. The $150 billion savings and loan scandal was the biggest financial crisis in recent history till the crash of 2007-2008 and bribes paid to the real McCain were directly instrumental to making it happen. McCain was to spend 32 years in the Senate, and became the go-to guy for a galaxy of military contractors, telecoms, Big Ag, Big Real Estate, Big Pharma, Big Energy and more, and the Manufactured McCain ran for president in 2000 and 2008.

From 1992 till weeks before his death John McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute, a US government funded organization that interferes in the political processes of scores of other countries, training rebel groups to overthrow inconvenient elected governments, like that of John Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and many others. McCain and the IRI were prominent backers of neo-nazi politicians and armed militia groups in Ukraine who are now part of that country’s army and civilian government. To be fair, the Obama administration and Democrat Hillary Clinton were big backers and enablers of the same forces. After all this is the US, where we do have two government parties to choose from, not just one as in some backward and benighted places. Democrats and many in the so-called resistance are throwing flowers at the grave of John McCain. It’s a bipartisan thing.

During his 32 years in the US Senate, the real John McCain was a consistent warmonger , advocating US military intervention in Africa, South America, Korea, and almost everywhere. He sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” before a veterans group, and called demonstrators against Henry Kissinger “despicable scum.” The record of his public calls for coups, invasions, blockades, bombings and assassinations to advance US military and economic domination of the planet is far too long to list.

All this explains why corporate media are lifting up their whitewashed and manufactured version of John McCain. He’s one of their own, a genuine war criminal and loyal servant of capital. Lifting him up, creating and embellishing his heroic story lifts up and legitimizes the rule of the rich. Now they’ll be looking for parks, schools and airports to name after him. Just as the elementary school in Aaron Magruder’s Boondocks was named after J. Edgar Hoover, we’ll soon see John McCain’s name staring back at us from what little public property is left. Get ready for it.

Don’t forget that since Black Agenda Report was accused 3 years ago of being under Russian influence, Google and other corporate social media have suppressed the appearance of our content in search results. So the only way you can be certain you’re getting fresh news commentary and analysis from the black left, as we’ve offered the last 13 years is dark social media – email. Go to www.blackagendareport.com and hit the subscribe button to receive our content each week by direct email, which Facebook and Google cannot block and be sure to share it with friends and others by email. Give Black Agenda Radio and Black Agenda Radio commentaries a good review and rating on iTunes while you’re at it, please. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.

https://blackagendareport.com/manufactu ... ist-empire
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:00 pm

Syria - Al-Qaeda And Turkey Coproduce "Peaceful Civilians" Propaganda Clips
Turkey and other supporters of the terrorists in Syria arranged for fresh Friday demonstrations by "civilians" in Idleb governorate. These are supposed to show the 'western' public that the population of the al-Qaeda controlled province is still in favor of the anti-Assad "revolution".


Some tweets from yesterday make clear that these demonstrations are a highly choreographed propaganda exercise:

TØM CΛT @TomtheBasedCat - 17:34 utc- 13 Sep 2018
Supposedly, an array of European press agencies with security will enter Idlib city tomorrow to cover some demonstrations there.

Idelb is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), an internationally banned al-Qaeda organization. Turkey, which has friendly relations with al-Qaeda in Syria, will have arranged for the security of the foreign media.

Some prominent people also spoke about the event:

Harald Doornbos @HaraldDoornbos - 19:08 utc - 13 Sep 2018
Interesting. Son of Al-Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam, Huthaifa Azzam, calls on opposition in Idlib not to raise black/jihadi flags during tomorrow's protest but only revolution flags because there are international journalists on the ground reporting on the protests.


For once al-Qaeda does not want its flag to be seen. The demonstrations must only show "peaceful civilians".

Sam Heller, now with Crisis Group, caught two voice recordings that were distributed via Telegram. It is not completely clear that these are legit, but they make sense:

Below are translations of two voice recordings purported to be of Tahrir al-Sham emir “Abu Akramah al-Urduni,” via anti-Jabhat al-Nusrah/Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group “JAN Violations.” The voice messages are notable for their apparently acute sensitivity to the optics of Idlib’s protests and those protests’ portrayal in foreign media ..
The first message is an advise similar to the one given by the son of al-Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam: Do not let any HTS/al-Qaeda flags appear in the choreographed demonstrations. It seems that HTS fears that these could be used against it:

“Brothers, a very important issue: We don’t want it to be come out in the Western media that the people opposes us, and that the people brought down our banner and stomped on it. Pay attention: If the banner is raised, there will be people placed just to pull away the banner and stomp on it. And it will appear in the Western media that they stomped on the Hayah’s banner. This is a big issue, brothers. It means that the battle will be against us, in the future. They’ll say that the people is ready now to announce the battle in these protests. Because these protests are what, the people, the public. If the people and the public pull away our banner in front of the media and stomp on it, that means the battle is ready against us now.”
The second message is an order to accompany the demonstrations and to take care that everyone behaves:

“Peace and God’s blessings be upon you, something very important to say: Coordinate with those responsible for these protests and say to them, ‘We’re with you, your brothers, and whatever you need, we’ll walk with you. And for your protection.’ Talking is free, brothers. Why not speak to them kindly. They’ll say, ‘God reward you, we don’t need anything.’ Tell them, ‘Okay, we’ll walk with you. We’re Muslims, too, and we demand the toppling of the regime.’”
The demonstrations, arranged for the media, took place as ordered.

Now the regime change propagandists are out to promoted the first videos from these staged events:

Thomas van Linge @ThomasVLinge - 12:41 utc - 14 Sep 2018
Once again protests against the #Assad regime have erupted all over rebel-held #Idlib and northern #Aleppo.
Syrians in the town of #Kafranbel sing "we want freedom!"

The demonstrations are similar to those staged in 2011-2013. Green-white-black French-colonial Syria flags and a few Turkish ones get waved -all new it seems- and a few dozens men and young boys, no women or girl in sight, chant some slogans. No black and white HTS/al-Qaeda flags is visible and no weapons are in sight. The video shots are tightly controlled and concentrate on the civilian clothed men and children. Where a wider frame is shown one can see fighters in camouflage at the edge of the crowds.


The intended message of these stunts:

"Do you see us? There are only peaceful civilians in Idelb. No fighters are here. We are not terrorist. We only want freedom!"
The message is false.

Idleb governorate is completely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (vid). HTS, foreign Jihadis, as well as 'moderate' Islamists affiliated with Turkey. These are terrorist who prevent civilians from leaving and oppress the population:

In the northern Syrian town of Harem, militants last week erected a gallows in a public square, saying it was for “frogs,” or traitors.
[O]pposition fighters linked to al-Qaeda are seeking to head off the kind of negotiated surrender that has sealed the fate of other opposition areas.
The gallows, which the militants publicized on their official news website, was “set up to intimidate the traitors that worked on reconciliation agreements to the regime, so that they know that in the end their fate is death,” said an activist in the town, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation. “The purpose of its construction is to strike fear.”

Al-Qaeda has not vanished from Idleb. It still terrorizes the population. What would have been the punishment for not following the orders for these demonstrations. The gallows? Getting thrown into some kennel? Or just some whipping of the soles of ones feet?

These videos of demonstrations are propaganda clips directed by the Turkish president Erdogan, in co-production with al-Qaeda, to delay the liberation of Idleb.

No one should fall for them.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/09/sy ... clips.html
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:32 pm

Khashoggi Drama - A Deal Is No Longer Possible - Erdogan Demands That MbS Goes
The Khashoggi saga continues to influence Middle East policies.

On Friday the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul. Since then they have changed their story twice:

After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, Saudi Arabia said that he was killed in the Istanbul consulate, saying his death was the result of a "fistfight". A Saudi source close to the royal palace later told CNN that the Washington Post journalist died in a chokehold. On Sunday, its foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, went further, describing Khashoggi's death on Fox News as a "murder" and a "tremendous mistake."
Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi clown prince and effective ruler, does not seem to have any good media advisors. By not sticking to one story all further Saudi accounts will immediately come into doubt.

The Saudis originally claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate. We now know why they felt safe to make that claim. CNN has a new Turkish story of a decoy which was send out to make it look as if Khashoggi left. They provide pictures to prove it:

One member of the 15-man team suspected in the death of Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was captured on surveillance cameras around Istanbul on the day the journalist was killed, a senior Turkish official has told CNN.
CNN has obtained exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage, part of the Turkish government's investigation, that appears to show the man leaving the consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses.

While Khashoggi was half bald, the decoy in Khashoggi's cloth seems to have full hair.


Bit by bit the Turkish government leaks more of the sorry tale. It helps to keep the issue on the political agenda.

YeniSafak, an Erdogan aligned broadsheet, claims (Turkish, machine translation) that Khashoggi was put on the phone with MbS while he was in the consulate. He was allegedly told to return to Saudi Arabia. After he rejected to do so he was killed.

A later YeniSafak report (Turkish, machine translation) says that Saudi teamleader in the consulate, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, made a total of four calls to bin Salman's office manager Badr bin Mohammed Al Asaker in Riyadh. Al Asaker is the head of the crown prince's foundation and his 'invisible hand'. Mutreb allegedly used the cell phone of the consul. Another call was made to the U.S., presumably to Khalid bin Salman, the brother of MbS who is the Saudi ambassador in Washington DC. Khalid has since returned to Riyadh. Al Jazeerah Arabic had earlier reported of such calls, and of 19 additional WhatsUp calls to MbS himself.

If the news of these calls proves to be true, the killing of Khashoggi was undoubtedly premeditated murder on the direct order of the clown prince.


Turkish police also found an abandoned car that is owned by the Saudi consulate. It can be seen on CCTV footage of the consulate on the day that Khashoggi was killed.

All this proves that the spy-craft of the Saudi assassination team was abysmal. All cellphone networks store records of each call. Any foreign official's phone in Turkey is under surveillance of the country's intelligence service. Only some throw-away phone with an anonymous prepaid card could have given some protection.

It seems that the Saudi team simply did not care. It tried to obscure the incident by removing the body, but did otherwise little to hide the operation. They likely expected to get away with this. Their boss, MbS, certainly did:

As the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi escalated into a diplomatic crisis, Prince Mohammed was shocked by the backlash. He couldn’t understand why Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance was such a big deal, according to people who recently interacted with the prince.
On Oct. 10, eight days after Mr. Khashoggi went missing, Prince Mohammed called Jared Kushner, the adviser and son-in-law to President Trump, according to people briefed on the phone conversation.
Why the outrage, Prince Mohammed asked in English.
The prince’s confusion soon turned into rage. “He was really shocked that there was such a big reaction to it,” said a person close to the royal court. “He feels betrayed by the West. He said he would look elsewhere and he will never forget how people turned against him before evidence was produced.”

No one seems to care how many Yemeni's Mohammad bin Salman kills each day. There was no harsh reaction when MbS kidnapped the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, nor when he incarcerated nearly 400 princes and tortured them to steal their money. Why would anyone care about Khashoggi?

Because that is how human psychology works:

The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.
Josef Stalin

We humans care way more for a single persons we know, than for a mass of people we have no relations with.

Khashoggi was a personal friend of Erdogan. He was a columnist at the Washington Post, the CIA's most favored news outlet. Mohammad bin Salman is an enemy of both. Neither the neocon opinion editor of the Post, Fred Hiatt, nor Erdogan have any love for the Saudi clown prince. They would of course raise a ruckus when given such a chance.

They will pile on and air the Saudi's dirty linen until MbS is gone. Yesterday the New York Times exposed the twitter brigades the Saudis hired to manipulate the public. Today the Washington Post has a detailed report of Saudi influence peddling through U.S. stink tanks. The Middle East Institute, CSIS and Brookings get called out. Lobbyists for the Saudis are canceling their contracts. More such reports will come out. Years of lobbying and tens of millions of dollars to push pro-Saudi propaganda have now gone to waste.

The affair is damaging to Trump. He built his Middle East policy on his relations with Saudi Arabia. But he can not avoid the issue and has to call out MbS over the killing. His own party is pressing for it. Yesterday the Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, dismissed the Saudi version of the story on CNN and called (vid) for consequences:

"It is my sense, I don't know yet, but based on the intel I have read, based on the other excerpts that I have read, it is my thinking that MbS was involved in this, that he directed this and that this person was purposefully murdered."
There has to be a punishment and a price paid for that.
Do I think he did it? Yes, I think he did it. [...] We obviously have intercepts from the past that point to involvement at a very high level, so let's let play this out.
On Sunday Erdogan was on the phone with Trump. The Turkish readout of the call hints at negotiations over Syria, the lifting of sanctions against Turkey and other issues. But the Khashoggi case has now gone too far to allow for a deal to be made over it.

Erdogan's mouthpiece, the somewhat lunatic columnist Ibrahim Karagül, gives an insight into Erdogan's thinking and sets out his aims:

The real trap was set against Saudi Arabia. Even though a Saudi Arabia-U.S.-Israel rapport was established and discourse about shielding the Riyadh administration from Iran, the objective was to destroy Saudi Arabia through Salman and Zayed. The next front after the Syria war was the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia. They never understood this, they could not understand it. Turkey understood it, but the Arab political mind was blinded.
Now Saudi Arabia is in a very difficult situation. The world collapsed over them. Crown Prince Salman is going through a tough test via Zayed, who has control over him. If the gravity of the situation after the facts revealed with the Khashoggi murder is not comprehended, we will witness a “Saudi Arabia front” in less than a few years.
The Riyadh administration must dethrone Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at once. It has no other choice. Otherwise, it is going to pay very heavy prices. If they fail to quash the trap set up targeting Saudi Arabia through bin Zayed, they will be victims of Trump’s “You won’t last two weeks” statement, and the process is going to start to work in that direction.
This duo must be taken out of the entire region and neutralized. Otherwise they are going to throw the region in fire.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed is Mohammad bin Salman's mentor and partner in crime in Yemen. MbZ is smarter than MbS - and will be more difficult to dislodge.

Erdogan announced that he will describe more details of the case on Tuesday in a speech to his party's parliament group. He will probably not yet play the tape from inside the consulate that Turkish intelligence claims to have. But he may well confirm the revealed phone calls and threaten to release their content.

Erdogan's aim seems clear. The chance for deal is gone. MbS has to go. He will try to play the case out until that is achieved.

Posted by b on October 22, 2018 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/10/k ... -goes.html
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:03 pm

Far-right poster in support of Bolsonaro. It references Olavo de Carvalho, a proponent of the ‘Cultural Marxism’ conspiracy theory.

Did fake news win the Brazilian election?

Posted Nov 03, 2018 by Eds.

Originally published: Red Pepper Magazine by Sue Branford (October 30, 2018)

As Brazil heads for a period of profound political instability, with Jair Bolsonaro, the rabid, homophobic politician, reiterating his determination to combat ‘the extremism of the left’ and left-wing movements equally determined to mobilise throughout the country to defend their right to exist, doubts are growing as the legitimacy of Bolsonaro’s election, given the huge role played by ‘fake news’, writes Sue Branford.

Just hours after the results of the Brazilian election were announced, a triumphant Steve Bannon, the man who helped engineer first the election of Donald Trump and now the victory of Jair Bolsonaro, could scarcely control his exhilaration. “Had it not been for Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it would have been a hundred times more difficult for populism to triumph, because it wouldn’t have been able to overcome the apparatus of the traditional media”, he told a Brazilian newspaper. Bannon, who acted as an adviser to Bolsonaro during the electoral campaign, says he will be going to Brazil “frequently” after Bolsonaro takes office in January.

Moreover, Bannon intends to bring his expertise to Europe. Together with the Belgian politician, Mischael Modrikamen, who helped found the extreme right-wing People’s Party (PP), he is organising the first summit of “The Movement” in Brussels in mid-January. According to Modrikamen, it will bring together 20-30 right-wing movements from Europe. Their first goal is to “promote to promote the populist-radical right, and economic nationalism, ahead of the EU parliament elections next May”.

If the Brazilian experience is any guide, this means that Europe can expect an avalanche of ‘fake news’. “Fake news’ reached millions of Brazilians, particularly through WhatsApp, which is used by 44% of the population to obtain their political information, according to a recent survey. So much ‘fake news’ is reaching voters that it must have affected the outcome of the election.

As Bolsonaro himself has little social media expertise, someone else is organising his campaign. Although no journalist has managed to infiltrate the Bolsonaro team–and we must be careful not to promote ‘fake news’ ourselves–it is possible that the campaign is being masterminded in the U.S.

In August Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is a close aide to his father, boasted on Instagram of meeting Steve Bannon, the man behind Trump’s victory. Later he said that Bannon had offered to help his father’s campaign: ‘The support involves internet tips, perhaps an analysis, interpreting data, this kind of thing’.

New lies from old videos
To give a recent example of ‘fake news’: on 15 October the fabricators circulated a video of Haddad stepping out of a yellow Ferrari. The account on which this could be viewed has now been taken down by YouTube ‘due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement’.

Underneath they had inserted a caption, subsequently deleted by YouTube after protests from the PT: ‘The candidate of the poor, arriving yesterday in the airport of Congonhas in São Paulo in a FERRARI that is worth RS$1,800,000 (£370,975)’. Yet the video dates from 2016 when Haddad was mayor of São Paulo and was given a ride in the car to Interlagos, the famous circuit where the Brazilian Grand Prix is held, where he went to inaugurate construction work carried out by his government.

The caption with the faked video was worded to stoke the widespread belief among Bolsonaro followers that, while PT politicians talk the talk of social justice, they are, in reality, are just as corrupt and scandalously wealthy as all other politicians from the Brazilian establishment.

How far does it reach?
Brazilian researchers have been trying to work out just how influential ‘fake news’ is. Earlier this year Agência Lupa, Brazil’s leading fact-checking agency, persuaded Facebook to work with them so they could check the veracity of postings and work out how many people had received ‘fake news’. They discovered that in August of this year, shortly before the first round of the elections, the top ten items of ‘fake news’ were shared 865,000 times.

In top place, with 238,000 shares and still circulating on social media, is a video showing a huge crowd of cheering people. The caption reads: “Rally in Campinas to support the recovery [from being stabbed] of President Jair Messias Bolsonaro”. Only it isn’t. The mass of people, many wearing green-and-yellow Brazil shirts, are supporting Brazil against Serbia in the World Cup. The idea is clearly to create the impression that the number of Bolsonaro supporters is increasing every day and becoming an overwhelming flood, carrying all before it.In second place, with 219,800 shares, is picture of a headline in the leading newspaper, O Globo:

The headline states: ‘Jean Wyllis [one of Brazil’s most famous gay activist] accepts invitation from Haddad to be Minister of Education in an eventual Haddad government’. Except this isn’t true either: this invitation was never made.

The sophistication of this forgery shocked even experienced media professionals. It reproduced accurately the layout in the newspaper and bore the byline of a Globo journalist. Just one problem: the journalist doesn’t work for Globo any more and the headline is fabricated.

This forgery is feeding the prejudice against homosexuals voiced vociferously by Bolsonaro and shared by many of his supporters, and exacerbates the fear that a Haddad victory would lead to homosexuals taking over many key positions in government. A gay Minister of Education is to be particularly feared, for it would mean, they say, that Brazilian children would be encouraged to become gay.

In third place is another video, showing thousands of people in the streets:

The video itself is authentic, but in the version circulating on Facebook, subsequently removed, had the caption: ‘Look how Copacabana is now!!! “Elesim”!!! [“him-yes”, the pro-Bolsonaro slogan thought up as a retort to the anti-Bolsonaro slogan. “Elenão”, “him-no”]’. Except, again, it isn’t. The demo dates from a very different political moment, when there were thousands in the streets in March 2015. Again, the clear intention is to give the impression that pro-Bolsonaro marches have been far bigger than the anti-Bolsonaro ones, though this is not, in fact, the case.

A published ‘fact’ is an established fact

After these findings, Facebook now has third-party fact checkers trying to weed out disinformation. Facebook and Google are also collaborating on an initiative called Comprova, which is working with 24 Brazilian newsrooms to uncover and denounce ‘fake news’.

These are important advances but they only scratch at the surface of the problem, and in this world of instant news, a false fact, once published and distributed, is for many readers an established fact. The most influential social networking website in Brazil is WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook). It has a much bigger reach than Facebook, which has been falling in popularity, particularly among the young. And, according to Brazilian data experts, the efforts to clean up Facebook have been encouraging ‘fake news’ fabricators to concentrate more of their efforts on WhatsApp.

The volume of false news has been colossal: in the seven weeks before the first round of the election in early October, Agência Lupa, in a joint project with two Brazilian universities, collected and analysed posts in 347 WhatsApp chat groups. This was, they said, “just a small example of the estimated hundreds of thousands of that groups that millions of Brazilians use every day to gather information.” They said that it was particularly difficult to monitor because its conversations are encrypted.

From 100,000 political images they selected the 50 most widely shared. Of these, 28 of the 50 most shared images were ‘fake news’, either manipulated or used out of context to give a misleading message. Others had no factual backing. Only four were considered true.

The most popular of the 50 images was a black-and-white photo:

The original photo- Fidel Castro visits New York. Castro & Dr. Grayson Kirk, pres. of Columbia University. (Photo By- John Duprey:NY Daily News via Getty Images)(F)

It claims to be a picture of a young Dilma Rousseff beside a young Fidel Castro. The photo feeds into the allegation, widely made by Bolsonaro supporters, that the PT wants to turn Brazil into a communist state–a fear still very much alive in Brazil, even though there is little evidence to support it.

But, once again, this image is ‘fake news’. The original image (below) was manipulated to include a picture of the young Dilma Rousseff. It dates from 1959, when Dilma Rousseff was only 11 years old:


The original photo- Fidel Castro visits New York. Castro & Dr. Grayson Kirk, pres. of Columbia University. (Photo By- John Duprey:NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Rousseff ran as the PT candidate in the recent elections, attempting to win a seat in Senate for Minas Gerais state. Early polls had suggested she would win but, in the end, she was heavily defeated. It is, of course, impossible to work out how much ‘fake news’ contributed to her surprise defeat.

As Agência Lupa has pointed out, Haddad supporters also distort news. One of the best-known examples was on 6 September, when Bolsonaro was stabbed. Left-wing militants shared a photo of Bolsonaro walking, smiling, into a hospital:


The militants claimed that Bolsonaro had not been stabbed at all but had invented the incident to garner sympathy from the electorate. But this photo was taken a few hours before the stabbing.

But, as the Agência Lupa studies have repeatedly confirmed, the overwhelming majority of ‘fake news’ items are shared by Bolsonaro supporters.

Some pictures are first published on other platforms and then reproduced on WhatsApp. One of the nastiest was first circulated by Bolsonaro himself to his 1.7 million Twitter followers. He later deleted it. It is a photograph of heavily-armed men behind a placard bearing a death threat to Bolsonaro:


Except that the placard was inserted. The original photo dates back to 2016 and is part of a blog about the increase in violence in Brazil. There is no placard:

Original photo- Evernote

The underlying message seems to be that PT militants are violent thugs who must be fought with violence.

Information experts are so worried about what is going they are calling on WhatsApp to follow the example of Facebook and take urgent action to cleanse their network of ‘fake news’. On 17 October the three Brazilians who compiled the report into WhatsApp published an article in the New York Times in which they wrote:

The alarming flow of distorted information can be mitigated. If WhatsApp changes some of its settings in Brazil from now until Election Day, Oct. 28, it can reduce the spread of lies. Moreover, these simple changes can be made without impinging on freedom of expression or invading users’ privacy.

But WhatsApp’s only response has been to state that it is too late for action.

A concerted attack
There is little doubt that the avalanche of ‘fake news’ is affecting the outcome of the election. Unlike the rather disjointed examples of falsified information from the PT, which seems to stem from despair and frustration, the ‘fake news’ from the Bolsonaro camp is coherent and co-ordinated.

It forms part of what the historian Virginia Fontes has called a concerted attack ‘in which they [Bolsonaro supporters] call for all those they disagree with and define as enemies to be beaten up, assassinated and to suffer all kinds of humiliation’.

Indeed, a scary VICE documentary, broadcast in August, interviewed an administrator of several pro-Bolosonaro WhatsApp groups who said that their material comes directly from Bolsonaro’s head office.

More ‘fake news’ is coming fast down the pipeline. According to an investigation carried out by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, companies are paying for ‘packages’ of quick-fire anti-Haddad messages to launch on to WhatsApp in the last week of the electoral campaign (21-28 October). A package can cost up to R$12 million (£247,000).

The companies are allegedly buying up lists of WhatsApp users from digital companies and the aim is to send out hundreds of millions of messages. Many aspects of this operation are illegal, as under Brazilian law companies are not permitted to fund electoral campaigning nor can candidates buy up lists of voters from third parties.

On 19 October PT lawyers took out an action in Brazil’s Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) in an attempt to have Bolsonaro’s candidacy annulled because of the illegal operations that have been carried out.

As a result, the level of tension in the country has increased. Patrícia Campos Mello, the journalist who wrote the Folha article, is under constant attack by Bolsonaro fans. Bolsonaro himself hasn’t denied the story but has said that he can’t control what is happening. ‘Voluntary support is something that the PT doesn’t know about and doesn’t accept’, he counter-attacked on Twitter. ‘The PT isn’t being harmed by “fake news” but by the truth.’

He also had a go at the Folha newspaper. ‘It’s really sinking deeper and deeper into the mud’, he said. In its turn, the Folha consulted a lecturer in law, Renato Ribeiro de Almeida, who told them: ‘I can’t imagine a company donating a lot of money without telling the candidate. And, once he knows, he becomes responsible for what is happening.’

The level of abuse used by Bolsonaro’s followers against their opponents, and their willingness to resort to whatever illegal trick they can muster to get their candidate elected, is unprecedented in recent Brazilian history. Virginia Fontes believes that what is happening in Brazil forms part of an international lurch to the right to crush the growing mass of disempowered in the world:

Totalitarian solutions with threats to exterminate the left don’t stem from the efficiency or inefficiency of the PT. What is behind this enormous wave of violence sweeping through Congress and Bolsonaro’s campaign is panic in the face of an enormous mass of workers totally deprived of their rights. They are contracted out, flexibilised, turned into nano-businessmen pushed to the outskirts of cities, where they live in a climate of violence. These people will soon demand their rights. It is for this reason that they [the ruling elite] need a Congress capable of annulling existing laws, like Temer has done and Bolsonaro has promised to do more of.

But Virginia Fontes understands as a historian that this situation cannot last for ever:

Organised repression against the left, against people of colour, women and homosexuals doesn’t have a future. The assassination of young people in the outskirts of cities can’t sustain governments. All this can appear bloody and terrible, but it will be defeated. The majority of workers are women. Brazilian inequality is a permanent fuse and it is only by confronting the causes of this inequality that it will be possible to get out of the perverse process in which we are trapped.

https://mronline.org/2018/11/03/did-fak ... -election/
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:06 pm

Syria: The hidden massacre
Sharmine Narwani

Published time: 7 May, 2014 14:36
Edited time: 26 Sep, 2014 12:41

​Syria: The hidden massacre


A picture shows courthouse that was torched a day earlier by angry protesters in the southern town of Daraa, 100 kms (60 miles) south of Damascus, on March 21, 2011 following a demonstration demanding "freedom" and an end to 48 years of emergency laws in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara) © AFP
The attack took place shortly after the first stirrings of trouble in the southern Syrian city of Daraa in March 2011.
Several old Russian-made military trucks packed with Syrian security forces rolled onto a hard slope on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad. Unbeknown to the passengers, the sloping road was slick with oil poured by gunmen waiting to ambush the troops.

Brakes were pumped as the trucks slid into each other, but the shooting started even before the vehicles managed to roll to a stop. According to several different opposition sources, up to 60 Syrian security forces were killed that day in a massacre that has been hidden by both the Syrian government and residents of Daraa.

One Daraa native explains: “At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed.”

Beyond that, the details are sketchy. Nizar Nayouf, a longtime Syria dissident and blogger who wrote about the killings, says the massacre took place in the final week of March 2011.

A source who was in Daraa at the time, places the attack before the second week of April.

Rami Abdul Rahman, an anti-government activist who heads up the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the most quoted Western media source on Syrian casualties, tells me: “It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces – or “mukhabarat” – were killed.”

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Faisal Mekdad is a rare government official familiar with the incident. Mekdad studied in Daraa, is from a town 35 kilometers to the east called Ghasson, and made several official visits to Daraa during the early days of the crisis. The version he tells me is similar, down to the details of where the ambush took place – and how. Mekdad, however, believes that around 24 Syrian army soldiers were shot that day.

Why would the Syrian government hide this information, when it would bolster their narrative of events – namely that “armed groups” were targeting authorities from the start, and that the uprising was not all “peaceful”?

In Mekdad’s view, “this incident was hidden by the government and by the security for reasons I can interpret as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation – which at that time was not the policy.”

A picture taken by a mobile phone shows Syrian anti-government protesters taking part in a demonstration in Banias in northeastern Syria on April 22, 2011 as calls were launched for nationwide "Good Friday" rallies, a day after President Bashar al-Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule. (AFP Photo)

April 2011: The killing of soldiers
What we do know for certain is that on April 25, 2011, nineteen Syrian soldiers were gunned down in Daraa by unknown assailants. The names, ages, dates of birth and death, place of birth and death and marital/parental status of these 19 soldiers are documented in a list of military casualties obtained from Syria’s Defense Ministry.

The list was corroborated by another document – given to me by a non-government acquaintance involved in peace efforts – that details 2011 security casualties. All 19 names were verified by this second list.

Were these the soldiers of the “Daraa massacre?” April 25 is later than the dates suggested by multiple sources – and these 19 deaths were not exactly “hidden.”

But even more startling than actually finding the 19 Daraa soldiers on a list, was the discovery that in April 2011, eighty-eight soldiers were killed by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria.

Keep in mind that the Syrian army was mostly not in the field that early on in the conflict. Other security forces like police and intelligence groups were on the front lines then – and they are not included in this death toll.

The first Syrian soldiers to be killed in the conflict, Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub, were killed on March 23 in Daraa.

Two days after those first military casualties, Ala’a Nafez Salman was gunned down in Latakia.

On April 9, Ayham Mohammad Ghazali was shot dead in Douma, south of Damascus. The first soldier killing in Homs Province – in Teldo – was on April 10 when Eissa Shaaban Fayyad was shot.

April 10 was also the day when we learned of the first massacre of Syrian soldiers – in Banyas, Tartous – when nine troops were ambushed and gunned down on a passing bus. The BBC, Al Jazeera and the Guardian all initially quoted witnesses claiming the dead soldiers were “defectors” shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians.

A protester in the flahspoint central Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back towards security forces, on December 27, 2011. (AFP photo)

That narrative was debunked later, but the story that soldiers were being killed by their own commanders stuck hard throughout 2011 – and gave the media an excuse to ignore stories that security forces were being targeted by armed groups.

The SOHR’s Rami Abdul Rahman says of the “defector” storyline: “This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.” It is likely that this narrative was used early on by opposition activists to encourage divisions and defections among the armed forces. If military commanders were shooting their own men, you can be certain the Syrian army would not have remained intact and united three years on.

After the Banyas slayings, soldier deaths in April continued to pop up in different parts of the country – Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, al-Masmiyah (near Suweida), Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

But on April 23, seven soldiers were slaughtered in Nawa, a town near Daraa. Those killings did not make the headlines like the one in Banyas. Notably, the incident took place right after the Syrian government tried to defuse tensions by abolishing the state security courts, lifting the state of emergency, granting general amnesties and recognizing the right to peaceful protest.

Two days later, on April 25 – Easter Monday – Syrian troops finally moved into Daraa. In what became the scene of the second mass slaying of soldiers since the weekend, 19 soldiers were shot dead that day.

This information also never made it to the headlines.

Instead, all we ever heard was about the mass killing of civilians by security forces: “The dictator slaughtering his own people.” But three years into the Syrian crisis, can we say that things may have taken a different turn if we had access to more information? Or if media had simply provided equal air-time to the different, contesting testimonies that were available to us?

Facts versus fiction
A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) relies entirely on 50 unnamed activists, witnesses and “defected soldiers” to set the scene for what was taking place in Daraa around that time.

HRW witnesses provided accounts of “security forces using lethal force against protesters during demonstrations” and “funeral processions.” In some cases, says HRW, “security forces first used teargas or fired in the air, but when the protesters refused to disperse, they fired live ammunition from automatic weapons into the crowds…From the end of March witnesses consistently reported the presence of snipers on government buildings near the protests who targeted and killed many of the protesters.”

The HRW report also states: “Syrian authorities repeatedly claimed that the violence in Daraa was perpetrated by armed terrorist gangs, incited and sponsored from abroad.”

Today we know that this statement is fairly representative of a large segment of Islamist militants inside Syria, but was it true in Daraa in early 2011 as well?

There are some things we know as fact. For instance, we have visual evidence of armed men crossing the Lebanese border into Syria during April and May 2011, according to video footage and testimony from former Al Jazeera reporter Ali Hashem, whose video was censored by his network.

Lebanese army troops deploy in Wadi Khaled on Lebanon's northern border with Syria on May 20, 2011. (AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

There are other things we are still only now discovering. For instance, the HRW report also claims that Syrian security forces in Daraa “desecrated (mosques) by scrawling graffiti on the walls” such as “Your god is Bashar, there is no god but Bashar” – in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Just recently a Tunisian jihadist who goes by the name Abu Qusay, told Tunisian television that his “task” in Syria was to destroy and desecrate mosques with Sunni names (Abu Bakr mosque, Othman mosque, etc) in false-flag sectarian attacks to encourage defection by Syrian soldiers, the majority of whom are Sunni. One of the things he did was scrawling pro-government and blasphemous slogans on mosque walls like “Only God, Syria and Bashar.” It was a “tactic” he says, to get the soldiers to “come on our side” so that the army “can become weak.”

Had the Syrian government been overthrown quickly – as in Tunisia and Egypt – perhaps we would not have learned about these acts of duplicity. But three years into this conflict, it is time to establish facts versus fiction.

A member of the large Hariri family in Daraa, who was there in March and April 2011, says people are confused and that many “loyalties have changed two or three times from March 2011 till now. They were originally all with the government. Then suddenly changed against the government – but now I think maybe 50% or more came back to the Syrian regime.”

The province was largely pro-government before things kicked off. According to the UAE paper The National, “Daraa had long had a reputation as being solidly pro-Assad, with many regime figures recruited from the area.”

But as Hariri explains it, “there were two opinions” in Daraa. “One was that the regime is shooting more people to stop them and warn them to finish their protests and stop gathering. The other opinion was that hidden militias want this to continue, because if there are no funerals, there is no reason for people to gather.”

“At the beginning 99.9 percent of them were saying all shooting is by the government. But slowly, slowly this idea began to change in their mind – there are some hidden parties, but they don’t know what,” says Hariri, whose parents remain in Daraa.

HRW admits “that protestors had killed members of security forces” but caveats it by saying they “only used violence against the security forces and destroyed government property in response to killings by the security forces or…to secure the release of wounded demonstrators captured by the security forces and believed to be at risk of further harm.”

We know that this is not true – the April 10 shootings of the nine soldiers on a bus in Banyas was an unprovoked ambush. So, for instance, was the killing of General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi, killed alongside his two sons and a nephew in Homs on April 17. That same day in the pro-government al-Zahra neighborhood in Homs, off-duty Syrian army commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down when he went outside his home to investigate gunshots. Two days later, Hama-born off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car. And all of this only in the first month of unrest.

In 2012, HRW’s Syria researcher Ole Solvag told me that he had documented violence “against captured soldiers and civilians” and that “there were sometimes weapons in the crowds and some demonstrators opened fire against government forces.”

But was it because the protestors were genuinely aggrieved with violence directed at them by security forces? Or were they “armed gangs” as the Syrian government claims? Or – were there provocateurs shooting at one or both sides?

Provocateurs in “Revolutions”
Syrian-based Father Frans van der Lugt was the Dutch priest murdered by a gunman in Homs just a few weeks ago. His involvement in reconciliation and peace activities never stopped him from lobbing criticisms at both sides in this conflict. But in the first year of the crisis, he penned some remarkable observations about the violence – this one in January 2012:

“From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

In September 2011 he wrote: “From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”

Certainly, by June 5, there was no longer any ability for opposition groups to pretend otherwise. In a coordinated attack in Jisr Shughur in Idlib, armed groups killed 149 members of the security forces, according to the SOHR.

But in March and April, when violence and casualties were still new to the country, the question remains: Why would the Syrian government – against all logic – kill vulnerable civilian populations in “hot” areas, while simultaneously taking reform steps to quell tensions?

Who would gain from killing “women and children” in those circumstances? Not the government, surely?

Syrian security men react after a security base was targeted by a suicide attack in Damascus on December 23, 2011. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

Discussion about the role of provocateurs in stirring up conflict has made some headlines since Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet’sleaked phone conversation with the EU’s Catherine Ashton disclosed suspicions that pro-west snipers had killed both Ukranian security forces and civilians during the Euromaidan protests.

Says Paet: “All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides…and it’s really disturbing that now the new (pro-western) coalition, they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.”

A recent German TV investigation the sniper shootings confirms much about these allegations, and has opened the door to contesting versions of events in Ukraine that did not exist for most of the Syrian conflict – at least not in the media or in international forums.

Instead of writing these things off as “conspiracy theories,” the role of provocateurs against targeted governments suddenly appears to have emerged in the mainstream discourse. Whether it is the US’s leaked plan to create a “Cuban twitter” to stir unrest in the island nation – or – the emergence of “instructional”leaflets in protests from Egypt to Syria to Libya to Ukraine, the convergence of just one-too-many “lookalike” mass protest movements that turn violent has people asking questions and digging deeper today.

Since early 2011 alone, we have heard allegations of “unknown” snipers targeting crowds and security forces in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. What could be more effective at turning populations against authority than the unprovoked killing of unarmed innocents? By the same token, what could better ensure a reaction from the security forces of any nation than the gunning down of one or more of their own?

By early 2012, the UN claimed there were over 5,000 casualties in Syria – without specifying whether these were civilians, rebel fighters or government security forces. According to government lists presented to and published by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, in the first year of conflict, the death toll for Syrian police forces was 478, and 2,091 for military and security force casualties.

Those numbers suggest a remarkable parity in deaths between both sides in the conflict, right from the start. It also suggests that at least part of the Syrian “opposition” was from the earliest days, armed, organized, and targeting security forces as a matter of strategy – in all likelihood, to elicit a response that would ensure continued escalation.

Today, although Syrian military sources strongly refute these numbers, the SOHR claims there are more than 60,000 casualties from the country’s security forces and pro-government militias. These are men who come from all parts of the nation, from all religions and denominations and from all communities. Their deaths have left no family untouched and explain a great deal about the Syrian government’s actions and responses throughout this crisis.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/157412-syria-h ... acre-2011/
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:41 pm

This Intentional Guardian Fake News Story Proves That The Media Can't Be Trusted
In 2015 the British Guardian appointed Katherine Viner as editor in chief. Under her lead the paper took a new direction. While it earlier made attempts to balance its shoddier side with some interesting reporting, it is now solidly main stream in the worst sense. It promotes neo-liberalism and a delves into cranky identity grievances stories. It also became an main outlet for manipulative propaganda peddled by the British secret services.

Its recent fake news story about Paul Manafort, Wikileaks and Julian Assange aptly demonstrates this.

On November 27 the Guardian prepared to publish a story which asserted that Paula Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, had met Julian Assange, the publisher of Wikileaks, in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on at least three occasions. Some two hours before the story went public it contacted Manafort and Assange's lawyers to get their comments.

Assange's Wikileaks responded through its public Twitter account.

WikiLeaks @wikileaks - 13:06 utc - 27 Nov 2018
SCOOP: In letter today to Assange's lawyers, Guardian's Luke Harding, winner of Private Eye's Plagiarist of the Year, falsely claims jailed former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had secret meetings with Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016 in story Guardian are "planning to run".

It attached the email the Guardian's Luke Harding had send.


90 minutes later the Guardian piece went life. It led the front page and also appeared in print.


The first version read:

Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

The piece did not include the public denial Wikileaks issued to its 5.4 million followers one and a half hour before it was published.

The Guardian piece came at a critical moment. Currently the U.K. and Ecuador conspire to deliver Julian Assange to U.S. authorities. On Monday special counsel Robert Mueller said Manafort lied to investigators, violating his recent plea deal.

The new sensational claim was immediately picked up by prominent reporters and major main stream outlets. It is likely that millions of people took note of it.

But many people who had followed Russiagate fairytale and the Mueller investigation were immediately suspicious of the Guardian claim.

The story was weakly sourced and included some details that seemed unlikely to be true. Glenn Greenwald noted that the Ecuadorian embassy is under heavy CCTV surveillance. There are several guards, and visitors have to provide their identity to enter it. Every visit is logged. If Manaford had really visited Assange, it would have long been known:

In sum, the Guardian published a story today that it knew would explode into all sorts of viral benefits for the paper and its reporters even though there are gaping holes and highly sketchy aspects to the story.
Moreover, the main author of the story, Luke Harding, is known to be a notorious fraud, a russo-phobe intelligence asset with a personal grievance towards Assange and Wikileaks. A year ago an important Moon of Alabama piece - From Snowden To Russia-gate - The CIA And The Media - mentioned Harding:

The people who promote the "Russian influence" nonsense are political operatives or hacks. Take for example Luke Harding of the Guardian who just published a book titled Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. He was taken apart in a Real News interview (vid) about the book. The interviewer pointed out that there is absolutely no evidence in the book to support its claims. When asked for any proof for his assertion Harding defensively says that he is just "storytelling" - in other words: it is fiction. Harding earlier wrote a book about Edward Snowden which was a similar sham. Julian Assange called it "a hack job in the purest sense of the term". Harding is also known as plagiarizer. When he worked in Moscow he copied stories and passages from the now defunct Exile, run by Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames. The Guardian had to publish an apology.
The new Guardian story looked like another weak attempt to connect the alleged Russian malfeasance with Assange and the Wikileaks publishing of the DNC emails. No public evidence exists to support such claims.

Shortly after the Guardian's fake news story went public Paul Manafort issued an unequivocal denial:

“I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him,” the statement said. “I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”
At 16:05 utc the Guardian silently edited the story.


Caveats (here in italic) were added to the headline and within several paragraphs. No editorial note was attached to inform the readers of the changes:

Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say

It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear.
Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers initially declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

One paragraph was added to included Wikileaks' denial:

In a series of tweets WikiLeaks said Assange and Manafort had not met. Assange described the story as a hoax.
At 16:30 utc, under fire from other media and journalists, the Guardian issued a statement:

This story relied on a number of sources. We put these allegations to both Paul Manafort and Julian Assange's representatives prior to publication. Neither responded to deny the visits taking place. We have since updated the story to reflect their denials.
This defensive Guardian claim is, like its story, evidently completely false. Wikileaks publicly denied the Guardian's claims 90 minutes before the story was first published. Manafort asserts that his lawyers had notified the Guardian that the story was false before the Guardian 'proceeded with the story'.

At 21:05 utc a third version was published which included Manafort's denial.

Half an hour later Julian Assange instructed his lawyers to sue the Guardian for libel. Wikileaks opened a fund to support the lawsuit.

A day after the Guardian smear piece the Washington Times reported that Manafort's passports, entered into evidence by the Muller prosecution, show that he did not visit London in any of the years the Guardian claimed he was there to visit Assange.

The story was completely false and the Guardian knew it was. It disregarded and left out the denials the subjects of the story had issued before it was published.

The Guardian has become a main outlet for British government disinformation operations aimed at defaming Russia. It smeared Assange and Snowden as Russian collaborators. It uncritically peddled the Russiagate story and the nonsensical Skripal claims which are both obviously concocted by British intelligence services. That seems to have become its main purpose.

As Disobediant Media notes (emphasis in the original):

While most readers with functional critical thinking capacity may readily dismiss the Guardian’s smear on its face, the fact that the Guardian published this piece, and that Luke Harding is still operating with even the tiniest modicum of respect as a journalist despite his history of deceit, tells us something bone-chilling about journalism.
It is no accident that Luke Harding is still employed: in fact, it is because of Harding’s consistent loyalty to establishment, specifically the UK intelligence apparatus, over the truth that determines his “success” amongst legacy press outlets. Harding is not a defacement or a departure from the norm, but the personification of it.

Jonathan Cook, a former Guardian writer, makes a similar point:

The truth is that the Guardian has not erred in this latest story attacking Assange, or in its much longer-running campaign to vilify him. With this story, it has done what it regularly does when supposedly vital western foreign policy interests are at stake – it simply regurgitates an elite-serving, western narrative.
Its job is to shore up a consensus on the left for attacks on leading threats to the existing, neoliberal order: ...

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do.

We have previously shown that the Guardian even uses fascist propaganda tropes to smear the Russian people. It is openly publishing Goebbels' cartoons and rhetoric against Europes biggest state. There is no longer any line that it does not dare to cross. Unfortunately other 'western' media are not much better.

Within hours of being published the Guardian piece was debunked as fake news. That did not hinder other outlets to add to its smear. Politico allowed "a former CIA officer," writing under a pen name, to suggest - without any evidence - that the Guardian has been duped - not by its MI5/6 and Ecuadorian spy sources, but by Russian disinformation:

Rather than being the bombshell smoking gun that directly connects the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks, perhaps the report is something else entirely: a disinformation campaign. Is it possible someone planted this story as a means to discredit the journalists?
Harding is likely a major target for anyone wrapped up in Russia’s intelligence operation against the West’s democratic institutions.
If this latest story about Manafort and Assange is false—that is, if, for example, the sources lied to Harding and Collyns (or if the sources themselves were lied to and thus thought they were being truthful in their statements to the journalists), or if the Ecuadorian intelligence document is a fake, the most logical explanation is that it is an attempt to make Harding look bad.
The is zero evidence in the Politico screed that supports its suggestions and claims. It is fake news about a fake news story. We have seen a similar pattern in the Skripal affair. When 'western' intelligence get caught in spreading disinformation, they accuse Russia of being the source of the fake.

Unfortunately no western main stream media can any longer be trusted to publish the truth. The Guardian is only one of many which peddle smears and disinformation about the 'enemies' of the ruling 'western interests'. It is on all of us to debunk them and to educate the public about their scheme.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/11/t ... usted.html
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:27 pm

Whitewash - The 'Last Bastion Of Freedom' Is An Al-Qaeda Infested Town
This week the New Yorker published a long piece on Saraqib, a town in Idleb governorate in Syria.

Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom
Amid the brutal civil war, a town fought off the regime and the fundamentalists—and dared to hold an election. Can its experiment in democracy survive?


The piece tells us that, despite the fact that al-Qaeda rules Idleb since at least 2015, it is really a cradle of genuine democracy:

In the summer of 2017, for the first time anywhere in Syria since 1954, the residents of the town of Saraqib decided to seize control of their future—and hold a genuinely free election.
On the morning that polls were to open, an activist named Osama al-Hossein woke up at five o’clock, feeling anxious. He soon headed to Idlib Gate, a former department store that had been turned into a meeting hall. A small crowd was milling about: local journalists, election monitors, and suited dignitaries who, in international circles, represented the Syrian opposition. The election was meant to choose the leader of the Local Council, a civilian body that governed the town. Poll workers checked their phones for reports of air traffic: Syrian and Russian jets were known to attack public gatherings, and activists had posted sentries around the province.

This one town, Saraqib, is standing out:

One Syrian town after another fell out of government control, and from this anarchy new horrors arose. The flags of ISIS and Al Qaeda were raised across the country. Child refugees drowned at sea; Western hostages were murdered on camera.
Somehow, Saraqib had avoided this fate. It offered an alternative history for the entire Syrian conflict—and, Hossein believed, its citizens embodied the true soul of the revolution. That evening, he imagined other tiny democracies flowering across Syria, and the rest of the world coming to understand, at last, that his country had more to offer than bloodshed and tragedy.
Yes, "an alternative history" is really what is presented here. It is a whitewash of a brutal international attack on Syria. A hagiography of one Osama al-Hossein, a Muslim Brotherhood 'activist', who got funding from the United States. It includes every false propaganda cliche about 'barrel bombs' and 'moderate rebels', who never were moderate, that the 'western' agencies inserted into the news stream. It is also full of stupid and nonfactual assertions. How, for example, did the New Yorker fact checkers let these 'Humvees' pass by:

The government retaliated with even greater force; on August 11, 2011, its tanks and Humvees stormed Saraqib again.
When and where did Syria buy those?

In 2017 Osama al-Hossein, over some struggle with al-Qaeda, eventually fled to Turkey. But this August the author, presumably more at ease with al-Qaeda than the Syrian 'activist, traveled to Saraqib and found it at peace:

Unlike in some other Idlib towns, there were no religious police, no Al Qaeda flags. Although Saraqib is amid one of the world’s deadliest civil wars, I didn’t see a single gunman or checkpoint. I bumped into Abu Traad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army faction, and even he was unarmed, wearing slacks and a T-shirt. The activists, I learned, had insisted that weapons not be carried inside the city limits, immunizing Saraqib from factional disputes and protecting the revolutionaries’ rule. Occasionally, I spotted Nusra members hunched in a vehicle; though it was blazing hot, they hid behind balaclavas. Many residents, meanwhile, freely denounced the fundamentalists: one told me, “These people are a curse on God Himself.” It seemed that in Saraqib, at least, people were not afraid of Nusra; Nusra was afraid of them.
Sure, Nusra was afraid of them!

That is why in June the jihadis could destroyed tombstones in Saraqib's cemetery despite the angry muttering of some locals. And Saraqib is so "immunized from factional disputes" that on August 24 Nusra, aka Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, arrested six members of another jihadi faction there. And it is so peaceful that two month later the Syrian Observatory notes a tit-for-tat execution campaign happening within the town:

[T]oday, the 7th of October 2018, an explosion in Saraqib area in the eastern countryside of Idlib, which is near the areas to be disarmed, it was caused by an explosion targeted Khattab al-Hamwi, who is an important security official in Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham of the notorious al-Iqab Prison in Saraqib area ...
It the 'bastion of freedom', Saraqib, that houses al-Qaeda's main prison in the area. Somehow the New Yorker piece fails to mention that.

From the early start of the war on Syria Saraqib was one of the centers of jihadi terrorist activities. In March/April 2011 it was one of the first towns that saw violent attacks on government forces and institutions. In December 2011 the notorious terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham, headed by the long time al-Qaeda member Abu Khalid al-Suri, was founded there. In 2014 the BBC reported how Nusra ruled the town:

Abu-Qedama, al-Qaida's envoy in Saraqib, North-Eastern Syria, is Jordanian. His task is to ensure that Sharia Law is enforced.
This BBC Arabic film follows him and his fellow Islamists in Saraqib, showing how they are taking control of the city. The film-makers get inside the courts and reveal how Sharia Law is applied. We see the judge at work in the Court and issuing his judgment on the public square. For the first time, we see a public flogging before a large crowd of people, as a deterrent to others.

At some point the locals in Saraqib may have hold some sham elections. But that does not change the fact that their town was and is solidly controlled by an internationally banned terrorist group. Saraqib is only a 'bastion of freedom' when one ignores everything that happened and still happens there.

This brings up a serious question. How did the author of the New Yorker piece, Anand Gopal, manage to travel through Nusra/HTS/al-Qaeda controlled Idleb governorate, visited the jihadi infested town, and avoided to be thrown into the "notorious al-Iqab Prison in Saraqib area"?

Could it be because he was one of those who told everyone how to join the Islamists?


Could it be because he falsely insists that there was and is no U.S. regime change policy in Syria?


Could it be because he, who he himself told people how to join ISIS, claimed that the sole reason that people joined it was the Syrian government's fight against the foreign fueled insurgency against it? This despite the fact that Obama and Kerry had publicly admitted that they furthered ISIS' growth?

It is sad to see that the once respectable New Yorker gives space to such a fairy tale by an recruiter of terrorists, propagandist for al-Qaeda and despicable apologist of the empire's wars.

Posted by b on December 6, 2018 at 09:13 AM | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/w ... -town.html
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:09 pm

The Strange Case Of The Guardian & Brasil

“If The Guardian was what it purports to be, Brasil Wire wouldn’t need to exist”. The British Newspaper’s coverage serves as a case study of how perception of what happened in Brasil became so distorted internationally.

The Guardian is of course the closest thing that the UK has to a mainstream progressive newspaper, and it had, until relatively recently, a rich history of quality investigative reporting. In the 1970s its coverage of Latin America, with writers the calibre of Richard Gott, was responsible for fixing stories like that of Chile’s in the public consciousness, and with that fuelling solidarity movements for the region’s oppressed peoples, suffering under sub-fascist imperial rule. It continues to host important and talented writers, and publish valuable material, particularly in its comment is free section.

But in 2018 The Guardian is in trouble, financially and editorially. A far cry from the 1970s, it just published a sycophantic eulogy to former US President George HW Bush, whose own CIA oversaw the horrors of Operation Condor.

To get a sense of the mindset now running the Guardian, contrast that of Bush Senior with its sour, dismissive obituary of lifetime champion of human rights, long serving Cabinet Minister and Labour MP Tony Benn, who wrote of the newspaper in 2008: “The Guardian represents a whole batch of journalists, from moderate right to moderate left – i.e. centre journalists – who, broadly speaking, like the status quo. They like the two-party system, with no real change. They’re quite happy to live under the aegis of the Americans and NATO. They are just the Establishment. It is a society that suits them well.”

Earlier in 2018 The Guardian faced criticism for running propagandist advertisements for the Saudi Arabian regime, and is now facing questions over an apparently false article claiming that Trump ally Paul Manafort had visited Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The story was quickly debunked, and the paper is now refusing to answer questions as to how they came to publish such claims without evidence. No other media outlet corroborated the report.

Ex-Guardian writer Jonathan Cook remarked “The Guardian’s coverage of Latin America, especially of populist leftwing governments that have rebelled against traditional and oppressive US hegemony in the region, has long grated with analysts and experts. Its especial venom has been reserved for leftwing figures like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, democratically elected but official enemies of the US, rather than the region’s rightwing authoritarians beloved of Washington.”

It appears that the Guardian operates under editorial influences that go beyond assumed norms; from meetings with HSBC lawyers to decide what information can and can not be published, so as to protect its advertising revenue, to the raid on its premises which resulted in destruction of GCHQ/NSA surveillance documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013. In light of this, how much of what the Guardian reports, especially internationally, can we be confident is being published in good faith?

The newspaper’s historical reputation means it is trusted amongst progressives in Latin America, but nuance is very often lost in translation. Few Anti-Imperialist Brazilians will realise, for example, that the Guardian has supported practically all western military interventions for 3 decades, and based on that, almost certainly would again, should the situation worsen with Venezuela. With an already undistinguished record in the country, the Guardian was caught in 2017 publishing regime-change propaganda on Brazil’s northern neighbour, with some of their Brasil-based writers defending it on social media. Double standards on Venezuela, Honduras, and Brasil are some of the most obvious telltale signs.

Why then, should anyone assume that an exception to their usual blanket support of US/UK foreign policy would be in Brazil? It is uncontroversial that the North Atlantic allies preferred that the Workers Party (PT) were removed from power, for a range of highly obvious strategic and economic reasons, and when viewed as a whole, the Guardian’s coverage of Latin America is in line with foreign policy, even if often discreetly so. NATO have now accepted Colombia as an associate member and are poised to do the same with Brazil. This is not coincidence.

The Guardian and the Coup

As movement towards the 2016 coup progressed, disturbing patterns and anomalies in the Guardian’s reporting emerged. Concerns about repeated and misleading “just the facts” reporting of Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and Lula da Silva’s conviction were amplified by the emergence of serious and damning firsthand accounts of their censoring of key information, and chillingly, material published in the newspaper from unknown persons or entities.

Our own account dates to March 2015, the week of the first organised mass protest calling for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, following her re-election five months prior. We received an email from a Guardian reporter to complain about this critique of international media coverage during the 2014 election. He encouraged us to instead focus on cultural stories, effectively to leave politics to the professionals. This was clearly not a possibility given what was already afoot in the country, and the Guardian’s failure to report it.

With Rousseff facing impeachment, the Guardian then ran a succession of articles over the subsequent year which helped reinforce perception that the Kafkaesque process to remove her was fair and just. “Millions of Brazilians protest horror’ government” the newspaper proclaimed. A profile of Koch-funded far-right Libertarian group MBL -one of the organisers of those protests – allowed its members to claim, unchallenged, that their organisation was sustained financially by the sale of T-Shirts and stickers. MBL’s funding and the Atlas Network to which it belongs, was exposed thanks to this June 2015 investigative report by Agencia Publica, yet Brazil’s Guardian writers were not interested. George Monbiot’s exposure of dark money from the Koch brothers funding Far-Right/”Libertarian” groups in the UK is the kind of journalism the world needs. Yet in 2015 Guardian writers in Brazil knew full well that the same thing was happening here, and they didn’t say a word.

This 2015 profile of Rousseff condescendingly related her personal history of resistance and torture to a political “stubbonness” which was being blamed for Brazil’s situation: “In the 1970s, Rousseff was imprisoned and tortured during the military dictatorship without giving up the names of her comrades in the Marxist underground. Today, however, her unwillingness to engage in debate and build alliances is widely seen as a key factor in a political crisis that has seen her become the most unpopular president since the return of democracy in 1985.”.

This was at best window dressing of the pro-coup narrative in Brazil for a sympathetic foreign audience, and of course there was no suggestion whatsoever of ulterior motive, vested economic interests, lawfare or outside influence; the impression was that impeachment was deserved, and inevitable.

In March 2016, with the first congressional vote on her fate imminent, Guardian’s sister paper The Observer published an editorial which insisted that “Rousseff’s duty is plain: if she cannot restore calm, she must call new elections – or step aside”, and alluded to the threat of military intervention. At this key moment, with international alarm growing at her farcical impeachment, the Guardian/Observer effectively called for Dilma to resign, and endorsed the putschists effort to decapitate the Workers Party leadership. They have never atoned for this historic error, if indeed that’s what it was.

This editorial was followed shortly thereafter by the now infamous headline “The Man Who Could Fix Brazil: country see hope for salvation in Vice President” lauding Rousseff’s usurper, Michel Temer. This piece, written by Latin America editor Jonathan Watts, caused an immediate storm. Even the fiercest critics of Rousseff rarely had any actual faith in her conservative VP as anything more than a means to an end. Hours later the headline was gone, with Watts claiming to have been unaware of it, and to be fair to him, the text was radically different to what the headline and standfirst suggested.


At this point a Brazil-based writer for the paper made contact privately and explained that neither he, nor Jonathan Watts knew who was writing these anti-Rousseff articles and headlines. If those responsible for coverage of Brazil didn’t know, then we must ask who was behind them. This question has never been answered, or even acknowledged.

Coverage of every Anti-Dilma protest contrasted with the Guardian’s rare mention of regular demonstrations and resistance against the coup, a pattern of censorship by omission which continued after Temer took power. This reflected a long term failure, not just on the Guardian’s part, to represent, consult or give regular voice to Brazil’s progressives, unions and social movements, without exoticisation and depoliticisation. In a rare instance when it did acknowledge the resistance movement against the Coup, during the impeachment itself, it did so with a caveat that “many of those protesting didn’t support Dilma or her party”. Even the word Coup, when it appeared at all, was used in scare quotes.

Only once Rousseff was as good as gone did the tone toward her change.

Documented US Department of Justice involvement in the Lava Jato (Carwash) anti-corruption probe is a media taboo, and so effective is self-censorship of it that even the public admission by US Attorney General Kenneth Blanco in 2017, boasting of its collaboration on the operation, and lauding the prosecution of former President Lula, is absent from any coverage of his case in the Guardian. When challenged in a personal conversation on why the US DOJ’s role in the case had not been reported, one of its writers claimed that “the public wouldn’t be interested in that information”.

Throughout Lula’s prosecution, his defence team repeatedly held press conferences in which they explained the case itself, for example, how the original Petrobras graft charges had been removed from it. The Guardian did not seem interested, and rarely if ever attended these events, erroneously including the Petrobras scheme in it’s description of Lula’s imprisonment when the actual charge was “undetermined acts”, related to “corruption” via reforms which never took place, on a beachfront apartment that there was no evidence he ever owned. For this he was jailed for 9 years, vindictively increased to 12 after appeal, and denied habeas corpus only after intervention by a top military general.

How odd, even in terms of basic journalistic curiosity, to be so stubbornly uninterested in new information, not least facts that completely alter perception of the country’s biggest political rupture for decades.

In June 2018, Dilma Rousseff visited the UK, on a tour of universities, trade unions and media outlets. The ousted President gave a two hour interview to the Guardian’s Jonathan Watts, with an editor and others present, in which she described how Lula’s prosecution was “phase two” of the Coup d’etat which removed her, and that it would open the door for the ascension of Neofascist Jair Bolsonaro. For some reason The Guardian did not publish the exclusive interview with the first female leader of Latin America’s largest nation, nor quote Rousseff’s prescient warning.

In contrast, during 2016/17, the Guardian published not one but three letters from the Brazilian Ambassador to the UK, on an international PR drive launched by Temer’s Post-Coup Government, insisting that all was well with democracy in his country.

Background noise

The Guardian and its writers were amongst the first to infer that the protests which swept Brazil in 2013 were in any way “Anti-Dilma”, before they had actually shifted rightward in their character. By failing to properly explain, it also gave the impression that Rousseff herself was culpable for the Military Police violence meted out against the demonstrations. In reality her then likely future adversary, PSDB Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, controlled the Policia Militar. Then Mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad said earlier this year that “we will never know if Alckmin gave the order” for an attack on protesters and journalists, outrage at which turned tens to hundreds of thousands on the streets over the subsequent days.

In 2014 it was the era of ubiquitous “doubts upon the preparedness of Brazil to host the World Cup”, with gruesome tales of violence and anticipated mass protests like those that had happened a year prior. Such predictions of societal collapse during the election year World Cup proved to be an embarrassing failure of foreign media in the country.

In the election that followed, the Guardian threw their weight behind Marina Silva, depicted as the genuinely progressive candidate to beat Workers Party’s incumbent Dilma Rousseff. This was a fairytale version of the evangelical christian and former environmental campaigner, who was bringing with her a similar Neoliberal platform to that of the candidate she went on to endorse, the “Pro Business” Aécio Neves. Neves would refuse to concede defeat, call his supporters to the streets, and vow to make Rousseff’s second mandate ungovernable, with his PSDB party launching the petition for her impeachment, which Marina Silva would support, having lost to her at two successive elections.

Carnaval always provides a picturesque backdrop for any Brazil story. Following Rousseff’s re-election, in 2015 The Guardian had “Brazil scales back Carnival festivities as drought and weak economy persist” Again, feeding the failed state narrative, the paper was doubling down on coverage of the São Paulo water crisis, despite the previous three months having record-breaking rainfall in the affected region. In reality, the 2015 São Paulo Carnaval was the then biggest yet. In pre-coup 2016, feeding the pro-impeachment narrative, the Guardian went with “Brazil’s Carnival lovers face sobering moment as country braces for recession”. In 2017 the Guardian headline on the politicisation of Carnaval suggested that it contained messages of protest towards Dilma Rousseff despite her having been removed from office the previous year.

In 2018, in its sentence-long summary on the zeitgeist-grabbing Tuiuti, the Guardian removed the word Neoliberal from the Samba School’s Vampiric depiction of President Michel Temer – something even Globo didn’t censor. Whilst paying lip-service to the struggle against neoliberal orthodoxy in the North, this is not so in Latin America, and the failed state-friendly “Brazil as monster” was a better fit. A photo of the enormous Bloco Maluco Beleza was used to illustrate a story about a tiny and unrelated extreme-right event celebrating dictatorship-era torturers, and in an earlier Carnaval preview focussed on crime and corruption, they stated simply that “President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in 2016 for breaking budget rules in a corruption scandal”. Just the facts. Repeated emphasis of the “legality & constitutionality” of Rousseff’s removal was the Coup’s very own alibi.

Latin America editor Jonathan Watts was replaced in 2017 by his predecessor Tom Phillips, the two having traded BRICS partners China for Brazil and vice versa. Phillips covered Brazil from 2009-2013, including the first election of Dilma Rousseff.

In 2011, with Rousseff now in office, Phillips published this article on a supposed wave of “anti-establishment” comedians, featuring notorious far-right comic Danilo Gentili. ”Vote for Dilma because she was tortured?” he quipped. “Fuck that. Did I ask her to be?”, “Seriously,” he went on, drawing nervous giggles from the packed audience. “A president has to be smart. If she was caught and tortured, it’s because she was an idiot.” “It was the edgiest moment in an 80-minute monologue – attempting to poke fun at a woman who had been brutally tortured by the dictatorship. But Gentili, 32, a highly controversial but also wildly popular comedian who is blazing a trail for stand-up comedy in South America’s largest nation, is a man who enjoys living on the edge.” gushed Phillips. Accused of misogyny, homophobia, and investigated for racism, Gentili went on to be a vocal advocate of Dilma’s ouster, and one of Neofascist Jair Bolsonaro’s most high profile supporters. In the years prior to his election, Gentili invited him regularly onto his TV chat show “The Night”, whose other guests included a serving UK Ambassador. Ustra, the secret police chief responsible for Rousseff’s two year long torture which included electric shocks to her vagina, was later eulogised by Jair Bolsonaro during his vote for her impeachment. Living on the edge, indeed.

2018 Election

The Guardian’s election coverage began badly, with the headline “Trump of the Tropics“, an inadequate and misleading US-centric comparison, which did more to endorse and popularise Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil than it did discourage potential voters.

There are of course far worse places to read about Bolsonaro. On the pages of the Guardian, there’s no doubt what he is, and it isn’t trying, at least not yet, to make him sound rational, reasonable or competent, such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have attempted; the promise of extreme neoliberalism at the point of a gun in the most resource rich nation on earth is too valuable for them to waste worrying about human rights.

When Brazilian Women brought to the streets one of the biggest anti-fascist mobilisations in history against Bolsonaro, with the so called Ele Não (Not him) protest, despite the candidate’s racism, misogyny, rape apologism, homopobia and calls for genocide, the Guardian’s Tom Phillips felt the need to “both sides” the story. The paper then followed with a focus on the “legitimate concerns” of his female supporters and opponents of feminism.

Election coverage in the Guardian hammered the grim inevitability of a Bolsonaro victory, at one point Phillips claiming on Twitter that he “could not find a single Haddad voter”, despite being on a tour of North and North Eastern regions where Haddad won convincingly. The paper also drew complaints for a dismissive portrayal of Bolsonaro’s progressive adversary. The ostensibly “left liberal” Guardian’s lack of intellectual curiosity or enthusiasm for Brazil’s actual left is strange, and the dismissal of Haddad reinforced the notion that failure and inviability of the left’s choice was the issue – not that the leading candidate had been removed from the race via politically motivated abuse of the law.

As Lula was forced out of the race, Guardian writers were criticised for their attitude towards his replacement Fernando Haddad.


During the election, The Guardian repeatedly used Brian Winter, of Wall Street think tank and lobby, Council of the Americas (AS/COA), as an election pundit. A ghostwriter of autobiographies for Conservative leaders across Latin America, until mid 2015 Winter was head of Reuters Brasil, leaving after a scandal (podemos tirar se achar melhor or “we can remove if you think it best”) where he was accused of censoring an admission that the Petrobras corruption scandal’s roots pre-dated the Workers Party Governments being blamed for it (a narrative used at that time as a justification for Rousseff’s removal). Winter has since acted as an international cheerleader for Operation Lava Jato, and its superstar inquisitor-judge Sérgio Moro, who after jailing Lula and thus preventing him from running in an election he was near guaranteed to win, accepted the position of Justice minister in extreme-right Jair Bolsonaro’s Government. Since its inception in 2014, The Guardian published several lengthy pieces such as this one on Sérgio Moro, Operation Lava Jato, and his task force in right wing stronghold of Curitiba, articles which were of very little interest to anyone outside Brazil.

Winter and Phillips echoed each other’s insistence that Bolsonaro’s election was inevitable, with neither adequately describing how that position came to be (such as is explained here, here, here and here) for example the simplification that the key to his popularity was driven by fear of crime, which ignored statistics that showed he was most popular in the safest areas and least popular in the most dangerous.

The Guardian also called on ex-IMF economist Monica De Bolle, who repeatedly drew false equivalence between Neofascist Bolsonaro and Centre-Left Fernando Haddad during the first round of the election. One of the crowning, yet unheralded achievements of the Workers Party’s time in office was that they repaid the IMF in full, against the lending body’s own wishes, and became a creditor, having accumulated enormous foreign reserves – that were conspicuously never mentioned in any media discussion related to the country’s economic health, at least while Rousseff was in office.

By inviting institutional Neoliberals as if impartial pundits, one of whom’s organisation is bankrolled by Chevron, ExxonMobil and a who’s who of Wall Street, had held closed door meetings with Bolsonaro, is linked to his Finance and Justice ministers, and was actually involved in the 1973 coup in Chile, what are we to conclude about the Guardian?

Pierre Omidyar-financed media platform The Intercept was created as the Guardian refused to publish leaked Snowden documents in a manner that was to founding editor Glenn Greenwald’s satisfaction. Many of the first batch released concerned Brazil, his country of residence, and showed how deeply surveilled Dilma Rousseff’s Government was. How many of those documents remain unpublished that are relevant to Brazil’s current situation, and the US/UK role in it, is anyone’s guess, but The Intercept’s recruitment of Guardian writers during the 2018 election was a disappointing backwards step by a platform which was set up to provide the kind of investigation and analysis that they do not.

Coverage of Brazil in continental Europe did not seem to suffer the same issues as the Guardian and Anglophone media, and Guardian reporters have urged against critique of the media. This, right when it is needed the most. Media criticism provides a membrane through which the public can observe workings of power they may otherwise not perceive. By requesting freedom from scrutiny, they’re asking for the paper trail to be ignored. Progressive media critics are harder on the Guardian because they’re one of the few platforms from which anyone has any expectation at all.

There are clearly questions for the Guardian on Brazil and Latin America as a whole that they ought to answer if they are to preserve any of the dwindling trust shown by a readership which has historically counted on them to inform their view of world affairs. A platform with enormous reach, we hope for the sake of social progress, and the need to confront fascism, that is it is not too late for The Guardian to put its house in order, rebuild its reputation, and give itself honourable purpose. If not, independent progressive media will continue to replace it.

http://www.brasilwire.com/the-strange-c ... an-brasil/
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:10 pm

How The US Left Failed Brasil

Why did the US left media bash a successful democratic socialist party during a right wing coup?

by Brian Mier, Sean T. Mitchell, and Bryan Pitts

On November 29, 2018, the socialist magazine and news site Jacobin co-sponsored a public interview with Fernando Haddad, the 2018 presidential candidate of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT). The former São Paulo mayor and federal education minister was introduced at Manhattan’s People’s Forum by Jacobin’s founding editor, Bhaskar Sunkara. To a packed house, Sunkara praised Haddad and the governments he was part of for designing programs that lifted “millions of people out of poverty… [and gave] millions the chance to have basic access to education and access to higher education. […] The impact of these governments,” he noted, “should not be understated.” Sunkara left no doubt about the significance of the PT governments that held Brazil’s presidency from 2003 to 2016. Despite the parliamentary coup that unceremoniously removed the party from power and Brazil’s subsequent lurch to the far right, he argued that the achievements of the PT in power allow us to “take comfort in the fact that left politics can achieve change and this change can impact millions of people.”

For its over 13 years in the presidency, the PT was successful at “uplifting millions of Brazilians out poverty, seriously expanding social citizenship, and making Brazil a significant international actor,” as was noted in Jacobin in 2018–recognizing the PT’s success at massive reform in one of the world’s most brutally unequal countries. Over the last year, Jacobin and other major outlets of the US left have been clear about the dangers of Brazil’s now president-elect, neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro, and in their admiration for the PT’s historic accomplishments. Shortly after Haddad’s electoral loss, Jacobin even published some of his political writings from “1998 — the peak of neoliberalism,” Haddad noted.

After an electoral defeat to Bolsonaro fueled largely by fake news and blatantly partisan judicial measures against the PT, Brazil’s largest leftist party is now often extolled on the US left for its democratic socialist successes. Yet it is easy to forget what a transformation this was for North American leftist outlets. Reading critiques of the PT in major US left outlets when the party was in power might have led one to believe that 2014, not 1998, was Brazil’s “peak of neoliberalism.” It might have created the impression that the compromises of democratic socialism that frequently win support from those publications when proposed for the Global North are unacceptable capitulations to capital when successfully implemented in the Global South.

During much of the PT’s time in power, most major publications of the US left were presenting a different narrative about the party than the positive one finally embraced in 2018. In this telling, the PT was ineffectual, hopelessly neoliberal, and had demobilized and co-opted the unions and movements of a bitterly divided left. There was some truth in each of those critiques, but they were applied with such wild caricature that the praise the PT is now receiving from those same publications in the wake of its defeat by an ominous neo-fascism is stupefying.

We focus mostly on Jacobin in this essay because it is the publication perhaps most associated with the rise of electorally competitive democratic socialism in the United States and because it so clearly exemplifies the broader trend we identify. Astoundingly, of 38 articles published on Brazilian politics we were able to find in Jacobin from 2014-2017, all 38 presented a negative view of the PT. We write this essay in the hope that the next time powerful sectors of the Global North left are offered the opportunity to show solidarity with democratic socialist success and struggles in the Global South, they will not fail so tragically.

The Myth of the Neoliberal PT

Critique of the PT as neoliberal was particularly hyperbolic during the period from 2014 (as right-wing mobilization gained force in Brazil) through 2017 (well after the parliamentary coup against PT president Dilma Rousseff). For example, in his widely read 2014 book on the politics of Brazil’s World Cup and Olympics, Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, lamented a “popular impression that Lula genuinely cared about the poor—even as he was turning Brazil into a neoliberal paradise.” As impeachment proceedings raged in 2016, a frequent Jacobin author argued that the right was kicking “wide open the doors of neoliberalism opened by the PT itself over the last decade,” while, an article by another frequent contributor stated that “the PT, after all, guided Brazil through Neoliberalization.”

To be sure, the PT engaged in numerous compromises and questionable alliances during its time in power, most significantly the maintenance of the so-called macroeconomic policy, “tripod” of inflation targeting, floating exchange rates, and meeting yearly primary fiscal surplus targets. However, the “tripod” was originally instituted not by the PT, but, in 1999, under the indubitably neoliberal government of PSDB president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. One can find other elements of neoliberal policy during the PT governments—all valid targets of left critique. However, the idea that the PT was straightforwardly neoliberal or, more jarringly, that the party “guided Brazil through neoliberalization” long after neoliberalism’s “peak” in 1998, is a smear that beggars belief. Despite its numerous compromises with neoliberalism, during the PT’s time in power the party pursued policies of wage and benefit increases that helped lift some 40 million people out of poverty, vastly expanded university access for working class and Afro-Brazilian students, extended labor rights to Brazil’s miserably exploited domestic servants and stimulated internal production and consumption of nationally manufactured goods. All this after a prolonged period of neoliberalism and austerity that preceded Lula’s election in 2002.

Why, as the forces behind a parliamentary coup sought to undo these crucial and hard-fought gains, would left wing publications argue that the PT “did nothing to challenge class power or threaten the elite,” that it failed to “make good on its promises of ‘social ascension,’” or that the party was engaged in “ongoing attacks on workers and democratic rights”’—to take a sampling of representative 2014-2017 assertions in Jacobin? Why, as the coup was being consolidated with the transparently political corruption conviction of Lula, and as a 20-year freeze on social spending was written into Brazil’s constitution, would a left wing publication print spuriously that it is “unclear whether a PT government would diverge from the path set by [post-coup president Michel] Temer… neither the party nor Lula has committed to overturning the despicable array of austerity measures and labor reforms implemented by Temer and his cronies”?

A Fetish for the Vanguard

These critiques of the PT put foreign left journalists in a bind. If the party that nearly eliminated hunger, lifted up to 40 million people from poverty, and dramatically expanded higher education for the poor and Afro-Brazilians was made up of neoliberal posers, what happened to the real left?

Fortunately for those who prefer ideological purity to winning elections, Brazil has no shortage of far-left parties with a dizzying array of acronyms – PCB, PSTU, PCO, MAIS, MRT, and more. All of them are very small parties, mostly Trotskyist, and, to a significant degree, middle-class. Alongside their commitment to extreme factionalism, the main characteristic that unites these parties is electoral inviability. In 2018 they managed to elect not one candidate to any office. The only presidential candidate between them, the PSTU’s Vera Lucia, received 55,762 votes (0.05%), or 11th out of 13 candidates.

To read foreign left media, one would never know how irrelevant these parties are. As Jacobin authors were writing off PT as it was besieged from the right, they also extolled these parties for critiquing “the PT’s transformation into a party of order and neoliberal policies” and ascribed them a leading role in an imagined “mass student movement in solidarity with workers [that] could catalyze a wider radicalization and mobilization against […] [PT-led] austerity.”

Still, despite their enthusiasm for these parties, Anglophone left media writers are aware that they are electorally irrelevant. But there is one party to the PT’s left with a moderately successful record – the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), which broke from the PT in 2004. In 2018, PSOL elected 10 federal deputies, its best showing ever, leaving it tied for the 14th-largest party in Congress. It is home to some of Brazil’s best-known leftists, including the country’s only openly gay congressperson, Jean Wyllys; Marcelo Freixo, a Rio de Janeiro state deputy who was nearly elected Rio mayor in 2016; and the globally-revered Rio city councillor, Marielle Franco, assassinated in 2018. Still, outside Rio, where the historic weakness of the PT left an electoral vacuum, the PSOL amounts to a party that performs what Gramsci called a moralist or educational role, with no viable plan to take power. The party is strong among the student movement and academics but is rife with divisions over issues like support for Palestine and Venezuela. Yet it is to the comparatively bourgeois PSOL that Anglophone writers look for the Brazilian left’s salvation. As one writer for Jacobin, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), matter-of-factly explained during a six-month internship with PSOL in 2017, the party is “the most electorally significant left party in Brazil,” a laughable claim, but par for the course.

Amid the resistance to the neoliberal policy onslaught brought by post-coup de-facto President Temer, Jacobin’s writers supported the “socialist left” PSOL as the best alternative to a “ex-left” PT “mired in corruption and embracing of the neoliberal agenda.” In this telling, it was the PSOL and its allied social movements that would spark “a direct confrontation with capital by workers mobilized in their unions and social movements.” Although street mobilizations and general strikes are important tactics for the left, it is unclear why progressive journalists writing in English believed that the PSOL, which has no union federations and only one major social movement – the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST) – allied with it, might be more capable of accomplishing this than the PT, which has close relationships with the country’s largest labor union federation and its largest social movements. Imagine if Jacobin had covered the 2016 US presidential election solely from the perspective of supporters of Jill Stein, ignoring Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters alike; for all intents and purposes, this is what Jacobin did in Brazil from 2014-2017, with its uncritical endorsement of the PSOL.

Despite simplistic analyses of the PT in US-left media, the PSOL itself has a much more nuanced relationship to the party. While PSOL offered principled opposition to the PT’s more conciliatory tendencies while it was in power, the party is in general a faithful ally of the PT in Congress, forcefully opposed the 2016 coup and the imprisonment of Lula, and offered its support to Haddad in the second round of October’s presidential election. To the extent that US left Brazil writers acknowledged this shift in their favorite party, it was primarily to criticize it, through arguing, for example, that, although the PSOL “must do more base-building work to be less of a middle class party,” drawing closer to the PT is not the right way to accomplish that, since “the PT itself has long since abandoned base-building efforts outside of election time.”

The Missing Voice of the Working Class

US left media’s dismissal of the PT in favor of the PSOL and other smaller far-left parties is not an isolated issue. It is emblematic of a systematic rejection of the most important parties and movements on the Brazilian left in favor of smaller groups with far more limited impact but far more expansive claims of ideological purity. Nearly without exception, the parties, unions, and social movements that authors in outlets like Jacobin spurn are the groups with the most organic links to the Brazilian popular classes, while the smaller groups they embrace are characterized by their ties to middle-class academics.

Between 2014 and 2017, most leftist US press misrepresented or ignored Brazil’s largest labor union federation, the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), and its largest social movement, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST). The unions and movements like CUT and MST that make up Brazil’s working-class, organized left have a complex relationship with the PT: at times, antagonistic, but generally supportive. They were a key mobilizing factor in four consecutive PT presidential victories and the 47 million votes for Haddad in 2018. Despite this, nobody in Jacobin talked to them. Why?

In 2017 the CUT led three huge protests against the coup and Temer’s labor and pension reforms: 1) the April 28 general strike, Brazil’s largest ever; 2) the largest protest even held in Brasília, on May 24, which led to a declaration of martial law in the capital; and 3) and the June 30 general strike, which, though smaller than the first, shut down large swathes of over 100 cities. Even as the AFL-CIO displayed solidarity with CUT, Jacobin ran an article that, without citing any source, blamed the CUT for trying to block the April 28 strike that it organized. Then it ignored the May 24 protest and claimed that the June strike “was seen as a complete failure.”

The faulty assumption here is that that CUT was co-opted by the “neoliberal” PT. These claims were ubiquitous in US left media during the crucial period when the right began to undo the gains of prolonged left governance and mobilization. For example, just before Dilma’s impeachment, an article in Jacobin claimed that CUT “maintains a relationship of strong collaboration with the government.” After the coup, another asserted that the PT still “maintains a fierce hold on the unions.” Reading this, one would get the false impression that the CUT’s aim is not fighting for higher wages but defending the PT and allying with whomever is in power. After the coup, in May 2017, one Jacobin author asserted, “Even now […] CUT hesitates to call its base to struggle, always subordinating these mobilizations to the electoral aims of Lula and the PT.” Never mind the millions of workers who had just participated in the April 2017 CUT-organized general strike. When Temer proposed draconian pension reforms, a frequent Jacobin author dismissed CUT’s potential for resistance because it had always been part of a “governista base […] accustomed to negotiating with the devil.”

In 2017, when CUT São Paulo President Douglas Izzo was asked if his union had been co-opted by the PT, he laughed and asked why there are so many CUT led strikes against PT governments. The fact is, despite historical ties with the PT, there is no legal connection between the two entities. Former CUT members continue to make up the largest group within the PT in Congress, but they are required to leave CUT before entering the PT. The position of CUT (legally controlled by its 7 million members through elections and assemblies) as a force behind the PT, not a puppet of the party, is reflected in the Lula administration’s prioritization of job generation and strong wages over neoliberal tenets of wage suppression and labor flexibility. Moreover, despite the claim in Jacobin that “Brazilian unions have been demobilized during the PT’s reign,” strikes steadily increased during the PT years, culminating with 2,050 in 2013.

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) is another key actor of the Brazilian organized left. It was influential in the legalization of homesteading on unproductive or stolen land and, despite constant media opposition and agribusiness violence, has obtained deeds for around 400,000 small farms since the 80s.

In contrast to their disdain for CUT, Jacobin authors seldom directly criticize what David Harvey, in a personal conversation with one of the authors, called “the most perfect social movement in the world.” Rather, they generally ignore the MST. In the one article between 2014 and 2017 that dealt with the MST in any depth, Jacobin ran a previously unpublished seven-year-old interview with Gilmar Mauro, one of the MST’s 52 national directors. Why skip over 7 years of interviews and public statements by Mauro? In the first round of that year’s presidential election, most MST leaders supported PSOL candidate Plínio de Arruda Sampaio. In the Jacobin interview, when Mauro said, “The PT is a party of the established order. […]. It’s actually the best manager of and for capital in the country,” it was reflective of the frustration that many in the organized left felt at the compromises the PT had made. More importantly, this criticism, made during a period when the PT was in power, was in perfect keeping with the message Jacobin’s Brazil contributors were sending about the PT after the coup in 2017.

Running a 2010 interview in 2017, however, obscured shifts in the MST’s relationship with the PT. After Arruda failed to get 1% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, the MST supported Dilma Rousseff. After her victory, they concluded that PSOL didn’t have a feasible plan for taking the presidency and strengthened their critical engagement with the PT. If Jacobin writers had spoken to anyone from the MST during the coup or its aftermath, they would have encountered a nuanced explanation its support for the PT. In a 2017 interview, Mauro said, “We are facing a coup in Brazil […] that aims to take political power and apply a set of regressive measures to cancel what the working class achieved during recent years, […] This is why we are supporting Lula.”

Although MST land occupations dropped during the PT years, the Lula administration created dozens of policies that significantly improved living conditions for family farmers. One example was the Food Acquisition Program (PAA), which mandated that public schools and hospitals in rural areas buy all their food from family farmers. This and other policies help explain why small farmers still produce 70% of food consumed by Brazilians and why, despite many well documented PT compromises with agribusiness, the MST continues to support the PT. Neither CUT nor MST support the PT unconditionally. When they do support the party, it is because of the concrete ways their members’ lives improved under the PT.

The only social movement frequently mentioned in Jacobin during the coup period was the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST), led by 2018 PSOL presidential candidate Guilherme Boulos who, as the son of wealthy São Paulo doctors, is the only prominent Brazilian popular social movement leader who does not come from the working class. This provided disproportionate coverage for the social movement most closely allied to Jacobin’s Brazil writers’ favorite political party, while dismissing Brazil’s largest, most popular social movement and union federation as PT stooges.

Why All the Hate?

Jacobin and other US left outlets presented a one-sided narrative about the PT over many years. In light of that coverage, and in the wake of the PT’s brutal defeat to neo-fascism, it is perplexing to see the party canonized as demonstrating that “left politics can achieve change,” to return to Sunkara’s introduction of Haddad.

There are many important left critiques of the PT, and they are frequently made in Brazil–though usually with more nuance and a greater range of perspectives than have been represented on the US left. Why did US left media eschew listening to different left actors and advancing a more careful analysis? Why did they present such a cartoonishly negative portrait of a left party in power, just as it faced dire threats to achievements in promoting equality that many on the US left can only dream of? We offer a few possible reasons.

First, it seems that ideological perfection, the obligation to push for socialism without consideration of institutional constraints, is a requirement only of Global South governments and political parties. One is tempted to suggest an unconscious colonial exoticism here: If political progress in the Global North must be made through ugly compromise and incrementalism, the tropics are frequently made the site of Global North fantasies of utopia, as Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot has suggested.

Second, it is possible that editors or authors simply misread Brazil in light of the United States. For editors at Jacobin, the de-facto mouthpiece for the “Bernie wing” of the Democratic Party, the DSA, and other factions deemed “far left” in the US context, the narrative of a corrupt, neoliberal institutional party challenged by upstart socialists must have been immediately recognizable. The PT must be the Democratic Party, while the PSOL would have looked like the DSA and Bernie Sanders. But this analogy doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: the PT instituted or expanded policies like race-and class-based quotas in university admissions, public university expansion, conditional cash transfers, wage increases, universal health care, job-creating infrastructure projects, and more. Their policies and priorities are much closer to those of Sanders and the DSA than to the Clintonite Democrats. Indeed, Haddad recently went to Vermont to work on a Progressive International with Sanders; he is not known to have received any invitations from the Clinton Foundation.

Third, perhaps the US left was led astray by positive coverage of Lula in the global financial press. In his critique of the PT, Dave Zirin writes, “Lula, the fire-breathing radical had become a darling of the Economist and Financial Times crowd, who regularly contrasted his leadership with that of the “irresponsible” Chávez.” Just as the existence of the Soviet Union forced capital to accept the rise of social democracy in the Global North, so Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian leftist project caused many non-leftists to support Lula as a safer alternative, including Zirin’s “Economist and Financial Times crowd.” “If the neoliberals at the Economist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and World Bank love Lula, he must be terrible,” we can imagine the thought process proceeding—as logical as it was tragically incorrect.

Fourth, although US left publications could have avoided this pitfall if their editors had listened to a broader cross-section of the Brazilian left, one party, the PSOL, was given the dominant voice. In Jacobin, articles were written almost entirely by authors affiliated with the PSOL, including their two most frequent Brazil contributors. There’s nothing wrong with a journalist preferring any particular left party. But if most of an outlet’s authors who write about one party are affiliated with its biggest leftist rival, might this not slant the coverage? Until 2018, when Jacobin began to make overtures to Haddad as the PT presidential candidate, this key outlet for the US left ignored perspectives on Brazil that deviated from the PSOL platform.

In 2014, right-wing candidate Aécio Neves refused to accept his loss to Rousseff in the presidential election. In 2015, the right organized mass demonstrations, while mainstream Brazilian and foreign media parroted narratives of PT corruption and economic mismanagement. In 2016, Congress impeached Rousseff in a parliamentary coup, and the judicial system ramped up corruption investigations that disproportionately targeted the PT. In 2017, Brazil’s unions and social movement engineered mass protests against Temer’s reforms.

All this time, Jacobin and other US left media outlets repeated the refrains that the PT was neoliberal, that it had abandoned or co-opted labor unions and social movements, and that a far smaller leftist party, the PSOL, was the authentic voice of Brazil’s left. Less important than the degree of truth or falsehood of these accusations was their timing, as the right executed a plan to accomplish judicially what it could not at the ballot box – defeat the PT. The eventual result of the right’s plan was the election of a neo-fascist who has promised to carry out a “cleansing” the likes of which Brazil has never seen, a campaign that has the organized left, the poor, Afro-Brazilians, and indigenous and LGBT people square in its sights.

To their credit, US left media have unequivocally condemned Bolsonaro, and Jacobin is helping lead a solidarity campaign for the PT and Brazilian left. But what if the US left had moderated its criticism earlier to defend the PT against the developing coup? Would there have been greater solidarity with Rousseff? Greater resistance to the Temer government’s attacks on the working class? An earlier recognition of the threat of Bolsonaro? There’s no way to know. But perhaps it’s time for the US left to turn its critical gaze back on itself.

http://www.brasilwire.com/how-the-us-le ... ed-brasil/

This kind of crap is pervasive in US 'left' publications. I am finding the Baltimore based 'In the Now' to be particularly wretched. Channel the people away from what is working with with lies, half-lies, infest them with the infantile disorder.
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

User avatar
Posts: 2258
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle island

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:30 pm

Newly Released 'Integrity Intitiative' Papers Include Proposal For Large Disinformation Campaigns
The person(s) who first published documents of the shady UK organization Integrity Initiative decided that the discussion is about the Initiative is not yet sufficient and published more documents.

The first dump on the Cyberguerilla site happened on November 5. We discussed it here. A smaller dump on November 29 revealed more about the UK government paid Integrity Initiatives influence work in Germany, Spain and Greece. A third dump followed today.

The leaker, who uses the widely abused Anonymous label, promises to publish more:

Well-coordinated efforts of the Anonymous from all over the world have forced the UK politicians to react to the unacceptable and in fact illegal activity of the British government that uses public money to carry out misinformation campaigns not only in the EU, US and Canada but in the UK as well, in particular campaigns against the Labour party.
The Integrity Initiative is now under first official investigation. We promise to give close scrutiny to the investigation that we believe should be conducted honestly, openly and absolutely transparently for the society, rather than become an internal and confidential case of the Foreign Office.
To show our expertise in the investigation as well as to warn the UK government that they must not even try to put it all down to the activity of some charity foundations and public organizations we reveal a part of documents unveiling the true face of The Institute for Statecraft and some information about its leadership.
As the scandal in the UK is gaining momentum, it is ever so striking that European leaders and official representatives remain so calm about the Integrity Initiative’s activity in their countries. We remind you that covert clusters made up for political and financial manipulation and controlled by the UK secret services are carrying out London’s secret missions and interfering in domestic affairs of sovereign states right in front of you.
This is another part of documents that we have on the Integrity Initiative. We do not change the goals of this operation. When we return with the next portion of revelations, names and facts depends on how seriously the UK and EU leaders take our intentions this time.

The dump includes invoices, internal analyses of international media responses to the Skripal affair, the Initiative's operations in Scotland, France and Italy, some strategy papers and various other stuff. There are some interesting bits about the cooperation of the Initiative with British Ministry of Defense. It will take me a while to read through all of it.

The most interesting paper I found so far is:

Comprehensive action proposal (pdf)

A "strictly confidential" proposal by the French company Lexfo to spread the Integrity Initiative's state-sponsored propaganda through an offensive online influence campaigns for a monthly pay per language of €20-40.000. The proposal also includes an offer for "counter activism" through "negative PR, legal actions, ethical hack back, etc." for €50,000 per month.


The offer claims that the company can launch hundreds of "news" pieces per day on as many websites. It notably also offers to "edit" Wikipedia articles.

In short: This proposal describes large disinformation operations under the disguise of fighting alleged Russian disinformation.

It is at the core what the Integrity Initiative, which obviously requested the proposal, is about.

But as we saw in the information revealed yesterday there is more to it. The Initiative, which has lots of 'former' military and intelligence people among its staff, is targeting the political left in Britain as well as in other countries. It is there where it becomes a danger to the democratic societies of Europe.

Posted by b on December 14, 2018 at 02:39 PM | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/n ... paign.html
Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations

Post Reply