You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 05.

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Here's Why the Mainstream Media Should Stop Giving Extreme Views a Platform

August 5, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Many people have criticized the BBC for inviting alt-right ideologue Steve bannon on to Newsnight.

In recent weeks, a number of quite astounding articles have appeared in the British press. These have included among others, a Times columnopining the benefit to Britain in the current climate of having a political leader like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; referred to as “strongmen”. In the Daily Telegraph, a similarly toned piece contemplated the reinstatement of the death penalty after Brexit.

Somewhat appealing to the lowest common denominator, these and similar articles prompt questions about the extent to which Britain’s mainstream media is shifting towards the right of the political spectrum. Even more worrying is the extent to which it is “normalising” extreme right-wing ideas and ideologies.

I guess timid Neville Chamberlain should have learned from strongmen like Franco, Mussolini and Hitler. At least they got things done.

Shocking fascist apologia from @ClareFoges of @thetimes.

— SEAN  (@esseeeayeenn) July 24, 2018

A recent Sunday Times article by Andrew Gilligan referred to “hipster fascists” with their penchant for New Balance trainers and skinny jeans. So their views might be out where the buses don’t run, but at least they have a decent dress code.

It’s not just the print media. Mainstream broadcasters have been giving significant airtime to various prominent far-right identities. These have included the former Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss the release of Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the anti-Islam English Defence League, on bail after winning an appeal against a contempt of court conviction. Meanwhile Ezra Levant, Robinson’s former employer at the Canadian far-right website Rebel Media, appeared on BBC 5 Live’s Breakfast Show.

Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News and Donald Trump’s former strategy guru, was invited onto LBC and told Nigel Farage: “I don’t think Robinson’s a bad guy. I think he’s a solid guy and I think he’s got to be released from prison.” This followed an extensive interview with BBC Newsnight in May.

It is worth noting that prior to his conviction, Robinson himself was …read more


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QAnon Conspiracy Nuts Freak Out After HBO's Bill Maher Ridicules Their Bonkers Theories

August 5, 2018 in Blogs

By Taylor Link, Salon

People who've attended Trump's recent rallies have shown up with signs and t-shirts that promote Q and “The Great Awakening,” a nod to the rising awareness of pedophile rings orchestrated by Hollywood celebrities.

HBO's “Real Time” returned Friday night after a month hiatus. Host Bill Maher came back from vacation to find the country in bigger disarray than he could have imagined.

One new phenomenon that popped up last week was the emergence of QAnon in the national discourse. QAnon is a running conspiracy theory made popular by an anonymous online figure named Q. According to The Daily Beast, Q began posting on anonymous internet forums 4Chan and 8Chan in late 2017. The person or group behind the Q persona claim to have top-level security clearance in the federal government. Q has surfaced, supposedly, to whistleblow a monstrous worldwide criminal conspiracy that portrays high-profile Democrats as pedophiles and President Donald Trump the liberator of vulnerable children.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To no surprise, Trump fans latched onto the conspiracy and have used the narrative to justify their distrust in the media. People who've attended Trump's recent rallies have shown up with signs and t-shirts that promote Q and “The Great Awakening,” a nod to the rising awareness of pedophile rings orchestrated by Hollywood celebrities.

Maher attempted to explain all this to his studio audience in Los Angeles on Friday.

“This is a big movement on the right. See, we don’t hear about these things because we’re not crazy,” Maher said near the end of his monologue. “Q is a person—a member of the ‘deep state,’ way high up in the ‘deep state’—but now he’s turning on them, and he’s revealing that the world is run by a giant pedophile ring. Really. Every president since Reagan has been part of it.”

“You know who’s a pedophile? Tom Hanks. Steven Spielberg,” Maher revealed. “And who’s gonna stop this? Trump. Because who’s more qualified to stop pedophilia than the creep who used to walk in on Miss Teen USA pageants?”

“He wasn't being a creep. He was looking for pedophiles,” Maher joked.

Maher's reference …read more


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The Power of Neil Young’s 'Ohio' in 2018: Why the Kent State Protest Anthem Remains So Relevant

August 5, 2018 in Blogs

By Annie Zaleski, Salon

Artists from Jason Isbell to Gary Clark Jr. keep song about 1970 state-sponsored violence rooted in the present

At last weekend's Newport Folk Festival, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's Friday set featured a marquee special guest: David Crosby, who performed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's “Ohio” with the band. Isbell has covered the song before in concert multiple times, but this version unsurprisingly had extra grit and exuded a grimmer tone that was mesmerizing. Isbell and Crosby's harmonies were weary but wise, and the performance's multiple-electric guitar approach added tenacity. It didn't feel like a song nearing 50 years old; it was vital contemporary commentary.


Later in the weekend, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark, Jr. and Jon Batiste gathered to do their own live cover of “Ohio.” In contrast to the version performed by Isbell and Crosby, the trio's take on the song was sparse, driven by hypnotic vocal harmonies, ominous percussion and sinewy guitar. This “Ohio” was closer in tone to the studio version of the song they released in 2017 as part of a Spotify playlist called “Echoes of Vietnam” — and it was just as moving and meaningful as Isbell and Crosby's take, as it amplified the song's mournful underpinnings and smoldering grief.

“This is something I’ve always dreamed of, coming together with these guys,” The New Yorker quoted Clark, Jr. discussing the song. “It’s powerful. Three young black men coming together and making good music and making a statement.”

That both groups of musicians chose the Newport Folk Festival to reprise “Ohio” was perfect, as activism has been an intrinsic part of the event's DNA since its inception. In fact, you might say that Newport has strived to amplify those pushing for social change since day one. In 1963, a performance of “We Shall Overcome” featured every musician at the fest, including the Freedom Singers, a quartet whose music anchored the civil rights movement, while in 2017, a “Speak Out” set highlighted modern activism and political protest in a post-Trump world.

But the very act of covering “Ohio” …read more


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The Next Great American Novel Will Be a Video Game

August 5, 2018 in Blogs

By Jason Rhode, Salon

Welcome to the rapture

I feel a pang of pain to admit that the next Great American Novel will probably be a videogame. Indeed, as a booklover, this statement is an abomination to me. But the same airs which make me build altars to “Moby Dick” force my hand.

Before I continue, I should note that I am not a gamer. And I am especially not an advocate for gamer culture. But most Americans are passionate about, and pore over, video games. (Pew reports that half of all Americans in 2015 played video games, a number that’s likely risen since.) Little wonder: they're enjoyable and extremely engaging, to the point that the UN called video game addiction a public health crisis. Contrast this with books: 24% Americans read no books last year. Why is that? Booklovers might say it's because games are easier, and reading is hard. The best games are easy-at-hand, commodified opiates, and will never ascend the majestic throne of literature, or so us bibliophiles tell each other.

But what if we're wrong? What if the new Great American Novel isn't a story on pages, but something like “Mass Effect,” the third-person shooter game that is the video game equivalent of a pulpy bestselling Tom Clancy thriller?

Yet what makes this particular question — as to what the next Great American [Insert Art Form here] is, and whether it will displace the Great American Novel — so interesting is that it is not an artistic question, but a technological one. The notion of virtuosity is forever wedded to a question of format, and format is dictated by technology. Artistic merit is a tower raised on a foundation, and that foundation is called a container.

The vessel comes first

Legendary music producer Brian Eno once said that “two things that really make for good records: deadlines and small budgets,“ and the choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote in her book, “whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources.” If you think I'm racing towards a point here, correct. Creativity is about limits. The larger context is social, …read more


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Trump Lashes Out and Declares 2016 Meeting Between Don Trump Jr and Russians 'Totally Legal and Done All the Time'

August 5, 2018 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

Reacting to a report that he is concerned about the fate of Don Trump Jr., Trump dismissed the news as “Fake news reporting” in his tweet.

Continuing his early morning Twitter frenzy, President Donald Trump defended his oldest son's meeting with Russia officials at Trump Tower in 2016 as “totally legal” and nothing out of the ordinary in political campaigns.

Reacting to a report that he is concerned about the fate of Don Trump Jr., Trump dismissed the news as “Fake news reporting” in his tweet.

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump tweeted. ” This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

According to a Washington Post report, “Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people” — namely Trump Jr., who is under scrutiny by Mueller for his role organizing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promisig dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

The report adds, “As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal jeopardy.”

You can see Trump's Twitter response below:


…read more


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America Should Oppose China's Economic Imperialism

August 5, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

China’s escape from the Cultural Revolution and adoption
of markets were expected to yield a double benefit for the West.
Chinese economic growth would both fuel global development and
moderate Beijing’s political objectives. Over time the
People’s Republic of China would become deeply and firmly
integrated in the international order, and economic liberty would
encourage political reform.

But that isn’t the result we see today from the
PRC’s transformation. Xi’s government appears headed
for personal dictatorship and totalitarian control. Presidential
term limits are gone, Western values are vilified, censorship is
intensified, surveillance is expanded, political education is
revived and controls over private companies are multiplied.
Xinjiang suffers under nightmarish repression. A system of
“social credit” brings to mind 1984 as Beijing will be
empowered to target any of 1.3 billion people for behavior deemed
threatening or simply inappropriate. For instance, someone who even
hints that they desire democracy or liberty won’t be able to
purchase a train ticket.

No longer is the PRC satisfied with oppressing its own people.
The central government is extending its control over Hong Kong, a
supposedly autonomous Special Administrative Region. Xi’s
government also is intensifying pressure on Taiwan, with the
objective of swallowing the effectively independent—though
largely unrecognized—state.

Beijing is forcing U.S.
companies to not mention Taiwan. This has to change.

Perhaps even more problematic for the United States, Beijing is
using its economic clout to conscript American firms as part of the
PRC’s political campaigns. China long traded access to its
market for access to Western technology. But President Xi Jinping
has added a new dimension, threatening to penalize foreign firms
which do not help isolate Taiwan by treating the island nation as
if it was part of China.

Beijing long has insisted on a “One China” policy
when it comes to diplomatic recognition. Chiang Kai-shek’s
Nationalist government, defeated by the Chinese Communist Party on
the mainland, moved to the island of Taiwan, from which
Kai-shek’s Republic of China claimed to be the rightful
government for all of China. Few believed this fiction, but
Washington encouraged countries to try to quarantine the new
communist regime.

The Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the PRC
after Mao Zedong declared the new nation on October 1, 1949.
Moscow’s Eastern European satellites followed. India was the first
non-communist nation to recognize Beijing. Switzerland was the
first Western state to do so.

The PRC picked up additional recognitions at a modest rate,
which accelerated with Africa’s decolonization. After
Washington allowed the PRC to take over the “China”
seat at the UN in October 1971, many Western governments shifted
their recognition to Beijing. The United States finally did so in
1979. Furthermore, in recent …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Duncan Hunter Should Stop Supporting the Jones Act and Sink This Rusted-Out Hulk of a Law

August 5, 2018 in Economics

By Colin Grabow

Colin Grabow

Americans who wonder how bad laws and boondoggle government
programs manage to persist year after year need look no further
than Rep. Duncan Hunter’s example. Hunter is one of Congress’s
leading advocates for special interests in the country’s maritime
industry. And few issues are dearer to this industry’s heart than a
nearly 100-year-old law called the Jones Act.

Formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act
mandates that the domestic transportation of waterborne cargo be
performed by vessels that are U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed,
U.S.-owned, and U.S.-built. Vessels produced in U.S. shipyards,
however, cost as much as eight times more than equivalent ships
constructed overseas. Paired with reduced competition from these
restrictions, the Jones Act results in artificially-inflated
transportation costs for the goods American consumers purchase.

Americans would rebel if domestic airlines were forced to
purchase U.S.-built planes or trucking firms were denied access to
imported vehicles, knowing full well the result would be higher
prices. Yet the Jones Act persists, decade after decade, in large
part because of the unflinching support offered by legislators such
as Rep. Hunter to the special interests that benefit from reduced
competition and increased costs to consumers.

The Jones Act results in
artificially-inflated transportation costs for the goods American
consumers purchase.

Although he has long been a reliable acolyte for rent-seeking
beneficiaries of the Jones Act, Congressman Hunter recently went
beyond the call of duty.

In mid-July a pro-Jones Act special interest group released a
report which made the unbelievable claim that the law has no
adverse impact on consumers in Puerto Rico, despite the fact that
much of what the island consumes is transported aboard expensive
Jones Act vessels. This conclusion was in large part based on a
price comparison between a handful of items sold at Walmart
locations in Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico.

No explanation of the report’s methodology or product selection
criteria were furnished, and a quick perusal of Walmart’s website
shows numerous items to be significantly more expensive in Puerto
Rico than Jacksonville. Ice cream that retails for $2.98 in
Florida, for example, costs over $8 in San Juan.

Yet in response to the study, Hunter quickly arranged a
gathering of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime
Transportation, of which he is the chairman. What transpired was a
veritable lovefest. The congressmen in attendance, including
Hunter, lobbed a series of softball questions to a panel carefully
assembled to ensure only sentiment in favor of the law was

Instead of holding the established interests to account or
questioning the status quo, Hunter and other members of Congress
dutifully carried their water.

Furthermore, when Puerto Rico’s Central Recovery and
Reconstruction Office …read more

Source: OP-EDS