Useful and Useless Idiots: Judging Press Reaction to Hersh Expose on "Syria Gas Attack" Narrative

Useful idiots who undermine dissent on Syria 

by Jonathan Cook


3 July 2017

There has been much disingenuous criticism of those, like me, who question why the western corporate media have studiously ignored the latest investigation by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh on Syria.

Hersh had to publish his piece in a German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, after the entire US and UK media rejected his article. There has still been no mention of his investigation more than a week later.

Those who support, either explicitly or implicitly, the meddling in Syria’s affairs by hostile foreign powers are, of course, delighted that Hersh’s revelations are being kept out of the spotlight. They don’t want every side heard, only their side. And those of us who expect all the evidence to be aired, so we aren’t corralled into yet another disastrous “intervention” in the Middle East, are being mischievously denounced as Assad loyalists.

A good example of this kind of wilful misrepresentation is by Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor.


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Dispatches from the Crossroads: Al-Tanaf, Syria

Dispatch From the Middle East: U.S. Buildup All About Iran Requiring an American wedge between Syria and Iraq

by Sharmine Narwani  - American Conservative


June 28, 2017

 

DAMASCUS As the drive to push ISIS out of its remaining territories in Syria and Iraq rapidly advances, the U.S. and its allied forces have entrenched themselves in the southeastern Syrian border town of al-Tanaf, cutting off a major highway linking Damascus to Baghdad.

Defeating ISIS is Washington’s only stated military objective inside Syria. So what are those American troops doing there, blocking a vital artery connecting two Arab allied states in their own fight against terrorism?

 

The above map commissioned
by the author

 

“Our presence in al-Tanaf is temporary,” says Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force of Operation Inherent Resolve (CTFO-OIR), the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS, via phone from Baghdad.
“Our primary reason there is to train partner forces from that area for potential fights against ISIS elsewhere…and to maintain security in that border region.”
Dillon adds for emphasis: “Our fight is not with the (Syrian) regime.”


But since May 18, when U.S. airstrikes targeted Syrian forces and their vehicles approaching al-Tanaf, American forces have shot down two Syrian drones and fired on allied Syrian troops several times, each time citing “self-defense.” In that same period, however, it doesn’t appear that the al-Tanaf-based U.S.-backed militants have even once engaged in combat with ISIS.

 

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Seeing Without Believing: Viewing the Forever War

America at War Since 9/11: Reality or Reality TV?

by Rebecca Gordon - TomDispatch


June 27, 2017

The headlines arrive in my inbox day after day: “U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria killed hundreds of civilians, U.N. panel says.” “Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields.” “The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades.”

There are so many wars and rumors of war involving our country these days that it starts to feel a little unreal, even for the most devoted of news watchers. And for many Americans, it’s long been that way. For them, the meaning of war is closer to reality TV than it is to reality.

On a June day, you could, for instance, open the New York Times and read that “airstrikes by the American-led coalition against Islamic State targets have killed hundreds of civilians around Raqqa, the militant group’s last Syrian stronghold, and left 160,000 people displaced.”

Or you could come across statistics two orders of magnitude larger in learning from a variety of sources that famine is stalking 17 million people in Yemen. That is the predictable result of a Saudi Arabian proxy war against Iran, a campaign supported by the U.S. with weaponry and logistical assistance, in which, according to Human Rights Watch, the U.S. may well be complicit in torture.

You could contemplate the fact that in Iraq, a country the United States destabilized with its 2003 invasion and occupation, there are still at least three million internally displaced people, according to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees; or that more than 411,000 Iraqis remain displaced from their homes in Mosul alone since the Iraqi army launched a U.S.-backed offensive to drive ISIS out of that city last October.

Yes, it’s possible to click on those links or to catch so many other Internet or TV news reports about how such American or American-backed wars are damaging infrastructure, destroying entire health care systems, uprooting millions, and putting at risk the education of whole generations thousands of miles away. But none of it is real for most of us in this country.

 

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Getting Past the Pea Soup: Exorcising the Democratic Party Demons

The Technicolor Swan

by James Howard Kunstler - Clusterfuck Nation

 

June 26, 2017

 

When I think of the Democratic Party these days, the image instantly comes to mind of little Linda Blair playing the demon-possessed child in the classic horror movie, The Exorcist (1973), most particularly the scene in which she spews a stream of pea soup-like projectile vomit into the face of kindly old Max von Sydow, as Father Merrin, the priest come to rescue her.

The pea soup represents the sort of ideology that the Democratic Party has spewed out in recent years — a toxic mush of racial identity politics, contempt for men, infantile entitlement tantrums, corporate whoring, and a demonic quest for war with the Russian Federation. Father Merrin, the priest, stands for incorruptible American men, who have been, at last, killed off by this barrage of diabolical idiocy.

Can you think of a single figure in the Democratic faction who dares to oppose the lethal nonsense this party has been sponsoring and spewing? Who are its leaders? Chuck Schumer in the Senate — a mendacious errand boy for Wall Street? Nancy Pelosi in the House, who wears her cluelessness like a laminate of pancake makeup. Got anyone else? Uncle Joe (Biden)? That’s rich. Bernie? (Looks like his wife is about to be indicted on a federal bank fraud rap for running a small Vermont college into the ground. Whoops.)

Who else you got? Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. I live near Albany, the state capital, and I can assure you that Governor Cuomo is ripely loathed and detested by anyone who has had actual dealings with him. Insiders tell me he makes Nixon look like Mr. Rogers. And this is apart from the fact that he seems to stand for nothing.

 

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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Robert Jensen, Nathalie Chambers, Janine Bandcroft June 28th, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


June 28, 2017

In the sweetest scene of the richest play the English stage offers on the theme of useless, destructive division amongst peoples, Juliet asks, ‘What’s in a name? A rose by any name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d.’

And well that may be for Shakespeare's lovers, but when it comes to the feud dividing the oppositional forces in the less than United States these days, politics on the "left" now seems more, ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, [and] signifying nothing’ where merely finding the right names for the warring rose factions is fraught with confused dissension.

Robert Jensen is an educator, essayist, activist, self-described radical, professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, and proud board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center.

Listen. Hear.

Jensen is too a former journalist, still writing on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology, and author whose book titles include: 'Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully', 'Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue', 'We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out', 'All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice', 'Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity', 'The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege', 'Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity', 'Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream', and his latest is the newly released, 'The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men'.

Robert Jensen in the first half.

And; campaigns to fill the vacant seat of former Saanich councillor, Vic Derman are gaining steam, with a by-election rumoured to be called for sometime in the Fall. The popular, long-serving Derman died last St. Patrick's Day, and among those that would succeed him is Blenkinsop Valley farmer, Nathalie Chambers. It was with Derman's encouragement Chambers and husband, David resurrected the Chambers' family farm, and with help from the community, and The Land Conservancy, ensured Madrona Farm would be a keystone property in maintaining an active agricultural presence within a rapidly diminishing Saanich farmscape.

Nathalie Chambers and hoeing the rows in rural Saanich in the second half.

And; CFUV broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here with a Left Coast Events to bring us up to speed with what's good going in and around here update at the bottom of the hour. But first, Robert Jensen and How Radicals Are Offering Realistic Solutions to Our Spiraling Political Problems.

 

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: https://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
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Beyond Hope: Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the Ground Up

The Democratic Party is beyond hope: We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening


June 23, 2017

 

With the Democratic Party in the hands of Neoliberals and third parties kept off ballots,
progressives need a mass movement strategy.

 

With the Democratic Party in the hands of Neoliberals and third parties kept off ballots, progressives need a mass movement stra

The failure of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to capture the vacant House seat left in a suburban Atlanta district by the Trump nomination of Republican Rep. Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services shows the disastrous state of the Democratic Party.

So beholden is that party to corporate interests that it cannot put up or support any candidate who is willing to challenge its neoliberal paradigm.

The 30-year-old Ossoff tried to win by appealing to the so called “moderate middle” of voters, offering vague promises of economic growth and challenges to President Trump’s policies — for example his attack on the Obama administration’s so-called Affordable Care Act. It was a stupid campaign approach, especially for a special election, when voter turnouts are typically very low and voter enthusiasm is the key.

 

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Just Us? Rejecting Western Pretensions to the Rule of Law

Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice

by Andre Vltchek  - Dissident Voice


June 22nd, 2017

There is a small courthouse from the ‘British era’, standing right in the center of Hong Kong. It is neat, well-built, remarkably organized and some would even say – elegant.

Earlier this year I visited there with an Afghan-British lawyer, who had been touring East Asia for several months. Hong Kong was her last destination; afterwards she was planning to return home to London.

The Orient clearly confused and overwhelmed her, and no matter how ‘anti-imperialist’ she tried to look, most of her references were clearly going back to the adoptive homeland – the United Kingdom.

“It looks like England,” she exclaimed when standing in the middle of Hong Kong. There was clearly excitement and nostalgia in her voice.

To cheer her up even more, I took her to the courthouse. My good intentions backfired: as we were leaving, she uttered words that I expected but also feared for quite some time:

You know, there are actually many good things that can be said about the British legal system.

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Fact-Free Fun with Canadian Foreign Policy

Truth-free, Fact-free Foreign Policy

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice


June 16th, 2017

Lies, distortions and self-serving obfuscations are to be expected when political and business leaders discuss far away places.

In a recent Toronto Star column Rick Salutin observed that “foreign policy is a truth-free, fact-free zone. When leaders speak on domestic issues, citizens at least have points of reference to check them against. On foreign affairs they blather freely.”

Salutin vividly captures an important dynamic of political life. What do most Canadians know about our government’s actions in Afghanistan or Haiti? Most of us have never been to those countries and don’t know anyone living there, from there or even who’ve been there. We are heavily dependent on media and politicians’ portrayals.

But, as I detail in A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation, international correspondents generally take their cue from the foreign policy establishment or diplomats in the field.

 

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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Yves Engler, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Christina Nikolic June 21st, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


June 21, 2017

Welcome to the first day of Summer here in the green and pleasant climes of the western reaches of the country for now called Canada; where the people go about their business, never fearing the sudden eruption of distantly-fired Tomahawk missiles, helicopter-delivered barrel-bombs, gas rocket attacks, or rat-a-tat-tat of automatic gunfire.

Despite the placid demeanor of the place and people within though, it is not a perfect peace.

Two weeks ago, Canadians were reminded of the true peril that lay just beneath the deceptively calm surface of our civic existence with the release of 2017's Defence Policy Review, a document my first guest describes as including: "a significant increase in lethal fighter jets and secretive special forces, as well as enhancing offensive cyber-attack capabilities and purchasing armed drones."

Not to mention a massive minimum expenditure increase of more than $62 billion over the next twenty years.

 

Listen. Hear.

Yves Engler is a Montréal-based activist, lecturer, and author whose book titles include: ‘The Ugly Canadian — Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy,’ ‘Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping — The Truth May Hurt,’ ‘The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy,’ ‘Canada in Africa — 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation,’ and his latest, ‘A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.’ In a recent Rabble.ca article, Engler called for opposition to both the spirit and specifics of the so-called "Trudeau Doctrine" but is there anyone left around here to do so?

Yves Engler in the first half.

And; as the World, thanks to the muscular military mentality so elegantly elucidated by our princely PM's Foreign Affairs ministry, hurtles towards an Armageddon-like conflagration in the Middle East, there are still people imploring we clever hominids take heed the better angels of our nature and move the species clear, away from abyss' rim.

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is founder of the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University, past chairman of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, and a tireless social justice campaigner whose main civic interests lie in media activism and public education. To that end, he has given hundreds of talks around the world, and is even now in the middle of a tour of the United States encompassing Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Texas, from where we'll reach him today. Mazin’s e-book on human rights activism, ‘Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle,’ is available from his website, Qumsiyeh.org.

Mazin Qumsiyeh talking to Americans in the second half.

And; horticultural guru and intrepid green entrepreneur, Christina Nikolic will join us at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events update, bringing us up to speed with some of the good things planned in and around our town for the coming week. But first, Yves Engler and who's left to complain about Canadian militarism?

 

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: https://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

 

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US Downing of Syrian Jet Draws Warnings from Russia, Syrian Government

NUDGING TO WAR: U.S. Shoots Down Syrian Army Fighter Jet

by 21st Century Wire


June 19, 2017

 

Yesterday a US F/A-18E Super Hornet reportedly shot down a Syrian Army SU-22 jet near the village of Rasafah, south of Raqqa. Washington claims it was an act of ‘collective self-defense’ because the Syrian jet had dropped bombs “near US-backed forces.”

Syrian officials in Damascus deny US claims, stating their plane was downed while conducting a strike on an ISIS position. Damascus described the US “act of aggression” in Syria airspace as an “attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies… in fighting terrorism across its territory.” Adding,

 

“This comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting the [ISIS] terrorist group.”
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Handel's Jim Crow Iron Fist in Georgia's 6th Congressional District

Democracy Now reporter assaulted for exposing Jim Crow tactics in Ossoff-Handel race

by Greg Palast for the Thom Hartmann Show and Democracy Now!


June 15, 2017

I was in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to investigate strange doings in the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel (who received an endorsement—and kiss on the lips—from President Trump). Handel was happy as a Smurf doll when I asked her if the Democrats were stealing the election. ("They’re pulling out all the stops!!")

But when I asked about Republican Jim Crow tactics I’d uncovered, it got real ugly. First, a deep-fry-bloated goon jumped between me and the candidate then pushed me backwards. A second grabbed my arm while a third started muscling me around. Wow! And only because I asked—quite politely—if in her prior post as Georgia’s Secretary of State, she’d cleansed the voter rolls of voters of color.
 

 

Watch the 8-minute broadcast—and get a full blast of weird.

 

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"Training" a Kinder Genocide Hand in Yemen

Feed the Hungry, Treat the Sick: A Crucial Training

by Kathy Kelly - CounterPunch


June 16, 2017

On June 15, 2017, the New York Times reported that the government of Saudi Arabia aims to ease the concerns of some U.S. legislators over U.S. weapon sales to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis plan to engage in “a $750 million multiyear training program through the American military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.”

Since entering the war in Yemen, in March of 2015, the Saudi coalition’s airstrikes, with U.S. assistance, have destroyed bridges, roads, factories, farms, food trucks, animals, water infrastructure, and agricultural banks across the north, while imposing a blockade on the territory. For a country heavily dependent on foreign food aid, that means starving the people. At least seven million people suffer now from severe acute malnourishment.


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