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The Propaganda Is Working: Trump Voters Call MS-13 a 'Serious' Threat to the US — But That's Simply Not True

July 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Hunter, Daily Kos

Trump voters now overwhelmingly believe the peddled notions about this group few of them ever heard of, before this year, and that is a testament to the power of the white nationalist propaganda machine whirring away within the White House walls.


Donald Trump's support is based on racism. And the racism is based on Republican conspiracy theories. And those conspiracy theories are now, thanks to White House propaganda, taking root within his racist, gullible base.

A majority of people who voted for President Donald Trump consider criminal gang MS-13 a threat to the United States, a new poll finds, indicating the Trump administration may be succeeding in inflating the perception of the gang’s national risk.

Specifically, 85 percent of Trump voters call MS-13 a “very” or “somewhat” serious threat to the United States, and roughly half of them are worried MS-13 is going to target them or their families personally, which is a ludicrous, asinine theory based entirely on Trump-peddled propaganda. Before Trump's team settled on “MS-13″ as their stand-in for Violent Ethnic People Coming To Get You, it would be a fair bet to say that precious few among Trump's base would even know what MS-13 was. Now half of them are worried that MS-13 is hiding under their floorboards.

To make it clear, yet again, while there is a violent gang called MS-13 and has been for a few decades now, the current incarnation is largely a collection of disconnected teenagers whose lofty ambitions primarily revolve around menacing their schoolmates, not entire U.S. towns. They are not increasing their membership, have no central structure or leadership, have no substantive role in drug or human trafficking, and primarily target young Latinos. Those are their primary victims, not lily white Trump supporters breathlessly flipping through Republican fundraising emails.

Everything else is a hoax. The vision of a paramilitary entity known as “MS-13″ capturing and losing American towns, the notion that this violent but scattered group is a meaningful presence on the border in any capacity, and all the rest of it is a hoax crafted by white nationalists in the White House and racist …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil

July 21, 2018 in Blogs

By David A. Walsh, Washington Monthly

Since the 1950s, the conservative movement has justified bad behavior—including supporting Donald Trump—by persuading itself that the left is worse.


If you spend any time consuming right-wing media in America, you quickly learn the following: Liberals are responsible for racism, slavery, and the Ku Klux Klan. They admire Mussolini and Hitler, and modern liberalism is little different from fascism or, even worse, communism. The mainstream media and academia cannot be trusted because of the pervasive, totalitarian nature of liberal culture. 

This belief in a broad liberal conspiracy is standard in the highest echelons of the conservative establishment and right-wing media. The Russia investigation is dismissed, from the president on down, as a politicized witch hunt. George Soros supposedly paid $300 to each participant in the “March for Our Lives” in March. (Disclosure: I marched that day, and I’m still awaiting my check.) What is less well appreciated by liberals is that the language of conspiracy is often used to justify similar behavior on the right. The Russia investigation is not just a witch hunt, it’s the product of the real scandal, which is Hillary-Russia-Obama-FBI collusion, so we must investigate that. Soros funds paid campus protestors, so Turning Point USA needs millions of dollars from Republican donors to win university elections. The liberal academic establishment prevents conservative voices from getting plum faculty jobs, so the Koch Foundation needs to give millions of dollars to universities with strings very much attached.

This did not begin with Donald Trump. The modern Republican Party may be particularly apt to push conspiracy theories to rationalize its complicity with a staggeringly corrupt administration, but this is an extension of, not a break from, a much longer history. Since its very beginning, in the 1950s, members of the modern conservative movement have justified bad behavior by convincing themselves that the other side is worse. One of the binding agents holding the conservative coalition together over the course of the past half century has been an opposition to liberalism, socialism, and global communism built on the suspicion, sometimes made explicit, that there’s no real difference among them. 

In 1961, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Wall Street Journal Hammers 'Out of Touch' Trump Economic Adviser Peter Navarro for Trashing the US Economy

July 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

Under an ominous headline that reads “The Trade Casualties Mount,” the editorial board laid out the case on the toll the Trump tariffs are taking on U.S. economic growth.


The editors of the very conservative and very business-oriented Wall Street Journal have taken President Donald Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro to the woodshed for pushing the president's tariffs that is having a devastating effect on U.S. manufacturers.

Under an ominous headline that reads “The Trade Casualties Mount,” the editorial board laid out the case on the toll the Trump tariffs are taking on U.S. economic growth.

“President Trump is escalating his trade rhetoric, threatening China and Europe with more tariffs on more goods if they don’t agree to his terms. Mr. Trump says winning these trade wars is 'easy,' so let's take a look at the early returns on his steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliation they’ve inspired,” the editorial began.

“Consider Alcoa , the top U.S. aluminum manufacturer whose shares plunged 13% Thursday and another 3% Friday after the company reported that tariffs are crimping earnings,” the piece explained. “The tariffs could wipe out $100 million of income this year, equal to about 18% of profits last year. 'Tariffs will not solve the challenges facing the aluminum industry,' Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey said on an earnings call.”

Noting, “…many businesses are delaying investments in the U.S. because of the uncertainty caused by the tariffs,” with one pipeline manufacturer announce this past week that they have “frozen [their] plans to invest $75 million in expanding production” in a Texas town, the Journal then called attention to Navarro's dismissive wave at U.S. economic chaos.

“Meanwhile, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNBC on Thursday that the damage from the trade war so far is no big deal,” the WSJ reported, quoting him as saying, “We got two economies that add up to around $30 trillion in annual GDP. The amount of trade we’re affecting with the tariffs is a rounding error compared to that.”

“All of this and more are examples of the real and growing damage that Mr. Trump’s arbitrary and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's New Attack on Lawyer Michael Cohen Was a 'Terrible Idea' That Will Blow Up in President's Face: Trial Attorney

July 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Bob Brigham, Raw Story

While spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, President Trump accused his former attorney, Michael Cohen, of “perhaps illegal” behavior by recording a conversation with Trump during which the two reportedly discussed a hush money payment.


Preeminent attorney Shanin Specter suggested that President Donald Trump’s Saturday morning Twitter attack on his former fixer, Michael Cohen, could blow up in his face.

While spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, 

 
 

Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are…..

 
 

“Is there not now a public war between the two?” asked CNN host Michael Smerconish.

“Yes, Mike, there appears to be,” Specter answered. “This is a very surprising tweet from the president this morning where he suggests his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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After Warning of 'Large and Painful Military Operation,' Israel Begins Massive Bombing of Gaza

July 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“Israeli snipers shoot and kill scores of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including kids, then calls it self-defense. When a Palestinian sniper fires at one Israeli soldier, Israel bombs Gaza with F-16s and preps for all out war.”


Just hours after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that Israel is gearing up to launch a “large and painful military operation” in Gaza that would rival Operation Protective Edge—a 2014 assault that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians—the Israeli military carried out “wide-scale” airstrikes across Gaza on Friday following weekly anti-occupation protests along the border fence.

 

The airstrikes began to slam Gaza just hours after Israeli soldiers gunned down at least three Palestinians during anti-occupation demonstrations. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says one of its soldiers was killed by retaliatory gunfire from the Palestinians.

 

“Palestinian defense forces fired back at Israeli snipers who have been murdering Palestinian men, women, and children for weeks,” noted journalist Ali Abunimah.

Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, added: “Israeli snipers shoot and kill scores of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including kids, then calls it self-defense. When a Palestinian sniper fires at one Israeli soldier, Israel bombs Gaza with F-16s and preps for all out war.”

In response to Israel's “massive” wave of airstrikes, activists began circulating the #StoptheWar hashtag in an effort to pressure the international community to step in and stop Israel's efforts to launch yet another catastrophic assault on the “occupied, blockaded, unlivable, and exhausted Gaza Strip.”

 

Munayyer of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights argued in a tweet on Friday that the airstrikes are a deliberate escalation that is merely a precursor to a broader military attack on Gaza.

“Israel has been planning another war on Gaza for some time. They recently conducted exercises, declared Friday as an ultimatum day, and the Americans to wrote a WaPo oped to open the Israeli propaganda campaign,” Munayyer noted, referring to an opinion piece co-authored by White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, which blames Hamas for Israel's brutal decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory.

“Seems Israel …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Who Owns the Moon? A Space Lawyer Explains

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony?


Most likely, this is the best-known picture of a flag ever taken: Buzz Aldrin standing next to the first U.S. flag planted on the Moon. For those who knew their world history, it also rang some alarm bells. Only less than a century ago, back on Earth, planting a national flag in another part of the world still amounted to claiming that territory for the fatherland. Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony?

When people hear for the first time that I am a lawyer practicing and teaching something called “space law,” the question they ask most frequently, often with a big smile or a twinkle in the eye, is: “So tell me, who owns the moon?”

Of course, claiming new national territories had been very much a European habit, applied to non-European parts of the world. In particular the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French and the English created huge colonial empires. But while their attitude was very Europe-centric, the legal notion that planting a flag was an act of establishing sovereignty quickly stuck and became accepted worldwide as part and parcel of the law of nations.

Obviously, the astronauts had more important things on their mind than contemplating the legal meaning and consequences of that planted flag, but luckily the issue had been taken care of prior to the mission. Since the beginning of the space race the United States knew that for many people around the world the sight of a U.S. flag on the Moon would raise major political issues. Any suggestion that the moon might become, legally speaking, part of U.S. backwaters might fuel such concerns, and possibly give rise to international disputes harmful to both the U.S. space program and U.S. interests as a whole.

By 1969, decolonization may have destroyed any notion that non-European parts of the world, though populated, were not civilized and thus justifiably made subject to European sovereignty – however, there was not a single person living on …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Anti-Gay Congressman’s Bill Would Ban US Embassies from Flying LGBT Pride Flag

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Some U.S. embassies have continued the tradition of honoring LGBT Pride even during the Trump years.


A Republican U.S. Congressman from South Carolina wants to make sure America's embassies around the world don't promote equality or recognize Pride month. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina has filed a bill that would ban U.S. embassies from flying the LGBT pride flag.

During the Obama administration many U.S. embassies around the world opted to fly the rainbow flag during June, the official month of LGBT Pride. President Donald Trump for two years in a row has refused to issue any declarations honoring Pride month.

“The United States flag is the single greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known, and there’s no reason for anything but Old Glory to be flying over our embassies and posts around the globe,” Duncan said in a statement, the Washington Examiner reports.

Some U.S. embassies have continued the tradition of honoring LGBT Pride even during the Trump years, prompting Rep. Duncan, an ardent anti-gay activist, to file his bill.

Rep. Duncan has ties to the far right wing of the Republican party, and even accepted an award from an anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council.

Duncan is on record as opposing same-sex marriage and even claims that state laws supersede federal laws on marriage, which is false. He also believes those who hold anti-gay positions should be federally protected.

The South Carolina Republican Congressman was roundly mocked earlier this year when he falsely claimed the First Amendment applied to Facebook, and demanded conservatives' free-speech rights be “restored.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's Team Is Terrified He Sabotaged His Mueller Defense Strategy by Cozying Up to Putin: Report

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Even many Republicans criticized the president's performance.


President Donald Trump's supplicatory performance with the Russian president at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday did nothing to help his argument that he's not in Vladimir Putin's pocket — and a new report from CNN found that his legal team fears it may have done him real damage on the legal front.

According to the report, the president's team has felt confident about his standing in recent weeks against special counsel Robert Mueller as public support for the Russia investigation has dropped. But after Trump's widely panned meeting with Putin, he's likely on shakier ground with the former FBI director.

“[One] source with knowledge of legal team thinking says it's now legitimate to fear that Trump's erratic behavior at the Helsinki summit, coupled with last week's indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers, could be an inflection point in the whole process — one that could potentially make Trump less sympathetic and conceivably embolden Mueller,” reporter Dana Bash and Gloria Borger wrote.

The president's team continues its negotiations about whether Trump will sit for an interview, but it's not clear the two sides have really made any progress. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said the president is only willing to meet if the scope of the questioning is narrowed — and he has repeatedly expressed concern that Trump will commit perjury.

Mueller may eventually decide to subpoena president, which could trigger a major legal battle over constitutional matters.

But the special counsel hasn't pulled the trigger yet.

“One question being raised inside Trump's team is whether Mueller is now slow-walking the interview talks as he rolls out indictments, as he did last week against a dozen Russian nationals,” according to CNN. “The thought is that maybe Mueller wants to show they have more of an established record before moving in any way on Trump.”

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Roger Stone Ally 'Manhattan Madam' Kristin Davis Is Reportedly Being Subpoenaed by Mueller

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The Russia investigation appears to be zeroing in on Roger Stone.


Kristin Davis, a long-time associate of Roger Stone known as the “Manhattan Madam,” is being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to multiple reports.

TMZ first reported the news, and NBC News later confirmed it.

Davis told NBC that she knows nothing about the special counsel’s Russia investigation, though she admitted to having ties to Stone, who was an ally of Trump during the 2016 election.

Other associates of Stone have been subpoenaed by the Mueller team, including Sam Nunberg, who worked on the Trump campaign. Nunberg has said he believes Mueller is going after Stone.

Stone has said he has not yet been interviewed by Mueller, which legal experts believe indicates he is likely a target of the ongoing investigation. Stone has admitted to being in contact during the campaign with Guccifer 2.0, who Mueller’s team revealed to be a false identity for Russian intelligence officers who hacked Democrats’ emails and intervened in the 2016 election.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Russia Was Just the Beginning: Here's How Social Media Became Infested with 'Computational Propaganda' Designed to Control Society

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“Social media manipulation is big business.”


While much of the world's attention is currently centered on efforts by Russian operatives to sow discord among the American electorate with fake social media posts and “troll farms” during the 2016 presidential election, an Oxford Internet Institute study published Friday found that use of social media by governments looking to “spread junk information and propaganda to voters” has become a global phenomenon.

“Social media manipulation is big business,” the researchers found. “We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are being spent on social media manipulation campaigns, involving tens of thousands of professional staff.”

While there is nothing new about political parties and governments using disinformation to manipulate elections at home and abroad, the Oxford researchers note that the massive, easily accessible, and lightly regulated platforms offered by Facebook and Twitter have become enormously powerful tools in the hands of political actors, who have used social media to kick their propaganda campaigns into overdrive and cast doubt on science and public institutions.

“Although closely related to some of the  dirty tricks and negative campaigning we might expect in close races (and which have always played a part in political campaigning ), what makes this phenomenon unique is the deliberate use of computational  propaganda to manipulate voters and shape the outcome of elections,” the study notes.

In 30 of the 48 countries examined, Oxford researchers discovered “evidence of political parties using computational propaganda during  elections or referenda. In emerging and Western democracies, sophisticated data analytics and political bots are being used to poison the information environment, promote skepticism and distrust, polarize voting constituencies, and undermine the integrity of democratic processes.”

Despite recent efforts by Facebook, Twitter, and governments to rein in the proliferation of fake stories on social media, Oxford researchers found that the use of bots to quickly spread disinformation is growing exponentially.

“We actually found 38 countries used bots last year, compared with 17 in the year before,” Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute and co-author of the new study, told McClatchy.

“Social media have gone from being the natural infrastructure for sharing collective grievances and …read more

Source: ALTERNET