Smokescreen. The Project:

Keep the masses ignorant and simple. Give them plenty to be angry about, and plenty to fear, just as long as it all masks the real threats to humanity.

This is about our news media here in the USA and in Britain, since some of us pay attention to the BBC, and even the European press.Specifically, I want to address the sorry job that is being done by NPR, National Public Radio. I don’t think we are being served very well by them at all.


The most important information; WHAT is important for us to know, as listeners to American news radio, to enable us to understand the challenges and the dangers that affect us? What are the most pressing needs of our society, our world? IF NPR and the rest of them, were doing their jobs properly, we would hear real experts, people with experience in these fields, or people who are highly educated, educators preferably, giving us what is widely considered to be some of the best ways to deal with our world. There would be various and maybe opposing viewpoints, but there would be no fringe elements, from opposite sides of an issue, shouting at each other.
THEN, we would hear some sort of conclusion. It would be the learned opinion of the author, or the anchor-person, about what has been said, and some kind of solution would be offered. We would not simply be left hanging with no answers at all, as if news programs were here just to entertain, to grab viewers with spectacular headlines.

Obviously, in the main-stream media, we don’t have real, informative news programs. We do not get what we need to be informed about national or world events and issues, NOT at all.
What we get is quite the opposite. This is evident, just from the fact that even concerned citizens who listen to and read these main-stream media programs and news magazines are woefully unaware and ill-informed about so many things.

Listening to NPR recently, I counted eleven times when Donald Trump was brought up and considered from every possible perspective. So, from this, I can imagine, as most listeners probably do, that this Trump person is the most important thing for us to be concerned about. He MUST be the most important news item, because he is mentioned more often than anything else! Come on, REALLY? But here, I will not give him one more mention.
Of course, after Donald Trump, the second most important item on the list of things to report, is the upcoming election (though only a minority will even actually VOTE). After these two things are covered, on NPR radio news, what we get is eight minutes devoted to a rapper music artist. He is new, up-and-coming, and so, we have never heard of him, nor heard any of his songs. But he MUST be very important, right? Eight minutes!
Next, a news section devoted to a sort of “immersion technology”, “virtual reality eating. You put this contraption on your head, and see a virtual world. This particular one is equipped with a feature that gives you actual smells as you eat some piece of food.
Since this is given such a prominent place in the broadcast, I suppose it will solve most of the problems in the world, once it is developed fully, and we have all bought one.
There is a long bit about the Republican debate. Each one is given time to utter one misleading lie, some misinformation. We are not told that if one checks the facts, what they’ve said is UNTRUE. It’s not the role of NPR to check the veracity of anything, it seems. The lies are left to stand, and we are left to wonder if it is 90% true, or 5% true.
There is ample time in today’s broadcast, which is a series of the same program, repeated every hour, by the way, for an almost three minute section on the social habits of octopuses.
Do we know that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists say it’s three minutes to midnight?
Their latest bulletin: “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and out-sized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
Three minutes, on the overview of proverbial clock of humanity on earth, until doomsday.
They list the imminent dangers facing us, as a species, as a planet of living beings.
Dangers? I just finished listening to NPR, “All Things Considered”! If there were any threats to humanity, you’d think we would have heard about it there! I figured, after hearing the program, that if Donald Trump, and the elections, and octopus’ mating habits are the only things worthy of reporting, then it must be a pretty safe world!
“Yes”, says the media, “there’s nothing to worry about. Just be entertained by our brief list of current events, and go back to your slumber. Don’t worry. Don’t become an activist. Don’t protest, don’t become socially concerned. After all, an election’s on the way, and our candidates assure us that they will fix everything.
IF NPR EVER DECIDES THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC NEEDS SOME REAL NEWS, they might mention some of the following:
• From the aforementioned Atomic Scientists organization, this.
• “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and oversized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
• [From T. Ashez] Both Russia and the USA are spending their billions on revamping their nuclear arsenals. Both these nations are expanding their nuclear capabilities. A recent dangerous development, the USA is designing a nuclear warhead that can be launched with a ‘cruise’ missile. These missiles would look like a conventional missile, on the radar. How would Moscow know if the incoming missile is nuclear, or conventional? They would have only minutes to guess the answer. Should they respond with a nuclear missile as well, or with a conventional warhead? This is a hell of a bad problem, and we are heading right for it.
Israel. Whatever your opinion of this nation, they are prone to be involved in conflicts in the middle east. They have nuclear weapons. If they attack with them, and if they provoke a response, in kind, the USA is sworn to protect this nation.
• Speaking of Israel, our dollars are enabling them to persecute the Palestinians in a hellish manner. They are rounding up Eritrean immigrants, and putting them in the biggest prison in the world. Does the American public even know this?
We are planning to actually go back into Afghanistan, Iraq, and now plans are to go back into Libya as well. I say this as if our troops ever completely left these places. These places are infernal hell-holes, after being destroyed by guess-who. By the way, many of the refugees streaming into Europe are these very Afghanis and Iraqis whom we have “liberated”. The Syrian problem is partly the result of our actions in Syria. Has this been mentioned, as we debate whether to take in a few thousand, while Europe assimilates millions? Does the USA public know this? Perhaps there isn’t time on NPR for these things. They have only an hour per broadcast, then it is repeated, word for word.
News flash! We have all been made into paupers, relative to the 1%. Does the public know that the 62 individuals, who have more wealth than the lower HALF of all humanity (according to the latest OXFAM report), could solve world hunger? They could simply write a check! If these people didn’t OWN our government, they could be FORCED to solve these sort of problems. How is it even legal to hoard such massive wealth? Hardly anyone, speaking of the general public, ever hears of this!
• Thousands of Americans are being murdered by police. These are mostly blacks, immigrants, Hispanics, and native Americans. This could stand at least a brief mention, main-stream media. Every day there are many instances that go unreported. Too many octopus facts to ponder.
Our military is scattered all over the globe, about a thousand bases, overseas and in South America, from which our government is waging a war of world domination, working mainly for the profit of multinational corporations. But all for the constant growth of the American Empire. We have secret operations, special forces, secretly working in Africa, and in almost every other country. We aren’t even ALLOWED to learn about any of this. The public has no say-so as to whether we want this or not. Well, hell, it is NOT REPORTED. One will never learn this, unless one knows where to research to find out.
American bombs are now being used to create a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, our ally, is doing this with the actual assistance of our government and military. This is actively being covered up, the obedient news factories self-censoring. “It’s unpleasant. Why upset the public? And, by the way, remember which side our bread is buttered on!”
Global warming is coming perilously close to a sort of ‘tipping-point’, a situation where methane begins to be released from the permafrost and from the ocean floor. This would further speed and worsen global warming, in a snowball-effect. This is not a debatable idea, except in the USA, the world’s worst offender, per capita. The Arctic ice is melting at alarming rates.

But, never mind. Everything is just fine! I’m not interested in the news. It’s depressing. And politics! They’re all just crooked. I kinda like that Donald Trump. He wants to make the country great again.


Fallen Nation

Fallen Nation
Yezidee refugee family on Lesbos
An organization called Public Policy Polling (PPP) did a survey, and found that 30% of Republicans said they would support bombing a country called Agrabah. This is a fake country name, although it obviously sounds like a country in the middle-east. This is shocking, but:
From an article in Salon, Ben Norton wrote:
You’re missing the point. 30% of Republicans said they’d bomb Agrabah — but so did 19% of Democrats.
Yes, 36 percent of surveyed Democrats said they opposed it, but 19 is still a huge number — and not that far off from the Republican figure of 30 percent. Moreover, when you adjust for the 45 percent of Democrats who did not provide a yes or no answer, it means 35 percent of Democrats who gave a specific answer to PPP supported bombing a fictitious Arabic-sounding country.
It’s not about party, it’s about hunger for war: 19 percent of Democrats also said they’d bomb fake country from “Aladdin”.
[End quote]
The sad fact we get from this poll is that 49% of Americans, when asked if they would support a bombing campaign in this country, said yes, without knowing anything about the country. As Mr. Norton said, there is a hunger for war in the USA.

This was upsetting to me, and surprising. I’ve always held the belief that, yes, our government may indeed be basically evil, wickedly stirring up trouble by means of the military in conjunction with our secret agencies, and yes, our military is good at only one thing, which is wanton, indiscriminate destruction, but, dang it, most Americans are good, peace-loving souls.
Then along came the Republican debates, and Donald Trump, which I have avoided like the plague, but still found out enough second-hand to be highly disturbing. Trump doesn’t bother me. He’s a joke, and can not be elected. But what worries me is the level of support Trump has gotten from so many people, and the enthusiasm of his supporters, willing to fight for him, even. (The attacks on those who have been hecklers at his events). Apparently, a lot of people actually AGREE with Trumps outrageous attitudes toward immigrants, and Muslims, and his belligerent, jingoistic, cavalier attitude about war, American empire building, and international relations.
I was told that the Republicans actually got into a bit of a competition about “toughness, and resoluteness, in bombing ISIS. [The following from Democracy Now! site:
During Tuesday’s debate, radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Dr. Ben Carson if he was ruthless enough to wage war. “Could you order airstrikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands?”
[Carson’s answer was affirmative] HUGH HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian. It’s like—
DR. BEN CARSON: You got it. You got it.
HUGH HEWITT: That is what war—can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?
DR. BEN CARSON: “Ruthless” is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done.
[End quote] And I understand that this was well received by the audience. I’m shocked that everyone didn’t get up and walk out, at that point, but no, and Trump basically agreed with this attitude.

So, unfortunately, I’m beginning to get it. So, in the USA, not only is the government and the military evil, guided by evil international corporations (which are owned by the elite 1%, primarily), but a sizable proportion of this population is in agreement with all of this wickedness and contravention of international law, and so, therefore, these citizens are EVIL AS WELL!
On NPR, the other day, there was an interview of David Ignatius. (Looked it up online, but no name was given for the interviewer) The Interviewer was bemoaning the fact that President Obama doesn’t see the middle-east or the ISIS threat in the same way that Republicans do. (As if this were a problem!) He wants to go slow, and not put too many “boots-on-the-ground”. So he asked David, who had authored an article on this subject, “What do you think it would take, to get Obama to see this as an important enough battle, to invest the kind of military force necessary to get the job done?” (My paraphrase).
His answer was that some major attack here in the States, that would, perhaps, interfere in the normal functioning of the country, this would suffice. But I’m astonished that this conversation is even taking place at all, and on NPR! It’s as if it is common knowledge that our country SHOULD have both “boots on the ground, thousands of troops, and add to that all possible bombing, in EVERY PLACE where there is some kind of threat such as ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or unruly, uncooperative regime.
The interviewer seemed to have this understanding, as if it were something we all agree on, that this is just normal, good governance. Does no-one know that invading another country is against international law? We’ve gotten so used to the idea of invading other countries, in this time of eternal warfare, that we have forgotten a basic premise! Warfare is illegal, and morally repugnant. (Of course, provisions are made for self-defense of the homeland, but this gets abused to no end). Here is a quote from Global Research news:
In 1928, the United States Senate, that same institution that on a good day can now get three percent of its members to vote against funding war escalations or continuations, voted 85 to 1 to bind the United States to a treaty by which it is still bound and in which we “condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in [our] relations with” other nations. This is the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It condemns and renounces all war.
In addition, in 1945, the United States became a party to the United Nations Charter, which also remains in force today as part of the “supreme law of the land.” The United States had been the driving force behind the U.N. Charter’s creation. It includes these lines:
“All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
”All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
(End quote). If this surprises you, it just goes to show how far we have fallen, as a people. Hey, imagine what the American reaction would be to any other nation putting “boots on the ground” here on OUR SOIL? But we’ve grown to believe it’s some kind of right for the USA, even an obligation, to intervene in other countries affairs, anywhere in the world, by means of force.
The Syrian refugee crisis brought out some ugly aspects of the xenophobic among us. I thought it was a very small slice of the American people who would fear and resent these poor refugees, victims of our own actions in three or four countries in the middle-east. But no, I understand that a significant percentage of Americans would support a ban on all Muslims entering the country. And the hatred against the Faith of Islam, the attacks on Muslims we have seen recently!
I’ll tell you something, these right-wing so-called Christians that wave their Bibles around so much, they speak of “the fall of mankind”, as something that happened about seven or ten thousand years ago, in the garden of Eden, when Eve ate the apple (did you know there’s no mention of an apple in this biblical story?); but they bemoan how we lost our innocent perfection, by partaking of the forbidden fruit. This is what I say, to Americans and all others who long to see their military in action: this present time is our fall from grace as a nation, and as a people. It is the acceptance of an abnormal, ungodly act, the act of warfare, as if it is normal, and even desirable. This is our time of failure, as a nation. This is what history will point to, if there is any history left at all, after World War Three.
We were sucked into an invasion of Afghanistan. As soon as we got used to that, We attacked another country unnecessarily, Iraq. Now, we have our drones, eternally terrorizing the nations of Yemen and Pakistan. Our Special forces and secret operations are taking place all over Africa. Our government is plotting the downfall of the Maduro government in Venezuela. While we weren’t paying attention, our NGOs financed a coup d’état in Ukraine, right on Russia’s doorstep. And if Putin hadn’t secured Crimea, the USA would have had ships in the naval base there by this time.
And so, our character, as a country, has changed significantly, over the past fifteen years. We had been sickened by war, during the Vietnam years. We would have been shocked to look into the future to this present time. We wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are, and the conflicts of the world, many of them due to American meddling, are about to suddenly boil over, to blow up! Ukraine, Syria, the middle-east, these places are a keg of gunpowder, and we, as a nation, have made this powder-keg our permanent seat.
We are watching Star Wars. This is our plan of action. We are entertained into complacency. We have all lost our minds, that’s what has happened. Lost our moral compass as a nation. It can’t be long before the USA will begin to reap what we have sown, by becoming a military nation.
I hope and pray for only good for the people of the USA, and people everywhere. The grace, the patience of God, is amazing, and I pray for grace upon all. I pray that destruction is delayed, long enough for individuals to look around, and say, hey this is not for me. I’ll be a war resister. Soldiers can refuse to fight. We can find personal spiritual salvation, at least, by denouncing this horrid foreign policy, that sows death and destruction everywhere it touches.
I pray that we don’t give up on hope.
And this is not to say that praying is enough. It’s not the only thing we do. We follow our revolutionary teachers, people like Chris Hedges, for instance. We resist, we protest, we boycott, we try to affect politics. We speak, we write. We take action.
I only insist that whatever we do, we follow the teachings and examples of the great teachers, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, and as we learn of them, even the peaceful teachings of the Quran (or Koran). For my atheist friends, this doesn’t require any faith in any God; I only mean that we must be non-violent, which most of you already understand.
PEACE be upon us all.

What’s important about the TPP, and left out of the main-stream media.

I don’t seem to be an optimist, but for some reason, I keep thinking that NPR will do some real reporting, something other than what is dished out by their anonymous “government sources”. So I was listening the other morning, and the conversation was something like this, I will paraphrase:

The President is attaching a lot of importance to getting the go-ahead for “fast-track” authority to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

[Now since when, I ask, has Mr. Obama been seen as trying to pass something that was good? What kind of press was given to the Affordable Care Act, for one? But now, suddenly, anything he presents is being pushed as something wonderful, and they seem to ask, “ why on earth would anyone oppose something so universally important as ‘trade’”?

NPR goes on, and remember, this is what’s supposed to inform American voters: (My paraphrase).

But for some unknown reason, members of his own party are standing in the way of our wonderful President and this wonderful, perfectly reasonable trade deal, the TPP. How can this be? What do these Democrats have against trade?

Disclosure: I tried to credit my cut-and-pastes from other web sites, but may not have. Some of this article was cut-and-pasted passages from other sites.

Even rabid right-wing commentators such as David Brooks (who deceptively plays the role of a centrist moderate) have been trotted out to push the TPP. The trouble is, what he said was 100% WRONG! Here it is, along with a link to the article from FAIR, (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting):

David Brooks pulled out all the stops, using his New York Times column (6/16/15) to yell at “Tea Party” Democrats for not supporting the fast-track authority that would facilitate passage of the TPP.

Unfortunately, Brooks was largely unarmed with facts when it came to the attack. To start, he tells readers;

The North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, probably didn’t affect the American economy too much. But the Mexican economy has taken off. With more opportunities, Mexican workers feel less need to sneak into the US.

Brooks also seems to be inventive in his assessment of patterns of immigration. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Mexican immigrants to the United States rose from 4.3 million in 1990 to 11.7 million by 2010.

Me again: IT DID AFFECT THE U.S. ECONOMY, TOO. And the TPP is similar, in the way it works, and in the way it is being pushed through, with SECRET content, and all.

The following is from Popular Resistance:

for the financial industry, TPP would weaken member country restrictions on capital flows across their borders, freeing foreign investments but increasing risk in more insulated economies like Malaysia or Chile.

The rules amount to a trans-Pacific regulatory cap. “It creates a subsidy for our firms to locate in TPP member countries and export back to us,” says Damon Silvers, policy director for the AFL-CIO. “This is not something you would be concerned about if you wanted to create jobs in the United States.”

This is enforced in part by investor-state dispute settlement, where corporations can sue for damages in a separate court system, over trade violations they claim cut into their profits. TPP even removes the “essential security” exemption, so foreign investors can file ISDS challenges on what governments claim to be national security decisions. This effectively creates an insurance policy for large firms to move operations, robbing the United States of their one competitive advantage over low-wage countries: a well-developed rule of law. Froman has staunchly defended ISDS, telling the Washington Ideas Forum last October, “It’s hard to imagine a high-standard agreement that doesn’t have the high standard of investment protections as well.”

Past dispute settlement arrangements have had serious consequences. The Obama administration insists that trade agreements cannot change U.S. laws, but in May, WTO ruled against U.S. “country-of-origin labeling” for meat, prompting Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to say that Congress would have to repeal the statute. In addition, the Canadian finance minister recently alleged that the Volcker Rule, a key Dodd-Frank measure restricting risky proprietary trading, violates NAFTA. ISDS would allow corporations rather than national governments to assert these challenges and win monetary damages.

By the way, did you know that, even under present law, the tobacco industry is in a lawsuit with Uruguay, over their attempt to label cigarette packages with graphic pictures of cancerous wounds caused by smoking and chewing. This is the kind of thing that will grow exponentially, if TPP gets instituted.

The following is from Alternet:

Of particular concern to the tech community is an “Investment Chapter” of the TPP drafted in 2010 and leaked by Wikileaks. The letter’s signatories argue the provisions would allow corporations to use an international legal system to override national sovereignty: “The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine US rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open internet and users’ rights to free expression online.”

SO, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WE IN THE USA FIND OURSELVES BEING SCREWED OVER. ONE MIGHT ASK, WHY? Why are our representatives working against the people who elected them, and not FOR THEM?

Perhaps it will help to see how much money each Congressman has received from the wealthy, the 1%, who stand to benefit from this trade pact, at the expense of EVERYONE ELSE.

Using data from the Federal Election Commission, this chart shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate:

  • Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
  • The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
  • The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.

The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.

Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May, distinguishing themselves from the Senate’s 54 Republicans and handful of Democrats as the votes to sway.

  • In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida – caved and voted for fast-track.
  • Bennet, Murray, and Wyden – all running for re-election in 2016 – received $105,900 between the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign donations between January and March 2015, according to Channing’s research.
  • Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track – the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.
  • Here are the Democrats who voted for Fast Track last time with phone numbers and twitter handles:
  • Michael Bennet (CO) 202 224 5852  @senbennetco
    Maria Cantwell (WA) 202 224 3441  @cantwellpress
    Ben Cardin (MD) 202 224 4524  @senatorcardin
    Tom Carper (DE) 202 224 2441  @senatorcarper
    Chris Coons (DE) 202 224 5042  @sencoonsoffice
    Dianne Feinstein (CA) 202 224 3841  @senfeinstein
    Heidi Heitkamp (ND) 202 224 2043  @senatorheitkamp
    Tim Kaine (VA) 202 224 4024  @senkaineoffice
    Claire McCaskill (MO) 202 224 6154 @mccaskilloffice
    Patty Murray (WA) 202 224 2621  @pattymurray
    Bill Nelson (FL) 202 225 5274  @senbillnelson
    Jeanne Shaheen (NH) 202 224 2841 @senatorshaheen
    Mark Warner (VA) 202 224 2023 @markwarner
    Ron Wyden (OR) 202 224 5244  @ronwyden

Please call these, even the ones that are not from your state, and leave them an appropriately angry message, not that it will be heeded, unless accompanied by a five figure check.